What does it look like?
The green leaves of the tobacco plant are picked, dried and then rubbed to produce a brown, flaky mixture.
It can then be bought loose as rolling tobacco which you use to create hand-rolled cigarettes or in ready-made cigarettes.
There are many different brands of cigarettes and most come in packs of 10, 14 or 20.
It doesn’t matter how you smoke tobacco, all forms have risks.
Tobacco is found in cigarettes which you smoke. It comes from the leaves of the tobacco plant and contains many different chemicals. One of the chemicals is nicotine, which gives smokers their hit but is also highly addictive. This means it can be hard to quit smoking even if you want to.
Tobacco is most often smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe, but tobacco is available in a chewable form and in a form called snuff, that can be sniffed.
Shisha is the smoking of fruit flavoured tobacco using a water pipe. The tobacco is burnt and the smoke is sucked through the water pipe, which cools the smoke down allowing it to be breathed in by the smoker. However, smoking shisha for one hour can deliver the same health risks as smoking 100 cigarettes.
Shisha is a part of Middle Eastern and Indian culture, but it seems to be becoming increasingly popular in the UK among non-Middle Eastern and Indian groups.
The financial cost of being a smoker depends on the scale of their habit, but as a rough guide, smoking 20 a day will cost £70 per week, £304 per month or over £3,500 for the year!
How does it make you feel?
First time smokers often feel sick and dizzy.
Regular smokers believe that smoking tobacco helps them to relax, to handle stress and to feel less hungry.
But smoking can make your clothes and breath smell and can affect your skin and hair. Tobacco smoke (tar) contains over 4,000 chemicals and many have effects on various parts of the human body, including the brain, lungs, heart and mouth.
Physical health risks
Of the over 4,000 chemicals that tobacco contains many have harsh effects on the human body. Smoking can increase your blood pressure and the heart rate, which can damage the heart and circulation and contribute to heart attacks, strokes and cause cancer.
Tobacco can cause serious damage to your health:
It is a risk factor for emphysema, heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer.
Most of the cancers associated with smoking are due to the tar in the smoke.
Smokers are more likely to get coughs and chest infections.
Smoking when pregnant can harm the foetus and can even cause a miscarriage.
It’s not uncommon for babies born to mothers who have smoked during pregnancy to have a lower than normal birth weight, which, some have linked to autism and sudden infant death syndrome.
Smoking has been linked to the amputation of 2,000 limbs a year.
It's estimated that smoking contributes to 100,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.
Other people breathing in your smoke could end up with breathing difficulties, asthma or even cancer.
Smoking Shisha can be more dangerous than smoking cigarettes, with users at increased risk of picking up diseases such as herpes or tuberculosis from sharing pipes.
Other effects from smoking:
Smoking tobacco has lots of immediate effects, such as making your clothes and hair smell, to costing you lots of money.
Smoking stops oxygen getting to the skin making you more prone to spots and a dull complexion. Over time it can lead to premature aging, meaning more wrinkles and a so-called ‘cats bum’ mouth.
Smoking can make hair less shiny and yellow nails and teeth.
What is tobacco cut with?
Black market cigarettes and rolling tobacco are either counterfeit or brought into the UK from other countries. There is no way of knowing what is in a counterfeit cigarette or rolling tobacco and what effect it could have on you.
Even if tobacco has not been bought on the black market the smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and many of them are known to do nasty things to the human body including causing cancer.
Some of the ingredients contained in cigarettes are listed below:
- Ammonia: A common ingredient found in household cleaners and also contained in urine (wee).
- Arsenic: A deadly poison used to kill rats
- Butane: Gas that is used in lighter fluid
- Carbon monoxide: A poisonous gas that is contained in car fumes
- Cadmium: Used in batteries
- Methanol: Rocket fuel
- Acetone: Used in paint thinner and nail varnish remover
- Formaldehyde: Used for embalming dead bodies
- Acrolein: Formerly used as a chemical weapon
- Tar: A material used to make roads
- Hydrogen cyanide: The poison that was used in gas chambers
Can you get addicted?
Yes. Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug. Smokers can get hooked very quickly and it can take years and a huge effort to kick the habit. Many people people who smoke wish they had not started in the first place.
Not many people are able to remain occasional smokers because nicotine is a very addictive substance.
Smoking any drug gets it to the brain very quickly. When a tobacco smoker inhales it’s estimated that the nicotine in the tobacco smoke reaches the brain in around 8 seconds. This speed of action contributes to a user becoming hooked to the nicotine in tobacco. For advice on stopping smoking, visit the NHS Smoke free website or call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044.