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Tobacco Facts: How You Become Addicted to Cigarettes

Tobacco facts on cigarette addiction. Learn how tobacco is addictive and how nicotine works to get you addicted to cigarettes.

Tobacco facts show inhalation of nicotine via cigarette smoking produces the most rapid delivery of nicotine to the brain, with drug levels peaking within a few seconds of inhalation.

Tobacco Facts: How Cigarettes, Tobacco Products Suck You In

There are more than 4,000 chemicals found in the smoke of tobacco products. Of these, tobacco facts show nicotine, first identified in the early 1800s, is the primary reinforcing component of tobacco that acts on the brain. This is the key to becoming addicted to cigarettes.

Cigarette smoking is the most popular method of using tobacco; however, there has also been a recent increase in the sale and consumption of smokeless tobacco products, such as snuff and chewing tobacco. These smokeless products also contain nicotine, as well as many toxic chemicals.

Tobacco is Addictive, Cigarette Addiction is Only A Matter of Time

The cigarette is a very efficient and highly engineered drug delivery system. Tobacco facts reveal that by inhaling tobacco smoke, the average smoker takes in 1 to 2 mg of nicotine per cigarette. When tobacco is smoked, nicotine rapidly reaches peak levels in the bloodstream and enters the brain. A typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over a period of 5 minutes that the cigarette is lit. Thus, a person who smokes about 1-1/2 packs (30 cigarettes) daily gets 300 "hits" of nicotine to the brain each day. It's no wonder cigarette addiction (nicotine addiction) is prevalent among smokers. In those who typically do not inhale the smoke—such as cigar and pipe smokers and smokeless tobacco users--nicotine is absorbed through the mucosal membranes and reaches peak blood levels and the brain more slowly.

More comprehensive information on The Effect of Nicotine on the Brain.

Tobacco Facts: Nicotine Adrenaline Rush

One of the well-known tobacco facts is that immediately after exposure to nicotine, there is a "kick" caused in part by the drug's stimulation of the adrenal glands and resulting discharge of epinephrine (adrenaline). The rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes a sudden release of glucose, as well as an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. Nicotine also suppresses insulin output from the pancreas, which means that smokers, especially those with cigarette addiction, are always slightly hyperglycemic (i.e., they have elevated blood sugar level). The calming effect of nicotine reported by many users, especially those with cigarette addiction, is usually associated with a decline in nicotine withdrawal effects rather than direct effects of nicotine.

Sources:

  • Lowinson, Joyce H., Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, p. 390, 2005.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Bornemisza P, Suciu I. Effect of cigarette smoking on the blood glucose level in normals and diabetics. Med Interne 18 :353-6, 1980.
  • Federal Trade Commission. "Tar," nicotine, and carbon monoxide of the smoke of 1294 varieties of domestic cigarettes for the year 1998. Federal Trade Commission, 2000.
  • Benowitz NL. Pharmacology of nicotine: addiction and therapeutics. Ann Rev Pharmacol Toxicol 36:597-613, 1996.

 

next: Nicotine and the Brain: How Nicotine Affects the Brain
~ all nicotine addiction articles
~ all articles on addictions

APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2008, December 21). Tobacco Facts: How You Become Addicted to Cigarettes, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/nicotine-addiction/tobacco-facts-how-you-become-addicted-to-cigarettes

Last Updated: April 24, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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