What is tobacco?
Tobacco is a plant that can be smoked in cigarettes, pipes, or cigars. It's the same plant that's in smokeless tobacco, known as dip, chew, snuff, spit, or chewing tobacco. Smokeless tobacco is not lit or inhaled like tobacco in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Instead, smokeless tobacco is put between the lip and gum and sucked on inside the mouth.
Tobacco contains nicotine, a chemical that causes a tingly or pleasant feeling — but that feeling only lasts for a little while. Nicotine is also addictive. That means that if you start to use nicotine, your body and mind will become so used to it that you'll need to have it just to feel OK.
Anyone who starts smoking could become addicted to it. If you're addicted to something, it's very hard to stop doing it, even if you want to. Some kids get addicted right away. And adults are often addicted, which is why so many of them have a hard time quitting smoking.
Why is it so bad for you?
The nicotine and other poisonous chemicals in tobacco cause lots of diseases, like heart problems and some kinds of cancer. If you smoke, you hurt your lungs and heart each time you light up. It also can make it more difficult for blood to move around in the body, so smokers may feel tired. The longer you smoke, the worse the damage becomes.
The effects of smoking will vary person to person, based on the number of cigarettes smoked and how long they have been smoking.
Some of the things you may notice include:
- Your teeth and fingers are stained yellow
- Your breath, hair, skin and clothes start smelling of smoke
- Breathing issues including coughing more and becoming out of breath a lot more
- Dry and damaged skin.
How do you stop smoking if you’ve already started?
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to quitting smoking. For support and advice on the best way, you should visit your doctor or talk to your school nurse.
You can visit the NHS smoke free page to find your local Stop Smoking Service as well as information on the benefits of quitting and some techniques that may work for you.