Tobacco consists of dried leaves from the tobacco plant that have been used by humans for thousands of years. Smoking accounts for a large part of all deaths in Sweden.
Nicotine is a poison. The fact that nicotine is found in the tobacco plant is because it is developed as a protection against harmful insects. The first time you sniff or smoke, you feel nauseous. Pure nicotine is so toxic that it is completely banned.
Nicotine can be absorbed into the body in different ways, the most common being smoking cigarettes or snuffing. When you smoke tobacco, the nicotine reaches the brain within 10 to 20 seconds.
When you snuff, it takes longer for the nicotine to reach the brain, but people who snuff often have a much higher dose of nicotine in their blood for a longer period of time than someone who smokes cigarettes.
Many of those who start smoking become addicted and it can be difficult to quit. Many smokers have at some point tried or wanted to quit. 50 to 75 percent of smokers want to quit and 50 percent of snus smokers want to quit.
Tobacco is most dangerous in the long term. It can take 25 to 35 years for the most severe lesions to develop. One estimate is that every other smoker dies an average of ten years prematurely. Common diseases are cancer, cardiovascular diseases and lung diseases.
Approximately 12,000 people die each year due to smoking. Almost 100,000 people a year require hospital care due to various diseases caused by smoking.
This is how your body is affected by smoking
Nicotine can cause increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and increased metabolism. Condition deteriorates. In the brain, the nicotine makes you feel a sense of reward, you may have a reduced appetite, feel more alert, but memory and learning are also affected.
When the nicotine reaches the brain, the so-called nicotine receptors are activated and the neurotransmitter dopamine is secreted in the brain. This is why you feel a sense of reward when you smoke: the iron is overactivated.
When smoking tobacco, you draw many different harmful substances directly into the lungs. The longer you smoke, the greater the risk you run of contracting a disease that, in the worst case, leads to death.
Here are some examples of diseases that can be caused by smoking:
- Cancer of the lungs, mouth, trachea, esophagus, urinary tract, liver and bone marrow
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Poison goiter
- Vascular spasm
Smoking does not only affect the person who smokes, passive smoking can also cause many diseases, for example there is an increased risk of both lung cancer and heart attack.
Snuff also affects the body negatively. The links between cancer and snus are not as strong as between cancer and smoking, but there are studies that show a higher risk of cancer of the mouth and pancreas. There is also a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and damage to the gums.
Just like cigarette smoke, which contains hookah smoke, many toxic substances that are both addictive and can cause cancer, COPD and other lung diseases. Because the special tobacco used in hookah is flavored and sweet, many young people feel that it is not harmful or addictive, but it is.
The tobacco used is usually molasses tobacco, flavored with various fruit aromas or other flavorings such as cinnamon, salmiac or ginger. The smoke from a hookah tastes significantly milder than the smoke from cigarettes or cigars, giving the impression that it is not as dangerous as other types of smoking.
However, hookah smoke is just as harmful as other tobacco smoking, the water only filters out about 5 percent of the toxins. Hookahs are usually smoked for longer than cigarettes, which increases the harmful effects. Smoking hookah does not necessarily mean that you are smoking something illegal, but it is often associated with smoking illegal drugs such as cannabis.
You who want help with tobacco cessation can read more about this under How we can help/Tobacco cessation.
- Addiction medicine by Johan Franck and Ingrid Nylander et al. (2011) student literature
- The National Board of Health and Welfare
- Tobacco facts
- 1177 The care guide
- Public Health Agency “Hookah – smoke without risk?”
- Public Health Agency “Hookah – smoking with harmful effects”