Tobacco Use in Teens
Nicotine is only one of more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco, but it is the major component that acts on the brain. The lungs readily absorb nicotine from the smoke of cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. The tissues of the mouth can also absorb nicotine when smoking cigars or pipes, or when tobacco is chewed.
Nicotine reaches the brain within seconds and has a direct effect on the body for up to 30 minutes. When a person uses tobacco regularly, the levels of nicotine accumulate in the body during the day and persist overnight, exposing the person to the effects of nicotine for 24 hours.
In the body, nicotine acts as both a central nervous system stimulant and sedative. The person immediately feels the stimulant effect and pleasurable sensation. It increases alertness, relaxes muscles, improves memory and attention, and decreases irritability. The stimulant effect causes a sudden increase in blood pressure, breathing rate, and heart rate. The central nervous system stimulation is followed by depression and fatigue, causing the person to want another cigarette.
Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances. Some teens show early signs of addiction within days to weeks after starting to smoke. Repeated tobacco use causes a need for increasingly large amounts of nicotine to feel the same effect (tolerance) and withdrawal symptoms if the person tries to quit.
Signs of use
Strawberry-, cinnamon-, orange-, or chocolate-scented cigarettes called bidis, beedies, or beadies have become popular with teens in some areas of the United States. These cigarettes are made in India and are shaped like marijuana joints. They are unfiltered and have a 28% higher nicotine concentration than regular cigarettes.
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