Did you know that nicotine is actually more addictive than heroin? Surgeon General Coop (1988) 1
Or that smoking just four cigarettes can give a person a 90% chance of becoming addicted and have them smoking for 40 years? British Journal of Addiction (February 1990) 2
Or that smoking kills more Americans each year than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined. (American Cancer Society) 3
The more you learn about tobacco, the better choices you can make. This section is designed to give you the facts and figures you’ll need to become more informed and better armed to take up the fight against tobacco. Because after all, when it comes to tobacco, ignorance is not bliss, it’s a killer!
College Students and Tobacco Use
No doubt, the college demographic (18-24) has got to be one of the most scrutinized, surveyed and analyzed segments of the population. So since they’ve got us under the microscope anyway, is there anything that can be learned from the data? According to the 2005 Core Survey, 28.2% of college students indicated using tobacco (cigarettes, chew, or snuff) in the past 30 days. The good news is an even bigger percentage (71.8%) DON’T! And half of the current college smokers would like to quit.
What we also know from the data is that there are some groups (priority populations) on your campus that are more likely to use tobacco because the tobacco industry targets these groups with ads, sponsorships and promotional events in an insidious effort to recruit and maintain them as life-long smokers. They are called priority populations because they are a priority for prevention efforts.
Try to guess which of these campus subgroups are considered priority populations?
a. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Students
b. Fraternity Members
c. Art Students
e. All of the above
f. None of the above
The answer is “e.” All of these populations are considered high-risk subgroups.
Did you know that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the country? But people keep on puffin’ anyway. In fact, more than 6,000 Americans under age 18 start smoking cigarettes each day and 2,000 will become regular smokers.1 That’s despite the fact that they have been told over and over again how damaging it is to the human body. Wanna know how badly? More than one in five deaths in the United States is related to tobacco use. And get this, every eight seconds, someone dies from a disease related to smoking. 2
Types of Tobacco
Cigar smoking increases the risk of death from cancer of the larynx more than 10 times and cancer of the oral cavity/pharynx by four times.
- Addiction potential? Cigars contain anywhere from 100 to 444 mg of nicotine. The average cigarette contains 8.4 mg. 2
- Compared to non-smokers, cigar smokers have a 27% higher risk of coronary heart disease and a 45% increased risk of chronic obstructive lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 3
- Download a fact sheet.
- Little cigars (Black & Milds, Cigarillos): Download a fact sheet.
Bidis are small brown cigarettes, often flavored, consisting of tobacco hand rolled in tendu or temburni leaf and secured with a string at one end.
Kreteks, the Indonesian name for clove cigarettes, are made from tobacco that has been sprayed in clove oil and contain large amounts of tobacco and unfiltered organic material.
- Those who use mentholated cigarettes are relatively more likely to experience health consequences compared to other cigarette users due to a cooling effect that allows smokers to inhale more deeply and hold the smoke longer. They are also less likely to want to quit or to quit successfully. 9
- Menthol cigarettes are of special concern for African-American students, because 81% of African-American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes compared to 32% of Caucasian American smokers.
- Download a fact sheet.
Smoking and Marijuana
A 1998 study conducted at the University of California revealed these results. After assessing the lung biopsies of regular marijuana smokers, researchers found that half of them had 8 of the 10 cellular abnormalities that indicate precancerous changes in the lungs.Check out these other facts:
- Long-term marijuana use can lead to the abnormal function of the respiratory system resulting in injury or destruction of lung disease (Taskin, 1990; NIDA, 2000).
- Inhaled marijuana produces three to five times the amount of tar and carbon monoxide found in inhaled cigarette smoke (Wu 1995; NIDA, 2000).
- Marijuana smokers encounter many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers such as daily cough, phlegm, chronic bronchitis and frequent chest colds (Source: Porter, 2002).
- Unfortunately, many marijuana smokers also use tobacco on a regular basis (Anthony, Warner, & Kessler,1994).
Other Side Effects
Marijuana increases heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. 5 This may be due to increased heart rate as well as the effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in aging populations or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities.
2. Effects on the Lungs
Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke.
Marijuana smokers show unregulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer;6 however, a recent case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. 7
Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time.
Nonetheless, marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections. A study of 450 individuals found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. 8 Many of the extra sick days among the marijuana smokers in the study were for respiratory illnesses.
3. Effects on Daily Life
Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired several important measures of life achievement, including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status.9 Several studies associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.