Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that
causes most of its effects on the brain.
Nicotine is a very addictive drug. It causes
changes in a person's mood, blood circulation, and
heart rate. Nicotine gets to a person's brain
very quickly. I checked out the American Lung
Association's web site:
to get some information about
the effects of tobacco use last. According to the
ALA, after 20 minutes a person's blood pressure
and heart rate return to normal, but it takes 8
hours before the levels of carbon monoxide (a
poison) and oxygen in a person's blood get back to
normal. Their information is based on smoking.
Chewing tobacco ("Spit" or "dip" tobacco) delivers
a lot more nicotine, so I'd guess its effects last
longer. The levels of carbon monoxide and oxygen
would not be affected by chewing tobacco.
Even after the tobacco or nicotine leaves
the body, its effects don't all disappear.
Smoking even once a week can cause breathing
problems. Smokeless tobacco can cause mouth sores
that don't heal. Tobacco use causes bad breath
and leaves long-lasting stains on teeth. And of
course the tobacco can cause cancer of the mouth,
throat, and lungs. There are other health
problems as well, such as high blood pressure,
stroke, and heart attack.
The good news is
that as soon as a person stops using tobacco, a
lot of these problems start to get better (see the
ALA site for more on this). Quitting won't heal
the cancer, unfortunately, but it lowers the risk
of new cancer starting. The US Centers for
Disease Control has some great information about
tobacco for young people at this
Center for Disease
to all of the sites I looked at, if you can stay
away from tobacco before you turn 18, you will
probably never develop this expensive,
unattractive, and unhealthy habit.
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