We see tons of anti-smoking ads on TV and around town… yet plenty of people smoke, vape and chew tobacco. Is smoking and tobacco really as bad as people say it is?
What’s Wrong with Tobacco?
The truth is that tobacco products—including cigarettes and chewing tobacco—contain tons of harmful chemicals:
- Formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies)
- Ammonia (found in toilet cleaner)
- Carbon Monoxide (the harmful gas from car exhaust)
- Arsenic (found in rat poison)
- And so many more
What’s worse, tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. In fact, it’s just as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Tobacco use in any form can cause multiple medical problems, which can lead to death … and sadly, over 5 million teens in the U.S. are estimated to use tobacco products regularly.
Vaping and Hookah are OK, Right?
Actually, they’re just as bad as cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Vaping and hookah are marketed as being a safer alternative, but they still contain deadly chemicals. Even worse, users feel lulled into a false sense of security. No matter what form they’re consumed in, all tobacco products can leave you feeling tired or weak, and can even alter your taste buds and sense of smell.
How Can I Quit?
There are a few tried and true methods that consistently help teens quit tobacco:
- Put it on paper. Write down why you want to stop smoking!
- Set a clear quit date, instead of just saying “soon” or “next time.”
- Hang out with friends who don’t smoke.
- Practice saying no.
- Be prepared for cravings: keep lollipops and hard candy around to eat instead.
- Consider stop-smoking products.
- Seek support! Call the Georgia Department of Health Quit Line: 1-877-270-STOP (7867)
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We’ve all heard the term medical marijuana being used a lot more often lately… and that’s led us to wonder—is it safe and healthy for everyone?
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States by teens as well as adults. The growing belief by young people that marijuana is a safe drug may be the result of recent public discussions about medical marijuana and the public debate over the drug’s legal status.
Lots of people believe marijuana can’t be harmful because it’s “natural.” But actually, that’s not true. Not all natural plant substances are good for you—tobacco, cocaine, and heroin also come from plants. So, while medical marijuana may be prescribed by a physician for those who need it, it certainly is not recommended for recreational use.
The main chemical in marijuana that affects the brain is THC. When you smoke marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries it to organs throughout the body, including the brain. As it enters your brain, THC attaches to cells with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Normally, these receptors are activated by chemicals similar to THC that occur naturally in the body. Most of the cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana use can cause changes in perceptions and mood, lack of coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.
Is it Addictive?
Yes! Repeated use can lead to addiction. A user may feel the urge to smoke marijuana again and again to re-create the “high.” Learn more about marijuana drug facts and health effects:
You can probably guess some of the most common forms of tobacco … cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco are just a few of them. And although you may see people smoking or chewing tobacco all the time, it’s actually a huge health risk.
Cigarettes Can Kill
Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. In fact, cigarettes cause more than 480,000 early deaths in the U.S every year—from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
It’s Addictive … and Expensive
One of the chemicals in tobacco is nicotine. Nicotine helps your body create dopamine, a natural chemical that you get when enjoying good food, your favorite activity, or spending time with people you care about. Using tobacco products will give you that good feeling, but the effect wears off quickly, causing people who smoke to get the urge to light up again. It’s a dangerous cycle that can quickly lead to addiction and an expensive habit.
Are Hookahs or E-Cigarettes Safe?
No! Studies have found that a typical hookah session delivers about 125 times the smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine, and 10 times the carbon monoxide as smoking a cigarette.
E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine without the other chemicals—but testing of some e-cigarette products found the vapor to contain toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Your best bet? Just don’t smoke!
Get more information on tobacco use: