Drug information

Drug information

Tobacco

Definition:

Tobacco is a substance which comes from the dried leaves of the tobacco plant. The leaves are generally dried and then other ingredients are added to make a range of tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco.

As a stimulant, tobacco speeds up the body’s functions.

Tobacco contains thousands of chemicals, many of which have been proven to be cancer-causing chemicals. Three chemicals found in tobacco are nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide.

Nicotine is a stimulant drug which is extremely addictive and is the main chemical which causes dependency/addiction on tobacco.

Tar is a chemical which is released when tobacco burns. It clogs the lungs and can stimulate cancer growth.

Carbon Monoxide is a chemical in tobacco which the lungs absorb faster than oxygen. As a result, the body is then robbed of oxygen.

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia.

Other nicknames for tobacco include: smokes, ciggies, fags, durrie, rollies.

Ashed smoke_000000382250MediumEffects:

The list of effects on this website are not definitive or exhaustive. 

The short-term/immediate effects of tobacco generally only last for a short time. They can include:

  • dizziness
  • feeling more alert
  • able to concentrate better
  • feeling happy
  • feeling stimulated initially, then the brain and nervous system slow down
  • feeling relaxed
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • nausea
  • decreased appetite
  • reduced sense of smell and/or taste
  • coughing

The long term effects of tobacco can include:

  • shortness of breath
  • lung problems and lung disease
  • regular coughing
  • asthma
  • cancer (in particular increased risk of cancer of the tongue, lips, mouth, nose, oesophagus, pharynx, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix, and anus)
  • stroke
  • brain damage
  • heart disease
  • yellowing of fingers and teeth
  • getting sick regularly
  • ageing (wrinkles form earlier and more severely)
  • takes longer to heal (wounds or illness)
  • fertility issues
  • dependence
  • health problems and complications for babies (when smoking during pregnancy), including higher risk of still birth, low birth weight and labour complications

Drug use can have a range of social consequences and can have impact not only on an individual, but also their relationships and their work or study. Drug use can cause financial issues, family problems and can also have legal consequences.

If you are concerned about your own or another person’s drug use we encourage you to seek professional help and assistance.

There are always risks associated with drug use. No use at all is the safest option.

Further information and support:

In an emergency or crisis situation always call triple zero (000) for police, fire and ambulance and follow instructions.

  • Visit the Australian Government’s Quit Now website for information on how to quit, the benefits of quitting and general tobacco information
  • Visit the Youth Solutions #whyichoose website for tobacco facts, support services and information about positive choices around tobacco
  • Visit the Cancer Institute NSW’s iCanQuit website for information on quitting, quit guides and plans and other information
  • Call the Quitline on 13 78 48 to speak to someone and receive a free, confidential and individually tailored service to assist you in the process of quitting smoking
  • Visit our Youth Solution Get Help page for the details of different support services available