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Nicotine, one of the key ingredients in tobacco, stimulates brain chemicals that can lead to addiction. It increases the amount of a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel good. This is a part of the addiction process. The carbon monoxide you inhale from tobacco smoke replaces oxygen in your blood cells, robbing your heart, brain, and the rest of your body. Smoking also deadens your senses of taste and smell so food isn't as appetizing as it once was.

According to the American Lung Association, cigarettes contain at least 63 distinct cancer-causing chemicals, such as arsenic and cyanide. Smoking is directly responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer cases and causes most cases of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking is also a major factor in coronary heart disease and stroke; may be causally related to malignancies in other parts of the body; and has been linked to a variety of other conditions and disorders, including slowed healing of wounds, infertility, and peptic ulcer disease. Nicotine is an addictive drug, which when inhaled in cigarette smoke reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously. Smokers become not only physically addicted to nicotine, they also link smoking with many social activities, making smoking a difficult habit to break. Don't kid yourself, if you are a just a social smoker, you are still a smoker.

Spit tobacco, like the tobacco in cigarettes, is harmful. It has nitrosamines, which are cancer-causing chemicals. This form of tobacco can cause a variety of health problems from your mouth to your stomach and cardiovascular system. For example, the sugar in spit tobacco can cause tooth decay. Your gums can pull away from your teeth where you stash your tobacco, and gums don't grow back. It is also common for dippers and chewers to get red sores or leathery white patches called leukoplakia that can turn into cancer. Don't be fooled, no amount of brushing or flossing can counteract the effect of the tobacco.

Guidelines and tips for tobacco users who are quitting:

  • Quitting takes practice! Realize that quitting tobacco is a difficult undertaking and takes a lot of effort, but remember that half the people who have ever used tobacco have quit. Every quit attempt brings you that much closer to success.
  • Talk with your doctors and discuss nicotine replacement therapy and nicotine cessation programs.
  • Do everything possible to maximize success.
  • Set a quit date, start by cutting back if it helps you.
  • Think about what stopped your past attempts from working.
  • Get family, friends, and co-workers to support you in your efforts.
  • Try to reduce your stress as much as you can.
  • Learn new ways of coping with stress (e.g. exercise, walks, bath, videogames).
  • Don't focus on weight gain. Most people only gain ten pounds or less which is much less of a health risk than smoking.
  • Don't try to diet at the same time; it will hinder your success.

How to stop using tobacco:

  • Develop a quit plan
  • Make small changes
  • Pay attention to your smoking
  • Seek help
  • Be motivated
  • Set a stop date

Possible types of cessation services:

  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Medications (such as Zyban or nicotine replacement therapy)
  • Self-help materials (books, videotapes, internet resources)

Click here for information on tobacco cessation services

Resource Links :

  • Dr. Bob's Quit Smoking Page (
  • QuitNet, Quit All Together ( )
  • American Lung Association ( )
  • ( )

UND Student Health Services
McCannel Hall, Room 100
Box 9038
Grand Forks, ND 58202
Tel: 701.777.4500