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Facts about Tobacco, Nicotine and E-Cigs


Tobacco is 
a plant grown for its leaves, which are dried and fermented before being put in tobacco products. Tobacco contains nicotine, an ingredient that can lead to addiction, which is why so many people who use tobacco find it difficult to quit. There are also many other potentially harmful chemicals found in tobacco or created by burning it.

People can smoke, chew, or sniff tobacco. Smoked tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, bidis, and kreteks. Some people also smoke loose tobacco in a pipe or hookah (water pipe). Chewed tobacco products include chewing tobacco, snuff, dip, and snus; snuff can also be sniffed.

Nicotine and the Brain
The nicotine in any tobacco product readily absorbs into the blood when a person uses it. Upon entering the blood, nicotine immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. As with drugs such as cocaine and heroin, nicotine activates the brain’s reward circuits and also increases levels of the chemical messenger dopamine, which reinforces rewarding behaviors. Studies suggest that other chemicals in tobacco smoke, such as acetaldehyde, may enhance nicotine’s effects on the brain.

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, e-vaporizers, or vapes are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals to the lungs in vapor instead of smoke. They can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes (cig-a-likes), cigars, or pipes, or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks. Other devices, such as those with fillable tanks, may look different. Regardless of their design and appearance, these devices generally operate in a similar manner and are made of similar components.

E-Cigs/Vapes with nicotine effect the brain the same way smoking tobacco does (see above: Nicotine and Brain). Because they contain nicotine, they are subject to the same federal regulations of tobacco. A person must be 18 years of age or older to purchase e-cigs/vapes.

Vapes and Teens
E-Cigs/Vapes are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States. Their easy availability, alluring advertisements, various e-liquid flavors, and the belief that they're safer than cigarettes have helped make them appealing to this age group. 

The teen years are critical for brain development, which continues into young adulthood. Young people who use nicotine products in any form, including e-cigarettes, are uniquely at risk for long-lasting effects. Because nicotine impacts the development of the brain's reward system, continued e-cigarette use can not only lead to nicotine addiction, but it also can make other drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine more pleasurable to a teen's developing brain.

Nicotine also impacts the development of brain circuits that control attention and learning. Other risks include mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control—failure to fight an urge or impulse that may harm oneself or others.

The 
Get Smart About Drugs, a DEA Resource for parents educators and caregivers, announced an increase in teens vaping marijuana. Vaping marijuana (THC oil) can be more dangerous than smoking the drug. This is because people often vape a higher concentration of THC which, in turn, intensifies the high and can increase the "likelihood of addiction and adverse medical consequences (Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of NIDA)." 
 
Studies have found that regular marijuana use during the teen years disrupts brain development and can also lead to problems with attention span, behavior and impulse control in adulthood.

Besides health risks, using a vaporizer for marijuana can also be easier for teens hide. They generally don’t leave behind a mess and many vape devices can be concealed in the palm of one’s hand.

To get more information about Teen Vaping visit the Get Smart About Drugs website:
https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/content/teens-and-vaping

For more information about Tobacco, Nicotine and E-Cigs visit NIDA's website:
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products.



If you or a family member is experiencing a mental health or an alcohol or other drug-related emergency, seek immediate assistance by calling the24-hour Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Crisis, Information and Referral Hotline: (216) 623-6888 or the United Way's First Call for Help, 211 or (216) 436-2000.
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