TRYING SO HARD TO DROP THE SMOKING HABIT: MORE DETAILS ON THE DIFFICULTY OF QUITTING
Surgeon General’s Warning:
Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks of Your Health.
Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema and May Complicate Pregnancy.
Is it any wonder millions of people smoke? A cigarette helps calm us down and even lose weight. The problem is, once a lot of us start smoking, we can't stop. The habit's addictive! Why? Tobacco contains nicotine, the drug that keeps us coming back. And as we all know the risks of puffing away outweigh the benefits. Nicotine hooks us in, but it's the other 4,000 chemicals that are released as tobacco burns that cause many of the diseases are associated with smoking.
Nicotine does seem to boost concentration, improve memory and control body weight! The downside is, it also adversely affects babies in utero and may explain the link between smoking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Things you didn’t know…
1. What is nicotine?
Together with caffeine and strychnine, nicotine belongs to a group of chemical compounds called alkaloids. They're bitter-tasting, often poisonous substances that are made by plants to discourage animals from eating them. Humans, being somewhat biologically perverse creatures, not only ignore the warning signal but actually seek out such bitter tastes for pleasure.
2. Biological Sources of Nicotine
Most tobacco today comes from the plant Nicotiana tabacum, but there are 66 other species of plants that contain nicotine. 19 of these are native to Australia. In fact Australian Aboriginees may have been the first people to use tobacco. We know they made use of at least 5 species. The leaves were powdered, often mixed with ash and chewed. The nicotine acted both as a stimulant and could reduce hunger so it was carried on long journeys through the desert.
3. Origin Of The Name 'Nicotine'
Tobacco was introduced into Europe by the Spanish. It was hailed as a medicine. There were claims it was effective against rheumatism, asthma, toothache, and ulcerated wounds. One of its greatest advocates was Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal. In 1561 he sent seeds of the tobacco plant to the royal family in France. The plant was subsequently named Nicotiana in his honour and when it was eventually discovered in the 19th century the alkaloid drug was called nicotine.
Tobacco quickly grew in popularity in Europe and Asia. In China, Japan and Russia as well as in Muslim countries, there were harsh penalties for its use - ranging from the slitting of lips to execution. The Roman Catholic Church didn't ban tobacco but it threatened excommunication for anyone who smoked in church.
5. Why Regular Smokers Smoke So Regularly
Nicotine has an extremely short half life. Once inside the body, it breaks down pretty quickly. And that affects how frequently people smoke. You take a big breath of cigarette smoke, the nicotine zips from lungs into bloodstream and goes to the brain where it locks into special receptor sites. But within about 40 minutes it's lost about half its strength and you feel the need for another smoke. So people light up about every 40 minutes or so, and conveniently there are 25 cigarettes in a pack - that's the day divided up into 40 minute periods!
6. How Much Nicotine Actually Reaches Your Brain?
One cigarette may contain 1.2 milligrams of nicotine. It's been claimed that this amount could kill 7 adults if it was injected. However when you smoke you get an incredibly diluted dose. Most of it literally goes up in smoke.