Tobacco is a plant that contains nicotine, which is the chemical that makes someone addicted to tobacco.
- Every 10 minutes, two Canadian teenagers start smoking cigarettes (Health Canada).
Cigs, Smokes, Fags, Cancer sticks
How it works
Nicotine travels through the bloodstream and reaches the brain in 10 seconds. Tobacco is also made up of tar which is made up of thousands of chemicals. Smoking and even inhaling second-hand smoke will cause the lungs to be filled with tar which makes it harder to breathe (CAMH).
First time smokers may not react well to nicotine. In fact, most of them will feel dizzy and nauseous. Regular smokers may experience faster breathing, a decreased appetite and an increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Long-term smoking can cause potentially fatal diseases such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory failure (CAMH).
Non-smokers who have been exposed to second-hand smoke on a continual basis can also suffer and possibly die from fatal diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease (Canadian Cancer Society).
Tolerance and dependence
People usually develop a quick tolerance and a physical dependency on tobacco. In cases of withdrawal, someone may experience: headaches, anxiety and irritability, lack of concentration, decreased heart rate and blood pressure and extreme cravings (Health Canada: Addiction).
According to the Tobacco Act, retailers can only sell tobacco to individuals aged 18 and older. However, Nova-Scotia, New-Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario and British-Colombia increased the minimum age to 19.
Under the Non-Smokers Health Act (1985), federally-regulated workplaces are smoke-free under federal legislation. Since 2008, all provinces and territories have implemented smoking bans in public and enclosed places such as restaurants and bars.
What you can do
For more information on tobacco and nicotine, please talk to your family doctor or your school counsellor. If you wish to quit smoking, visit the Quit4life website made especially for youth.