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About Tobacco and Nicotine

obacco is a leafy plant grown around the world. In 2007, four countries—China, Brazil, India, and the United States—produced two-thirds of the world’s tobacco. Tobacco is currently grown in 16 states in the United States. The largest tobacco-producing states are Kentucky and North Carolina. They account for 71% of all tobacco grown in the United States.
Dried tobacco leaves can be:
  • Shredded and smoked in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes
  • Ground into snuff, which is sniffed through the nose
  • Cured and made into chewing tobacco
  • Moistened, ground or shredded into dip, which is placed in the mouth between the lip and gum
Tobacco is an addictive substance because it contains the chemical nicotine. Like heroin or cocaine, nicotine changes the way your brain works and causes you to crave more and more nicotine. This addiction to nicotine is what makes it so difficult to quit smoking and other tobacco.

Why is nicotine addictive?

When you use tobacco products, nicotine is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. Within 10 seconds of entering your body, the nicotine reaches your brain. It causes the brain to release adrenaline, creating a buzz of pleasure and energy.
The buzz fades quickly though, and leaves you feeling tired, a little down, and wanting the buzz again. This feeling is what makes you light up the next cigarette. Since your body is able to build up a high tolerance to nicotine, you’ll need to smoke more and more cigarettes in order to get the nicotine’s pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal symptoms.
This up and down cycle repeats over and over, leading to addiction. Addiction keeps people smoking even when they want to quit. Breaking addiction is harder for some people than others. Many people need more than one try in order to quit. Learn about quitting.
Research suggests that children and teens may be especially sensitive to nicotine, making it easier for them to become addicted. The younger smokers are when they start, the more likely they are to become addicted. In fact, about three out of four high school smokers will become adult smokers.

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