Everyone knows that using tobacco is bad for us. Whether it’s a traditional cigarette, smokeless tobacco, or vaping, the health effects tobacco has on our bodies are undeniable. According to the CDC, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death. But people continue to smoke. Why?
Each person will have an individual reason why they choose to smoke, but everyone will share the main reasons it’s hard to quit.
- Your brain is used to smoking. The nicotine in tobacco is addictive, just like any other substance. Over time, the brain changes and begins to need nicotine to function.
- Your routines include smoking. It’s no secret that we love routines. When smoking becomes part of your routine, changing it is complicated. Whether it’s the loss of social time, the shift in how we deal with emotions, or not smoking while doing something specific, changing any routine is hard and when combined with reason #1, quitting can feel impossible.
The good news is millions of people have quit smoking for good. There are a variety of ways to quit smoking—and data shows us most adults who smoke want to quit smoking. Picking the best way to quit for good will depend on a variety of factors, including what kind of tobacco you use.
Tobacco has a long history of being used in places across the globe. Some Indigenous tribes use tobacco for religious or spiritual reasons. Like many resources, it once was used as payment and carried significant value. Tobacco smoking, chewing, cigars and cigarettes have been around for hundreds of years and were prevalent in society.
1880s-Cigarette Machine DevelopedTobacco use was primary through pipes, cigars, and chew until the late 1880s when the first cigarette machine was developed. This reduced the cost of tobacco significantly. From then until 2014, cigarettes became the most popular form of consumption. Believe it or not, 100 years ago, people thought smoking was good for you.
1960s-First Side Effect ReportIt wasn’t until the 1960s that enough evidence was gathered to link smoking to diseases like cancer. There were studies before this, but the societal understanding of the health effects of smoking is attributed to the 1964 Surgeon General’s report. Tobacco companies came back and added filters to their cigarettes, advertising that this took care of the problem
1980s-Updated ReportIn the late 1980s, another surgeon general’s report acknowledged that quitting smoking wasn’t a moral or will-power issue, but rather the same issue as other chemicals: smoking is addictive. While great information, smoking was still very common and allowed almost everywhere. It’s important to note that parallel to the smoking research, second-hand smoke research took off in the 1970s and ‘80s. The results of these studies were also included in the 1986 surgeon general’s report. With the change in communication channels and increasing ease of accessing information, this report started to truly change the way tobacco was used.
1970s-Restrictions BeganRestrictions on smoking began in 1973, with Arizona being the first to have designated smoke-free places , with other states following to restrict where smoking was allowed. In 1990, San Luis Obispo, California was the first city that enacted a city-wide ban on public smoking . In 1995, California banned smoking in all restaurants in the state . Bans and restrictions on where people could smoke in public continued throughout the country as the effects of secondhand smoke became clearer. As of March 2023, 28 states have banned public indoor smoking, no matter the location.
1986-First Vaping PenWith the shifting public opinions, tobacco trends shifted again. A version of the current vaping pens first came out in 1986, when a battery powered cigarette that would heat the tobacco, which was in liquid form, up without burning it was released. The logistics of it were not made for long-term success and the product faded away. However, in 2003, the first modern day vaping device was invented in China . It hit the market here in 2007 and has grown in popularity . In fact, since 2014, vaping has been the most popular way to use tobacco.
Smoking in Public Places Law
For Washington state, the Smoking in Public Places law went into effect in 2005, which banned smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces in the state. It also requires at least 25 feet of distance from the openings of these locations.Smoking in Public Places Law
State Vapor Product Law
In 2016, Washington passed the State Vapor Product Law, regulating vaping sales and banning public vaping in the same places as public smoking.>State Vapor Product Law
**The 29 federally recognized Indigenous Tribes in Washington State are 29 separate nations which are not governed by the US government. The laws for tobacco use on tribal land are governed and enforced by the Tribe.**
Tobacco is grown, harvested, and sold like any other crop. But unlike the wheat we see in Lincoln County, tobacco is dangerous from the start. Green tobacco sickness is when too much nicotine is absorbed through the skin from contact with the tobacco plant. Despite its early warning that it is not safe, the sale and use of commercial tobacco continues.
Cigarettes were the most common form of tobacco until vaping took over in 2014. The Oxford Dictionary defines a cigarette as a “thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper for smoking.” There are a variety of cigarettes which each offer a different experience. However, whether its filter-less or filtered, menthol or regular, smoking cigarettes is detrimental to our health.
Vaping is technically a type of smokeless tobacco, but given the rise in popularity, it has become its own type of tobacco. Vaping is the more common term for e-cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS. Vaping is done through a battery-operated device to heat up a liquid, which contains nicotine (or marijuana), flavoring, and chemicals. When the liquid is heated, it creates the vapors which are then inhaled and exhaled. There are more than 450 different kinds of vaping devices on the market. Vaping is the number one form of tobacco used by youth smokers. In 2023, 1 out of every 22 middle school student and 1 in every 10 high school student had vaped within the last month
Cigars and Cigarellos
Cigars and Cigarillos are unique as they not only contain the tobacco within their casing, but their casing is traditionally a tobacco leaf. In fact, according to the US tax code, the wrapping must contain tobacco as well. It’s tobacco on tobacco! Cigars are the largest form for smoking tobacco, with cigarillos being smaller than cigars but larger than cigarettes.
There are unique perspectives on cigar smoking which show clear differences between race and socioeconomic class. Cigarello usage is highest in young Black male populations, while cigar smoking is higher with older while male populations. Cigar smoking is perceived as more attractive than cigarette smoking with adults and seen to be less addictive than cigarettes with youth.
Smokeless tobacco is defined as tobacco usage through chewing or snuffing. Tobacco meant for chewing is simply dried tobacco leaves which are chewed to activate nicotine. Snuff comes in two forms—dry and wet. Dry is not common in the US, as it is finely ground and meant to be snorted. Wet snuff, also called dip, is loose or pre-packed pouched of ground tobacco that is placed around the gum and the nicotine is absorbed through the gumline.
Smokeless tobacco was in the news in 2023 when the FDA noted that it was better than cigarettes. Context is critical here as they said it was only better when looking at lung cancer. Since this type of tobacco is not inhaled and never gets to the lungs, that makes sense. It does, however, have a significantly higher rate of cancer in the mouth and esophagus.
Pipes are rare in the tobacco use world—it’s so small there is not a pipe-smoking only statistic, as they lump it in with smokeless tobacco, which was only 2.6% in 2020. Research shows pipe smokers are generally male, over 45, and located in the Midwest. But it is a form of tobacco use, with the dried leaves being placed in a pipe, lit, and then inhaled.
Hookahs are similar to pipes, but uses charcoal to heat the tobacco and water to cool the smoke before it is inhaled. While some may think this layer of “filtration” helps lower the risk, it does not. In fact, because hookahs use charcoal to heat the tobacco, there are increased levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and other carcinogens. Additionally, the juice the hookah produces is linked to increased mouth cancers.
If you’re under 18, you’re considered a youth by the scientific community, although it’s illegal to buy or possess tobacco products until you’re 21. Even then, just because you can buy it and use it doesn’t mean you should.
While tobacco usage is bad at any age, it is particularly harmful to young people. Studies show addiction to nicotine is stronger and faster than in adults—you only need 5mg of nicotine a day to develop an addiction. The average single cigarette has anywhere from 6 to 28 mg of nicotine in it. Vaping isn’t any better, as vaping for 5 days is equivalent to smoking 18 cigarettes. It’s no wonder why 75% of teen smokers grow into adult smokers. In fact, 87% of adult smokers had their first smoke by 18 and 95% by 21.
Smoking is dangerous and we all know it, so why do teens start? There are lots of reasons, with peer pressure (whether actual or perceived), effective tobacco marketing, and many think they’ll smoke now and quit by the time they’re out of high school. In fact, only 5% of teen smokers thought they’d be smoking once they graduated.
Many choose vapes , thinking they are a better alternative to smoking. But the vapor part of vaping isn’t water and it’s just as dangerous. Even those that are labeled as nicotine free normally aren’t, as there are no rules on how they are made
For many teens there is a disconnect between the risks and their situation, with many thinking the risks are only when they are an adult. But the risks of smoking aren’t just when you’re an adult. Tobacco affects the development of your lungs, damages your heart, and is even associated with increased ADHD in teens. Not to mention the side effects of bad breath, yellow teeth, and smelly fingers are immediate.
It doesn’t matter if you “only smoke/vape when you go out,” or you “only smoke/vape a little.” Light smoking (smoking only a cigarette at a time), intermittent smoking (smoking here and there) and social smoking (smoking only with friends) is still using tobacco. And using tobacco in any amount has been shown to have the same health risks of long-term tobacco use. Plus, every cigarette (or its nicotine equivalent) shortens your life by 11 minutes, on average. That may not seem like a lot, but a pack of cigarettes or a 5% JUUL pen shortens your life by 220 minutes. That’s over 3 and ½ hours…that’s longer than Oppenheimer.
There is good news though—if you want to quit, there are a ton of resources and supports out there. And plenty of them with teens in mind. From apps to text-lines, from virtual meetings to in-person, accessing quitting support has never been easier. Quitting itself is hard. And most people don’t succeed the first time. BUT you don’t have to do it alone, which increase your chance of success by up to 80%!
Your Life. Your Time.
1 cigarette takes away 11 minutes from your life, on average. 1 pack of cigarettes or 1 5% JUUL pen takes away 220 minute from your life, on average.Risks of Occasional Tobacco Use
Every mom wants the best for their baby, with many shopping for months to create the perfect, warm, happy space. But creating the best for baby begins before they are even born! If you are pregnant and a tobacco user, quitting is the very best thing you can do.
The effects of tobacco use vary, depending on the type of tobacco used. From cancer to heart issues, skin concerns to increases in stroke, tobacco is one of the worst things we can put into our bodies. Smoking while pregnant is not only bad for mom thought—it’s bad for baby. Smoking while pregnant can increase the chance of a miscarriage, a variety of pregnancy complications, and premature delivery.
Babies whose mothers used tobacco while pregnant have a higher rate of low birth weight, organ development issues, increased risk of cleft lip or palate, and brain development concerns which continue into their childhood. Once born, babies who live in smokefree environments are less at risk for SIDS, are healthier with fewer coughs, chest colds, pneumonia, ear infections, and other childhood illnesses.
Some moms think vaping is better than smoking. It is not better. Nicotine damages the development of baby’s brain and other vital organs. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a cigarette or a vape.
Lincoln County has a 8.6% rate of maternal smoking, significantly higher than the state average of 2.8% and the national average of 4.6% . In fact, in 2022, maternal smoking was rated as one of the top six health concerns for our community.
The good news is that while quitting can be challenging, finding the resources and support to quit is easier than ever. People who quit often fail at least once, but those who quit with support have an 80% increase in successfully quitting. And most of the resources are 100% free!