Tobacco is a plant. Its leaves are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for a variety of effects.
Tobacco is an addictive substance because it contains the chemical nicotine.
Tobacco contains more than 19 known cancer-causing chemicals (most are called "tar.")
HEALTH RISKS OF SMOKING OR USING SMOKELESS TOBACCO
There are many more reasons to quit using tobacco. Knowing the serious health risks may help motivate you to quit. When used over a long period, tobacco and related chemicals, such as tar and nicotine, can increase your risk of many health problems.
Heart and blood vessel problems:
Blood clots and aneurysms in the brain, which can lead to stroke
Blood clots in the legs, which may travel to the lungs
If you join smoking cessation programs, you have a much better chance of success. Such programs are offered by hospitals, health departments, community centers, and work sites.
Boffetta P, Straif K. Use of smokeless tobacco and risk of myocardial infarction and stroke: systematic review with meta-analysis. BMJ. 2009;339:b3060. PMID 19690343. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19690343
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Counseling and interventions to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease in adults and pregnant women. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150:551-555. PMID 19380855. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19380855
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.