Nicotine disorders are caused by the main psychoactive ingredient in tobacco. Nicotine is a physically and psychologically addictive drug. It is the most influential dependence-producing drug in the United States and worldwide, and its use is associated with many serious health risks.
Nicotine is the most addictive and psychoactive chemical in tobacco, a plant native to the New World. Early European explorers learned to smoke its leaves from indigenous peoples who had been using tobacco for hundreds of years. They took tobacco back to Europe, where it became immensely popular. Tobacco became a major source of income for the American colonies and later for the United States. Advances in cigarette-making technology caused a boom in cigarette smoking in the early 1900s. Before the early twentieth century, most people who smoked had used pipes, cigars, or chewing tobacco.
In the 1950s researchers began to link cigarette smoking to certain respiratory diseases and cancers. In 1964 the Surgeon General of the United States issued the first health report on smoking. Cigarette smoking peaked in the United States in the 1970s, then began to decline as health concerns about tobacco increased. In 1971 cigarette advertising was banned from television, although tobacco products continue to be heavily advertised in other media even today. By 1998, it was estimated that 25% of Americans (about 60 million people) were active smokers, 25% were former smokers, and the remaining half have never smoked. About 85% of active smokers are addicted to nicotine.
Pure nicotine is a colorless liquid that turns brown and smells like tobacco when exposed to air. Nicotine can be absorbed through the skin, the lining of the mouth and nose, and the moist tissues lining the lungs. Cigarettes are the most efficient nicotine delivery system. Once tobacco smoke is inhaled, nicotine reaches the brainin less than 15 seconds. Since people who smoke pipes and cigars do not inhale, they absorb nicotine more slowly. Nicotine in chewing tobacco and snuff is absorbed through the mucous membranes lining the mouth and nasal passages. In 2002 a new smokeless tobacco product was test-marketed in the United States. Called Ariva, it is compressed tobacco powder about the size of a vitamin pill that is placed between the cheek and gum until it dissolves completely. The nicotine it contains is also absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth.
Tish Davidson A.M., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,