Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. Tobacco use usually begins in early adolescence, and almost all first use occurs before young people graduate from high school. Tobacco advertising also plays an important role in encouraging young people to begin a lifelong addiction to smoking before they are old enough to fully understand its long-term health risk. Approximately 90 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21. An estimated three thousand teenagers begin to smoke each day, and one thousand of them will eventually die as a result. Males tend to have significantly higher rates of smoking prevalence than females. In 2005, 23.9 percent of males currently smoked compared to 18.1 percent of females.
It is generally assumed that the major motivational factor behind smoking is the presence of nicotine, a highly addictive drug. A stimulant, nicotine causes a temporary increase in alertness and a calm feeling. Some studies have found nicotine to be more highly addictive that cocaine or heroin. Although the amount of nicotine inhaled with tobacco smoke is quite small (most of the substance is destroyed by the heat) it is still sufficient to cause physical and/or psychological dependence. The amount of nicotine absorbed by the body from smoking depends on many factors, including the type of tobacco, whether the smoke is inhaled, and whether a filter is used. Ingesting a compound by smoking is one of the most rapid and efficient methods of introducing it into the bloodstream, second only to injection, which allows for the rapid feedback which supports the smokers' ability to titrate their dosage. On average it takes about ten seconds for the substance to reach the brain. As a result of the efficiency of this delivery system, many smokers feel as though they are unable to cease. Of those who attempt cessation and last three months without succumbing... [continues]
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