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Tobacco - Prevention of Tobacco Dependence

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Tobacco - Prevention of Tobacco Dependence

5 min read


Tobacco use is the major preventable cause of death across the globe and is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Read further to know more.

Written by

Dr. Surabhi

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Preetha. J

Published At April 30, 2014
Reviewed AtJuly 21, 2023


In many countries, tobacco is consumed both in smoked (like cigarettes and bidi) and smokeless forms (like Zarda, Gutka, and inhalation of snuff). The prevalence of such consumption is alarmingly high at about 20 percent. The harmful effects of both smoked and smokeless forms are due to their active ingredient, nicotine. Addiction to tobacco is higher than other types of addictions because the sale of tobacco is legal, easily accessible, and can be taken in public.

Why Are a Few People Addicted to Tobacco Consumption?

An ingredient called nicotine is the main chemical in tobacco to which a few individuals are addicted. Nicotine creates a rush of adrenaline when it enters the bloodstream or when inhaled through cigarette smoke. It also sets off an increase in the level of dopamine. Dopamine is also known as the brain’s ‘happy’ chemical. Dopamine triggers the area of the brain that is linked with reward and pleasure. Prolonged use of tobacco can result in both physical and psychological addiction. This holds true even for smokeless forms of tobacco like chewing tobacco and snuff.

What Are the Signs of Nicotine Addiction?

The signs are as follows:

  • Inability to stop chewing or smoking tobacco, despite making attempts to quit the habit.

  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit. These symptoms include sweating, irritability, shaky hands, or rapid heart rate.

  • Has a craving for tobacco products to feel ‘normal’ or requires them in times of stress.

  • Continues the habit of smoking even in the presence of health issues.

  • The habit of chewing or smoking after every meal or having a strong desire to smoke or chew after long periods of not using them like after a meeting or after a movie.

  • Withdrawal from social events where tobacco use or smoking is prohibited.

What Are the Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal?

The physical symptoms are as follows:

  • Dizziness.

  • Difficulty sleeping.

  • Tightness of chest.

  • Headache.

  • Constipation, gas, or diarrhea.

  • Nausea.

  • Weight gain and increased hunger.

  • Coughing, throat irritation, dry mouth, and nasal drip.

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Feeling agitated, uneasy, and angry.

  • Inability to focus or concentrate.

  • Depression or sadness.

  • Fatigued, or feeling worn out.

When Do the Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal Begin?

The onset of symptoms is within a few hours after the last dose. They will peak on the second or the third day following quitting tobacco. A blend of medication and therapy may be required when one decides to quit the habit. In such cases, professional help may be required for proper guidance.

Are There Any Treatments to Get Rid of Tobacco Addiction?

There are a variety of treatment options to surpass tobacco addiction. These include:

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy: It is also known as the ‘patch’. In this method, a small sticker that resembles a bandage is placed on the arm or back. This patch supplies low levels of nicotine to the body which helps a person to slowly wean off from tobacco usage.

  • Nicotine Gum: This is a kind of nicotine replacement therapy and can aid people who require oral fixation of chewing or smoking. People who are on the initiative to quit tobacco consumption might have the desire to pop something into their mouths. In such cases, the nicotine gum releases small doses of nicotine which gets rid of the cravings.

  • Inhaler or Spray: These are available over the counter and can deliver low doses of nicotine without the use of tobacco. Nicotine is sent to the lungs when the spray is inhaled.

  • Medications: Doctors might prescribe certain antidepressants or high blood pressure drugs to overcome cravings. The preferred medication is Varenicline (Chantix). Even Bupropion (Wellbutrin) may also be prescribed. Bupropion is an antidepressant that is used off-label by physicians in the cessation of smoking because it can minimize the urge to smoke.

  • Behavioral and Psychological Therapy: These therapy methods include hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and neuro-linguistic programming. These methods enable those who are addicted to tobacco and other substances to change their opinions about addiction. A blend of various therapeutic methods may be required and can differ for every individual. One must seek medical help to determine which method would be suitable and beneficial for them.

How to Prevent Tobacco Dependence?

A few measures that can be taken to avoid tobacco dependence include:

  • One must not smoke in the first place.

  • A smoke-free environment should be created by the individual.

  • One must not get carried off by peer pressure.

  • One must think about both the personal and social repercussions of smoking

What Are a Few Tips That Can Be Followed to Quit Tobacco Consumption?

A few tips are as follows:

  • One must decide why they want to quit and set a ‘quit date’. Next, all family and friends should be informed about the resolution and the quit date

  • All the things that can trigger the desire like ashtrays should be disposed of. Even one must refrain from getting in contact with those friends or relatives who could act as a triggering source and if possible, ask them also to quit smoking. One must keep themselves away from all the situations that can tempt one to smoke.

  • The idea to quit cigarette and tobacco consumption may be criticized by peers and one may be considered ‘uncool’ or ‘less manly’ but it must be remembered that getting rid of an unhealthy addiction can only be done by those who have strong determination.

  • A list of why the previous attempts failed should be prepared and one must work on these causes one by one.

  • A table with two columns should be charted out. In one column, one can write how one envisions their life 25 years from now if they continue smoking. In the other column, one can write how their life will be if they quit smoking.

  • Quitting smoking can lead to an array of withdrawal symptoms. But with the help of proper guidance from a psychiatrist (an expert in treating mental health conditions including substance use disorders), one can easily get over the symptoms.

  • Exercising regularly releases natural neurotransmitters in the brain which help to elevate the mood without reverting to smoking.

  • Craving to smoke or chew tobacco can be frequent and most intense in the first week after one quits the habit. Whenever one experiences a craving, they can engage themselves in activities that will keep them busy for a while. This may include talking to a friend, cooking, taking a healthy snack, or listening to music. The aim is to keep oneself engaged in that crucial time instead of giving up.

  • Thoughts like “Smoking just one cigarette will do no harm” or “I will chew tobacco just once to get over the severe withdrawal symptoms” will push one downhill. One must always remember ‘why’ they chose to quit smoking in the first place.

  • Realistic goals should be set and followed. The goal should center around complete abstinence and the idea of occasional smoking or chewing tobacco should be erased.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Tobacco Consumption?

Prolonged use of tobacco can result in fatal consequences like:

  • Heart disease.

  • Stroke.

  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, and lungs.

  • Chronic lung diseases like bronchitis (inflammation of the airways that lead to the lungs), and emphysema (a lung disease that results in shortness of breath).


Refraining from tobacco consumption can be hard, but it can be done with strong determination and appropriate guidance. It is possible to fail in the first try but with consistency and perseverance, one can sail through this addictive phase. One can notice beneficial effects within the first 20 minutes after quitting. The heart rate and blood pressure drops to normal levels. With time, numerous other benefits can be experienced. It is better to get help from a psychiatrist when one decides to quit any addictive habits since psychiatrists incorporate a blend of medications and behavioral treatments to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Is Tobacco Dependence Treated?

Tobacco dependence can be treated using nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement comes in the form of chewable gums. One can start with taking 2 mg gums. This can be increased to 4 mg gums for heavy smokers. One can begin with chewing gum every two hours. Later this gum is to be used only when there is an urge to smoke.


What Are the 5 A’s in Tobacco Treatment?

- Ask: Ask about the tobacco use status.
- Advice: Advice the person to quit tobacco, stating its adverse effects.
- Assess: Assess the willingness of the person to quit tobacco.
- Assist: Assist the person in taking steps to help quit tobacco.
- Arrange: Arrange for assistance and follow-up that may help in quitting the tobacco habit.


What Do You Mean by Tobacco Dependence?

A person may be tobacco-dependent when they cannot stop using nicotine. Nicotine is a chemical present in tobacco that makes it addictive. In addition, nicotine produces certain chemicals in the brain that cause dependence. Since the effect of nicotine comes down after a while, one tends to use another. This, over time, becomes dependence or addiction.


What Are the Effective Tobacco Cessation Programmes?

The various effective tobacco cessation programs include increasing the price of tobacco, a mass campaign about the ill effects of smoking, and government policies about tobacco ban.


What Are the Effects of Nicotine Dependency?

The effects of nicotine dependency can include symptoms like the inability to quit smoking, continuing smoking despite health issues, mood changes such as irritability and anger, loss of appetite, and giving up on social activities.


What Are the Possible Risks of Nicotine Dependency?

The various risks associated with nicotine dependence include adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, its impact on the person's mental state, it may lead to lung disorders, it may also cause cancer of the mouth and respiratory tract.


Does Nicotine Cause Addiction or Dependence?

Nicotine products such as tobacco cause both addiction and dependence. Nicotine present in tobacco produces certain chemicals that increase its dependency. With the increase in its dependence, tobacco has become an addiction.


What Are the Public Health Strategies to Prevent Smoking?

The various public health strategies to prevent smoking include increasing the price of tobacco, a mass campaign about the ill effects of smoking, and government policies about tobacco regulation.


What Type of Chemical Is Nicotine?

Nicotine is a neuro-stimulating drug that hastens neuronal communication between the brain and the body. It is the major constituent of tobacco. It is a psychoactive chemical in nature.


What Are the Various Forms of Tobacco?

Tobacco is mainly available in six forms. The six forms of tobacco are cigarettes, snuffs or dips, pipe tobacco, cigars, chewing tobacco, and herbal cigarettes.


What Are the Effects of Smoking on a Woman's Body?

Smoking can have harmful effects on a woman's reproductive system. It may lead to decreased fertility, irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), and early menopause. It may also lead to stillbirth, preterm delivery, and low birth weight if tobacco is consumed during pregnancy.


Can Nicotine Cause Damage to the Brain?

Nicotine can alter the brain's function by altering the synapses. Nicotine can alter the brain's function by altering the synapses. These alterations can be reversed upon discontinuing the habit.


Can Smoking Cause Menstrual Changes?

Smoking can alter the menstrual cycle of a woman due to estrogen fluctuations. Smoking can shorten the periods, and cause irregular ovulation and menstruation. It can also cause painful menstruation. It may also lead to early menopause.


What Do You Mean by Primary Prevention of Tobacco?

The primary prevention of tobacco is to prevent people from starting to smoke. Primary prevention can be achieved by advocating the ill effects of smoking, formulating laws to prevent smoking, and increasing the prices of tobacco products.
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Dr. Surabhi

Dr. Surabhi



prevention of tobacco
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