Tobacco

"The number one cause of preventable death in the world."

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What is Tobacco?

Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves, which are dried and fermented before being put in tobacco products. It comes in the form of traditional cigarettes, hookah, e-cigarettes, smokeless, chew, and more. The main ingredient in tobacco is nicotine, which in its purest form has the ability to kill a person within an hour if injected into the blood stream.


How Does Tobacco Affect the Body?

Tobacco use, especially smoking, has been proven to harm nearly every organ in the body. Every year world-wide, more than 5 million people die due to tobacco use. Even non-smokers are affected by tobacco use through secondhand smoke. Here are some ways smoking can affect a person and those around them:

First Hand Smokers

  • Cancers
  • Bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia
  • Lower lung capacity
  • Heart disease or stroke
  • Cataracts
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Aging skin
  • Yellow teeth
  • Complications in pregnancy

Second Hand Smoker

  • Increased risk of lung cancer
  • Breathing problems
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Learning and behavior problems, sudden infant death syndrome, lung infection, ear problems, asthma in children whose mother smoked while pregnant

The E-Cigarette

The tobacco industry's newest form of target marketing comes in the form of a vaporizer.

There's been an incredible amount of prevention and education surrounding the harmful effects of tobacco since 1998, leading to a decline in smoking over the last two decades, but tobacco companies are always looking for ways to increase their profits. They claim that smoking e-cigarettes is a safe alternative to conventional smoking and something you can use to quit for good, but that is not entirely true. Tobacco companies wanting you to quit is a conflict of interest. Whether you are smoking or "vaping" (using e-cigs), you are still inhaling nicotine, the main and most addictive ingredient in tobacco products. Nicotine, in its pure form, is a strong poison that is commonly used in pesticides. A small dose injected directly into the blood stream can kill a person within an hour. E-liquids currently are not currently regulated, meaning it could have any amount of nicotine in it, or not knowing what ingredients are in the e-liquid.


Tips from Former Smokers

 
 

The history of the tobacco industry and how they market their products.

"Younger adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers..."

Natural tobacco has always been a very sacred traditional plant for Native Americans (FYI - not for Native Hawaiians).

Throwback. When the pilgrims arrived, tobacco became one of their most important crops. Fast-forward to mid-20th century, tobacco companies (such as R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Philip Morris, Inc.[now ALTRIA], and Brown & Williamson) looking to make more profits started pumping their tobacco plants with more toxic chemicals. What started out as just fertilizer and pesticides soon took an ugly turn. Greed took over and tobacco companies soon began experimenting by pumping more and more toxic products on their crops, even during the drying and packing process. Toxins used included benzene (an additive to petroleum that has been known to cause leukemia), formaldehyde (a product that preserves dead things including humans), ammonia (a toilet and industrial cleaner), acetone (also known as nail polish remover), arsenic (rat poison), and more.

What were they thinking? Not only did they want to create a "super-plant" that was bug proof and yielded bigger, stronger and more frequent crops, they also wanted massive profits. They needed a way to get people to purchase and continue to buy their products. They figured out that including these other chemicals in the process made the tobacco much more addictive. They knowingly creating addiction to an extremely harmful and toxic products to millions of people.

Advertising. Tobacco companies also figured out early on that marketing would play a key role in the spread and acceptance of tobacco products world-wide. Through advertising campaigns as far back as World War II, they got the support of military figures, movie stars, musicians, doctors, dentists, even moms, and also created iconic figures of their own such as the famous Marlboro Man. Two of the men who played the Marlboro Man got lung cancer and eventually died, however they testified against tobacco companies. These companies continue to spend billions of dollars annually and world-wide just to recruit new smokers - especially youth.

But why youth? According to legal documents, "Philip Morris (now known as ALTRIA) felt the prime market was post adolescent kids who were just beginning to smoke as a way of declaring their independence from their parents." Basically they need lasting, new customers! But youth are not their only target...they also started targeting ethnic groups, sub-cultures (such as the hip-hop scene), African-Americans, the LGBTQ community, and so on. Some of these groups were directly targeted through a marketing initiative called "Project S.C.U.M." (subculture urban marketing).

Many people who smoked and chewed tobacco products, especially in the 1950s-1970s, started to suffer from mouth, lung, throat and stomach cancers, glaucoma, heart disease, respiratory complications and other illnesses. Meanwhile, the tobacco companies plead the 5th. In other words, they simply remained quiet or denied every accusation that their product was causing all these ailments. However, in 1998, after many lawsuits, 48 states came out in one major lawsuit, known as the Master Tobacco Settlement, against these companies and won!

 
 

Did You Know?

  • Worldwide, someone dies from tobacco-related causes every 7 seconds.
  • Almost 440,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses in the U.S. every year - more than from alcohol, car crashes, homicides, illicit drug use and risky sexual behaviors combined.
  • Inhaled tobacco smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic and lead. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.
  • Secondhand smoke has higher concentrations of toxins than inhaled smoke which causes lung cancer and premature death in 3,000 nonsmokers each year.
  • Soon after new smokers begin smoking regularly they may notice more coughing, more respiratory illnesses and decreased physical fitness.
  • If you're age 18 and you don't smoke or use other tobacco products, chances are you won't ever start.
  • After 15 years, a former smoker's risk of death returns nearly the level of a person who has never smoked.
  • The tobacco industry spends 42.1 million dollars a year for advertising in Hawaii.
  • 1.7 million packs of cigarettes are bought and/or smoked by youth each year. 1,400 youth in Hawaii become daily smokers each year.
  • A statewide collaborative effort between law enforcement, merchants, schools, government and prevention agencies has contributed to a significant decrease in tobacco use in Hawaii: 60% decrease in middle schools and 40% decrease in high school students.

Infographics


Additional Information on Tobacco