Tobacco Addiction

Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of preventable death and disease. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, as it is associated with heart disease, multiple types of cancer and COPD.

Key Highlights
  • More than 480,000 deaths each year are caused by cigarette smoking (CDC)
  • In 2014, an estimated 66.9 million (25.2%) Americans aged 12 or older were current users of a tobacco product. Young adults aged 18 to 25 years had the highest rate of tobacco use, followed by adults aged 26 or older, were 25.8% and youths aged 12 to 7 were 7%.
  • Every year, almost 500,000 people in the US die from smoking-related illnesses. It is estimated that smoking costs the US $175.9 billion in direct medical expenses and $ 150.7 billion in loss of productivity (US Department of Health and Human Resources, 2014 report).
  • Using E-cigarette is called “Vaping”, which is not approved by the FDA as a quit smoking aid. It is also now used to deliver marijuana and other drugs. The E-cigarette aerosol contains nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing agents.
  • In 2016, more than 2 million US middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, 4.3% of middle school students and 11.3% of high school students (CDC, 2016)


Medications for Tobacco Use Disorder
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): A variety of formulations of NRT are now readily available over the counter including transdermal nicotine patch, nicotine spray, nicotine gum and lozenges. These medications assist with reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms, as nicotine is the main addictive ingredient in tobacco. The logic for NRT is that, steady low levels of nicotine will prevent withdrawal symptoms, and will keep people motivated to quit smoking tobacco.
  • Bupropion (Zyban): Bupropion is a prescription medication, was initially approved and marketed as an antidepressant (Wellbutrin) that was also discovered to help people to quit smoking. It blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters, thereby suppressing tobacco craving and assist in quitting smoking.
  • Varenicline (Chantix): Varenicline is also a prescription medication, which affects the part of the brain thought to be involved in the rewarding effects of nicotine. It slightly stimulates the nicotine receptors and blocks the ability of nicotine to activate dopamine (important for the rewarding effects of nicotine) thereby reducing cravings and supporting abstinence from smoking.

This document is created by Azmeena Hashem (Doctor of Nursing Practice, NP-C)

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