Products such as cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and wet and dry snuff contain dried leaves from the tobacco plant. The main chemical in tobacco is nicotine, which is a stimulant drug that speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and body. Tar and carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) are also released when tobacco is burned, such as when it’s smoked. Electronic cigarettes (also known as E cigarettes) don’t contain dried tobacco leaves, but they may still contain nicotine.
Some people believe that smoking ‘light’ or ‘low tar’ cigarettes is less harmful than regular cigarettes. However, there is little difference between the amount of chemicals inhaled by people who smoke ‘light’ cigarettes and those who smoke regular ones.
Passive smoking is when someone breathes in smoke from other people smoking. Passive smoking can cause many of the health problems listed above, so it’s important not to smoke near other people, particularly babies, children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with chronic respiratory conditions.
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries risk.
The effects of using Tobacco with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and dangerous.