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Smoking: Just The Facts

Tobacco is a plant that has leaves containing nicotine.

People usually smoke tobacco using:

  • Cigarettes/roll-ups
  • Pipes
  • Shisha
  • Cigars

Sometimes people chew tobacco, but whether it’s smoked or chewed, the nicotine in tobacco can be highly addictive, and both chewing and smoking tobacco can cause serious harm.

Regardless of how long you’ve smoked, stopping smoking can improve your health and energy levels. Many effective treatments are available to help make stopping smoking much more comfortable. Getting the right advice and support to stop really can make all the difference.

Legislation on tobacco

It’s against the law for a retailer to sell any form of tobacco to anyone under the age of 18.

From 1st October 2015 it also became illegal for an adult to purchase any tobacco product or nicotine containing product on behalf of anyone under the age of 18.

What makes smoking harmful?

There are 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke – many of them may cause cancers and other horrible diseases. The labeling on tobacco and cigarette packets groups all the 4,000 chemicals into just 3, which are nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. Well, there wouldn’t be room on the pack to list all 4,000 like food products have to, would there?

  1. Nicotine – this is the addictive chemical in tobacco smoke. On its own, it’s pretty harmless. The trouble is children and young people who experiment with cigarettes can quickly and easily become addicted to the nicotine, and this makes it hard to give up.
  1. Carbon Monoxide – an invisible gas that has no smell and is normally connected with car exhaust fumes and faulty boilers. It is often called the ‘silent killer’ because it can be so dangerous.

Carbon Monoxide:

  • Thickens the blood
  • Pushes up the blood pressure
  • Reduces the space available in the blood cells to carry oxygen round the body

These are some of the reasons why people who smoke often have less energy. Even young smokers who don’t smoke very many cigarettes can be affected.

  1. Tar – The sticky black substance produced by burning tobacco

It’s in the tar that all the other 3,998 chemicals are lurking. This includes many poisons. The chemicals from the tar go from the lungs into the blood stream and then round to every cell of the smoker’s body. This causes damage along the way.

It harms the smoker’s lungs over time, and can also damage the mouth by rotting teeth, damaging gums and making tastebuds stop working properly. The chemicals cause cancers, heart disease and lots of other illnesses.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.

Cross Hatch

Find help in your local area

Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.