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Tobacco and Nicotine Dependence

Tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco (i.e., snuff and chewing tobacco) contain nicotine, a psychoactive drug. Repeated use of tobacco can lead to nicotine dependence, which is characterized by a craving for tobacco, loss of control over the use of tobacco, physiological tolerance (i.e., needing more of the drug to get the same desired effect), and distressing symptoms of nicotine withdrawal (e.g., irritability, difficulty concentrating, negative moods, and increased hunger) after abstaining from tobacco for as few as 1 to 2 hours. The long-term health consequences of tobacco use and dependence are substantial, with about half the long-term smokers dying prematurely of a smoking-related disease. This entry reviews the epidemiology of tobacco use, the addictiveness of tobacco, and smoking-related health consequences as ...

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