What is Tobacco Dependence Disease?

Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco products, creates dependence among tobacco users that makes quitting difficult, despite the fact that tobacco use is detrimental to health. Mayo Clinic researchers note that smokers experience higher rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer than nonsmokers.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. However, related statistics from the CDC suggest that cigarette smoking among American adults reached the lowest levels ever recorded in 2017, with 14% identifying as cigarette smokers. The same report also suggested that about 47 million U.S. adults (or one in five) used a tobacco product in 2017, including smoked, smokeless and electronic tobacco products. The 14% figure represents a drop from 15.5% of adults reported as cigarette smokers in 2016. The decline comes as a result of significant public health efforts, according to CDC officials. 

The array of available tobacco products has evolved over recent years. The CDC report indicates that in 2017, cigarettes were the most commonly used product among U.S. adults, followed by cigars, cigarillos, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and pipes. Among the 47 million adults who currently use tobacco products of any kind, around 9 million reported the use of two or more tobacco products. Most common among those combinations were cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year cigarette smoking kills an estimated 480,000 Americans, and about 16 million Americans suffer from a smoking-related illness. Using even small amounts of tobacco can quickly lead to nicotine dependence. Among the symptoms that could indicate such an addiction are the inability to stop smoking despite concerted efforts to do so; experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop smoking; continuing to smoke in spite of health problems; and avoiding social or recreational situations where smoking is prohibited.

Scientific studies document the fact that many smokers experience significant obstacles to stopping a smoking habit. Many smokers have made efforts and have failed to stop smoking several times before achieving a long-term abstinence from smoking. Likewise, it’s documented that efforts to stop smoking are more likely to be successful if a treatment plan is followed. Discussions with your health care provider can address the physical and behavioral aspects of your nicotine dependence. Counselors who are specially trained to help people eliminate smoking habits can help to develop a smooth transition to smoking abstinence. Some medications can also be helpful to reach the goal of quitting smoking.

The health benefits of quitting smoking are numerous. Take the first step toward quitting by consulting with your health care provider. Together you can develop a treatment plan that will provide a way forward to success in overcoming a habit that’s detrimental to your health.

Ithaca Primary Care

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