Is heavy cigarette smoking considered substance abuse?

Fredrick Wade
Addiction Medicine

Without a doubt it is an addictive substance, which has by some been likened to the use of heroin. It is certainly equally as hard to quit!  It has a calming effect on its user and provides a variety of peripheral addictive components as well. The cigarette itself is a nicotine delivery system, which when inhaled has a very fast acting and calming impact on its user. Some additional components are the holding of the cigarette which acts almost as a physical prop that also has a securing impact on the user, the packaging with its inviting overtures despite the label warning, and the high level media blitz that has a strong undercurrent of strategic targeting for the development of the next generational set of users. This is accomplished with all of the overt and subliminal messaging that is utilized to prepare generations to come to continue to smoke despite all the knowledge we have of nicotine and it’s carcinogenic dangers.   

Robert Rozsay
Addiction Medicine
Without a doubt cigarette smoking is an addiction. Simply stated, you build a tolerance and require more over time. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that responds to youir immediate need. Stimulates you (morning cigarette with coffee) or relaxes you (cigarette after dinner). Because of this property cigarette smoking is hare to stop.

The answer to that question is a resounding yes! Nicotine is an addictive substance inhaled through cigarette smoke. It gives the initial rush or calm when you first inhale. Addiction to nicotine is as pervasive and difficult to stop as other drugs. It's just legal and therefore easier to access. 

Along with the addiction, smoking also has other devastating effects on the cardiovascular system, the development of cancers, etc. to the smoker and those around them. Because so much is now known publicly about the harms of tobacco smoking, its social acceptability is dropping as well. There are laws in many jurisdictions limiting where and when smoking permitted to protect the health of bystanders from second hand smoke. 

Heavy cigarette and tobacco smoking equates to substance abuse and remains one of the VA’s biggest public health challenges.

Many veterans report they began using tobacco while in the military, and the rate of smoking among veterans in the VA health care system is higher than among the U.S. population. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.