“The ‘Modern’ Cigarette: Is Smoking Riskier Today?” by Joanne H. Ebner, RN, BSN, COHN-S

“The ‘Modern’ Cigarette: Is Smoking Riskier Today?” by Joanne H. Ebner, RN, BSN, COHN-S

Joanne H. Ebner, RN, BSN, COHN-S is a Cancer Prevention Nurse at AAMC. Her article, highlighting the dangers of the modern cigarette, was published in the February edition of the Oncology Nursing Society’s (ONS) newsletter, Prevention/Early Detection.

In 1604 King James VI of Scotland and I of England expressed the following about tobacco smoking (Wikipedia, 2008).

“…a custome lothsome to the eye, hateful to the Nose, harmeful to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomlesse.”

This is one of the earliest anti-tobacco publications; yet, in the 21st century, we still are faced with one of the most pervasive and deadliest products available for human consumption. A number of factors contribute to the perpetuation of tobacco dependence. One factor worth examining is the “modern” cigarette, the science behind making a more addictive, and deadly, cigarette.

Nicotine, known to be the addictive chemical naturally occurring in the tobacco plant, is a powerful psychoactive drug. It may be surprising to note that, compared with cocaine and morphine, nicotine is 5 to 10 times more potent in producing psychoactive effects in humans (Kozlowski, Henningfield, & Brigham, 2001). Smoking tobacco is the most efficient means of delivering nicotine into the body. The relatively large surfaces of the lungs allow for easy absorption. Inhaled nicotine from cigarettes gets into the bloodstream and consequently the brain much faster than nicotine administered through other methods.

Nicotine may not be the only substance that contributes to addiction. New research is emerging regarding the “changing cigarette.” Advancing science is not only advantageous to understanding and treating addiction but also contributes to the promotion of addiction. A look at recent headlines provides a glimpse into the emergence of the new cigarette “Nicotine Up Sharply in Many Cigarettes,” Washington Post, August 31, 2006; “Philip Morris Admits Making Cigarettes More Addictive,” Sidney Morning Herald, July 27, 2000; “Cigarettes Riskier Today,” Newsmax.com, May 18, 2009. The “modern” cigarette, according to new research, is being engineered to be more addictive. Additives increase the levels of “free” nicotine enhancing the addictive properties of cigarettes. Cocoa is added to dilate the airways of smokers allowing smoke an easier, deeper passage into the lungs. Eugenol and menthol numbs the throat to mask the irritating effects of inhaling hot, chemical-filled smoke, allowing smokers to inhale more deeply.

To read the full article, go to onsopcontent.ons.org/Publications/SIGNewsletters/prev/prev20.1.html#story3

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