The addictive quality of smoking can be attributed to the nicotine that is found in tobacco. When inhaled, nicotine rapidly elicits chemical changes in the brain that induce the characteristic feeling of pleasure and relief frequently reported by smokers.
As early as the mid-20th Century, evidence of a causative link between cigarette smoking and a range of health conditions were emerging, though this research had little influence on global health policies until much later.
Although lung cancer remains the most famous example, the list of diseases for which smoking is a major risk factor continues to grow. This includes many other types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and fertility issues.
Although recent campaigns to raise awareness of the adverse effects of smoking have been an unprecedented success, it remains a leading cause of preventable illness and death around the world.
Healthcare professionals may offer smoking cessation support in the form of Very Brief Advice (VBA) and various forms of medically approved nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) are available to mitigate the unpleasant side effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Visit our dedicated Smoking Cessation Learning Zone to learn more about the risks associated with smoking what can be done to support smokers attempting to kick the habit.
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This statement from the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) systematically reviews the current evidence on tobacco dependence and withdrawal in patients with mental illness and their treatment.