Tobacco is scientifically known as Nicotiana Tabacum. It has a long history of use by medical herbalists as a relaxant but is rarely used due to its highly addictive nature. According to the Kenya Tobacco Research Control Group, 80% of tobacco production was taking place in Nyanza around the year 2011. A poll conducted by Euromonitor International showed that tobacco consumption in Kenya recorded value and volume growth in 2014, unlike the previous year.

They went on further explain this increase was fostered by rising disposable incomes and a young population with active night lives. Tobacco has a number of street names which also vary depending on the type. Some of the street names for tobacco taken in the form of smoking are smokes, cigs, and butts. As for smokeless tobacco they include: chew, dip, spit tobacco and snuff.



           The images above show cigarettes and cigars respectively.


 NB: When using a hookah to smoke you are likely to inhale twice as much smoke as when using an ordinary cigarette exposing you to more carbon monoxide and toxins hence the risk of health damage is high.


Snuff tobacco


Effects of smoking tobacco


  1. Smoking lowers the body’s immunity putting the smoker at risk of developing respiratory infections. Smoking tobacco also doubles a person’s risk of suffering rheumatoid arthritis and also the more a person smokes the higher the risk of suffering type 2 diabetes.
  2. Smoking affects bone density. This has been deduced from recent studies. As a result, a person that smokes regularly has a high-risk factor for osteoporosis. In women, the risk of osteoporosis is much higher because smoking reduces the level of the hormone estrogen causing early menopause boosting their risk of suffering from the disease.
  3. Chemicals contained in tobacco smoke damage blood cells and interfere with normal functioning of the heart. This increases the risk of suffering:
    • Atherosclerosis-a condition whereby plaque builds up inside the arteries
      Aneurysms-bulging blood vessels that can burst and cause death.
    • High blood pressure
    • Heart-related chest pain
    • Coronary heart disease
    • Heart attack
    • Peripheral arterial disease
  4. Smoking cigarettes cause damage to your lungs.
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be developed. It develops with time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath and the chest becomes tight among other symptoms.
    • Tuberculosis can easily attack due to the weakened immunity.
    • Chronic bronchitis that causes swelling of the bronchial tube lining causing less air to flow to and from the lungs
    • Increased risk of asthma attack
    • Increased risk of pneumonia
    • Emphysema-a condition in which the air sacs lose their ability to stretch and shrink as a result making it difficult to breath
  5. Smoking increases chances of suffering cancer. According to the American Lung Association cigarettes contain about 600 chemicals. When they burn more than 7000 chemicals are generated, out of which at least 69 can cause cancer. Tobacco can cause cancer in the Lungs, trachea, bronchus, esophagus, oral cavity, lip, nasal cavity, larynx, stomach, bladder, pancreas, kidney and liver among other organs.
  6. Tobacco contains a mood altering drug called nicotine which is a central nervous stimulant. It reaches the brain in seconds and makes you feel energized. When the drug wears off a person is left feeling tired and they crave more of the drug forming a smoking habit.
  7. Smoking can also weaken your sense of taste and smell and increase the risk of macular degeneration (a condition caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina), cataracts and poor eyesight.
  8. Smoking causes skin discoloration, wrinkles, and premature aging and they also develop yellow or brown stains on their teeth.
  9. People who smoke are also at risk of suffering oral problems such as gingivitis (gum inflammation) or periodontitis (infection) which can lead to tooth decay, loss or bad breath.
  10. Smoking depresses appetite, therefore, the victim may not be getting essential nutrients needed by the body.
  11. Smoking affects the reproductive system. Both men and women are at high risk of infertility. Restricted blood flow in men can affect the ability to get an erection. As we mentioned earlier women are at risk of early menopause. Women who smoke are also more likely to experience pregnancy complications such as miscarriage and premature delivery. The baby is also at high risk of birth defects, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome.


Effects of chewing tobacco


Short -term effects


  • Bad breath
  • Mouth sores
  • Ruined sense of smell and taste
  • Gingivitis
  • Stained teeth
  • Addiction
  • Cavities
  • Ulcers
  • High blood pressure


Long-term effects


  • Heart disease including heart attack and stroke
  • Tooth and bone loss
  • Cancer of the mouth, stomach, pancreas, esophagus and larynx among others.
  • Leukoplakia-a disease of the mouth whereby white patches and oral lesions appear on the cheek, gums or tongue.
  • Receding gums, gum disease-gums shrink around the teeth
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Withdrawal symptoms may begin as soon as four hours from the last cigarette taken.
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Sweating
  • Intestinal disorders-cramps and nausea
  • Headache
  • A sore throat, coughing and other signs of cold and respiratory problem
  • Temper, tantrums and feelings of intense need on the victim
  • Insomnia
  • Mental confusion
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression




Nicotine replacement treatments

  • Nicotine replacement therapies are used in combination with behavioral support to relieve withdrawal symptoms. They produce less severe physiological alterations and do not produce pleasurable effects of tobacco. An example is the nicotine gum. Other forms such nicotine spray inhaler and patch seem to be equally effective.

  • Other medications are also available such as antidepressant bupropion approved in 1979 is used to help people quit smoking. Scientists are also working to create a nicotine vaccine that helps in relapse prevention. The vaccine is designed to stimulate the production of antibodies that would block access of nicotine to the brain thus prevent its effects.
  • Behavioral treatment has a very important role in treatment. These include self-help materials to individual cognitive behavioral therapy. The individual learns how to identify high-risk smoking situations and to develop coping strategies, manage stress, increase social support and develop problem-solving skills. However, we should note that the more therapy is tailored to an individual’s situation the more the success. Treatment sessions last between 1-3 months.



 Unknown Are there Effective Treatments for Tobacco Addiction? National Institute on Drug Abuse.Removed from: National Institute on Drug Abuse

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  3. Unknown. Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms and recovery.Copyright 2015. Retrieved from:
  4. Unknown. Street Names. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Removed from: Chemical Addictions Program
  5. Unknown. Tobacco in Kenya. Copyright 2015. Euromonitor International. Removed from: Euro Monitor
  6. Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco.PDF. Removed from: Utah Department of Health
  7. Pietrangelo. A (August 2014).The Effects of Smoking on the Body. Copyright 2015. Healthline Networks, Inc. Removed from: Healthline Networks Inc