Tobacco and Nicotine

Drug Spotlight

nicotine

Tobacco and Nicotine

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The use of tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, snuff, etc.) is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Smoking cigarettes ends in more than 480,000 deaths in the United States each year (about 1 in every 5 deaths) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smoking accounts for roughly one-third of all cancers. About 90% of lung cancers are attributed to cigarettes. An additional 16 million people suffer from other lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The risk of heart disease, vascular disease, and aneurysm increases as well. Non-smokers may also reap the consequences of smokers because of the harmful impacts of secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes serious disease as well as death. Every year, about 88 million nonsmokers in the United States are exposed to secondhand smoke and about 41,000 die from diseases caused by exposure.

Tobacco includes the addictive drug nicotine or cotinine. Cotinine is the predominant metabolite of nicotine. As nicotine enters the bloodstream, it stimulates the adrenal gland immediately to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). As a result, this stimulates the central nervous system and in turn increases blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. It also increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, affecting the brain pathways that control reward and pleasure. As individuals continue using nicotine, long-term brain changes often result in addiction. When an addict attempts to quit, they may experience withdrawal symptoms of irritability, attention difficulties, sleep disturbances, increased appetite, and powerful cravings for tobacco.

AMC offers a drug screen that can test for nicotine alone. AMC also works with multiple companies that have decided to include nicotine testing in their drug free workplace program. When your company enrolls in a drug testing program through AMC, you may choose which drugs to include in a drug testing panel to best fit your company.

National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.