Contact if you’d like to organise tobacco training, including stop smoking support, for your organisation.

Street names

Cancer sticks, cigs, ciggies, fags, rollies, smokes, snout, various brand names.


It’s drug effect is caused by nicotine, a mild stimulant. Can be smoked in cigarettes, pipes or cigars, chewed, or powdered and taken as snuff. Tobacco comes from the leaves of the tobacco plant. It contains nicotine which is highly addictive. It’s nicotine that gives smokers their ‘hit’, and it’s really nicotine that we’re thinking about when we refer to tobacco as a drug. But when it burns, it releases a dangerous cocktail of over 5,000 chemicals including:

  • many chemicals known to cause cancer
  • hundreds of other poisons
  • nicotine, a highly addictive drug
  • and many additives designed to make cigarettes taste nicer and keep smokers hooked.

Possible short-term indicators

  • Reduced appetite in some – traditionally seen as helping in terms of weight loss when people are dieting. But it appears that smokers are more likely to put on weight than non-smokers, contrary to the myth that the habit makes people slimmer by dulling the appetite. Source: netdoctor, 23 April 2010
  • Widely used for socialising; group dynamic around sharing from a packet.
  • Some people use smoking to reduce stress – this can simply be reducing the craving for nicotine).
  • Narrowing of blood vessels, increase in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and release of adrenaline.
  • Increased risk of respiratory diseases, including cancer, and heart or circulatory disorders. At least 100,000 tobacco related deaths per year. A quarter of all young male cigarette smokers will die ‘before their time’ due to tobacco.
  • Employment implications around non-smoking environments.


Possible longer-term indicators / effects

  • Death – well documented. No scaremongering.
  • Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancers. It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body, including the mouth, lips, throat, voice box (larynx), oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach), bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas.
  • Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack,stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels), cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).
  • Smoking also damages your lungs, leading to conditions such as chronic bronchitis (infection of the main airways in the lungs), emphysema (damage to the small airways in the lungs),pneumonia (inflammation in the lungs).
  • In men, smoking can cause impotence because it limits the blood supply to the penis. It can also affect the fertility of both men and women, making it difficult for you to have children.


Harm reduction

  • Don’t inhale so deeply.
  • Cut down on the number you smoke.
  • Be aware of the effects of smoking on your baby and passive smoking generally.

Legal status

It is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18 (Could be purchased at the age of 16 until 1 October 2007). The minimum age to smoke in public is 16, and authorities have the duty to seize any tobacco or cigarette papers in the possession of any person apparently under the age of sixteen.

Children and Young Persons Act 1933 – 1933 c. 12 – Part I – Offences – Section 7 (3) – Website of the British government. Retrieved 11 October 2014.

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NHS Stop smoking tools

Download smokefree tools, such as videos and booklet, for inspiration and encouragement as you quit smoking.

Stop smoking iPhone appStop smoking iPhone app
Receive daily support on your iPhone with this 30-day quit smoking app. Includes a motivational counter and calendar to keep you on track.
Downloadable quit smoking widgetDownloadable quit smoking widget
Receive daily support straight to your desktop with this 30-day course. A built-in calculator tells you how much you’re saving and how long you’ve been smokefree.
Smoking calculatorSmoking calculator
This smoking calculator will work out the financial and physical costs of smoking and show how giving up today improves your prospects.


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