Smoking is a practice in which a substance is
burned and the resulting smoke breathed in to
be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Most commonly the substance is the dried
leaves of the tobacco plant which have been
rolled into a small square of rice paper to
create a small, round cylinder called a
" cigarette ". Smoking is primarily practiced as
a route of administration for recreational drug
use because the combustion of the dried
plant leaves vaporizes and delivers active
substances into the lungs where they are
rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and
reach bodily tissue. In the case of cigarette
smoking these substances are contained in a
mixture of aerosol particles and gasses and
include the pharmacologically active alkaloid
nicotine; the vaporization creates heated
aerosol and gas to form that allows inhalation
and deep penetration into the lungs where
absorption into the bloodstream of the active
substances occurs. In some cultures, smoking
is also carried out as a part of various rituals,
where participants use it to help induce
trance -like states that, they believe, can lead
them to " spiritual enlightenment ".
Cigarettes are primarily industrially
manufactured but also can be hand-rolled
from loose tobacco and rolling paper. Other
smoking implements include pipes, cigars ,
bidis , hookahs, vaporizers , and bongs.
Smoking generally has adverse health effects,
because smoke inhalation inherently poses
challenges to various physiologic processes
such as respiration. Diseases related to
tobacco smoking have been shown to kill
approximately half of long term smokers when
compared to average mortality rates faced by
non-smokers. A 2007 report states that, each
year, about 4.9 million people worldwide die
as a result of smoking. [1]
Smoking is one of the most common forms of
recreational drug use. Tobacco smoking is the
most popular form, being practiced by over
one billion people globally, of whom the
majority are in the developing world . [2] Less
common drugs for smoking include cannabis
and opium . Some of the substances are
classified as hard narcotics , like heroin, but
the use of these is very limited as they are
usually not commercially available.
The history of smoking can be dated to as
early as 5000 BC, and has been recorded in
many different cultures across the world.
Early smoking evolved in association with
religious ceremonies; as offerings to deities,
in cleansing rituals or to allow shamans and
priests to alter their minds for purposes of
divination or spiritual enlightenment. After the
European exploration and conquest of the
Americas, the practice of smoking tobacco
quickly spread to the rest of the world. In
regions like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, it
merged with existing practices of smoking
(mostly of cannabis). In Europe, it introduced
a new type of social activity and a form of
drug intake which previously had been
Perception surrounding smoking has varied
over time and from one place to another: holy
and sinful, sophisticated and vulgar, a
panacea and deadly health hazard. In the
20th century smoking came to be viewed in a
decidedly negative light, especially in Western
countries. This is due to smoking tobacco
being among the leading causes of many
diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks,
COPD , erectile dysfunction , and birth defects .
[2] The health hazards of smoking have
caused many countries to institute high taxes
on tobacco products, run ads to discourage
use, limit ads that promote use, and provide
help with quitting for those who do smoke.