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Tobacco/Nicotine

Glossary

Addiction: A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse despite adverse consequences. It is associated with long-lasting changes in the brain.

Adrenal glands: Glands located above each kidney that secrete hormones, e.g., adrenaline.

Carcinogen: Any substance that causes cancer. 

Craving: A powerful, often uncontrollable desire for drugs.

Dopamine: A neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure.

Emphysema: A lung disease in which tissue deterioration results in increased air retention and reduced exchange of gases. The result is difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

Neurotransmitter: A chemical that acts as a messenger to carry signals or information from one nerve cell to another.

Nicotine: An alkaloid derived from the tobacco plant that is primarily responsible for smoking’s psychoactive and addictive effects.

Pharmacokinetics: The pattern of absorption, distribution, and excretion of a drug over time.

Tobacco: A plant widely cultivated for its leaves, which are used primarily for smoking; the N. tabacum species is the major source of tobacco products.

Withdrawal: A variety of symptoms that occur after chronic use of an addictive drug is reduced or stopped.

This page was last updated July 2012

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This series of reports simplifies the science of research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. The series reports on research findings of national interest.