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Campus Health

Health Education

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs


The cigarette is the only legally available product in the United States that, when "used as directed," can kill you and those around you.

The statistics are well-known: Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 440,000 people annually. Tobacco use is known to cause lung cancer, cancers of the mouth and stomach, emphysema, heart disease, stroke, and many other conditions. Regardless of the health risks, millions are addicted to tobacco products.

Nicotine is the drug in all tobacco products that makes them addictive. Research has indicated that nicotine increases the level of dopamine in the body, which controls reward and pleasure. Nicotine is not the only substance that makes tobacco products dangerous—tobacco companies include many additives in their products, such as ammonia, which increases the amount of nicotine delivered to the body.

When it is absorbed into the body, nicotine causes a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and the flow of blood from the heart. It also causes the arteries to narrow and contributes to hardening of the arteries over time.

Nicotine accumulates in the body throughout the day and persists throughout the night, exposing users to its effects for 24 hours each day. When users are deprived of nicotine, they experience withdrawal symptoms, including anger, hostility, aggression, loss of social cooperation, irritability, and impairment of psychomotor and cognitive functions.Look at our handout for descriptions of nicotine replacement therapies to help decrease nicotine withdrawal cravings.

IU Health offers a great tobacco cessation program through the IU Health Tobacco Control Center that will provide you with the help and support you need to be successful. For information on smoking cessation, call 317.962.9662. Visit Cessation for information. Alere Wellbeing (formerly Free & Clear) is available to full-time IU employees covered by an IU sponsored health plan at no cost. No classes to attend-your own personal coach available via telephone. Call 1-866-784-8454 to sign up or visit the HRA website for more information.

Tobacco is available in a variety of forms—cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, pipe tobacco, cigars, bidis, clove cigarettes, hookah, and smokeless tobacco—each associated with its own unique health risks. The health risks of smoking tobacco are well-known and will not be discussed here at length. The unique risks posed by some of these nicotine delivery methods will be shared briefly:

Menthol Cigarettes

The cooling effect of the menthol allows the smoker to inhale more deeply and hold the smoke in his or her lungs longer. This is associated with a slightly increased health risk when compared to regular cigarette smokers.

  1. Cigar smoking increases the risk of death from cancer of the larynx more than 10 times and cancer of the oral cavity/pharynx by 4 times.
  2. Males who smoke cigars are 5 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.
  3. Compared to non-smokers, cigar smokers have a 27% higher risk of coronary heart disease and a 45% increased risk of chronic obstructive lung disease like emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Bidis are small brown cigarettes, often flavored, consisting of tobacco hand rolled in tendu or temburni leaf and secured with a string at one end.

  1. One bidi produces more than three times the amount of carbon monoxide and contains more than three times the amount of nicotine and more than five times the amount of tar than one cigarette.
  2. Bidis are unfiltered, and because they are thinner than regular cigarettes, require about 3 times as many puffs per cigarette.
  3. Bidi smokers have nearly 4 times the risk of chronic bronchitis than nonsmokers.
Clove Cigarettes

Clove cigarettes are made from tobacco that has been sprayed in clove oil and contain large amounts of tobacco and unfiltered organic material.

  1. Clove cigarettes contain 2 to 3 times more nicotine and tar than American cigarette brands.
  2. Regular clove cigarette smokers have up to 20 times the risk for abnormal lung function.

Hookah smoking, a Middle East tradition, involves burning flavored tobacco (called shisha and often mixed with molasses and dried fruit) in a water pipe and inhaling the flavored smoke through a long hose. Establishments called "hookah bars" or "hookah lounges" are popping up across the nation—especially in college towns—and are catering to 18-21 year olds (those too old to hang out at the mall and too young to be allowed into bars). Proponents of these establishments tout the social atmosphere that hookah smoking provides and often claim that Hookah is safer than cigarettes. The American Cancer Society warns that Hookah is just as dangerous as other forms of tobacco—it contains nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other hazardous substances; and it has been linked to several types of cancers and other negative health effects, including pulmonary diseases, coronary diseases, and pregnancy complications.

Smokeless Tobacco
  1. Chewing tobacco contains more nicotine than cigarettes.
  2. The risk of cancer of the cheek and gum may reach nearly 50-fold among long-term snuff users as compared to non-users.
I want to stop using tobacco. Where can I get help?

Please visit Cessation for information on where you can get help.

IUPUI Tobacco Policy

To promote the health of the university, IUPUI implemented a tobacco-free campus policy on August 14, 2006. Complete information about the policy can be found at