Tobacco is a legal substance, however, in the state of Virginia, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to purchase, attempt to purchase or possess any tobacco product, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, bidis, rolling papers, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products. (Code of Virginia § 18.2-371.2)

What are Tobacco and Nicotine?

Tobacco is a leafy plant with brown-colored leaves, which are cured and dried. Nicotine, a synthesized alkaloid found in the roots and leaves, is the addictive ingredient in tobacco.

What do tobacco and nicotine look like?

How are tobacco and nicotine abused?

Tobacco and nicotine are smoked, chewed, sniffed or inhaled.

Smoked tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, bidis, kreteks (clove cigarettes) or  hookahs. Smokeless tobacco products include chewing tobacco, snuff, dip and snus. Dissolvable products include lozenges, orbs, sticks and strips. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are smokeless, battery-operated devices. They deliver flavored nicotine to the lungs without burning tobacco.

How do tobacco and nicotine affect a person?

Nicotine increases dopamine levels which regulate pleasure. When nicotine enters the body, it causes adrenal glands to release a hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline). The rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. Even after tobacco is removed from the mouth, nicotine continues to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

What are the health effects/risks of using tobacco and nicotine?

Most of the harm to the body is not from the nicotine but from other chemicals contained in the tobacco including carbon monoxide, tar, formaldehyde, cyanide and ammonia.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking causes serious health problems including coughing, shortness of breath, frequent headaches, increased phlegm, frequent respiratory illness, reduced physical fitness, poor lung growth/function and addiction.

While marketed as a safer alternative, the vapor in e-cigarettes contains known cancer-causing, toxic chemicals. E-cigarette use can be a gateway for other tobacco products.