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inhalation and exhalation of the fumes of burning tobaccotobacco,
name for any plant of the genus Nicotiana of the Solanaceae family (nightshade family) and for the product manufactured from the leaf and used in cigars and cigarettes, snuff, and pipe and chewing tobacco.
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 in cigars and cigarettescigar and cigarette,
tubular rolls of tobacco designed for smoking. Cigars consist of filler leaves held together by binder leaves and covered with a wrapper leaf, which is rolled spirally around the binder.
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 and pipes; in the 21st cent., vaping, the similar use of e-cigarettese-cigarette
or electronic cigarette,
a device that produces an aerosol from a liquid containing nicotine or another active ingredient, allowing it to be inhaled in a manner similar to smoking a cigarette.
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, also has become common. Some persons draw the smoke into their lungs; others do not. Smoking was probably first practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. Originally used in religious rituals, and in some instances for medicinal purposes, smoking and the use of tobacco became a widespread practice by the late 1500s. Tobacco was introduced into Europe by the explorers of the New World; however, many rulers prohibited its use and penalized offenders. By the end of the 19th cent. mass production of cigarettes had begun, and the smoking of cigarettes became prevalent as the use of cigars and pipes declined. Despite controversy as to the effects of smoking and bans on smoking by certain religious groups, the use of tobacco continued to increase.

Health Effects

Smoking is considered a health hazard because tobacco smoke contains nicotinenicotine,
C10H14N2, poisonous, pale yellow, oily liquid alkaloid with a pungent odor and an acrid taste. It turns brown on exposure to air. Nicotine, a naturally occurring constituent of tobacco, is the active ingredient in tobacco smoke.
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, a poisonous alkaloid, and other harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, acrolein, ammonia, prussic acid, and a number of aldehydes and tars; in all tobacco contains some 4,000 chemicals. In 1964 definitive proof that cigarette smoking is a serious health hazard was contained in a report by the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Health, appointed by the U.S. Public Health Service. The committee drew evidence from numerous studies conducted over decades. They concluded that a smoker has a significantly greater chance of contracting lung cancerlung cancer,
cancer that originates in the tissues of the lungs. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States in both men and women. Like other cancers, lung cancer occurs after repeated insults to the genetic material of the cell.
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 than a nonsmoker, the rate varying according to factors such as the number of cigarettes smoked per day, the number of years the subject smoked, and the time in the person's life when he or she began smoking. Cigarette smoking was also found to be an important cause of cancers of the esophagus, nasopharynx, mouth, larynx, kidney, and bladder as well as a cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysemaemphysema
, pathological or physiological enlargement or overdistention of the air sacs of the lungs. A major cause of pulmonary insufficiency in chronic cigarette smokers, emphysema is a progressive disease that commonly occurs in conjunction with chronic bronchitis.
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, and heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Since then it has been found to be an independent risk factor in male impotence. Smoking also increases risks associated with oral contraceptive use and exposure to occupational hazards, such as asbestosasbestos,
common name for any of a variety of silicate minerals within the amphibole and serpentine groups that are fibrous in structure and more or less resistant to acid and fire.
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. Pipe and cigar smokers, if they do not inhale, are not as prone to lung cancer as cigarette smokers, but they are as likely to develop cancers of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus. Those who use snuff or chewing tobacco (sometimes called "smokeless tobacco") run a greater risk of developing cancer of the mouth.

Inhalation of tobacco smoke by nonsmokers has been found to increase the risk of heart disease and respiratory problems; this has created a movement for smokeless environments in public spaces, including government buildings, office buildings, and restaurants. Fetal damage can be caused if a mother smokes or is exposed to smoke during pregnancy. Children of smokers have a higher risk of asthma and lung disease.

Regulation of Tobacco and Smoking

Because of mounting evidence of health risks, television advertisements for cigarettes were banned beginning in 1971. In the 1980s, Congress began to require stronger warning labels on all print advertising; soon afterward it banned smoking on domestic air flights. Concerns about the effects of tobacco smoke on nonsmokers led government and businesses to place additional restrictions on smoking in public, common, and work areas; more than two thirds of U.S. states now place some restrictions on smoking in public places.

A 1988 report of the Surgeon General of the United States recognized nicotine as an addictive substance, leading the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider treating nicotine as any other addictive drug and implementing stricter regulations. The authority of the FDA to regulate smoking was, however, denied by the Supreme Court. In 2009, however, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that allows the Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarettes and other forms of tobacco; the law also imposed additional restrictions on the marketing of tobacco products. The habit of smoking continues to increase in the young despite the illegality of cigarette sales to those under 18 years of age in all 50 states.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a treaty adopted by World Health Organization members in 2003, seeks to reduce the number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths by establishing international standards for antismoking measures; it entered into force in 2005. The convention restricts the marketing and sale of tobacco products and requires health warnings on packages of cigarettes. The treaty has been signed, but not ratified, by the United States. Indoor air quality laws, high taxes on tobacco, and measures against cigarette smuggling are encouraged under the pact.

Legal Battles

In the mid- and late 1990s the tobacco industry in the United States faced grave legal and financial threats. Under heavy attack from states seeking compensation to recover costs for smoking-related health care, from the federal government seeking further regulation, and from individual smokers seeking damages for illness, the major cigarette producers sought ways to protect themselves. After a tentative $368 billion settlement (1997) with state attorneys and plaintiffs' lawyers fell apart, lawsuits were brought against the industry by Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Texas; the suits were settled for $40 billion, to be paid over 25 years. In 1998 the remaining 46 states accepted a $206 billion plan to settle lawsuits they had filed against the industry. Individual lawsuits continued to pose potential significant financial threats.


See publications of the Office on Smoking and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and publications of the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association; see also E. C. Hammond, I. J. Selikoff, and J. Chung, "Asbestos exposure, cigarette smoking and death rates" from Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (1979); R. J. Troyer and G. E. Markle, Cigarettes: The Battle over Smoking (1983); P. Taylor, The Smoke Ring (1984); Imperial Cancer Research Fund, World Health Organization, and American Cancer Society, Mortality from Smoking in Developed Countries 1950–2000 (1994); R. Kluger, Ashes to Ashes (1996); S. A. Glantz, J. Slade, L. A. Bero, P. Hanauer, D. E. Barnes, The Cigarette Papers (1996).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



processing meat and fish products with smoke to increase their stability during storage and to add a specific flavor and aroma. Smoking is usually preceded by light pickling. Meat and fish were smoked over open fires as early as the Stone Age. The Slavic peoples knew smoking in the tenth through 12th centuries. In Russia fish was first smoked for commercial purposes in the 13th and 14th centuries in Novgorod.

The preservative effect of smoking is a result of the partial dehydration of the product and the smoke’s bactericidal effect and antioxidative capacity. Table salt is added to the product during processing. The formation of the specific smoky flavor and aroma depends principally on penetration of the product by phenolic compounds and organic acids contained in the smoke.

The wood and sawdust of predominantly hardwoods are used for the smoke; they are burned either directly in the smokehouse or in a smoke generator (sawdust), from which the smoke enters the smokehouse. Smoking may be cold (18°–22°C for meat, 20°–40°C for fish) or hot (35°-50°C for meat, 80°-170°C for fish). The smoking action can be accelerated by electrosmoking, in which particles of smoke ionized by an electrical current are directed into an electrical field and precipitate on the surface of the product.

The smoking medium contains aromatic hydrocarbons—for example, 3.4-benzipyrene. Therefore there is a move toward a smokeless method that uses smoking fluids with no carcinogenic substances. Smoking fluids can be obtained by distilling a concentrate of smoke or mixing a number of chemical products. The fluids are either introduced into the product in the process of its manufacture (sausage products) or are used as a bath for the product (fish).


Kurko, V. I. Fiziko-khimicheskie i khimicheskie osnovy kopcheniia. Moscow, 1960.
Tekhnologiia miasa i miasoproduktov, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.




a common type of drug addiction, the most widespread form of which is nicotine addiction, the effect of smoking tobacco. Smoking is also therapeutically useful as a means of taking certain medicinal agents, including drugs for bronchial asthma.

Tobacco was introduced into Spain and Portugal from America by Christopher Columbus at the end of the 15th century. At first, it was used as an ornamental plant; only later was it used for smoking. It was introduced into France in the 16th century, when the queen was presented with a gift of tobacco (for therapeutic use) by the French ambassador to Portugal, J. Nicot (hence, “nicotine”). Tobacco leaves were not used only for smoking; dried and ground, they were used for snuff. The immoderate use of tobacco led to cases of intoxication, which prompted the authorities to prosecute smoking. For example, in England, severe penalties were imposed for smoking, and in Italy, Pope Urban VII excommunicated those who used tobacco. At the beginning of the 17th century tobacco was introduced into Russia, but there, too, smoking was prosecuted by the authorities. Tsar Mikhail Romanov ordered that smokers be caned and whipped; in 1649, Tsar Alexei Romanov made the prohibition against smoking part of the legal code. Peter I, who adopted the habit while in Holland, permitted the sale of tobacco, after imposing a duty on it for the benefit of the state. Smoking gradually spread and became a common vice.

When tobacco is smoked, a craving for it develops rapidly, fostered by the transformation of the act of smoking into a unique ritual. The harmful influence on the body of the products formed by the dry volatilization of tobacco in smoking has been established. When tobacco smoke is inhaled, the tooth enamel is damaged, and caries may develop. Stomatitides and gingivitis often develop as a result of smoking. The chronic influence of nicotine on the autonomic nervous system leads to general autonomic disturbances, increased gastric secretion, and elevated gastric acidity. Gastritides and peptic ulcers develop, a tendency to constipation or diarrhea appears, and secretion of saliva intensifies, causing deposits of tartar on the teeth. The vasoconstrictive effect of nicotine causes trophic changes in the walls of the blood vessels; this, in turn, promotes the development of atherosclerosis and systemic vascular diseases. A special type of “smoker’s disease” is intermittent dysbasia from endarteritis obliterans of the legs and feet. The constant irritation of the mucosa of the bronchi and bronchioles leads to chronic disease and sometimes, bronchial asthma.

In addition to nicotine bases, tobacco smoke contains other harmful substances. It has been proved that for those who smoke more than two packs of cigarettes per day the risk of contracting lung cancer is 20 times greater than for nonsmokers (see Table 1).

A connection has been established between smoking and cancer

Table 1. Relationship between smoking and mortality
Cigarettes per dayMortality per 100,000 population
Source: Hammond and Horn, USA
0.5 packs95.2
0.5-1 packs107.8
1-2 packs229.2
More than 2 packs264.2

of the lips, oral cavity, and trachea. The percentage of tuberculosis patients is almost twice as high among smokers as among nonsmokers, and 95 percent of the cases of tuberculosis that begin in adulthood occur in smokers.

Smoking tobacco produces temporary euphoria, as does every narcotic. According to data compiled by the Soviet pharmacologist N. P. Kravkov, the temporary stimulation of mental activity during smoking depends not only on nicotine but also on the reflex influence on brain circulation of the stimulation by smoke of the sensory nerves of the oral cavity and respiratory tract. Smoke is damaging to the health not only of smokers but also of those in their vicinity. Smoking is especially harmful during pregnancy. Nicotine enters the mother’s blood and is toxic to the fetus.

Acute nicotine poisoning, the symptoms of which are nausea, vomiting, rapid pulse, convulsions, and elevated blood pressure, is usually observed in first attempts at smoking.

Psychotherapy and preventive psychological counseling have decisive importance in treating nicotine addiction. Certain medicinal agents, such as Tabex and Lobesil, are also helpful.


Stoiko, A. G. Khronicheskii nikotinizm (tabakokurenie) i ego lechente. Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


It is very common for ex-smokers to dream about smoking. This type of a dream could be called wish-fulfillment or a compensatory dream. The smoker misses smoking. He cannot smoke during the day, and therefore he smokes in his dreams. If you are dreaming about being surrounded by other people’s smoke, you may be experiencing some confusion and anxiety in daily life or in regard to a particular situation. Smoke or smoking usually depletes people of energy and hampers one’s ability to think clearly and act directly with the issues at hand.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.