Also Called: 
cigarettes, smokes, cigs, butts, chew, dip, spit tobacco, snus, snuff

What is Tobacco?

The tobacco in cigarettes is the dried leaves of a plant also used to make other products like cigars, snuff, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco. These products are mostly smoked, but can also be chewed.

Tobacco is often used in traditional ceremonies.

Nicotine, a chemical in the plant, is what makes smoking so addictive.

There’s a long list of chemical ingredients in every cigarette. From gross skin, smelly breath and stained teeth to stomach ulcers, blindness and cancer, the short-term and long-term effects of smoking far outweigh the short-lived effects.

People start off smoking to be social and fit in, or because they enjoy the relaxing effect of the nicotine.

When a lot of people around you smoke, it seems natural to smoke as well. Once you do get used to it, it’s really hard to stop. Getting addicted to tobacco is a really expensive way to reduce your lifespan.


Effects of Tobacco

The first time you smoke, you might feel a “head rush” as the nicotine is hitting your system. You might also feel sick. You might cough, because your throat isn’t used to the fumes, and you might feel nauseated afterwards.

Some people find it makes them feel less anxious and more relaxed. People who suffer from depression and anxiety often smoke, because of the temporary relief it offers. Some people like that it makes them feel less hungry. Other people find it helps them wake up when they need a boost.

Problems using Tobacco

While smoking might not seem as dramatic as some of the other drugs on this website, once the effects hit, they can destroy your life. Tobacco slowly impacts every organ in your body and wrecks your health. Smoking tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable death in Canada. Second-hand smoke means that you don’t even need to be smoking to have your health ruined—you just need to be nearby.

The main cause of death from tobacco is lung cancer. Smoking causes genetic changes in cells, which in turn causes cancer.  Smoking tobacco can also cause cancer in your digestive tract, your mouth, throat, bladder, stomach, kidneys and many other places.


Smoking also causes breathing problems called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of cigarette smokers are often coughing, wheezing, and sometimes have phlegm and difficulty breathing. If you are into sports, it will definitely hurt your performance.

This is just the beginning. Smoking also causes heart diseases, strokes, gum diseases, stomach ulcers, wrinkles, rashes and cataracts. 

NWT Quitline

This is a toll-free, confidential help line that offers free services to people who want to quit using tobacco. Quitting takes hard work and a lot of effort, but you can do it. People quit every day. You can be one of them.

To get confidential help with quitting 24/7 call 1-866-286-5099. 

Services include:

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