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Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Tobacco dependency – addiction or disease?

Dragon Smoke
A Fullerton College student shows of blowing a thick cloud after he hits his vape under the Chapman Bridge, one of Fullerton College's unofficial smoking spots Thursday, February 18. Photo credit: Christian Fletcher


It can be just another word to one person but mean absolutely everything to someone else. There are a countless number of individuals whose lives are impacted, whether it be short-term or long-term because of it.

But what is addiction?

According to Psychology Today, “addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g. alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g. gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act becomes impulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities…”

The one component that differentiates a habit from an addiction is choice.

With a habit, there is free will to start and stop. An addiction on the other hand, regardless of whether it is to a substance or activity, can develop a physical and or psychological dependency to said thing.

Since their establishment in 1865, cigarettes (and other tobacco substances) have been enticing users to light one up perhaps more than they anticipated.

Because of this, there has been great controversy surrounding the question on whether or not an addiction to tobacco should be considered a disease like alcoholism.

Much like alcohol, cigarettes and other tobacco products can be used in moderation at social gatherings and for recreational purposes.

Although, they can of course be abused to the point where a dependence is created and high tolerance is developed.

Tobacco, similar to alcohol, is a highly addictive substance – this keeps users attempting to find satisfaction through continuously using it since it stimulates the pleasure and reward system in the brain due to an increased level of dopamine.

Second-Class Citizens
Fullerton students sneak a smoke under the bridge in one of FC's un official smoking spots Thusday, Feb. 18. Photo credit: Christian Fletcher

While some may develop a bad habit and can quit whenever they’d like to, others struggle to stop. What was once a bad habit becomes a crutch. Smoking and drinking are one in the same when it comes to the likeliness of chronic usage, which is often the reason why it drives some away from partaking in it at all.

There are numerous factors that could put someone more at risk to becoming addicted to tobacco, whether that be due to addictive genes, a family history of addiction or simply poor decision making/coping skills.

If any of the above apply to you, do not fret just yet – there is good news.

One is not predisposed at birth to be addicted to using tobacco – it is a habit that has to be picked up and well established in order for one to be considered “addicted”.

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD) provides the fact that “genes are responsible for about half the risk for alcoholism and addiction” does not necessarily mean the child will come into this world as an addict.

The other 50 percent is based on choice.

Somebody may feel more inclined to take part in using an addictive substance, like tobacco, if it is perceived as being normal in the household.

According to Addictions and Recovery, “children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction.”

Even if it runs in the family, a person can live a healthy life without any sort of addiction if they are more conscientious of their decision making.

Someone has to be exposed to the behavior and make the conscious decision on whether or not it is something they want to partake in.

It is possible to overcome these environmental factors.

One can eliminate the possibility of becoming addicted to tobacco through abstaining from such substances all together so there is no chance of becoming addicted.

Although, if someone does decide to partake in using tobacco, a strong mentality must be held in order to solely use it in moderation.

It is best to obtain healthy coping skills to avoid abusing harmful substances like tobacco, alcohol or drugs.

Remember, your genetics are not the only determinants of what kind of person you will become – you get to decide your path.


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