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Tobacco and Nicotine

A neuron in your brain. Nicotine affects how our brains work. Learn more at www.BeTobaccoFree.gov

Neurons in our brains that respond to the effect of nicotine.

Tobacco is a leafy plant grown around the world. In 2007, four countries—China, Brazil, India, and the United States—produced two-thirds of the world’s tobacco. Tobacco is currently grown in 16 states in the United States. The largest tobacco-producing states are Kentucky and North Carolina. They account for 71% of all tobacco grown in the United States.

Dried tobacco leaves can be:

  • Shredded and smoked in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes
  • Ground into snuff, which is sniffed through the nose
  • Cured and made into chewing tobacco
  • Moistened, ground or shredded into dip, which is placed in the mouth between the lip and gum

Tobacco is an addictive substance because it contains the chemical nicotine. Like heroin or cocaine, nicotine changes the way your brain works and causes you to crave more and more nicotine. This addiction to nicotine is what makes it so difficult to quit smoking and other tobacco. Learn more about nicotine addiction.

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