Tobacco Fields in North Carolina
obacco is a member of the Solanaceae (the nightshade family) and is the most addictive drug in widespread use. Nicotiana is a genus of approximately 65 species, which has produced two widely cultivated species. N. tabacum, which is the principal species, growing 1 to 3 meters in height, and produces commercial tobacco. Some tobacco is also obtained from a sister species, N. rustica, which is a shrubby plant that is just over a meter in height (Plants and Society 356). These Nicotiana species are annual herb plants, grown in mild climates and have extremely large leaves, growing a terminal inflorescence (cluster of flowers) of white, yellow, or pink tubular flowers. Nicotine is produced in the roots and translocated to the leaves; it is the leaves that ultimately become the addictive tobacco.
Terminal Inflorescence

Historical Background:
The tobacco plant is believed to have been cultivated and harvested as a plant since around 6,000 BC! It grows natively in North and South America and the natives of the Americas had been using tobacco for centuries before the Europeans arrived in the New World. The natives believed that tobacco had magical and curative powers; therefore, the tribes used tobacco leaves by chewing, by smoking, as snuff, or by drinking infusions in various rituals and medicine. According to archeological evidence, tobacco was the first narcotic used in South America. When Columbus arrived on the island of Cuba in November 1492, his men witnessed natives “drinking smoke”, by placing burning rolled up leaves into their nostrils and inhaling. The plant was then brought back to Spain and soon the Europeans believed that tobacco could cure anything.
As tobacco began to grow throughout Europe, it was introduced to the French court by French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot. Nicot sent ground leaves and seeds of N. rustica to the French court for medicinal use as snuff. Nicot was able to popularize the use of tobacco, which allowed Linnaeus to honor him in naming the genus 200 years later. Along with Nicot, John Hawkins, Francis Drake, and Walter Raleigh have all been credited with introducing and popularizing tobacco smoking in England. Therefore, tobacco became a major commodity in several of the colonies.
The modern cigarette made its first appearance in Europe after the Crimean War. In 1881, the development of a cigarette-manufacturing machine produced a ready-made inexpensive tobacco product for the large quantity of people using the drug. It was not until after World War I that cigarette smoking dominated all other uses of tobacco in the United States.
A historical timeline for the tobacco plant.

Tobacco growing requires much attention and treatment because the plants are vulnerable to many viral and dangerous pathogens. Therefore, the environment and surroundings must be controlled to minimize the spread of disease. The seeds are planted in specifically arranged seedbeds, and then the seedlings are later relocated to the fi
elds. The plant needs maximum leaf expansion, so when the plant begins to flower, the inflorescence and side branches are removed. Once the leaves have reached maximum expansion, they are harvested and taken for curing as they mature.
The method of curing is a process in which the leaves are dried out and the characteristic aroma and flavors of tobacco develop. The process takes several months to several years and the leaves are hung to dry at elevated temperatures. During this time, the chlorophyll in the leaves disappears, which results in a yellow-brown color. The leaves are then sorted and graded, then age for several moths or years in order for the aroma and flavor to fully mature. The final step in curing is cutting and blending different grades and adding in hundreds of flavor additives to produce the desired mixtures for cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco.

Human Use

The tobacco plant is native to tropical and subtropical American conditions, but is now grown commercially worldwide. The plant is mostly grown in the eastern United States, Brazil, and Argentina. Alkaloid nicotine is addictive in any form of tobacco and it applies a stimulant action on the central nervous system, promoting arousal in certain areas of the brain. Nicotine also increases the level of other neurotransmitters and chemicals that modulate how your brain works. The most common uses of tobacco are cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and snuff.
According to Plants and Society, per capita cigarette consumption in the United States reached a peak in 1963 at 42%. Worldwide, approximately 1.1 billion smokers (18% of the world population) consume 5 trillion cigarettes a year. It is illegal for any shop-keeper to sell cigarettes to a male or female under than 18 years old.
· Although smoking rates have declined over the years, more than one in five Americans smoke. In 2004, this included about 21 percent of adults and more than 22 percent of high school students. Consequently, smoking is the leading cause of premature death in the United States.
· China is home to 300 million smokers who consume approximately 1.7 trillion cigarettes a year, or 3 million cigarettes a minute. Chine consumes more than 37% of the world's cigarettes.
· Worldwide, approximately 10 million cigarettes are purchased a minute, 15 billion are sold each day, and upwards of 5 trillion are produced and used on an annual basis.
· Kids are still picking up smoking at the alarming rate of 3,000 a day in the U.S., and 80,000 to 100,000 a day worldwide.
20 shocking smoking facts

Effects of Tobacco

On the human body:
- Chest problems
- Heart Disease
- Cancer: Lung cancer is the cancer most associated with smoking. Lung cancer kills more people than awhattheyare2[1].jpgny other type of cancer and at least 80% of these deaths are caused by smoking. Other types of cancers that tobacco causes.
- Raise blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Complications during pregnancy, such as a premature or still birth
- Stains teeth and causes bad breath
- Chewing tobacco can cause damage to gum tissue and even loss of teeth

On the human brain:
- When tobacco is smoked, nicotine is absorbed by the lungs and quickly enters the blood stream, reaching the brain within 8 seconds.
- Nicotine acts in the brain where it can stimulate feelings of pleasure
- The neurotransmitter, acetylcholine is involved in many functions, including muscle movement, breathing, heart rate, learning, and memory. It also causes the release of other neurotransmitters and hormones that affect mood, appetite, memory, and more. Nicotine attaches to acteylcholine receptors in the brain and mimics their actions
- Nicotine also activates areas of the brain that are involved in producing feelings of pleasure and reward and it raises the level of dopamine in parts of the brain.

- For 1 pack of cigarettes daily, it costs the average American $98.51 a month and $1,182.09 a year

Health Risks and Stopping Tobacco Use (Wild Card)

Beginning an elementary and special education teacher, I would want to teach students about the health risks and the effects of tobacco on the body and I would create a lesson plan for middle school aged children. The purpose of my lesson is to teach students about the tobacco plant and the different harmful affects it has on the human body. As a result of my lesson students will be able to do the following . . .
· Understand what tobacco is
· Understand some physical dangers of smoking and advertisements used with tobacco

I will involve the students in the following activities:
1. I will read five facts about tobacco. After I read each fact, I will have the students decide whether they agree or disagree. Bfore reading the next fact, I will have one student who agrees with the statement give a reason for his or her opinion. Likewise, have one student give a reason for disagreeing with the statement. Here are the facts:
· Local governments have the right to ban smoking in public places.
· Tobacco companies target young people with their advertising.
· It should be illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, use, or possess tobacco products.
· 90% of the lung cancers in men and almost 80% in women are due to cigarette smoking
· Male smokers die an average of 13 years earlier, and women who smoke shorten their lives by approximately 14.5 years.

2. I will then explain to the class that all the previous facts were true and they are going to learn about tobacco and some of the health risks involved in using tobacco.

3. Have the students come up and write on the board what they know already about tobacco. I will then discuss that the first European settlers were introduced to tobacco smoking by the Native Americans. I will then explain how tobacco is taken, which is in the form of cigarettes, snuff, and chewing tobacco. I will finally explain the difference between primary and secondary smokers. She will then ask 1 out of every 5 students to stand up in the classroom. I will then explain that tobacco is the responsibility for 1 in 5 deaths occuring in the United States per year.

4. To illustrate how cravings can be induced, I will have each of my students take one potato chip. I will explain that just one potato chip teases the taste buds and creates a sensation of want. This lesson can serve as a springboard for discussing the concept of addiction with the class.

5. I will then divide the class into 4 groups and have them research possible topics such as:
· Long-term effects of tobacco on the body
· Tobacco advertising
· Decision making and understanding choices
· Tobacco prevention
I will have each group create a newspaper article on their specified topic. They will then share the article with the class and combine the articles to make a newspaper about tobacco.


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