What is tobacco made of?


Tobacco, such as what is found in cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and snuff, comes from any of 70 or more unique species of the leafy, green tobacco plant. Tobacco plants belong to the Nicotiana genus and Solanaceae family.

The addictive nature of tobacco products stems from nicotine, a stimulant found naturally in the leaves of a tobacco plant. Nicotine affects the central nervous system in a way that disrupts the body's natural chemical processes, specifically its neurotransmitters and biochemicals. The substance creates a pleasurable sensation and added energy, but it also increases the user's heart rate and blood pressure.

Most tobacco products do not contain pure tobacco. Cigarette manufacturers combine finely ground, dried tobacco leaves with several additives, including tar, nicotine and even arsenic. These and thousands of other chemicals serve various functions such as improving shelf life, reducing unpleasant taste and controlling the delivery of nicotine during use. Cigars derive their unique taste and fragrance from fermented and air-dried tobacco leaves. Tobacco for use in pipes usually contains a blend of several varieties, the most popular of which is the Burley variety. Snuff consists of finely ground tobacco leaves with or without added moisture. Loose leaf tobacco is the primary ingredient in chewing tobacco.

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