Addiction to nicotine does not happen quickly, after using tobacco once or twice; it develops over time. Most smokers go through a series of steps from experimentation to regular use on their way to becoming addicted. Particularly in the industrialized countries, most people addicted to nicotine initiated smoking during adolescence. When a person smokes, it causes a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate and the flow of blood from the heart. The smoke includes carbon monoxide, which reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. Carbon monoxide can also damage the inner walls of the arteries, allowing fat to build up. This causes the arteries to narrow and harden and a person may be at risk for a heart attack.
Many treatments, including nicotine replacement therapy and non-nicotine medications, have been approved as safe and effective in treating nicotine dependence. Using more than one medication may help you get better results. For instance, in the 2003 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), a large nationally representative sample, the lifetime prevalence of smoking was 25% among Latinos and 44% among non-Hispanic Whites. Among smokers, Latinos are more likely to be nondaily smokers and smoke fewer cigarettes per day than non-Hispanic Whites.