Tobacco as a cash crop and opening up about addiction

Written by  Facing Cancer Together
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Tobacco has been a cash crop since the time of exploration of the Americas, to the establishment of the colonies and on through our time of independence. Pennsylvania has a strong heritage in agriculture. And, if you drive through Lancaster County today you’ll see lots of fields where tobacco is growing.

women-tobacco-workers“There’s a huge profit incentive and on the part of the consumer, with the highly addictive nature of nicotine, unfortunately it is kind of the perfect storm,” explains Dr. Peter Lewis, and educator at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine.

Many characterize the cigarette as the perfect vehicle for delivering nicotine, and compare it to more illicit substances like cocaine.

Some patients may assign blame, guilt or even shame, to their behavior, and so it is important for physicians to create a safe environment for them to open up about their addiction and honestly talk about what they are experiencing in order to get the right help.

cigarette-breakDr. Lewis says that addiction is experienced at a very personal and individual level. Some people who are battling an addiction may be self-medicating and might be facing something like anxiety or depression. So, to strip away something that may be a coping mechanism without properly offering support, is unproductive.

“It takes courage to change a behavior and what they need is support and encouragement,” Dr. Lewis says.

Related stories:
Advertising cigarettes to women and children
A brief history of smoking
Tackling the physical, mental and social aspects of tobacco addiction
Options for quitting
Butt out for good
How doctors communicate with their patient about smoking

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