Tobacco is made from the dried leaves of the tobacco plant. The ingredient in tobacco that has an effect on the mind is nicotine, which is highly addictive.
Tobacco originated in the Americas and was introduced to Europe in the 15th century. It was first smoked in pipes, then snorted as snuff and smoked in cigars. By the early 20th century, smoking cigarettes was the most popular way of using tobacco.
An association between tobacco smoking and lung cancer was identified by medical researchers in the 1920s, and by the 1950s there was good evidence of a range of damaging effects. By this time, however, nicotine addiction was widespread, and tobacco companies opposed public health measures, which they perceived as threatening their commercial interests.
Since the 1970s, largely in response to pressure from medical and health organisations, laws have been introduced across Australia aimed at reducing the damage caused by tobacco through, for example, restrictions on advertising and other measures to minimise the impact of passive smoking.
Journal articles are a good source of explanations and discussions of drug and alcohol issues. There are several eresources with links to journal articles available in the State Library.
Use the following websites to find information about specific drugs, including their long and short term effects, how they are used, legal status and information on mixing drugs.