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Drugs and ThugsThe History and Future of America's War on Drugs$
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Russell Crandall

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300240344

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300240344.001.0001

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(p.78) 6 Tobacco
Drugs and Thugs

Russell Crandall

Yale University Press

This chapter describes tobacco as one of the most fascinating cases in America's centuries-long love affair with drugs. It deems tobacco almost unmatched in its risks to personal and public health and yet has remained licit since the colonial era. It also points out how tobacco, like alcohol, poses a provocative counterpoint to the understanding of illicit recreational drugs in the United States as tobacco is known as one of the nation's most enduringly popular legal psychoactives. The chapter considers tobacco as being as physically gratifying as smoking or absorbing nicotine through the mouth. It stimulates the production of epinephrine and floods the brain's pleasure centers with dopamine, yielding the well-known and endlessly sought-after nicotine buzz. It explores a lab study that rated nicotine's euphoric qualities on a par with cocaine, morphine, and amphetamines.

Keywords:   tobacco, public health, colonial era, illicit recreational drugs, psychoactives

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