Tobacco leaves can be shredded and smoked in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes (such as hookahs—or water pipes). They can also be ground up into a brown powder called snuff. The shredded leaves and snuff can be chewed or held in the mouth between the cheek and the gums. The snuff also can be sniffed up the nose.

You may not think of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco as drugs because they're legal to use once you're 18 or 21 years old, depending on where you live. But tobacco has a lot of chemicals that affect the body. One major chemical is called nicotine, a substance that excites the parts of the brain that make you feel good. You can get addicted to nicotine just like other drugs. And tobacco isn’t healthy for you at any age.

When you use tobacco, the nicotine quickly gives you a mild rush of pleasure and energy. But it soon wears off, which makes you want to use it some more. Sometimes, the rush of energy that comes with nicotine can make you nervous and edgy.

People can also get nicotine without using tobacco. Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes or e-vaporizers, are battery-operated devices. They bring flavored nicotine to the lungs without burning tobacco. When you puff on it, the device makes vapor from the liquid in the cartridge, which is inhaled (called "vaping"). Although e-cigarettes don't create smoke, they still have nicotine and other possibly harmful chemicals. Scientists are studying how safe e-cigarettes are compared to tobacco cigarettes.

Some slang names for cigarettes are:

  • Smokes
  • Cancer sticks
  • Coffin nails

Some slang names for chewing tobacco and snuff are:

  • Chew
  • Wad
  • Dip

Some slang names for e-cigarettes are:

  • e-Cigs
  • Vapes
  • Vape pipes