What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae) and, while it is found in other foods, it is predominantly found in tobacco.
How does Nicotine affect you?
Nicotine is a stimulant drug, but can produce effects of both stimulation and relaxation.4 It is highly addictive, and its effect is linked to its capacity to trigger the release of dopamine - a chemical in the brain that is associated with feelings of pleasure.2 As with any addiction, smokers experience cravings when trying to quit1, making it very difficult to ‘kick the habit.’ When you start down the road of quitting, your body goes into ‘withdrawal’ which essentially means that the 'reward' of the drug has been taken away and can lead to irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, insomnia and craving. All or any of which can lead to relapse.4
It's also important to note that vaping allows you to regulate the amount of Nicotine you inhale more accurately than traditional smoking. How a person metabolises Nicotine varies considerably between individuals so what is good for one person may be too much for another. Vaping allows you to take control of how much Nicotine you inhale.5
Is Nicotine safe?
Pure liquid Nicotine is classified as a toxin, but its toxicity depends very much on the method on ingestion/inhalation. When swallowed it is highly toxic, but when inhaled it is not harmful to long-term lung health.7
Nicotine and adolescents
Young people should avoid Nicotine in any form. While it isn’t a harmful substance, it affects the adolescent brain differently. Using Nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.6 Best advice for adolescents is to avoid smoking or vaping all together. There is a reason why the age limit is 18+ in the UK.
Nicotine is addictive, but it isn’t a harmful substance when inhaled. When Nicotine is used as part of a Nicotine Replacement Treatment (NRT), or in less harmful delivery devices such as e-cigarettes, the smoker avoids roughly 4,000 other toxic substances that are inhaled via tobacco smoke.4 Regulated Nicotine-containing products are an effective way of reducing the amount people smoke or helping them to quit smoking without the hazards of cigarette smoking.4
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