Tobacco effects: Nicotine is not the killer!

A cigarette or tobacco consists of Nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other substances. The active compound is Nicotine, which is responsible for ones’ addiction towards Cigarettes. People chew, sniff, or smoke Tobacco for Nicotine. It includes cigarettes, bidis, cigars, etc. Although Nicotine is the primary ingredient, it is not the primary killer. The tar is the killer. Smoke for Nicotine and die from the tar.” A tobacco effects you with tar rather than the Nicotine.

Source of Nicotine

Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae), predominantly in tobacco, and in lower quantities in tomato, potato, eggplant, and green pepper. The biosynthesis takes place in roots and accumulates in leaves. It a potent neurotoxin and is included in insecticides.

How tobacco negatively effects the lung system?

Although Nicotine is the main component, other constituents of tobacco affect us. Lung cancer and Bronchitis are among the tobacco effects. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular complications and heart failure. The lining of mouth and throat is susceptible, which makes it more susceptible to diseases, mainly cancers.

People who stand near smokers are exposed to the smoke. These passive smokers can be prone to complications, similar to active smokers. If a child is a passive smoker, it can cause severe problems like asthma, lung infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. The complications are worse during pregnancy and can result in congenital disabilities of the fetus. The child faces behavioral and learning problems as well.

Are people addicted to tobacco smoking due to Nicotine?

Blood absorbs Nicotine readily within a few seconds of consumption. Nicotine is responsible for increasing the levels of adrenaline, by stimulating the activity of the Adrenal gland; and Dopamine in the blood. As a result, the heart rate, blood pressure of the consumer increases.

Whereas, Dopamine which is the brains’ reward center, gives a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure to the consumer. The reaction is similar to other drugs like cocaine or heroin. Other chemicals like acetaldehyde present in tobacco effects the activity of Nicotine. Acetaldehyde increases the levels of Nicotine.

Although Nicotine is not the only primary psychoactive ingredient, consumption of tobacco also affects the levels of monoamine oxidase by decreasing it, which is responsible for the breakdown of Dopamine. Nicotine itself cannot alter the MAO (monoamine oxidase) levels; there must be something else in tobacco that does.

More consumption of Nicotine increases the receptors and brains’ need for Dopamine. Due to Nicotine’s addictive nature, the consumer reaches a stage where the individual smokes too often, to satisfy the systems’ needs. He/she moves into an environment of smoking and makes it a habit to smoke after a meal or under stress to relax. It’s the start of dependence.

Frequent consumption increases tolerance of the consumer, meaning; higher doses of the drug are required to cause the same initial effect. If the person is trying to quit smoking, the need is not full-filled. During this time, they experience withdrawal symptoms like stress, anxiety, and depression. Hence, they smoke for Nicotine and relapse.
However, an overdose of Nicotine is possible, resulting in harmful symptoms or death.

What is the activity of Nicotine in the brain?

There were studies conducted between smokers and ex-smokers. Nicotine also affects cognitive functions. For instance, in the placebo condition, in ex-smokers, the left hemisphere is more active, whereas, in smokers, the right hemisphere is active. With Nicotine consumption, the activation reduces in smokers and enhances in ex-smokers.

This suggests that lateralization is based on Nicotine dependence of the consumer. Chronic exposure or withdrawal from Nicotine affects cognitive strategies and memory tasks. In smokers, tobacco deprivation can impair cognitive functions, and subsequent administrations of Nicotine can reverse these deficits.

Is Nicotine necessarily harmful?

Nicotine is not necessarily bad. Adverse consequences are observed when it is mixed with other substances like that present in the cigarette. Moreover, Nicotine reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease and Dementia with increasing age. It increases the speed of sensory information processing, easing tension, and sharpening the mind.

Thus, it could be used as a stimulant for the benefit of people whose brain is slowing or warding off with Parkinson’s disease. Anyway, its use as a stimulant is not legal. There are political as well as scientific divides behind it.

Evidence suggests that Nicotine is not the killer. And the famous quote goes: “Smoke for Nicotine and die from the tar.” People who still need nicotine use patches or gum. Unfortunately, they too relapse for cigarette smoking as it the most efficient method for Nicotine delivery into the system. It is more valuable than the intravenous delivery mechanism. Many people from different regions in the country full-fill their nicotine requirement by sucking smoke-free tobacco called ‘Snus.’

Pure Nicotine is lethal in sufficient quantities. It also alters the regions in the adolescent brain responsible for intelligence, language, and memory.


Most smokers try to quit it as it is dangerous but unfortunately relapse within a couple of weeks as cigarette smoking is the most efficient way of Nicotine delivery into the system. Research suggests that to reduce addiction, a person should gradually decrease its use, to lessen the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Other treatments include nicotine gums, nicotine patches, etc. Nicotine replacement therapies are also a way of treating the problem. However, e-cigarettes make the condition worse.

Related: Know how alcohol abuse affects your body and good alcohol etiquette

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