Nicotine, Cigarettes and Addiction

Why do we Smoke?

If you ask people why they smoke you often get some interesting answers. They may say that it helps them to relax or concentrate on a difficult problem. Perhaps it gives them something to do with their hands. Some say they enjoy smoking whilst others acknowledge that is a habit that is hard to break. The truth is much simpler- smokers are addicted to the drug nicotine. Furthermore, cigarettes are designed as efficient nicotine delivery systems. Smokers are very good at maintaining their desired blood nicotine levels by regulating cigarette consumption. So what is so special about nicotine and why is it so addictive? Nicotine is an insecticide, admittedly a natural one, and is a very potent poison indeed. Nicotine has evolved as the tobacco plants way of avoiding being eaten by insects. Unfortunately for humans, the structure of nicotine is very similar to the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is involved in the pleasure and reward pathways in the brain. Within 10 seconds of puffing on a cigarette, nicotine hits and influences the brain producing a subtle high. Interestingly, the influence nicotine has on the brain depends on the dose. At low doses it acts as a stimulant and increases concentration, at higher doses it acts as relaxant. The pharmacological effects of nicotine on the brain are complex and influence several pleasure pathways, in a way similar to other addictive drugs like amphetamines. Nicotine is not the only addictive compound in cigarette smoke. Research has shown that acetaldehyde, also present in tobacco, acts in concert with nicotine to increase nicotine’s pleasurable properties. Buy UK Eliquid

Nicotine Addiction and Other Factors

Factors which affect an individual’s response to nicotine are complex, as is the nature and depth of the addiction itself. In fact, a minority of individuals seem to be relatively immune and can smoke on a regular basis and remain non-addicted. It is to be emphasised that this represents of minority of smokers and comprises no more than 10% of the total. Genetic factors have been found to influence how addicted to nicotine we become. Smokers with a certain genetic profile find it very hard to give up. Unfortunately, the same genetic profile also increases their chances of developing lung cancer through smoking. Recent research has shown that women seem to have more difficulty quitting than men. Dark pigmented people also find it harder to quit than those with lighter skins. This latter observation may be due to the fact that nicotine is known to interact with melanin, the pigment responsible for skin colouration.

It seems that tobacco companies have known since the 1960′s that nicotine is the addictive component in tobacco, but have chosen, for obvious reasons, not to admit it, until relatively recently.

Giving up Smoking is Hard

Tobacco is difficult to give up, but not impossible. With support it is possible to become smoke free. The smoker should admit that they are drug addicts, and as with other addictions, require help to quit. Those addicts that accept support, whether through a program, or through nicotine replacement therapy, or by other active means, are more likely to break this pernicious and deadly habit than by cold turkey alone.

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