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Is Nicotine in Cigarettes Bad for You?

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Flowering Nicotiana Tabacum (tobacco plant)

Flowering Nicotiana Tabacum (tobacco plant)

How Dangerous is Nicotine?

If you want to know about nicotine dangers, including how it affects your body, what makes it addictive and how the nicotine content in tobacco cigarettes compare to the nicotine in electronic cigarettes, this article will answer those questions!

How Much Nicotine is in a Tobacco Cigarette?

All tobacco cigarettes contain Nicotine – a natural chemical inherent in tobacco plants. Is is considered bad for you?  Well, it is just one of the over 4,000 chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, but according to the FDA, it is relatively harmless; at least, as harmless as caffeine unless you take it in massive doses. A massive dose of nicotine is between 30 and 60mg and the average tobacco cigarette provides a smoker between 1 and 2 mg of absorbed nicotine. 

So is Nicotine Dangerous?

The European Union Thinks Nicotine is Lethal

Final legislation is still pending with the EU. In it an attempt to thwart the overwhelming popularity of electronic cigarettes, they plans to strictly regulate the following:

  • Limit Nicotine concentration to 20mg/ml (“high” doses of nicotine currently correspond to a nicotine concentration of 24–36 mg)
  • Ristrict E-liquid refill containers 10ml (many are between 10-50 ml)
  • Limit Single use cartridges and Disposable electronic cigarettes to 2ml (most range from zero to 2.4ml)
  • Refillable devices need to have some mechanism that avoid spilling – technical specs to be defined by Commission

There have been recent cases of people trying to commit suicide by ingesting E-liquids. In one severe case, the patient ingested 1500 mg nicotine; 25 times the presumed lethal dose. The only symptoms reported were nausea, abdominal pain, shivering and vomiting. They could have succeeded by taking 500mg of aspirin.

How Does Nicotine Affect the Body?

Curiously, researchers have noted that nicotine can act as either a stimulant or a relaxant depending on your body chemistry. Nicotine triggers the brain to release a host of chemicals that can cause anything from serenity to excitement. It does suppress the appetite which is why some people lose weight when they smoke cigarettes.

You may have heard that nicotine is an addictive substance. 

According to Wikipedia, nicotine “has been shown to have ‘relatively weak’ addictive properties when administered alone.[16]”. Surprised? So was I! Perhaps that’s why we don’t often see people craving nicotine patches or nicotine gum as they do cigarettes.

So What Makes Nicotine So Addictive?

When you smoke a tobacco cigarette, the nicotine combines with monoamine oxidase inhibitor chemicals or MAOIs. It is this interaction that causes the nicotine to become so physically addictive. 

Various e-cigarettesWhat About Electronic Cigarettes?

Electronic Cigarettes, or E-Cigarettes do not contain combustable tobacco. They deliver nicotine and flavor via a vapor that is inhaled. When you purchase an e-cigarette, you choose the level of nicotine you desire. (or zero nicotine). All nicotine levels offered by e-cigarette companies are considered safe. 

How do Nicotine Levels in Electronic Cigarettes Compare to Tobacco Cigarettes?

If you eat a plateful of #moussaka, which is made from eggplant, you will absorb the same amount of nicotine as if you shared a room with a cigarette smoker for three hours. 

– Nicotine levels in e-cigarettes range from Zero nicotine to 54mg of nicotine, or what some e-cigarette companies call “Full Flavor” or “XXX” nicotine.  

– Marlboro Reds contain 1.2 mg of nicotine per cigarette, or 24mg in the whole box of 20 smokes.

– A comparable e-cigarette filter/cartridge would contain 18-24mg of nicotine.

– Light tobacco cigarettes contain about 8mg of nicotine per cigarette or 16mg of nicotine in the whole box. 

– A comparable e-cigarette filter would contain 12-16mg of nicotine.

Here's Another Way of Looking At It 

FDA testing found that 33 puffs of 100 ml each from an electronic cigarette without pause delivered 1 mg of nicotine (the same as one tobacco cigarette). 

That means you should be able to vape about 50% longer than the time it takes to smoke 1 cigarette, in order to get the same amount of nicotine.

Your Nicotine intake Really Depends On How You Smoke An E-Cigarette 

Most people who “vape” e-cigarettes don’t smoke a single cartridge in one sitting. Aside from the fact that it would take about 300-400 hours to deplete the cartridge, the vaper would feel a good bit over-stimulated (or over-relaxed) after the first hour. Our staff at Cloud Nine has yet to test that challenge, but in any case, an overactive vaper wouldn’t be  inhaling the carcinogens know to be present in tobacco cigarettes.

Scientists Say Nicotine is Not a Dangerous Drug!

Dr. Jacques Le Houezec cleared the air about the dangers of nicotine at the 2013 E-Cigarette Summit held at the Royal Society, London, UK. saying,

“Nicotine is not a dangerous drug. The most recent case reported an ingestion of 1500 mg of nicotine with no fatal issue. To be prudent, a review paper from Bernt Mayer, an Austrian pharmacologist, stated that the actual lethal dose is at least 500 to 1000 mg.”

Cloud Nine’s Best Selling Electronic Cigarette Comparison Chart includes nicotine levels offered by the most popular e-cigarette brands. Click on the above link, then scroll down to the middle of the chart. 

So whether you get your nicotine fix from traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, patches, gums or eggplant (the most nicotine-rich vegetable), just know that nicotine while not a carcinogenic, it is an addictive substance particularly when combined with burning tobacco.


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About the author

Gary D

Gary D. has over 20 years experience with Fortune 500 corporations. A vaper for over six years, he has been an active supporter of Tobacco Harm Reduction and the vaping industry for over 6 years. You can check out his many ecig reviews here on Cloud Nine and at ECigarette News and Best E-Cigarette Guide.

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