When most of us hear the word nicotine, the first thought we have is tobacco. It's natural after all, as tobacco has been one of the only ways to get nicotine for the last 2000 years.
That's nicotine is considered so dangerous, as it was always linked to smoking. And there is no doubt on how dangerous tobacco is, with 7 million people dying from smoking every year.
But does nicotine contribute to these deaths? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think.
Nicotine is undoubtedly the reason that people smoke as it is highly addictive, and in that case might be blamed for these deaths, but the chemical itself doesn't do the damage, it’s the other 4000+ chemicals and 50+ carcinogens in cigarettes which do that.
The myth of nicotine
Ann McNeill, a professor of tobacco addiction and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London says that "We need to de-demonize nicotine".
She has spent her life looking at tobacco and addiction, and wants scientists and the general public to start separating the dangers of tobacco from nicotine. She worries that if people are always associating nicotine with tobacco, other nicotine delivery products (like e-cigarettes) get tarred with the same brush.
And this is likely true, as when many smokers hear that nicotine is in e-cigarettes and think they will be as bad or worse than cigarettes. This is blatantly not true as e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes, but the idea still persists.
One reason for this are the health campaigns around cigarettes of the 1970's and 80's which tied nicotine, addiction and cigarettes tightly together. Over this period nicotine was interchangeable with tobacco in advertising and general information. This is not to blame the health experts back then, as back then nicotine and tobacco were basically the same thing as at the time there was no synthetic method for creating nicotine, so it made sense to tie both together.
However now that there are many other methods of getting nicotine, we are left with in a situation where people still believe that nicotine is just as bad as tobacco.
And that thought continues to this day, with the Royal Society for Public Health finding that 90% of the public thinking that nicotine as harmful, even when that is not true.
Nicotine then acts as the reason people smoke, but it is the 4000+ chemicals that do the rest, including causing cancer, strokes and heart disease.
The danger of smoking
The chemicals in cigarettes have a wide range of effects on the body, none of which are good. The most obviously bad ones are the 50+ carcinogens as they are responsible for the cancer that so many smokers are afflicted with.
In fact, over 1 in 4 deaths by cancer are caused by smoking with even more in the case of lung cancer. 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths are because of smoking or 2nd hand smoke, which sadly isn’t surprising as the lungs are the most exposed to cigarette smoke.
But cancer isn’t the only danger of smoking, the 4000+ chemicals cause havoc too. The biggest effect these chemicals are on raising the chance of heart disease as heart issues are perhaps the biggest killer of smokers with 48% of all smoking deaths from heart disease.
Chemicals such as tar and arsenic in tobacco can also contribute to strokes as well, with smokers having a 40% higher chance of a stroke than non-smokers.
What nicotine can do
Nicotine is at heart a stimulant, and addictive one, but a chemical that wakes you up. It has been compared to caffeine in its effect on the human body.
It can also have some positives as well with some preliminary studies showing nicotine can help with mental diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, ADHD and more.
It does this as acts as neurotransmitter and binds to nerve receptors in the brain, making the brain nerve cells fire more frequently.
This is not to say that nicotine is safe, like caffeine or any other chemical if you have too much it can have a detrimental effect. The good news is that you have to have a huge amount of pure nicotine to seriously hurt you.
The most common effect of overexposing yourself to nicotine is a headache, and in the case of e-cigarettes you have to have puffed away for a long time for that to happen! This is again like caffeine where if you drink too much you head starts to pound. Both chemicals can narrow the blood vessels (a side effect of stimulants) and that can affect your brain.
If this is happening when you drink too much coffee or puff away on your e-cigarette, then the standard advice is to put it down for 20 minutes and let your body re-adjust.
E-cigarettes and nicotine
Nicotine may not be bad for you then, and in some cases useful, but for the majority of people their only way of getting it is cigarettes, and it really can be addictive. It can’t be blamed for the actual diseases and cancer that cigarettes cause but if a smoker can’t get away from cigarettes because of it then the nicotine has to come from somewhere else.
And that is how e-cigarettes can help, because it has the nicotine needed, but not the 4000+ chemicals of tobacco. E-cigs can help smokers get away from all those harmful chemicals. As e-cigarettes only include 4 ingredients: Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, flavourings and of course nicotine, there isn’t the same risk as there are with cigarettes. To find out more about what are in e-cigarettes click here.
This lack of dangerous chemicals is why e-cigarettes are so much less harmful than cigarettes, and the nicotine and flavourings are the reason that so many smokers have made the switch to E-Cigarettes.
With e-cigarettes you not only get the nicotine hit of a cigarette, but the flavour and the feel of one one too. And for smokers who have been puffing on cigarettes for 30+ years that can be a huge help. A study even found that if you compare the effectiveness of e-cigarettes against nicotine patches and gum, e-cigarettes are almost twice as effective!
If you have been thinking of making a change then, but been put off by nicotine in e-cigarettes now might be the perfect time to make the switch! Try one of our starter kits today and see if you can get your nicotine from a source which has been proven to be 95% less harmful than cigarettes!