After countless years of smoking cigarettes being seen as the high end or cool thing to do, research has shown the risk and dangers of smoking time and time again.
While it’s simple to say that cigarettes are just generally bad, each puff is actually filled with a mix of chemicals.
Which ones are bad?
Which ones are alright?
The subject of nicotine is often associated directly with tobacco, even if its effects are often less understood.
This is everything you need to know about nicotine, and the risks it may hold.
What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a stimulating drug known for its mild psychoactive effects of releasing excess dopamine and increasing the rate of communication between the body and the brain.
Nicotine can be found in all forms of tobacco including pipes, cigars, cigarettes, snuff, chew, dip, and other forms of tobacco leaves. Through the late 1600’s, nicotine would be mixed with water and spread across crops to be used as a pesticide. These products would remain on the market within the U.S. until 2014 with the Nicotine Product Cancellation Order.
What’s an EPA Cancellation Order?
This is an official request from the EPA for a company to stop production or use of a part. This is their way of asking nicely, before they take legal action that could expose unwanted information publicly.
That’s right, even the EPA decided that nicotine was unsafe for our food and soils.
Vapes and other forms of smoking substitutes, while not containing actual tobacco leaves, may still have forms of nicotine extracts.
Nicotine's Effect on the Body
Although 31.4 million adults regularly use tobacco products within the United States, many smokers claim different effects from nicotine.
When considering the effects of nicotine on the body, it’s important to look at the short term (i.e. what’s experienced while in the act of smoking), and the long term (being lasting health issues).
Short Term Effects
To start, it’s important to consider some of the factors that alter what effects are experienced by each person:
- Size, including height and muscular build
- Weight, both overweight and underweight
- Health, including general health and health conditions
- History of tobacco use
- Use of other narcotics
- Heavy alcohol use
- Total nicotine used at a given time
Individuals who may not have smoked prior, or who have smoked far less, may experience more centralized effects of nicotine. This is your body’s way of warning you about the potential risks of tobacco use with feelings such as:
- Stomach cramps
- Body weakness
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, which is why you crave a cigarette even though your body is going through these feelings. Over time, smokers begin to gain a resistance to the sudden effects of nicotine, and notice the ongoing effects including:
- Mild full body stimulation
- Increased heart rate
- Hacking and coughing
- Slight dizziness
- Increased brain activity
- Numbness or tingling or toes or fingers
- Reduced appetite
- Vomiting and acid reflux
When smoking a large dose of nicotine, you may experience what’s known as nicotine high, or nicotine OD. These symptoms are fast approaching, while the smoker may experience:
- Extreme increase in heart rate
- Vomiting and nausea
- In severe cases, forms of seizures
Long Term Effects
The long term negative effects of smoking have remained documented and tested for years. Even knowing the potential health risk or increase risk of conditions, smokers are unable to pull away from the addictive properties of nicotine.
Smoking tobacco may increase the risk of:
- Eye diseases including cataracts, blindness, and general deterioration of vision
- Yellowing of the teeth and potential gum disease (periodontitis)
- Enlarged blood vessels
- Compromised immunity, making you more susceptible to standard sickness
- Respiratory and nasal issues
- Shortness of breath
- Increased visual aging due to skin damage
- Mood swings
- Slow healing wounds
- Body aches and pains
For smokers considering having children, it may be the time to quit smoking all together. Children are more sensitive to the chemicals found in cigarettes, causing serious risk for second and third-had smoke.
Becoming pregnant while smoking can become difficult or risky as nicotine:
- Increases male sexual dysfunctions
- Increases risk of ectopic pregnancy, or fetus attached to the fallopian tubes
- Increased risk in birth defects and ongoing health conditions
One of the biggest debates when considering nicotine use is the potential increased risk of cancer. While many assume cancer is only increased in areas of direct contact with smoke, such as the mouth and lungs, nicotine actually increases the risk of cancer within the:
- … and much more!
This risk increases as the body absorbs the nicotine and distributes it throughout the body for use.
Second Hand Smoke
For many years, it was common to walk into a restaurant or other public area and be surrounded by individuals with a cigarette in their hand. Over time, smoking areas would be put in place, but the smell and smoke would eventually make its way to the general public.
Second hand smoke, i.e. the health conditions associated with breathing in someone else’s cigarette smoke, is a very serious issue, and places many people who have never smoked a cigarette at risk.
When you smoke, the red hot cherry on the end of the cigarette burns at around 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Nicotine on the other hand begins to burn at 476.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This means even when you aren’t pulling on your cigarette, the high heat is causing the surrounding nicotine to evaporate and make its way into the air.
Each and every health risk a smoker is choosing to take, they are placing on loved ones, family members, and passersby.
Third Hand Smoke
Notice that smell that seems to stick to everything after someone smokes a cigarette? It sticks to their clothes, skin, furniture, and nearly everything?
This layer sticking to everything is known as third hand smoke, and it still contains levels of nicotine, and other harmful chemicals common in cigarettes.
This means touching or breathing this residue exposes you to potential health risks.
This can be extremely dangerous for smokers around young children -- even if you smoked outside and away, you could be exposing their sensitive immune systems to these harsh chemicals stuck to your body.
It’s About Time To Quit
If you’re like the 55% of smokers who have tried to quit smoking just within the last year, you know that the task is more than just not buying another pack. Smoking is seriously addictive.
To quit smoking, consider the use of hemp cigarettes, which allow you to touch, feel, light, and smoke what is pert near a cigarette, with an improved flavor and smell.
The best part: no nicotine.
For some smokers, the use of alternatives allows them to relieve cravings or the “need” for a cigarette. It’s normal that a smoker would be more dependent or addicted to nicotine, and the alternatives alone simply aren’t enough, which brings the possibility for nicotine patches while using alternatives.
One of the goals of alternatives is to dissociate the nicotine intake with the act of smoking. Using nicotine patches allows you to reduce the amount of nicotine used, which can be slowly released throughout the day.
By reducing the nicotine level over time, you can pull away from your chemical dependency.
Even once you have pulled away from smoking all together, keep a couple hemp cigarettes tucked away.
The feeling that you miss smoking, even once you’ve quit for an extended period of time, is common. While this is a feeling you can often push through, if your cravings become too much, it’s better to have a hemp cigarette available versus running off to the corner store to buy a pack.
Nicotine is known for a wide range of potentially dangerous health risks, and should be avoided at all points in time.
Even if you are separating yourself to smoke, the second and third hand smoke continues to put your family and friends in serious danger. While you remain responsible for your own health, avoid being the reason someone else becomes ill.
Utilizing smoking alternatives such as the hemp smokes right here at Oklahoma Smokes will help you take the first steps towards a nicotine-free lifestyle. With resources and knowledge in place, there’s no need to quit cold turkey and struggle through the mental stress of nicotine withdrawals.
One step at a time, you’ll be tobacco-free sooner than you think.