The action of inhaling and exhaling smoke calms many people. But the negative health consequences that come with ingesting nicotine cause some smokers to quit for good. Several even turn to electronic cigarettes to ease the shift from traditional cigarettes to not smoking at all. Unfortunately, that option may also contain nicotine derived from tobacco.
There is an excellent alternative, however, that could solve this problem: Tobacco Free Nicotine (TFN).
TFN will allow you to enjoy the relaxing effects of smoking without the dangers of tobacco products. It will also help you on your path to quitting and overcoming your urges and habits.
Still, before switching to this form of nicotine, it would be wise to know what TFN is and how safe it is to use. We aim to help you get a better understanding of this product in this article.
Overview of Tobacco-Free Nicotine
Tobacco-free nicotine, commonly known as TFN, is a form of nicotine that doesn't use any part of the tobacco plant. The leaves of tobacco contain high concentrations of nicotine, typically between 0.3 to 3 percent. It's the highly addictive chemical compound that keeps people using tobacco products, even when they desire to quit.
As nicotine enters the brain, it binds to receptors that affect the organ’s reward system. It's also widely known to cause serious systemic side effects besides causing someone to become addicted.
However, it's worth noting that nicotine isn't the primary cause of smoking-related illnesses. Instead, the mix of more than 7000 toxic chemicals along with nicotine, especially in combustible tobacco products, makes tobacco use harmful.
That's why many people turn to non-combustible methods, such as vaping. Still, while this method is certainly less harmful than smoking, the e-juices often used in these electronic cigarettes may contain freebase nicotine extracted from tobacco.
Fortunately, a synthesized form of nicotine is now used in e-cigarettes, vape juice, nicotine pouches, and other marketed products. Instead of using tobacco-derived nicotine, some tobacco companies switched to TFN, which is developed on a micro molecular scale, enabling scientists to create the nicotine molecule without using any tobacco constituents.
The Difference Between Tobacco-Free Nicotine and Tobacco-Based Nicotine
TFN has a similar molecular structure and characteristics to tobacco-based nicotine. However, there are big differences in how they come to be, as TFN is created in labs. As a result, it usually contains no impurities and is considered the purest version of nicotine one can acquire.
Further below, we’ll go over some other differences between these two.
Source and Components
Most of the nicotine used in e-liquids in many vape brands is extracted from tobacco. This extraction process typically brings residual impurities from the leaves and stems of the tobacco plant. It may also contain tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), a group of carcinogenic compounds present in tobacco products, which may cause cancers in people.
On the other hand, the source of TFN is free from any plant residues, as synthetic nicotine molecules are created with absolutely no elements of tobacco using a chemical process in a lab.
Still, compared to existing facilities that process tobacco plants, there's not much infrastructure to produce nicotine from scratch. It's not surprising that the estimated cost of synthetic nicotine production is roughly three to four times more costly than processing tobacco-derived nicotine.
Nicotine exists in two forms as enantiomers, the R- and S-nicotine. Tobacco-derived nicotine has predominantly S-nicotine, while synthetic nicotine solutions may contain various mixtures, some with a higher percentage of R-nicotine. Such variations in nicotine enantiomers may cause different physiological effects on the user.
For example, the R-nicotine configuration in nicotine products appears to bind less selectively to particular human cell receptors, generating a different or less physiological impact on an individual. It may also cause minor damage to the human cells than the S-nicotine form.
Even so, there's not enough evidence to know how much of each enantiomer in mixtures may affect the addictive or harmful properties of products on humans. Nonetheless, individuals who use vape products with tobacco-free nicotine and those containing nicotine derived from tobacco plants are likely to experience different effects.
Scent and Flavor
While TFN contains similar biological properties to tobacco-based nicotine, they have different scents and flavors. In fact, you'll notice that nicotine extracted from tobacco carries a foul smell and taste, especially in combustible tobacco products—carcinogenic residues can emit a smoky odor, too.
Contrastingly, TFN doesn’t come with the unpleasant odors and flavors common in tobacco-based products, as it is a pure nicotine version that isn’t extracted from tobacco sources. It also carries better and cleaner properties, technically making it somewhat safer.
Interestingly, manufacturers of tobacco-derived products often use flavorings to hide the nicotine’s taste. This isn’t the case with synthetic nicotine since, as mentioned above, it has no taste and smell.
Under the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given the authority to regulate products that are derived from tobacco. To bypass this, manufacturers started using a lab-made version of nicotine instead of tobacco-derived nicotine.
Because there were no clear FDA regulations regarding synthetic nicotine not extracted from tobacco plants, many companies switched to producing tobacco-free nicotine products in various styles and flavors that were highly attractive to youth who weren’t of legal smoking age.
To counter this, beginning on April 14, 2022, Congress authorized the FDA to regulate nicotine derived from any source, including synthetic nicotine. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of products containing tobacco-free nicotine must now comply with applicable requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
In addition, it's now required for manufacturers to submit a premarket tobacco application (PMTA) and be authorized by the FDA to market their products.
Safety and Side Effects of Tobacco-Free Nicotine
Synthetic nicotine is marketed alongside various truthful claims regarding its quality or characteristics—such as its pure, odorless nature compared to tobacco-derived nicotine. As someone who uses nicotine, you may be looking for a safer alternative to tobacco products, and using this synthesized form of nicotine may be a perfect solution.
But how safe is tobacco-free nicotine? What are the advantages and downsides of using TFN in your disposable vaping devices? Should you be aware of the potential side effects as with nicotine derived from tobacco plants? Find out more about TFN’s safety and side effects below.
Synthetic nicotine has been marketed with different claims regarding its quality or characteristics as pure and odorless compared to tobacco-derived nicotine. As someone who uses nicotine, you may be searching for a safer alternative to tobacco products. And using this synthesized form of nicotine may be a perfect solution.
But how safe is tobacco-free nicotine? What are the advantages and downsides of utilizing TFN in your disposable vaping devices? Are there any potential side effects like the nicotine derived from tobacco plants? Before switching to this option, find out more about its safety, benefits, and risks below.
With 99% pure nicotine and zero exposure to TSNAs—the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco-based nicotine—synthetic nicotine is thought to pose less cancer risk in smokers.
In fact, a study that compared the in vitro toxicity of TFN and traditional tobacco products concluded the former to be significantly less harmful than the latter (although further studies are required for a fuller substantiation). In addition, while the residuals from tobacco leaf extractions are notable, the byproducts of the manufacturing process of TFN haven’t been indicated for potential toxicity and carcinogenicity.
Moreover, since TFN appears to have a cleaner taste and odor, manufacturers don't have to use heavy sweeteners and artificial flavors. Chemicals used in those flavoring products have been shown to cause permanent damage to the lungs and impair their immune functions. Synthetic nicotine is free of these dangerous compounds, making them a safer alternative to use in e-liquids than tobacco-derived nicotine.
The most remarkable benefit you can get from utilizing tobacco-free nicotine is its lack of impurities. Synthetic nicotine offers the same degree of satisfaction as tobacco-derived nicotine but without the unpleasant smell and flavor or risks to your health.
Plus, there are various product options available, as this synthesized form of nicotine is not limited to vaping products—you’ll also find TFN in pouches, gums, and lozenges. Additionally, TFN is easier for your body to absorb compared to nicotine extracted from tobacco, making it especially useful for those who want to feel its effects as quickly as possible.
As if it wasn’t enough, tobacco-free nicotine is more stable than its counterpart, meaning it degrades at a much slower rate. Without the additional flavorings, synthetic nicotine in your vape juices may have a longer shelf life. If you're someone who likes to stockpile e-liquids, you won't have to worry about them losing their flavor no matter how long you store them.
Last but not least, if your goal is to quit smoking altogether, synthetic nicotine can help you adjust to vaping more safely and efficiently, as it has lower doses than the tobacco-derived nicotine used in vape juices. In conclusion, TFN will help you break free from nicotine addiction with more ease.
Risks and Side Effects
You may run some risks when shopping thanks to the inaccurate labeling of some companies in regards to synthetic nicotine in commercial goods. Many vendors may not specify the ratio of R-nicotine and S-nicotine in their products’ mixtures, which may expose you to a higher dose of nicotine than expected.
Also, some online retailers sell the same vape brands using TFN and tobacco-based nicotine with little differences in the packaging, creating unnecessary confusion for their customers.
Regarding side effects, further research is necessary to determine the full potential and physiological impact of synthetic nicotine. Although it's claimed to have a less known impact than nicotine derived from tobacco sources, various questions regarding TFN’s health risks remain unanswered for now.
Did you know?
Is Tobacco-Free Nicotine Addictive?
Nicotine is an addictive substance, whether extracted from the parts of tobacco plants or produced in a laboratory. However, research funded by manufacturers indicated that higher concentrations of R-nicotine form in synthetic nicotine may be less likely to cause addiction than its counterpart.
This doesn't mean using synthetic nicotine makes you immune to nicotine addiction, though. Like tobacco-based nicotine, TFN should be taken in moderation, and you should be especially mindful of the amount of nicotine you're ingesting each session. Also, despite its improved taste, smell, quality, and even safety, young people who are not of legal smoking age should not use this substance.
In fact, using nicotine during adolescence, regardless of its sources, can harm one’s mental growth, as it can cause disruption in the development of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and vulnerability to addiction.
Still, synthetic nicotine can be a valuable tool if you are looking to decrease your nicotine levels or outright cut your tobacco consumption. You can lower your nicotine intake gradually until you're ready to stop or you no longer crave it.
Always consult with your primary care provider first before making important changes in your smoking routine or if you have a specific health condition that could be problematic.
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FAQs About Tobacco Free Nicotine [TFN]
What's the main difference between synthetically produced nicotine and tobacco-based nicotine?
Synthetically produced nicotine is created in labs, as opposed to tobacco-based nicotine which is extracted from the plants of tobacco. As a result, the former usually has no impurities and is the purest, safest version of nicotine you can find.
Are there any benefits to using a synthesized form of nicotine?
Synthetically produced nicotine comes with the following potential benefits:
- Devoid of potentially cancer-causing chemicals used in flavoring
- Tasteless and odorless
- No impurities
Is tobacco-free nicotine dangerous?
Limited data suggests that tobacco-free nicotine is safer than tobacco-derived nicotine. However, it's still an addictive substance that can adversely affect the brain if used at an early age or without moderation.