For years the media, doctors, anti-smoking groups, the FDA, etc. tell us that nicotine is bad for us and addictive. But is nicotine the problem?
What does it mean to be addicted to something? According to the Merriam-Webster definition, addiction is the “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.” However, there is no scientifically accepted definition for addition.
When it comes to nicotine, some people can stop and start the use of it without any problems. On the other hand, some people crave nicotine once they start using it and are unable to stop using it without difficulties. The same can be said for alcohol and many other medications. So is nicotine harmful?
Research found that the effects of nicotine are similar to caffeine. The evidence that nicotine substantially increases the risk of cancer does not exist. As for cardiovascular disease, the risk is minimal. What is the problem?
Cigarette smoke is the bad part of the cigarette, not the nicotine. Smokeless tobacco alternatives like the Patch, the Nicotine Inhaler, etc. have a lower health risk than cigarettes. Scientific evidence shows that long term users of nicotine without the smoke suffered few medical problems than cigarette users.
Like many chemicals, too much nicotine can be fatal. However, users are very rarely exposed to pure nicotine or large dosages of it at one time. Nicotine does have its benefits as well. For some people, it helps relieve stress, anxiety or panic. Others ability to focus improves resulting in increased productivity.
To learn more about nicotine visit “All about Nicotine (and Addiction)” by TobaccoHarmReduction.org, which was used as a resource for this blog.