As of the 19th February 2015 Nash Riggins (American Journalist based in Scotland) released an article relating nicotine to poison and not to be taken lightly, with the likes of e-cigarettes being safer than the real thing.
So as for our chemical of the week will be looking at what nicotine is and the effects it could possibly have on us.
What is nicotine?
Nicotine is an alkaloid, which is a natural occurring nitrogen compound derived from plants. Nicotine has the chemical formula C10H14N2 with a molecular mass of 162.23 g/mol.
So what is the link between tobacco and nicotine?
Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves which it is within the leaves that we find the chemical nicotine; It falls under the category of a stimulant drug.
Nicotine and our bodies
Before we talk about the relationship between nicotine and smoking; I want to make you aware that we can actually find nicotine in different foods, particularly vegetables such as cauliflower, ripe tomatoes and potatoes; however the quantities in grams are very small when comparing with passive smoking; check out huffingtonpost to investigate this further.
The relationship between nicotine and smoking have been under constant studies until this day. We have conflicting evidence out there to suggest that nicotine is/is not a major concern when smoking in comparison to the other chemicals taken in when smoking.
Take a look at this video which is suggesting that people smoke for the nicotine but it's the smoke that kills; this conflicts with Nash riggins study.
Nicotine has be linked to high blood pressure and an increased heart rate. This is down to the fact that nicotine is a vasoconstrictor and dilates the blood vessels. But one of the effects of nicotine is that it is a highly addictive drug and can lead people to wanting more.
So, why can we become so addicted to nicotine?
Well; it can be directly associated with it altering the balance of chemicals in the brain; mainly dopamine and noradrenaline. Nicotine is delivered into the blood stream via the intake of tobacco smoke. When it gets into the blood via alveoli in the lungs, it is transported straight to the brain where it will start to take over. Nicotine directly increases dopamine production which is the hormone responsible for the feelings of pleasure, also known as the 'feel good' chemical.
Nicotine actually damages dopamine production, this is why it's difficult to quit smoking; a daily intake of nicotine will increase the dopamine levels way above their normal production rates. So our bodies cannot release the same amount of levels as nicotine does which can lead to the effects of depression and feeling unhappy.