Forbes Writer Outlines Nicotine’s Scientific Qualities

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Nicotine is at the center of a great debate. Is it harmful? Is some of it actually in foods? Sally Satel, a contributor for, recently debated both sides of the nicotine argument.

What nicotine isn’t according to Satel’s story:

  • the stuff that can cause serious illness and death from cancer, lung, and heart disease. Those culprits are the tar and toxic gases that are released from burning tobacco when you smoke.
  • the villain. E-cigarettes contain nicotine and satisfy smokers’ cravings, but vaping doesn’t burn tobacco.
  • delivered at the same rate in e-cigarettes than cigarettes. It’s delivered less per vaping puff.

What nicotine is according to Satel’s story:

  • a chemical that is dangerous not because it causes cancer but because it can addict you to cigarettes.
  • cited as the primary addictive quality in cigarettes due to: (1) in the initial stages of use, more of it is required to produce the same effect in the smoker, a phenomenon called “tolerance”; (2) it is “reinforcing,” meaning that it is sufficiently rewarding to spur self-administration; and (3) abrupt cessation can lead to powerful craving and a recognizable withdrawal syndrome.
  • a mild stimulant
  • enhances the performance of tasks including those involving vigilance and rapid visual cue processing
  • it can also sharpen memory, concentration and attention in the short term.
  • its effect can vary according to one’s mood and level of arousal
  • a dopamine releaser
  • one of 6,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke

For the full story, visit


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