How Can Nicotine Be Advantageous?
Some journals and media outlets have suggested that nicotine can be beneficial and that we shouldn’t overlook the medical advantages of this chemical. While this can make attention grabbing headlines as it is the opposite of how most of us think about nicotine, how accurate are these claims?
Let’s take a look at some of the dangers and advantages of nicotine in different situations. Most vapers are either smokers or former smokers, so the role of nicotine in smoking and vaping is going to be one of the main things we’ll focus on.
Dangers of nicotine
We need to begin by looking at how harmful nicotine is on its own when not a part of the dangerous combination of chemicals found in cigarettes. The idea that nicotine is the most harmful chemical in cigarettes is a common misconception. In reality nicotine itself has comparatively low risks apart from addiction.
While nicotine is associated with health risks, most of these risks are minimal compared to other chemicals in cigarette smoke linked with cancer, heart disease and lung disease. Addiction is the biggest problem with nicotine as it makes it incredibly hard for smokers who want to give up to successfully quit tobacco products and the associated dangers.
Nicotine, Quitting Smoking And Vaping
Nicotine is addictive and one of the biggest reasons why giving up smoking is so difficult. Nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches, gum and vaping can help smokers give up tobacco by providing nicotine to satisfy their cravings.
Vaping has been shown to almost double the chances of quitting smoking for good. This is because of the combination of nicotine and the familiar vaping feel that is reminiscent of a cigarette.
Overcoming nicotine addiction takes time and most vapers start their vaping experience with nicotine in their e-liquids to satisfy the cravings that come with giving up smoking. What level of nicotine is right for you will most often depend on how heavily you smoked.
Many vapers want to reduce their nicotine levels or give up nicotine entirely after successfully quitting smoking. Thanks to the varying nicotine levels in e-liquid, this can be done over time by gradually reducing the amount of nicotine being vaped. But the process isn’t necessarily straightforward and vapers should take care when trying to give up.
Nicotine in e-liquids is useful when giving up smoking as it satisfies the cravings that come with cigarettes. Although reducing the nicotine levels too quickly or too soon can leave these cravings unsatisfied. Some vapers have gone back to smoking as a result of reducing the nicotine levels in their e-liquids too quickly.
Deciding when and how to give up nicotine is a personal choice and different approaches work better for different people.
Risks Associated With Lower Levels Of Nicotine
The level of nicotine in cigarettes is another area where opinions are divided. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have considered controlling and lowering the levels of nicotine in tobacco cigarettes.
Supporters of this idea say that it will make it easier for smokers to quit and more difficult for people to become addicted in the first place. But critics of the idea say that decreasing the amount of nicotine will encourage people to smoke more to satisfy their craving, making cigarettes more dangerous.
Nicotine, Alzheimer’s and circulation
Research into the effect of nicotine on Alzheimer’s and circulation has also produced mixed results.
One study involving nicotine patches and Alzheimer’s concluded that participants using patches maintained their cognitive abilities longer than the control group. Although more study is needed to understand this possible link between nicotine and managing Alzheimer’s.
Another study into the effect of nicotine on circulation and blood vessels has shown that nicotine could improve circulation and encourage the growth of new blood vessels. More research needs to be done to support these findings and when it comes to the nicotine in cigarettes the harm that smoking does to circulation and blood vessels outweighs any potential benefits.
Nicotine and the health risks of smoking
Just because there are specific circumstances when nicotine might be beneficial, it doesn’t mean that nicotine is good for us in general. This is especially true of the nicotine associated with smoking as nicotine makes the dangers of smoking difficult to quit, causing a great deal of harm.
In the UK alone around one hundred thousand people die each year as a result of smoking related disease and about ten thousand of these are the result of second-hand smoking. This means that around ten percent of the people killed by smoking are non-smokers and statistics show that most of these victims of passive smoking live with a smoker. Smoking is harmful and often deadly not just to the smoker but also those around them and nicotine is a part of this problem.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products produce thousands of chemicals which have a strong connection to cancer as well as heart disease, lung disease and other illnesses. Smoking tobacco also creates tar, a combination of chemicals which coats the lungs causing lung damage, emphysema, bronchitis and lung cancer.
Around half of all smokers will die as a result of smoking related illnesses and nicotine is the addictive chemical that makes it so hard for people to quit.
One More Thing
While nicotine itself is much less harmful than many of the other chemicals found in cigarettes, the addictive nature of this substance is what makes it dangerous to smokers.
Addictive nicotine is the reason why giving up smoking and all the associated health risks is so difficult. But this is also why nicotine in nicotine replacement therapies like patches, gum and vaping are a useful way to help people quit cigarettes.
Some studies have also shown that treatment with nicotine can be beneficial to sufferers of Alzheimer’s or depression. Although the results of these studies are not conclusive and we should bear in mind that smoking has been shown to make depression worse in the long term.