Why Smoking Kills You: Profiling Nicotine

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

What makes smoking so addictive that you feel bad and anxious by simply thinking that you can’t smoke on that very moment? The answer is nicotine.

Opened Cigarettes PackNicotine is a colorless, toxic chemical, found in cigarettes. It is a natural compound found in tobacco plant. It is extremely addictive and destructive. Nicotine is used as insect repellant and as an industrial ingredient for insecticides.

Nicotine in cigarette smoke affects your body in many ways than you expect it has.

It Affects Your Brain Chemistry:

When you puff cigarette smoke, nicotine is absorbed in your body and gets into your brain in just about 10 seconds. The moment it reaches your brain, chemical reactions starts to happen. Nicotine affects your neurotransmitters and hormones. Your adrenaline and dopamine increases, insulin drops. As a result, you feel good, more alert, and less hungry.

But the problem is, once the nicotine level in your blood drops, you start to feel uneasy, anxious, lethargic, and the urge smoke kicks in. And when nicotine is once again delivered into your bloodstream, you again feel the pleasures of smoking. And so the cycle of smoking addiction.

Nicotine Addiction

The more you smoke the more you get hooked to smoking as more nicotine is being delivered into your body. So much nicotine does tobacco products contains? Well, it depends on the brand and on the tobacco product you use. A typical cigarette can contain 10mg of nicotine on average, while cigars can contain from 100 to 400mg of nicotine, and smokeless tobacco may contain two or three times more nicotine.

To make it worse, the longer you smoke the higher your nicotine tolerance becomes. This means you need higher amount of nicotine to satisfy your cravings. This is the reason why as time passes by you smoke more and more cigarettes on a daily basis. One cigarette becomes two, three, until you finally noticed you’re smoking 1 to 2 packs of cigarette a day.

Nicotine is poisonous. A drop of pure nicotine is plenty enough to kill an adult person. Though smaller doses of nicotine is found in tobacco products, and much smaller amount is delivered in your body, it is still enough to cause damage in your tissues.


Nicotine poisoning normally occurs in children and pets who accidentally chew cigarettes, cigarette butts and nicotine gums.


Some Common Signs of Nicotine Poisoning:

  • Twitching of muscles,
  • Convulsions,
  • Unconsciousness,
  • Difficulty breathing,
  • Abdominal cramps,
  • Vomiting,
  • Excessive salivation,
  • Burning sensation in in the oral cavity,
  • Headache, and

In case of nicotine poisoning, immediately seek medical attention or call the local hospital emergency number.


Smoking is highly addictive and before you know it you’re already hooked. It kills you silently. It robs you of your youth and your health. But the good news is, you can still prevent this by quitting smoking. And the sooner you quit the better chance you’ll have. Also, it is important to know that there are available quit smoking cessation products that are available in the market today to help you quit more successfully. Talk to your doctor now for your options.

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