An Invalid Fear: The Truth about Nicotine and Vaping

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Nicotine is frequently thought of as interchangeable with tobacco, which is why many find themselves asking the question: does vaping have tobacco? In short, the answer is no. Unless you are vaporizing tobacco leaves, tobacco isn’t found in vape products or e-liquids, because vaping doesn’t burn any sort of tobacco or tobacco products.

Because e-cigarettes contain the word “cigarette,” there is a lot of incorrect information and misconceptions about vaping. The FDA categorizes vaping and vape products as tobacco products, but many medical professionals and politicians alike acknowledge the potential to use these devices as a means to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. There’s a lot of information out there about vaping---what it is, the different devices used, the assortment of brands and flavors---so if you’re interested, check out our comprehensive vape guide for beginners.

What is nicotine and where does it come from?

Nicotine is an alkaloid, meaning it is classified as a nitrogenous organic compound. It is found in members of the nightshade family, which include the tobacco plant as well as eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. Alternatively, nicotine can also be made synthetically in a laboratory.

How does nicotine affect the body?

Nicotine enters the bloodstream and crosses the blood-brain barrier into the brain in about 8-20 seconds. The half-life of nicotine is about two hours, meaning half the nicotine in your system is gone in that time. Nicotine is broken down in the liver. Absorption varies based on the strength of the nicotine, as well as the amount of vapor inhaled, time spent inhaling, and how frequently you vape.

Nicotine has a number of pharmacologic effects, such as increased heart rate, increased heart muscle oxygen consumption rate, and increased heart stroke volume.  What this means is that more blood will be pumped out of the heart per minute.

The psychodynamic effects of nicotine have a lot to do with the chemicals being released in your brain. Nicotine is proven to raise alertness, and improve memory and concentration. It also causes a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. Indirectly, nicotine causes dopamine to be released in the brain. Furthermore, nicotine increases levels of beta-endorphins, which are proven to reduce anxiety.

Have medicinal studies been done on nicotine?

Nicotine is no longer exclusive to tobacco, its long-term counterpart. Many products, such as nicotine gum and patches deliver the chemical without the toxic combustion and many of the carcinogens known by the FDA to be in cigarettes.

  • A 1966 research study by epidemiologist Harold Kahn suggested that death due to Parkinson’s disease was three times more likely to occur in nonsmokers as in smokers.
  • In 1971, John Hopkins University epidemiologists Irving Kessler and Earl Diamond found that Parkinson’s patients were much less likely to have ever smoked than non-Parkinson’s patients. As the symptoms of the disease worsen, dopamine-producing neurons die out.
  • A study done in 1979 by UCLA neurobiologist Marie-Françoise Chesselet discovered that nicotine increases dopamine levels in the brain. Chesselet found that even small doses of nicotine triggers the release of dopamine, which stops unwanted movement.
  • Aside from Parkinson’s disease, nicotine seems to have many other benefits for those with certain psychological disorders, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), Schizophrenia, and Tourette’s.

Psychologist Jennifer Rusted of the University of Sussex in Britain has found in her studies that nicotine as a medicinal drug may help users shut out stimuli, making it beneficial to treat Schizophrenia. Schizophrenics often see and hear things that others don’t, so shutting out such overwhelming senses could prove to be beneficial.

What is nicotine dependence?

Nicotine dependence AKA tobacco dependence is a prominent issue in today’s day and age. Because nicotine alters how the user feels--- leaving the user feeling relaxed and euphoric--- many people become dependent. Users also experience negative symptoms when they don’t smoke, the most common symptom being irritability. Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult, with withdrawal symptoms such as strong cravings for smoking, depression, insomnia, and anger.

Many people have begun using vape products as a means to quit traditional cigarette smoking. Similar to other quitting methods, vaping can deliver controlled amounts of nicotine into the user’s system without all of the other toxins that come with lighting up a cigarette.

It’s important to note that it is completely possible to vape without nicotine. 0MG bottles of vape liquids contain absolutely no nicotine. There are various reasons people might prefer a zero nicotine e-liquid, such as former smokers wanting to ween off of the chemical, vapers preferring the flavor without nicotine, and smokers who enjoy the social aspect but have never smoked nicotine products.

What is your experience with nicotine and smoking cessation aids? Tell us in the comments!

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