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Nicotine Explained: What You Should Know

Have you ever wondered what nicotine it is, what it does, how it's used, why it's often found in e-liquid, how much is in a cigarette, how long its withdrawals last, or how to quit using it? This guide to nicotine here on Vaper Empire's blog will answer all of these questions and more, so if you want to learn more about nicotine then keep on reading!

What is Nicotine?

Nicotine is a naturally occurring stimulant from the nightshade family of plants. Although it is widely used for smoking cessation and to relieve withdrawal symptoms, it also forms part of tobacco cigarettes, constituting anywhere between 0.6—3.0% of the dry weight of tobacco on average.

How Much Nicotine In 1 Cigarette?

Your average cigarette will yield around 2 mg of absorbed nicotine. However, this can vary between different brands and cigarette strengths. A “light” cigarette, for example, will likely contain less nicotine than stronger “unfiltered” ones, but this isn’t guaranteed.

Also, it’s worth noting that this is “absorbed” nicotine---i.e. the amount that enters the blood. A tobacco cigarette itself on the low end may contain about 6 milligrams (mg) of nicotine. On the high end, about 28 mg. On average, a cigarette contains about 10 to 12 mg of nicotine.

For every packet of cigarettes, you’ll likely absorb around 22—36mg of nicotine.

What Does Nicotine Actually Do?

Nicotine is highly addictive unless used in slow-release forms, and its presence in cigarettes, as you may know, is what causes people to get “hooked” on them. Once nicotine enters the bloodstream, it releases the chemical dopamine in the human brain. As with many substances that cause dopamine to be released in the brain, the dopamine release caused by nicotine “teaches” the brain to repeat the same behaviour (i.e. using tobacco) over and over again. Each time a person takes a puff on a cigarette, the brain gets a “hit” from dopamine, and over time, this turns into a vicious cycle whereby people smoke in order to provide their bodies with a nicotine “hit” and satisfy their cravings.

Given that a typical smoker will take anywhere between 10-15 “puffs” on a cigarette and smoke a pack a day, that’s a whole lot of nicotine “hits” that the brain is getting. This translates to a lot of training and conditioning on the brain to keep using nicotine. And with more smoking and repeated use, addictions become more severe.

In short, nicotine alters the chemical functions in your brain. This is what makes it highly addictive and gets people hooked on cigarettes.

What Else Do Cigarettes Contain?

Nicotine obviously isn’t the only ingredient in a cigarette, nor is it what is known to cause serious illness and death. Nicotine is addictive, yes, but it's the tar and toxic gases released by burning cigarettes that are believed to be the real culprits.

The average cigarette can contain hundreds of different substances and produce thousands of chemicals when burned, over 60 of which have been linked to cancer. This is where the significant harm in cigarettes stems from.

These are just a few of the harmful chemicals, poisons, and other substances you’ll find in your average cigarette.

  • Acetone---an ingredient in nail polish remover
  • Ammonia---commonly used in cleaning products
  • Arsenic---a poison used in bug and weed killers
  • Benzene---a cancer-causing compound found in fuel
  • Butane---a flammable compound found in crude oil
  • Carbon monoxide---toxic at high levels, found in car exhaust fumes
  • Lead---a toxic chemical that damages the brain and nervous system
  • Tar---a thick, nasty liquid produced when carbon-based matter is burned

Smoking and Nicotine Side Effects

There are a lot of side effects when it comes to smoking. These, however, are caused by the harmful chemicals and substances found in cigarette smoke, some of which we have highlighted above.

In terms of nicotine side effects, there is research to suggest that nicotine can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Here’s the damage that smoking can do:

Loss of Senses

Over time, smoking can damage your senses of smell and taste. Smokers are six times more likely to have poor smell than non-smokers. The number of cigarettes smoked plays a big role here, with those who smoke two packs a day likely to suffer more damage than those who smoke one.

According to research, roughly two per cent of North Americans have problems with their sense of smell. Not only can this cause problems with the sense of taste, but it can also be dangerous by making it hard to detect dangerous smells like gas leaks, spoiled food, and fires.

Increased Risk of Cancers, Strokes, and Brain Damage

Smoking is the number one risk factor for cancers of the lungs, mouth, and throat. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke.

It’s also a huge risk factor for a large number of other cancers, diseases, strokes, and brain damage. In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to 80—90% of lung cancer deaths.

Even smoking a few cigarettes a day or smoking occasionally increases the risk of lung cancer. The more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day, the higher the risk.

Bad Dental Hygiene

Smoking leads to problems in the mouth. First of all, it causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream which can lead to infected gums that cannot heal. These can cause a whole range of dental complications. It also causes gum disease to progress faster than in non-smokers.

Smoking also causes yellowing of the teeth, tooth decay, and bad breath. Overall, it leads to a major drop in dental hygiene over time, no matter how well you try to look after it.

How to Remove Nicotine Stains from Fingers

It’s actually not the nicotine that stains smokers’ fingers, despite popular belief. It’s tobacco that causes this disgusting yellowing of the fingers.

It’s also partly caused by the displacement of oxygen in the skin brought about by carbon monoxide that’s present in cigarettes. This reduces blood flow and can leave skin dry and discoloured all over the body.

Research has shown that vaping e-liquid does not stain teeth anywhere near the extent that smoking does. Based on the evidence available, some have gone as far as to say that vaping simply does not stain teeth.

Nicotine as a Smoking Cessation Tool

Nicotine is widely used as a tool to help people quit smoking. This is achieved through the use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). This is where a person stops using tobacco and instead uses another product that contains smaller amounts of nicotine, such as:

  • Chewing gum
  • Skin patches
  • Tablets
  • Nasal and mouth sprays
  • Nicotine inhalers

The idea behind these is that the nicotine present in the products will provide that all-important “hit” that the brain is looking for without the need to smoke a cigarette. And although they do work for some people, their success rates aren’t necessarily anything to boast about.

A relatively small number of people manage to quit smoking with products like these. That’s because they aren’t tailored to individuals---they’re one-size-fits-all approaches that don’t account for how long a person has smoked nor how much nicotine their bodies are used to, and they don't mimic the act of smoking.

Where Vaping Fits In

This is where e-cigarettes and vaping come in.

There is research to suggest that vaping is a far better smoking cessation method than nicotine gums and patches, two very popular NRTs. That’s in part because vaping does well to emulate smoking while other smoking cessation methods do not. It's also in part because vaping makes it relatively easy to control the amount of nicotine delivered.

These and a few other reasons are why vaping has become such a successful and widely popular tool for quitting smoking. There simply is no other tool that compares.

How Much Nicotine in Vape?

Vaper Empire Nicotine E-Liquid Bottles Vaper Empire e-liquid is available in many different strengths, allowing customers to choose the nicotine strength that fits them best.

A lot of people ask this question. The truth is that it’s a difficult one to answer, though. That’s because the amount of nicotine in a vape varies greatly and depends on the strength of the e-liquid (also known as “vape juice”) that you use. E-liquids come in a variety of nicotine strengths which is why, as we mentioned earlier, they are excellent for helping people quit smoking.

Heavy smokers, for example, can choose a strong e-liquid with more nicotine in it which will satisfy their cravings better than a light e-liquid that’s better geared towards light smokers. This is also why “traditional” nicotine replacement products like gums and patches can be ineffective. If a heavy and light smoker both used a nicotine patch, their bodies would be getting the same amount of nicotine despite their different requirements.

As a general guide, e-liquids come in the following strengths:

  • 0mg/mL (nicotine-free)
  • 3mg/mL
  • 6mg/mL
  • 12mg/mL
  • 18mg/mL
  • 24mg/mL
  • 30mg/mL
  • 36mg/mL

The amount of nicotine that’s present in an e-liquid is written as a number of milligrams (mg) per millilitre. Basically, this means that per millilitre of vape liquid, there is X amount of milligrams of nicotine.

Sometimes, nicotine strength is expressed as a percentage and tells you what percentage of the liquid in nicotine. In 6mg/mL liquid, this would be 0.6%. In a 24mg/mL liquid, this would be 2.4%.

Which Nicotine Strength is Right for Me?

Dripping Vaper Empire E Liquid It's important to choose the right nicotine strength vape juice when switching from smoking to vaping.

This question basically boils down to your smoking habits. Look at the number and type of cigarettes that you smoke per day and go from there. The nicotine e-liquid strength that you use is entirely personal to you and, in many cases, is a matter of trial and error.

Starting out with a stronger e-liquid might help you make the initial switch from smoking to vaping. Once you’ve successfully switched and haven’t smoked for a few days, you can start experimenting with other strengths to see which one works for you. When you’ve found it, you may consider gradually reducing the strength over time as your nicotine urges start to disappear.

30mg/mL – 36mg/mL+ -- These are high-end strengths. These are starting points for people who are well and truly heavily addicted smokers who can get through more than a pack of strong cigarettes per day without even thinking about it.

12mg/mL – 24mg/mL –These are mid-level strengths with 24mg/mL bordering on high. These are a good starting point for relatively mid-level to heavy “ish” smokers who get through anywhere between half a pack to a pack a day or more.

3mg/mL – 9mg/mL – These are low-level nicotine strengths with 9mg/mL starting to border on medium-strength. These are the nicotine e-liquids that people use when they’re approaching the final steps of quitting and have successfully reduced their nicotine intake and cravings to almost nothing. We’d also recommend this concentration band for light smokers who get through a few cigarettes per day.

0mg/mL nicotine – This is the nicotine-free option that’s ideal for social smokers who aren’t “addicted” to cigarettes per se. Rather, these people smoke occasionally when they’re out on the town and simply enjoy the feel of it. Nicotine-free e-liquid is also ideal for hobbyists who enjoy vaping but have no need for nicotine.

Nicotine Withdrawals: How Long Does It Last?

When nicotine starts to leave the body following smoking, the body starts to respond both physically and psychologically, and this can affect people in different ways. This is because once the body has adapted to regular nicotine intakes, people find giving up smoking difficult because of the uncomfortable symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

Nicotine withdrawal can last anywhere from several days to several weeks, if not longer. And although it feels unpleasant, nicotine withdrawal, physically speaking, is not believed to be serious.

Some of the symptoms may include:

  • a strong desire or craving for nicotine
  • irritability or frustration
  • low mood
  • restlessness
  • tremors
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • restlessness

The good news is that with vaping, you won’t necessarily experience nicotine withdrawals. And if you do, they should be nowhere near as extreme as they would be if you quit smoking cold turkey and didn’t use any nicotine cessation products.

Ready to Quit Smoking?

Vaper Empire V-Pack II Series E-Cigarette Kit At Vaper Empire, we offer a range of premium vaping devices that include cig-a-like kits like our V-Pack II Series, vape pens, pod vapes, and more.

If you’re worried about the health risks of smoking (you should be!) and are interested in truly putting in the effort to quit smoking, we’re here to help you! We have a whole range of resources that you can use to learn more about the dangers of smoking and the benefits of vaping, including how to use vaping to quit.

When you’re ready, you can also head on over to the Vaper Empire online store to buy your very first vape starter kit. If you’re not sure where you should start, our cig-a-like e-cigs and basic vape pens are great for first-timers who are ex-smokers but, again, there are resources on our blog that can help you with this, too.

If you have any questions about our products, you can contact our knowledgeable customer support team via e-mail at [email protected], by telephone at 1800 VAPERS (1800 827 377), or by using our live chat feature on our website.

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