A lot has been said about how dangerous cigarette smoking is. We all know, or should know,that there are plenty of toxins inside tobacco cigarettes, including tar, ammonia, carbon monoxide and plenty more. But the one ingredient that usually gets the most lambasting is nicotine. Now nicotine may not be as harmful as all those other chemicals when you are considering just the physical implications. But when you get into what it does, which is cause addition, it is by far the most dangerous. Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs around, which may surprise a lot of people. It can be as addictive as heroin, or even cocaine. For some people, it is harder to kick a nicotine addiction than an opioid addiction.
You can try to control your smoking all you want and even attempt to quit. But as long as your body and brain are craving nicotine, then you are going to have a very tough time. It is the same problem all drug users experience. They know what they are using is bad for them, but there is an addictive quality there that makes it difficult to stop doing it. It is a compulsion that is hard to break. Quitting smoking is extremely challenging due to how addictive nicotine is. When smokers quit, the nicotine withdrawals can be quite intense. How intense can depend on how much nicotine is consumed per day, how long the addiction has been ongoing and even genetics.
Now in general, the more nicotine there is in a cigarette, the more addictive that cigarette will be. That is why it is so important to understand how much nicotine you are taking into your system.
The Average Nicotine Content
With all that in mind, let’s look at how much nicotine the average cigarette contains. Now cigarettes will be different from one another in a lot of ways, and one of those ways is how much nicotine they contain. You cannot just say all cigarettes contain such and such amounts of nicotine.
It’s not even fair to say that they all average so much nicotine. The average, by the way, is about 12 mg per cigarette. The large majority of cigarettes fall between a range of 8 mg and 20mg. But it is important to note that most of those within that range hit near the low end.
It is also important to note that at least a few of them are reaching as high as 20 mg or more. You cannot just look at an average and apply it to what you are smoking. Your cigarette of choice could be much different than the national average.
What You Are Actually Taking In
Now you aren’t usually taking in all those milligrams of nicotine. It isn’t like you are ingesting the entire cigarette or keeping all the nicotine inside. You exhale a large portion of that, and your body doesn’t assimilate and absorb all the nicotine you inhale.
Once again, we have to refer to an imperfect average that doesn’t paint the whole, true picture. On average, a smoker would actually absorb into their body about 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette.
Now this is going to vary from cigarette to cigarette as well as from person to person. Not everyone is going to absorb the same amounts or smoke in the same way. A lot of different factors determine how much nicotine you are taking in, and they range from the environment in which you smoke to your emotional state when you smoke. That last one may seem odd, but many people actually inhale cigarettes differently based on their mood. One thing is certain, that inhaling and smoking are the most efficient way to get nicotine into the system. It only takes 10 to 20 seconds for it to reach the brain as opposed to 30 minutes it takes for nicotine gum to work.
Not Everyone Is the Same
We just mentioned that not everyone is going to absorb nicotine in the same way or at the same rate. But there are other factors that determine just how much damage nicotine does. You see, even if you absorb just as much nicotine as the next person, the effect that same amount of nicotine has on you may be quite different from the effect it has on someone else.
That is because everyone’s body is different. People with a lot of mass or healthy immune systems are not going to be as affected by nicotine as people who are small or frail. That’s when analyzing nicotine content in cigarettes and their effects on people does not give you the same answers every time.
For some people,a single cigarette is enough to form an addiction that will last for a lifetime.For others, it may take most of a pack to form that same addiction.
So we can’t say that a certain amount of nicotine will cause addiction or create a negative effect for someone. But we can say that nicotine is harmful and that at some point it leads to addiction. Once that addiction is in place, it takes varying amounts of nicotine to keep a foothold on the brain and keep the addiction going strong.