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Key Information





Ciggies, Fags,


Nicotine is a powerful Neurotoxin and in pure form can kill in very low doses. It is nicotine that the body gets used to and is therefore the key ‘addictive’ part of cigarettes/tobacco. Because it is stimulant nicotine raises the heart rate and blood pressure, and because smoking tends to be a repetitive habit this means that a smoker’s body will be operating at a different (raised) ‘normal level’ in terms of their heart rate etc. When the person then doesn’t have any nicotine for a while this causes the blood pressure/heart rate etc. to drop back to what would be ‘normal’ for a non-smoker – but it feels ‘funny’ to the smoker. The person then feels they need a fag to ‘calm them down’,  what actually happens is that the nicotine causes the heart rate etc. to speed up again and the smoker returns to feeling more like their usual selves. This is why smokers feel that smoking “calms them down”


Tobacco smoking involves the inhalation of tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide and other gases. Nicotine is a stimulant drug which increases pulse rate and blood pressure. Regular smokers often find smoking combats anxiety and stress, helps concentration and alleviates boredom. Some also find it suppresses appetite. First time users often feel sick, dizzy and suffer headache.  Tobacco is made from the dried leaves of the tobacco plant that grows in many parts of the world. The main active ingredient is nicotine. Most tobacco used in this country comes from America and is sold as cigarettes. Cigars and pipe tobacco are made from stronger, darker tobacco. Snuff is powdered tobacco that is sniffed up the nose.


Tolerance develops quickly to the effects of nicotine so more is needed to get an effect. Most people who smoke become dependent and feel restless and anxious if they try to stop. Very few people find they can just have the occasional cigarette. They tend to either smoke a number a day or not smoke at all.   Regular, long term smoking greatly increases the risk of a number of serious diseases including lung and other cancers, heart diseases, bronchitis, bad circulation and ulcers. Women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy tend to give birth to babies of smaller birth weight. Smoking whilst taking oral contraceptives ('the pill') increases the risk of heart and circulatory problems.   Recent research has also shown that smoking can damage non-smokers who inhale tobacco fumes. It is now well established in the literature that the population is at risk from the effects of passive smoking, ranging from respiratory irritations, infections and asthma (especially children) through to cancer.  Smoking has more than 50 ways of increasing health related risks through illness and more than 20 ways of killing you. Smokers face a higher risk than non-smokers for a wide variety of illnesses, many of which may be fatal. However, many medical conditions associated with smoking, while they may not be fatal, may cause years of debilitating illness or other problems. Nicotine is just one of the substances dangerous to health contained in tobacco.


It is not illegal to buy, possess or use tobacco products.

  1. Nicotine is what keeps people smoking despite its harmful effects.  A drop of pure Nicotine would kill a person. In fact, Nicotine can be used as a pesticide on crops.
  2. With each puff of a cigarette, a smoker pulls Nicotine into his or her lungs where it is absorbed into the blood. In eight seconds, Nicotine is in the brain, changing the way the brain works.
  3. Nicotine raises the heart rate and respiration (breathing) rate, and causes more glucose, or blood sugar, to be released into the blood.
  4. Nicotine comes from the leaves of the tobacco plant.
  5. While there are thousands of chemicals in the tobacco plant (not to mention those added by cigarette manufacturers), Nicotine produces all the good feelings that draw people back.
  6. Nicotine normally makes up about 5 percent of a tobacco plant, by weight.
  7. Cigarettes contain 8 to 20 milligrams (mg) of Nicotine (depending on the brand), but only approximately 1 mg is actually absorbed by your body when you smoke a cigarette.
  8. Nicotine moves right into the small blood vessels that line the tissues listed above. From there, Nicotine travels through your bloodstream to the brain, and then is delivered to the rest of your body.
  9. Nicotine doesn't stick around your body for too long. It has a half-life of about 60 minutes, meaning that six hours after a cigarette, only about 0.031 mg of the 1 mg of Nicotine you inhaled remains in your body.
  10. Nicotine initially causes a rapid release of adrenaline, the "fight-or-flight" hormone. If you've ever jumped in fright at a scary movie or rushed around the office trying to finish a project by your deadline.
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