As any smoker can tell you, nicotine is a remarkably addictive drug; only about seven percent of people who try to quit smoking on their own last at least one year. Nicotine is among the most heavily used addictive drugs in the country, in spite of the long-known facts regarding smoking's potential to cause lung cancer and many other health problems.
Nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the U.S., and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death. Cigarette smoking accounts for 90 percent of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and about 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke. Most cigarettes in the U.S. market today contain 10 milligrams (mg) or more of nicotine. The average smoker takes in 1 to 2 mg nicotine per cigarette when inhaling.
In 1989, the Surgeon General issued a report indicating that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco which contain nicotine (such as cigars, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco) are addictive. The report also determined that smoking was a major cause of stroke as well as the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
What Is Nicotine?
Nicotine is one of more than 4,000 chemicals found in the smoke from tobacco products; it is the primary component that acts on the brain. Smokeless tobacco products (for example, snuff and chewing tobacco) also contain many toxins as well as high levels of nicotine. Nicotine is a naturally occurring, colorless liquid that turns brown when burned and takes on the odor of tobacco when exposed to air. There are many species of tobacco plants, the tabacum species serving as the major source of today's tobacco products. Extensive study shows it to have a number of complex and sometimes unpredictable effects on the brain and body.