The Chemical Formula for Nicotine Addiction

Teens Targeted By Marketing Strategy

Most smokers wish that they had never started their ugly habit. The nicotine and the additives such as ammonia make cigarettes extremely addictive and deadly. In fact, nicotine is more addictive than alcohol, cocaine and heroin.

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One of the reasons tobacco is so addictive is that about 4,000 chemicals have been found in cigarettes including 200 known poisons and several known carcinogens. Chemicals such as  ammonia, are added because they release more nicotine from the tobacco leaf when burned. This gives the cigarette a greater “kick” and makes it more addictive. It’s the same concept as free-basing cocaine. In the United Kingdom, more than 600 additives are allowed in cigarettes and other countries are equally liberal with Big Tobacco. The following poisons have been found in cigarettes:

  • Acetic acid (a hair dye);
  • Acetone (a paint and fingernail polish remover);
  • Ammonia (a typical household cleaner.  It can boost the impact of         nicotine by 100 times. They began adding it to cigarettes in the early 1900s).
  • Arsenic (a rat poison that was found in cigarettes as early as 1912);
  • Asbestos (the Kent brand was using this carcinogen in cigarette filters in the 1950s, when a research director from the Lorillard tobacco company wrote that Kent smoke contained “sharp little fibers of asbestos”).
  • Benzene (carcinogen found in rubber cement and gasoline);
  • Cadmium (found in batteries and oil-based paint);
  • Carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas);
  • Cyanide (a poison);
  • Ethyl furoid (a chemical warfare agent in the 1930s);
  • Formaldehyde (used to embalm dead bodies);
  • Freon (used in air conditioning units);
  • Glycol (antifreeze);
  • Hydrazine (in jet and rocket fuel);
  • Hydrogen cyanide (poison used in gas chambers);
  • Naphthalene (used in explosives, moth balls, and paint pigments);
  • Nickel (used in electroplating);
  • Palladium filters (used in catalytic converters);

In addition to these additives, tobacco companies have tried other tactics to boost nicotine levels to make cigarettes more addictive and more profitable. Liggett boosted its nicotine yields by 70 percent between 1955 and 1957, despite adding new filters to many brands.  Furthermore, American tobacco companies conducted research projects in Brazil in attempts to engineer plants that produced more nicotine. More nicotine would lead to more addicted smokers and more profit. As a result, “crazy tobacco” and Y-1 were developed by Brown & Williamson, which admitted using these powerful tobacco blends in Viceroy, Richland, Raleigh and other tobacco brands.

teen smoking

The experiments and the additives have paid big dividends to the tobacco companies. As a result, most who experiment with tobacco become addicted almost immediately. Furthermore, approximately seven of 10 current American smokers have tried to quit at least once. About 23 million American smokers (half of all smokers) try to quit smoking each year, but fewer than 10 percent succeed. Meanwhile, about 70 percent of adolescent smokers would not start if they could choose again. Theses statistics confirm what a viscous circle smokers face and how effective the chemical conspiracy has been. In fact, smokers now are paying up to $20 for individual cigarettes that have been soaked in embalming fluid (a combination of formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol and other solvents) and then dried. The formula induces hallucinations, euphoria, invincibility, increased pain tolerance and other effects that can last up to three days.

One of the reasons tobacco is so addictive is that it only takes nicotine seven seconds to stimulate the brain. It takes heroin 15 seconds to stimulate the brain. This instant gratification makes nicotine even more addictive. In lab tests, rats will administer nicotine into their veins when given the opportunity.

Another reason the grip of nicotine is so powerful is because it works as a stimulant and a sedative, depending on the amount of nicotine in the body and the mindset of the person consuming it. As smokers know, the first cigarette of the day often works as a stimulant. As the day progresses, cigarettes usually have more of a soothing affect. As a result, smokers have a variety of motivations to smoke their next cigarette, ranging from, “I need a cigarette,” to “I have earned one.”

“In a sense, the tobacco industry may be thought of as being a specialized, highly ritualized, and stylized segment of the pharmaceutical industry,” wrote Claude Teague in a 1972 RJR research-planning document. “Tobacco products uniquely contain and deliver nicotine, a potent drug with a variety of physiological effects.”

Nicotine is in a class of compounds called alkaloids, which includes cocaine, morphine, quinine, and strychnine. Plants typically produce these compounds as a toxic defense mechanism against natural predators. Nicotine can increase alertness, improve mood, and sharpen short-term memory—making it very addictive. Nicotine speeds up the flow of glutamate, a neurotransmitter chemical in the brain. This increases the firing rate of the synaptic signals through the brain. The human body quickly can become addicted to these temporary, mind-altering changes. Dopamine also is produced when nicotine reaches the brain, which stimulates nerve activity.

Tobacco companies studied these pharmacological effects to improve their understanding and control of the smoker’s mind and wallet. Philip Morris invented a machine to monitor human brain waves and their response to nicotine. For instance, Ian Uydess, a former Philip Morris senior scientist summarized one of his studies by concluding, “At certain levels, nicotine appeared to mimic addictive substances such as cocaine.”

For more information about the dangers of tobacco and cigarettes, please visit http://tobaccotruth.org/tobacco-truth-consultant/

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Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

 

About Gary Chandler

Public affairs and sustainability consultant. Founder of Crossbow Communications. Follow him on Twitter @Gary_Chandler
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