Tobacco Pharmacology

All commercial tobacco products are effective nicotine/drug delivery devices.
All commercial tobacco products are toxic when used as intended. So-called light cigarettes are not less toxic, and consumers are deceived to believe they are.

Nicotine alters the structure of the nervous system’s receptor up-regulation. It also alters the modulation of neurotransmitters, hormones, and brain metabolic and electrical activity. It produces physical and psychological dependence, tolerance, reinforcement, and mood altering effects. The cigarette was specifically designed by the tobacco industry to administer the correct dosage level so to maximize the achievement of these effects.

Tobacco may be used for self-medication of depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder or stress.

There are individual differences to nicotine sensitivity. Some people get more pleasurable effects than others do, some become dependent faster than others, and some are less deterred by the negative effects of using nicotine.

Variations in how a person metabolizes nicotine may influence how frequently they need to use in order to maintain their dosage balance.

In addition to nicotine, tobacco contains other pharmacological actions that reinforce its use. For example, research suggest that something in the smoke of cigarettes, separate from the chemical actions of nicotine, results in higher levels of dopamine in the brain, and may produce enhanced pleasure from the use of tobacco. Rats will press levers to self-administer nicotine as much as they will to self-administer cocaine.

Some facts about nicotine:

Nicotine does not actually enhance performance. Studies of tobacco and non-tobacco users show no significant differences in performance. Nicotine can impair performance when a person experiences withdrawal symptoms. Performance impairment has been observed within 4 hours of tobacco deprivation.
Nicotine does enhance attention, finger tapping, and under certain conditions, memory.

Nicotine deprivation increases stress and negative mood states, and tobacco use can reverse these changes. Nicotine withdrawal is characterized by feeling of stress, anger, and irritability.

These mood changes can develop within the 30- to 45-minute interval between cigarettes in regular smokers. Using tobacco rapidly reverses such negative moods.

Medicinal forms of nicotine (gum, inhaler, and nasal spray) are less reinforcing than tobacco products.
There are so many different types of tobacco users, that each person must create their own plan to reduce or quit their tobacco use. A one-size-fits-all plan is not effective. The most effective way to reduce or quit tobacco use is plan that combines nicotine replacement therapy with behavioral, and psychological changes.