What is the reason (chemically) that people smoke cigarettes?

So, I was wondering. People can smoke cigarettes for MANY reasons. In this thread I am wondering about the chemical reason why people smoke.

I believe it is dopamine. I think it also could be adhrenaline.

What chemical does niccotine effect to make it something that people are physically drawn to?

Here’s how nicotine works:

Muchos gracias.
Whoops… I forgot to do a pre-search to this thread, sorry.

Very interesting article. I saw this thread just after I posted my own thread…

Actually, that article is probably misleading. It presents a simplistic pop-science explanation that may not hold up when current research is completed. Cigarette addiction is not yet very well understood but there is research going on now.

Here’s a starting point for those who want to read about what is being done:

One interesting thing in particular is that it may turn out that nicotine itself may not be all that addictive; the addictive part(s) may be some of the other alkaloids in tobacco. Here’s a starting point for learning about WTA (Whole Tobacco Alkaloid):

This needs to be tossed into the mix here:
Schizophrenia and smoking

Also http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/09/08/nicotine-therapy-for-schizophrenia/59285.html
and http://www.schizophrenia.com/nicotine.benefits.htm

:dubious: Are your cites supposed to show anything? All I see are puff piece articles by an e-cigarette advocacy group (that’s totally not supported by the industry, nope, no-sirree) and somebody trying to sell a particular type of e-cigarette liquid.

The “simplistic pop-science article” you dismiss at least provides citations from the National Institute of Drug Addiction explaining the brain chemistry with more detail, as well as the National Institutes of Health, and the Mayo Clinic.

Seriously, our understanding of how nicotine affects brain chemistry and causes addiction is backed by decades of solid research.

I said those links are “starting points” for those who wish to learn about what the latest research is showing. They contain links to research. Since the subject is so complex I’ll give just one example.

Clicking on the menu item “RESEARCH” at the top of the page in my first link leads to:
Nicotine absorption from electronic cigarette use:, an article in Nature, which contains 27 links to the studies used …

for one example, #17 : Benowitz, N. L., Hukkanen, J. & Jacob, P. 3rd. Nicotine chemistry, metabolism, kinetics and biomarkers. Handb. Exp. Pharmacol. 29–60 (2009). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19184645?dopt=Abstract&holding=npg

Actual research, and lots of it – not anti-smoking, anti-tobacco, anti-nicotine puff pieces by organizations with an agenda.

From your Mayo Clinic link:

To researchers without the anti-tobacco product agenda, nicotine dependence and tobacco dependence are not the same thing. In fact, research may be showing that it is not the nicotine in cigarettes that is addictive, but other parts of the tobacco alkaloid.

It is complicated. Much more complicated than a pop-sci magazine article.

If it’s not nicotine that’s addictive, why do e-cigs and nicotine patches and gum seem to work?

The patches and gum don’t work very well – maybe as many as 10% of users actually quit smoking and stay quit.

There are now somewhere near 8 million ecigs users who have quit smoking – it appears the success rate may be somewhere around 70 to 80% … and many of those for whom it didn’t work may have been using weaker styles of ecigs or eliquid.

For the first time, cigarette sales and sales of patches and gum have fallen (over 5% last year, I think.) That is why the pharmaceutical companies are going full bore to stop ecigs – and the tobacco companies have all come out with their own brand of ecig (the weaker kind that don’t work very well.) There is a tremendous amount of money at stake and misinformation rules the day as the big players jockey for position.

My psychiatrist insisted on me not not smoking. Just met someone whose psychiatrist told her to take it up.

Thank god for vaping.

My neurologist recomended that I keep smoking! It helps with my progressive multiple sclerosis. I only have smoked a pipe since 2004, never had a cigarette.

Nicotine is one of the most powerful addictive substances on the planet! It is easier to kick heroin than cigarettes ! 400 chemicals in cigarettes including sulfur to make them burn quicker so you smoke and buy more !

Please list the chemicals.

And if it is harder to kick than heroin, why do we have so many non-smokers?

I know that patches and vaping do not satisy my craving for a cigerette. They tend to overdose me with nicotine making a ciggerette taste bad but still leaving me feeling like I am lacking something that I can only get from tobacco. I tend to smoke more when I am trying to concentrate on something. The effects are very subtle yet as said above extremely addicting.

Don’t have time for a proper post, so here’s a bit of a link dump (from a post of mine in a long ago thread) about some of the non-nicotine substances in tobacco that people can be addicted to even more so, or in addition to nicotine. If you read any, start with the first one.



Most of those never started, that’s why.

A lot of tobacco articles are just blowing smoke. Sometimes the authors get mired in a lot of tar and have to think about applying filters to their data. But anyway, there’s no buts about it, researchers who are on fire today are likely to get snuffed out tomorrow if they don’t justify their hand-rolled budget. They’ve come a long way, baby, and would rather fight than switch careers. They’ll walk a mile for another grant check.

They state “tobacco was used to protect against the ravages of the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages.” The bubonic plague in the Middle Ages was in the late 1340s, and the bubonic plague of the 1660s was not during the Middle Ages. I hope their science is better than their history!

What is the smoking rate among zombies?