When we use nicotine, we ourselves decide how much nicotine we take in — by smoking more or less, faster or slower, more or less often. That’s called self-titration, and all nicotine consumers do it.
You know what it feels like to have too much nicotine, right? Whether you’re getting the drug from cigarettes or a vape, the effects are the same:
- Cold sweats
- Racing heart
- Anxious or jittery
- Ringing ears
But because our bodies know when we’ve had enough, we stop or slow down. For experienced nic users, the process is almost subconscious. Self-titration is our brain telling us when our body needs more or less. And those warning signs are what prevent nicotine overdoses. Nobody OD’s on cigarettes or vapes. You’d have to keep inhaling while vomiting and dealing with a splitting headache!
So nic users keep themselves in check with self-titration. But getting nicotine from a cigarette is a little more complicated. Between tobacco itself and the tobacco companies, cigarettes are built to deliver a supercharged dose of nicotine to the brain.
Aside from nicotine, cigarettes contain other things that hyperpower the nicotine delivery of the smoke. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s) combine with nicotine to produce a reinforcing effect in the brain that makes us want more nicotine more often.
And tobacco companies discovered long ago that adding ammonia to cigarette tobacco created a “freebase” form of nicotine that was more desirable, and more addictive to the user. By changing the chemistry of the nicotine the smoker absorbs, ammonia supercharges the nicotine as it hits the brain.
Those are all reasons why we can’t simply compare the nicotine content of a cigarette to an equivalent amount of nic in e-liquid or a nicotine patch. Vapes don’t have ammonia or MAOI’s. That’s why scientists say nicotine in e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products isn’t close to being as addictive as cigarettes.
No other nicotine delivery mechanism provides the addictive blast of a cigarette.