Let’s face it. Cigarette smoking
can feel good. Unfortunately, the element that makes them enjoyable
— that rush of nicotine to your brain also causes dependence.
When you inhale cigarette smoke,
tar particles carry nicotine to your lungs, where its absorbed.
Blood sweeps the nicotine from blood vessels in your lungs to
your heart, which pumps it through the arteries to the brain and
rest of your body.
This entire process takes around
eight seconds faster than an intravenous injection.
(Pipe and cigar smokers who often
don't inhale absorb nicotine through the lining of their mouths.
As a result, blood concentrations peak much more slowly.)
Once in your brain, nicotine begins
working. It stimulates the secretion of neurotransmitters (chemicals
in the brain), which appear to enhance awareness and judgment.
Nicotine also increases dopamine levels, improving your mood.
The substance has also been known to even enhance memory and reduce
Meanwhile, the rest of your body
feels the effects of nicotine, too. It increases your blood pressure
and heart rate while decreasing skin temperature. It increases
the levels of various hormones, including adrenaline. The substance
even has an impact on your muscle function and tone.
Heightened awareness. Enhanced judgment.
Better moods. Adrenaline boosts.
No wonder cigarette smoking is hard
So hard, in fact, that some experts
feel that nicotine delivered through cigarettes is as addictive
as heroin, cocaine and alcohol when absorbed into the lungs via
smoking. Roughly one-third to one-half of cigarette smokers eventually
become dependent upon it. Without a regular intake of nicotine,
these smokers can develop physical withdrawal symptoms that may
be extremely unpleasant and distressing.