The role of nicotine

It’s not the nicotine that makes cigarette smoke so harmful. That's due to the chemicals that are formed during the burning process.

Many people assume that it’s the nicotine that makes cigarette smoking harmful. In fact, other chemicals in smoke, such as benzo[a]pyrene, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, and benzene, are the primary causes of smoking-related diseases.

...it is primarily the toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke – not the nicotine – that cause illness and death.

U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)*

* NICE Public Health Guidance: Tobacco Harm Reduction Approaches to Smoking (2013)

What is the role of nicotine in smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes ?

Nicotine is one of the reasons that people smoke, along with taste and ritual. In order for smokers to switch from cigarettes to smoke-free alternatives, these products need to contain nicotine.

That’s precisely why we are focused on developing products that offer a flavorful, nicotine-containing vapor – but with far lower levels of the harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

Are we saying that these products are safe? No. What we are saying is that these products are better alternatives to smoking. The best option for health remains not to start, or to quit.

Is nicotine harmless?

No. While nicotine is addictive, it is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases. Nicotine is highly toxic when ingested or absorbed in high doses (beyond those found in smoking or vaping), and it can increase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure.

Certain people – including pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with heart disease, severe high blood pressure, or diabetes – should not use products that contain nicotine. Youth should not use or have access to tobacco or nicotine-containing products.

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