Why is nicotine addictive?

Nicotine is addictive – 9 out of 10 smokers say they would like to stop but can't. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, loss of concentration and sleeplessness. Cigarette smoke contains a cocktail of other harmful substances, including carbon monoxide and tar. Smoking causes heart and lung diseases as well as a quarter of all cancer deaths in the UK.

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Cigarettes contain nicotine as well as other harmful substances.

Time to give up?

Nicotine is addictive because the brain starts to rely on nicotine to work properly, becoming less sensitive to its own chemical, acetylcholine. But some people manage to give up smoking with the help of nicotine replacements. Nicotine gums, skin patches, nasal sprays and inhalers all give the body nicotine to ease withdrawal symptoms, but without all the other harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. New prescription drugs can reduce the smoker's nicotine craving by binding to nicotine receptors in the brain.

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Many people manage to give up smoking, even though nicotine is addictive.


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