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How much nicotine is in a cigarette and is it about to change?

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    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:

    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Cold sweats
    • Insomnia
    • 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.

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      Finding your ideal nicotine strength

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        Before we jump in, let’s be clear – these are recommendations from former smokers and current vapers, and are meant as suggestions. No two vapers – or smokers – are alike, and no single recommendation will work for everyone. Finding an ideal nicotine strength is a personal journey – one that will likely require a little trial and error before finding an optimized experience.

        We have seen many beginners achieve success by roughly matching a nicotine strength to how many mg of nicotine in the cigarettes they smoked, and how often they did so.

        As a general rule, heavier smokers should look to higher nicotine levels in less powerful devices. Cig-a-like brands are designed for these smokers, and usually come in higher strengths, ranging from 1.8% (the percentage of nicotine solution in the included e-liquid) all the way to 3.6% or higher. Levels in this range should closely match a cigarette-like experience, as they provide a high nicotine “jolt” and a satisfyingly thump of a throat hit.

        For veteran vapers, those numbers (and results) seem unfathomable. But for those who just tossed aside the cowboy killers, it’s a welcome breath of relief.

        Even casual smokers should stick in the 12-18% range, as this will still replicate the smoking experience, but isn’t as abrasive to the throat.

        Now, we can hear some detractors already – “You’re telling us to stay on nicotine?” – so we need to reiterate that nicotine isn’t the dangerous part of smoking. By starting at a high nicotine level, new vapers are less likely to abandon their devices after repeat bouts of frustration.

        On the contrary, we feel vaping should be a comfortable and enjoyable part of your daily routine. If an e-cig isn’t satisfying your needs, or if you find yourself blowing through cartomizers and disposable devices at a breakneck pace, then you’re not getting your money’s worth.

        If you find over time – and many vapers do – that you could probably step down your nicotine intake, then there are a ton of options for doing so.

        Maybe you found that your cig-a-like in a particular strength, is all you need, and this is where your vaping exploration ends. If so, congratulations – this is fantastic! It’s also rare.

        More than likely, though, you might find yourself perusing more advanced vaping devices. If so, the nicotine situation becomes a little more complicated.

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