Nicotine is a substance that is ubiquitous in the world today, with some 1.3 billion people around the globe using tobacco products – 1 in 3 men and 1 in 12 women – and an estimated 82 million users of e-cigarettes or vapes. There has been plenty of research on the health implications of nicotine.
Still, it may also be worthwhile to delve into the history of nicotine – and tobacco, of which nicotine is the primary reinforcing component – and learn more about this globally-used substance. Here are four things you may not have known about nicotine:
Nicotine can cause headaches
There could be a relationship between smoking and headaches. One study found a higher prevalence of recurrent headaches or migraines among men who smoked, with 12.9% suffering from the conditions compared to 9.7% of non-smokers. However, the research on nicotine use and headaches points to some uncertainties: it’s not known whether this is due to the nicotine itself or other components inside tobacco smoke.
Still, nicotine does narrow blood vessels, which could reduce blood flow to the brain, and your pain receptors can change over time when using nicotine products, making you more sensitive to things. While we can’t know for sure if nicotine itself is headache-inducing, you can modify your usage frequency to see if it helps.
Nicotine use can be dated up to 12,000 years ago
Native American tribes were smoking tobacco, the plant that contains nicotine, long before Christopher Columbus encountered them in 1492. Not realizing the value of the tobacco plant when given as a gift, he famously threw the plants overboard until he saw that the plant was a valuable trading tool among the natives. It didn’t take long before the practice of smoking spread in Europe and was used as collateral by American revolutionaries. That was only around 530 years ago.
In 2015, a routine archaeological survey in Utah unearthed an ancient hearth filled with charred seeds, which were examined and found to be tobacco. This suggests that humans used tobacco 9,000 years earlier than previously documented – possibly by chewing wads of the plant fiber and spitting the seeds onto the ground – long before agriculture became widespread in North America.
Nicotine consumption is highest in europe
In a poem we previously posted, “On Sundays,” referred to the close association with nicotine and recreation. In Europe, where it can be argued that lifestyles are much more laidback than those in America, you’ll find several countries with the highest rates of nicotine consumption globally. Another reason is that cigarette prices tend to be lower in Europe’s central and eastern countries.
Compared to the estimated global tobacco smoking rate of 17% as of 2020, Serbia has a whopping 39%, followed by Bulgaria’s 38%, Croatia’s 37.4%, and Cyprus’s 34.5%. Meanwhile, Australia has one of the highest tobacco taxes in the world, with the tariff making up over 65% of a cigarette’s retail price, which may account for lower nicotine usage in the country.
There are some weird nicotine flavors out there
The world has seen its fair share of peculiar flavors in desserts like jelly beans and ice cream, but this has also been the case for certain manufacturers of e-cigarettes — yet another form of nicotine. With some retailers, you may encounter roast chicken, blue cheese, and even tuna, wasabi, or garlic-flavored e-juices.
Of course, menthol is far and away the most-smoked flavor because its minty taste can reduce the harshness of smoking. This is why cigarette smokers often smoke after meals, as menthol provides that cooling and palate-cleansing effect.
If you are a smoker, we hope you learned something interesting about nicotine and tobacco today. As with all things in life, it’s important not to indulge in excess. Moderation and balance are key.