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Concept: Nicotine


US tobacco control policies to reduce cigarette use have been effective, but their impact has been relatively slow. This study considers a strategy of switching cigarette smokers to e-cigarette use (‘vaping’) in the USA to accelerate tobacco control progress.

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Cigar, Electronic cigarette, World Health Organization, Cigarettes


Dust and surfaces are important sources of lead and pesticide exposure in young children. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate if third-hand smoke (THS) pollutants accumulate on the hands of children who live in environments where tobacco is used and if hand nicotine levels are associated with second-hand smoke (SHS), as measured by salivary cotinine.

Concepts: Asthma, Lung cancer, Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Nicotine, Soil contamination, Tobacco industry


Although electronic cigarettes (ECs) are a much less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes, there is concern as to whether long-term ECs use may cause risks to human health. We report health outcomes (blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled breath nitric oxide [eNO], exhaled carbon monoxide [eCO], and high-resolution computed tomography [HRCT] of the lungs) from a prospective 3.5-year observational study of a cohort of nine daily EC users (mean age 29.7 (±6.1) years) who have never smoked and a reference group of twelve never smokers. No significant changes could be detected over the observation period from baseline in the EC users or between EC users and control subjects in any of the health outcomes investigated. Moreover, no pathological findings could be identified on HRCT of the lungs and no respiratory symptoms were consistently reported in the EC user group. Although it cannot be excluded that some harm may occur at later stages, this study did not demonstrate any health concerns associated with long-term use of EC in relatively young users who did not also smoke tobacco.

Concepts: Scientific method, Oxygen, Lung, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Cigarette, Nicotine, Electronic cigarette


Chronic electronic (e) cigarette users have increased resting cardiac sympathetic nerve activity and increased susceptibility to oxidative stress. The purpose of the present study is to determine the role of nicotine versus non-nicotine constituents in e-cigarette emissions in causing these pathologies in otherwise healthy humans.

Concepts: Cigarette, Nicotine, Autonomic nervous system


Nicotine cigarette smoke is a large public health burden worldwide, contributing to various types of disease. Anti-tobacco media campaigns and control programs have significantly reduced smoking in the United States, yet trends for menthol cigarette smoking have not been as promising. Menthol cigarette smoking is particularly prevalent among young adults and African Americans, with implications for long-term impacts on health care. Continuing high rates of menthol cigarette addiction call into question the role of menthol in nicotine addiction. To date, a biological basis for the high rate of addiction and relapse among menthol cigarette smokers has not been defined. Studies have demonstrated a role for menthol in the metabolism of nicotine in the body. More recent findings now reveal an interaction between menthol and the nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh) receptor in cells. This receptor is central to the actions of nicotine in the brain, and plays an important role in nicotine addiction. The newly discovered effect of menthol on nACh receptors may begin to explain the unique addictive properties of menthol cigarettes.

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco smoking, Cigarette, Nicotine, Addiction, Acetylcholine, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor


Excess sugar consumption has been shown to contribute directly to weight gain, thus contributing to the growing worldwide obesity epidemic. Interestingly, increased sugar consumption has been shown to repeatedly elevate dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), in the mesolimbic reward pathway of the brain similar to many drugs of abuse. We report that varenicline, an FDA-approved nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonist that modulates dopamine in the mesolimbic reward pathway of the brain, significantly reduces sucrose consumption, especially in a long-term consumption paradigm. Similar results were observed with other nAChR drugs, namely mecamylamine and cytisine. Furthermore, we show that long-term sucrose consumption increases α4β2 * and decreases α6β2* nAChRs in the nucleus accumbens, a key brain region associated with reward. Taken together, our results suggest that nAChR drugs such as varenicline may represent a novel treatment strategy for reducing sugar consumption.

Concepts: Ventral tegmental area, Nicotine, Neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Dopamine, Mesolimbic pathway


Habitual chewing of “betel nut” preparations constitutes the fourth most common human self-administration of a psychoactive substance after alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. The primary active ingredient in these preparations is arecoline, which comes from the areca nut, the key component of all such preparations. Arecoline is known to be a relatively non-selective muscarinic partial agonist, accounting for many of the overt peripheral and central nervous system effects, but not likely to account for the addictive properties of the drug. We report that arecoline has activity on select nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes, including the two classes of nAChR most related to the addictive properties of nicotine: receptors containing α4 and β2 subunits and those which also contain α6 and β3 subunits. Arecoline is a partial agonist with about 6-10% efficacy for the α4* and α6* receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Additionally, arecoline is a silent agonist of α7 nAChR; while it does not activate α7 receptors when applied alone, it produces substantial activation when co-applied with the positive allosteric modulator PNU-120696. Some α7 silent agonists are effective inhibitors of inflammation, which might account for anti-inflammatory effects of arecoline. Arecoline’s activity on nAChR associated with addiction may account for the habitual use of areca nut preparations in spite of the well-documented risk to personal health associated with oral diseases and cancer. The common link between betel and tobacco suggests that partial agonist therapies with cytisine or the related compound varenicline may also be used to aid betel cessation attempts.

Concepts: Nicotine, Acetylcholine, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Acetylcholine receptor, Ibogaine, Cytisine, Areca nut


Nicotine is known as the drug that is responsible for the addicted behaviour of tobacco users, but it has poor reinforcing effects when administered alone. Tobacco product design features enhance abuse liability by (A) optimising the dynamic delivery of nicotine to central nervous system receptors, and affecting smokers' withdrawal symptoms, mood and behaviour; and (B) effecting conditioned learning, through sensory cues, including aroma, touch and visual stimulation, to create perceptions of pending nicotine reward. This study examines the use of additives called ‘pyrazines’, which may enhance abuse potential, their introduction in ‘lights’ and subsequently in the highly market successful Marlboro Lights (Gold) cigarettes and eventually many major brands.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Drug addiction, Addiction, Withdrawal


Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States; if current smoking rates continue, 5.6 million Americans aged <18 years who are alive today are projected to die prematurely from smoking-related disease (1). Tobacco use and addiction mostly begin during youth and young adulthood (1,2). CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed data from the 2011-2015 National Youth Tobacco Surveys (NYTS) to determine the prevalence and trends of current (past 30-day) use of seven tobacco product types (cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes [e-cigarettes], hookahs [water pipes used to smoke tobacco], pipe tobacco, and bidis [small imported cigarettes wrapped in a tendu leaf]) among U.S. middle (grades 6-8) and high (grades 9-12) school students. In 2015, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among middle (5.3%) and high (16.0%) school students. During 2011-2015, significant increases in current use of e-cigarettes and hookahs occurred among middle and high school students, whereas current use of conventional tobacco products, such as cigarettes and cigars decreased, resulting in no change in overall tobacco product use. During 2014-2015, current use of e-cigarettes increased among middle school students, whereas current use of hookahs decreased among high school students; in contrast, no change was observed in use of hookahs among middle school students, use of e-cigarettes among high school students, or use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, or bidis among middle and high school students. In 2015, an estimated 4.7 million middle and high school students were current tobacco product users, and, therefore, continue to be exposed to harmful tobacco product constituents, including nicotine. Nicotine exposure during adolescence, a critical period for brain development, can cause addiction, might harm brain development, and could lead to sustained tobacco product use among youths (1,3). Comprehensive and sustained strategies are warranted to prevent and reduce the use of all tobacco products among U.S. youths.

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Middle school, High school, Electronic cigarette, Youth


Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States; nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood (1,2). Among youths, use of tobacco products in any form is unsafe (1,3). CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed data from the 2011-2016 National Youth Tobacco Surveys (NYTS) to determine recent patterns of current (past 30-day) use of seven tobacco product types among U.S. middle (grades 6-8) and high (grades 9-12) school students. In 2016, 20.2% of surveyed high school students and 7.2% of middle school students reported current tobacco product use. In 2016, among current tobacco product users, 47.2% of high school students and 42.4% of middle school students used ≥2 tobacco products, and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were the most commonly used tobacco product among high (11.3%) and middle (4.3%) school students. Current use of any tobacco product did not change significantly during 2011-2016 among high or middle school students, although combustible tobacco product use declined. However, during 2015-2016, among high school students, decreases were observed in current use of any tobacco product, any combustible product, ≥2 tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and hookahs. Among middle school students, current use of e-cigarettes decreased. Comprehensive and sustained strategies can help prevent and reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products among U.S. youths (1-3).

Concepts: Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Middle school, High school, Electronic cigarette, College, Youth