structural formula of nicotine:

                 H   H
                  \ /
              H    C -- H  H
             /     |      /
       N == C      N --- C -- H
      /      \     |     |
H -- C        C -- C     C -- H
      \\     //   /  \ /  \
       C -- C    H    C    H
      /      \       / \
     H        H     H   H

Everybody knows that tobacco leaves contain nicotine, but why?

Wild tobacco, is essentially a weed. As such, it is accustomed to growing in soils and environments that are not the best for other plants for varied reasons. Insects are one of those reasons.

Tobacco plants actually produce nicotine to kill bugs. Thats right. You are addicted to insecticide.

Insects that consume tobacco leaves are poisoned in several different ways. First, they are exposed to high levels of heavy metals. Tobacco plants leach all they can from poor soils and as such pick up all kinds of minerals. Heavy metals are known to damage nerves. Secondly, they consume a potent stimulant, nicotine, that acts to suffocate them by over stimulating their nervous systems. It acts like strychnine, a bitter poisonous alkaloid (C21H22N2O2) does in rat poison. If a bug can't breathe, it can't eat you. Ingenious.

Eating tobacco can have a similar effect on humans. Hundreds of years of selective breeding have made the nicotine levels in tobacco skyrocket. If you eat the entire contents of a pack of cigarettes (don't), you can potentially die in the same manner as a poor bug. Suffocation.
I once wrote a research paper for Immunology on nicotine. Wasn't long, but I'm gonna throw out a few things I learned about nicotine...

Nicotine Addiction

The less nicotine a cigarette contains, the more cigarettes a person will smoke in a day. In one study by London’s Central Middlesex Hospital, it was concluded that in situations where the supply of cigarettes is limited, a smoker would smoke the cigarette and leave the butt much shorter than the smoker normally would. Yet another study by Harvard Medical School concluded that when nicotine content in a cigarette was low, the test subjects would unconsciously hold the smoke in their lungs for a longer period of time than normal.

Nicotine impairs your breathing.

When cigarette smoke is inhaled, nicotine acts as a stimulant. It will actually speed up a person’s heart and central nervous system. The heart speeds up, blood vessels constrict, and the blood pressure increases. Therefore, less blood and oxygen can move throughout a smoker’s body. After about 10 to 19 minutes, the blood nicotine concentration of a smoker is around 15 nanograms per milliliter. The average intake of nicotine per cigarette is 1 mg, but it can vary from .5 mg to 3 mg. The elimination half-life of nicotine is 2 to 3 hours

Nicotine and Your Brain

When nicotine finally reaches the brain, it binds to dopamine receptors. The activation is exploited by most drugs used for pleasure. The reaction leads to addiction, and as the brain absorbs nicotine molecules, it becomes tolerant to nicotine. The tolerance fades quickly, though, and disappears overnight. This explains why, according to smokers, the first smoke of the morning is always more pleasurable than others. Tests conducted by Yale Medical School have pinpointed the actual receptor on a dopamine cell that nicotine will bind to. However, when the specific protein receptor was blocked, the mice could still create the dopamine-releasing effect with other illegal drugs such as cocaine, proving that different addictive drugs have different pathways into the dopamine cells.

Nicotine can make your lungs more vulnerable to infection.

The Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine discovered one effect of nicotine on alveolar macrophages. Although the effect of nicotine on the lungs and alveolar macrophages is still poorly understood, they managed to reveal some new information. They first infected macrophages with Legionella pneumophila, a causative agent for pneumonia. Then, they treated the macrophages with nicotine. The nicotine significantly enhanced the replication of the bacteria. The research concluded that nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are a part of the regulation of alveolar macrophages and can contribute to cigarette-related risk factors for respiratory infections.

Nicotine can kill your Immune System.

Researchers at the Lovelace Institutes published an article in the Journal of Immunology that found new evidence that nicotine, at least in mice, can modify T cell activation so that the T cells, though having normal background levels of some chemicals related to activation, will fall into a state of anergy (*note: anergy is like a phase in which a cell does nothing). This leads to cigarette-induced immunosuppression. The same researchers had already proven that cigarette smoke inhibited antibody responses to both T-dependent and T-independent antigens. They believed that the effects of nicotine on cell signaling caused the inhibition. Their conclusion was that partial activation by nicotine is a general mechanism for the induction of T cell tolerance.

Works Cited

Institute of Medicine. Growing Up Tobacco Free. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1994. p. 36-37
Swan, Neil. Like Other Drugs of Abuse, Nicotine Disrupts the Brain's Pleasure Circuit. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Notes section. Accessed Sunday, May 12, 2002.
Matsunaga, Kazuto, et al. Involvement of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors in Suppression of Antimicrobial Activity and Cytokine Responses of Alveolar Macrophages to Legionella pneumophila Infection by Nicotine. The Journal of Immunology archives. Accessed Sunday, May 12, 2002.
7. Geng, Yuemei, et al. Effects of Nicotine on the Immune Response. The Journal of Immunology, 1996, edition 156: p. 2384-2390.

And, as usual, if you find any incorrect information in this report, please msg me and tell me. If I made any errors, I'd like to know.
It is a well-known fact that nicotine is addictive. But what most people don’t realize is that most of it is based on psychology. Below are some of the statements smokers (including me) have used:

"Nicotine makes me feel good, relaxed and calm."
For someone who is addicted, nicotine will NOT make that person feel better, but the addiction does in general makes that person feel worse, and the nicotine makes that person feel "normal", which most smokers interpret as good, since its better than usual.
Smoking can be compared to this:
Would you wear tight shoes because it would feel good to take them off once in a while? I bet not...
This statement is a bit vague, since wearing tight shoes is not addictive (duh), but if it was, the two cases would be pretty similar.

"Cigarettes taste good."
Do they really? Many smokers get that impression due to the effect of nicotine. The effect of nicotine is stronger than the way cigarettes taste, which makes people ignore that taste, and mistake the nicotine's effect for something tasty.

"If smoking was that dangerous, why don’t my body reject the smoke as I breathe it in?"
It has been proven that most of the major tobacco companies add mixtures that anaesthetize the throat, so that the smoke does not feel that painful. This is what makes many people smoke when they have caught the flu (which actually helps!)

"Whenever I decide to stop smoking, it seems as if I need nicotine even more!"
The same thing happens when you think of some sort of food you want: You start wanting it. Whenever you think of it, remember that it is all psychology that makes you THINK that you need the cigarettes.

"I've been smoking for so long now, that there is no way my health gets any better by quiting smoking"
That is NOT true. Unless you've contracted lung cancer or something very serious, most injuries are healed within the next three days. Some injuries take a while longer, but most of them will eventually be in the same condition as they were before you started smoking.

"If I stop smoking, I will have an urge for nicotine for the rest of my life"
Not true. The first day without nicotine is tough. The second is hell. The third is almost the same as the first, but after that, the urge wont be that strong. Depending on how long you've been smoking, the rush will cease within the month.

"I started smoking a few weeks ago, and now I am addicted and cant stop"
Also not true. It is all psychology. It has been scientifically proven that it takes a long time to become addicted. For women this can be up to 6 weeks, but for men this can take up to 6 MONTHS.

So... Can this help you stop smoking? Depends on you will. It helped me, and I’ve heard of others with a positive result. Now I’ve been a non-smoker for three weeks, but it still remains to see if i support the statistics that say that most of those who stop smoking will begin again within half a year. Anyway, good luck to you.

Source: World Health Organization
Nicotine is also the name of a (GPL'd)client for the Soulseek P2P network, for *nix operating systems.

Written in Python, it is an updating/rewriting of an older client, Pyslsk, which is now no longer being updated. While it is primarily designed for Gnu/Linux systems and uses GTK and PyGTK, many people have reported making it work successfully on OSX as well.

In my own experience Nicotine is a nicer client to use than the Windows version, having all the same functionality (friend list, instant messaging, queuing of full folders, share to friends only option) plus some additional functions that are not currently available on the windows client, such as blocking IP addresses by country.

I had some problems installing this at first, even from RPMs, as it seemed to have some circular dependency problems which took several attempts to resolve, but it was the first application I had tried to install as a linux newbie, and no-one else I've spoken to has had these problems, so YMMV.

The only real problem I've had with Nicotine is that it is very memory-intensive, and will often freeze up on an older machine when other applications are running, or when it has been left running for more than a few hours (particularly galling when you have something queued behind several hundred people, get to the front of the line, and then it freezes, sometimes forcing you back to the end of the queue). This can cause a major problem if you have to kill the app - sometimes when you restart it after a forced kill, it comes back having lost all your user data, including your queued files.

This data is all backed up in the config.old file, and supposedly all that needs doing is to delete the config file, reinstall the program and then rename config.old to config . While others have reported success with this method, in my experience it rarely works, and it becomes necessary laboriously to go through the config.old file and manually re-add the information. But at least the information is saved somewhere, unlike many other file-sharing programs.(Update 28th May 2004 since writing this a later version, 1.08rc1, has been released. After two weeks of using this, while it still freezes as much as ever, it doesn't seem to lose the data any more)

On the whole I cannot unambiguously recommend Nicotine, but given the fairly poor competition, in the field of *nix file-sharing programs it's the best of a bad bunch.

Nicotine can be downloaded from

Nicotine is a client for the SoulSeek peer to peer file sharing network. Nicotine is based on pyslsk, the original python SoulSeek client. Pyslsk is now no longer updated, and nicotine has picked up where pyslsk left off. Nicotine, unlike pyslsk, uses GTK2, and as such is a much more attractive program to use. It has some issues with speed and memory usage, especially when scanning shared files, and returning search results. Nicotine can also run on OSX, using Fink. The nicotine chat room is a somewhat friendly place to go for advice on setting up the program on OSX, assuming you can get to it in the first place.

Nicotine is currently at 1.0.8rc1, and avaliable at It is GPL'd and supports psycho extentions to improve its speed. Nicotine is eventually planned to be replaced by museekd, a SoulSeek daemon programmed in C++. Museekd will be controlled through front-end applications. Museekd, however is not available as of yet.

Once upon a time there was a poor couple who lived in a small flat in an inner city suburb. Soon after she quit smoking, the wife fell pregnant, and experienced insatiable cravings for nicotine. She nagged her husband day and night, until he was forced to steal a packet of cigarettes from the corner shop just to shut her up. However, the shop manager caught him in the act, and was furious.

“Please,” begged the husband, “my wife is pregnant and she cannot live without these cigarettes.”

“You can keep the cigarettes,” said the manager in disgust, “but as soon as that child is born, you must hand it over to the child welfare department.”

The husband, thinking his wife would prefer cigarettes to a baby, hastily agreed. Nine months later the child was delivered into foster care and was named Nicotine.

Years passed and Nicotine became a beautiful and intelligent girl. She wanted to top English in the HSC, so she locked herself in her bedroom to study. Her foster parents begged her to reinvent her social life. They wailed,

“Nicotine, Nicotine, let down your hair!”

Nicotine would open her door and calmly explain that she wanted to top English in the HSC, before disappearing into her room.

One day, a boy from a local private school wandered past Nicotine’s house and heard her parents beg her,

“Nicotine, Nicotine, let down your hair!”

Nicotine replied that she wanted to top English in the HSC. The private school boy also wanted to top English in the HSC, so he began to plot ways to distract her from studying. He stood under her window and called out,

“Nicotine, Nicotine, let down your hair!”

Nicotine opened her window and suggested he do something anatomically improbable with himself. Before she knew it, the private school boy had shimmied up the drainpipe and into her room. He promised her raves, parties and acid trips. Nicotine thought he was pretty boring, so she ignored him and reread King Lear instead.

Every night, the private school boy would stand outside the window and call,

“Nicotine, Nicotine, let down your hair!”

Every night Nicotine would swear at him while he broke into her bedroom, until one day her conservative foster mother happened to open the door and spot a boy in her daughter’s room. In a rage, she threw Nicotine out of the house and advanced on the private school boy, who made a hasty esape through the window and broke his arm. For weeks he did nothing but worry about all the study Nicotine would be doing, until one day he ran into her at a bus stop. Relieved, he began to babble to her about marijuana, but Nicotine was fed up with him, so she hit him over the head with King Lear and stalked off. He never saw her again.

Nicotine ended up topping English in the HSC. The private school boy, consumed with worry, failed all his exams and ended up working at McDonalds.

Who’s smarter now?

Nic"o*tine (? ∨ ?), n. [F. nicotine. See Nicotian.] Chem.

An alkaloid which is the active principle of tobacco. It is a colorless, transparent, oily liquid, having an acrid odor, and an acrid burning taste. It is intensely poisonous.



© Webster 1913.

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