Tobacco and Nicotine

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Tobacco and Nicotine

Tobacco is a plant that is grown for its leaves, which are dried and fermented before being used. Nicotine is an addictive substance found in tobacco.
Tobacco and Nicotine

Smoked forms

  • Bidis
  • Cigarettes
  • Cheroot
  • Others (hookah, chillum)

Smokeless form

  • Chewing tobacco
  • Betel quid with tobacco.
  • Raw tobacco
  • Tobacco dentifrices
  • Tobacco water
  • Tobacco snuff


  • Tobacco refers to a group of plants of the Solanaceae family’s Nicotiana genus, as well as any product derived from their cured leaves.
  • There are more than 70 species of tobacco, but N. Tabacum is the most common commercial crop. In some areas, the more potent variety, N. Rustica, is also used.
  • Tobacco cultivation is normally done once a year. Warm climates with rich, well-drained soil are ideal for growing it. Tobacco must be cured as soon as possible after harvesting.
  • Tobacco curing is also known as “colour curing” because tobacco leaves are cured to change colour and reduce chlorophyll concentration.
  • Curing and subsequent ageing allow carotenoids in the tobacco leaf to slowly oxidise and degrade. This causes specific chemicals to form in the tobacco leaves, which impart sweet hay, tea, rose oil, or fruity aromatic flavours to the smoke, contributing to its “smoothness.”
  • Starch is converted to sugar, which is glycated protein, and then oxidized into advanced glycation end products (AGEs), a flavor-enhancing caramelization process.

Methods of curing:

Air curing:

  • Tobacco is air-cured by hanging it in well-ventilated barns and allowing it to dry for four to eight weeks.
  • Air-cured tobacco is rich in nicotine and low in sugar, giving the tobacco smoke a light, mild flavor.
  • Cigar and burley tobaccos are air-cured in a “dark” manner.


  • Tobacco sticks were originally strung with flue-cured tobacco and hung from tier poles in curing barns (also known as “kilns”, sometimes known as “oasts”). This procedure usually takes a week.
  • It produces cigarette tobacco with a high sugar content and a medium-to-high nicotine content.
  • The majority of cigarettes include flue-cured tobacco, which produces a gentler, easier-to-inhale smoke.

Fire curing:

  • Depending on the procedure and the tobacco, fire-cured tobacco is hung in vast barns where hardwood fires are kept on a constant or intermittent low smoulder for three days to ten weeks.
  • Tobacco that has been fire-cured has a low sugar content and a high nicotine content.
  • Snuff, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco are all fire-cured.

Sun curing:

  • Tobacco that has been sun-cured dries in the open air. This technology is used to manufacture oriental tobacco in Turkey, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries.
  • Sun-cured tobacco is used in cigarettes because it is low in sugar and nicotine.
  • Some tobaccos go through fermentation, or “sweating,” as a second stage of curing.
  • Cavendish is fermented in a casing solution including sugar and/or flavouring before being pressed.

Chemicals Found in Tobacco and their Effects:

  • Nicotine is a powerful addictive drug that causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and adversely affects the cardiovascular system.
  • Carbon monoxide works as an additional stressor, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin, which reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
  • Hydrogen cyanide and acrolein irritate the respiratory system, which paralyses the ciliary movement.
  • Phenol: It also irritates the respiratory system and acts as a tumor-producing chemical.
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) are the carcinogens found in tobacco that cause cancer.

Passive Smoking

It refers to the involuntary inhalation of tobacco smoke by a non-smoker. It is of two types:

  • Mainstream smoke-left out smoke by a smoker.
  • Sidestream smoke is the original smoke from a burning cigarette.

Sidestream smoke contains three times more nicotine and tar and fifty times more cancer-causing substances than mainstream smoke.