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Nicotine is a very addictive drug that is absorbed into the bloodstream when a tobacco product is smoked, chewed, or inhaled. On average a smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over a period of five minutes that a cigarette is lit 1. An individual who smokes about 30 cigarettes daily gets 300 dosages of nicotine a day 2. Once nicotine enters the bloodstream it immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine.
Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the brain pathways that control reward and pleasure. Continued nicotine exposure leads to long-term brain changes that cause nicotine addiction.
1,2 National Institute on Drug Abuse http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products