What makes cigars addicting?

Addiction prevention Cigarettes that are not addictive - is that possible?

Every second smoker dies from tobacco smoke. And the emphasis is on smoke - because it is not the nicotine that makes us sick, but rather the combustion products of the cigarettes. But the nicotine is addicting - it's a diabolical combination. So how could you make the glow sticks lose their attractiveness? There are already completely nicotine-free cigarettes - but they don't do any good, says Doctor Tobias Rüther. He heads the tobacco clinic at the LMU Clinic in Munich. His reasoning: Nobody breathes in a nicotine-free smoke voluntarily. Nobody would buy these cigarettes because the body only forces itself to inhale the smoke because it is rewarded by the nicotine.

You actually can't get it down because burning leaves and inhaling the smoke is not something you do. I can only advise everyone: lean over a campfire! That means, theoretically, the idea of ​​making the nicotine less from cigarettes is actually relatively smart.

Tobias Rüther, LMU Clinic Munich

Stephan Mühlig from the TU Chemnitz is not yet convinced of the concept. He is a professor of clinical psychology and psychotherapy and a long-time tobacco researcher.

I think this approach of a nicotine-reduced or nicotine-free cigarette is fundamentally wrong. This is because the risk of heart attacks and strokes increases massively if you smoke just one cigarette a day. Whereas the difference between one cigarette and twenty cigarettes is then only minimal.

Stephan Mühlig, TU Chemnitz

New meta-studies from last year have only just shown that, according to the professor.

Less nicotine, more cigarettes a day?

Another critical point is balancing smoking, i.e. when the body gets its dose simply by inhaling deeper or smoking more frequently. Older studies have already shown that in connection with light cigarettes, says Stephan Mühlig, who was a smoker himself for years and knows the behavior only too well from himself.

The Munich addiction medicine specialist Tobias Rüther would like to have more recent, large-scale studies on this. Because: First small studies have apparently shown that compensatory smoking does not occur with nicotine-reduced cigarettes. But until there are really reliable data on this, this aspect must be treated with caution. Does it even exist - the critical nicotine level above which a cigarette is no longer addictive? No, both researchers agree on this. Professor Stephan Mühlig:

Because the threshold to substance dependence varies greatly from person to person. This is due, among other things, to the number of genetically present receptors that respond to nicotine. It is partly genetic, but can also be changed in the further course.

Stephan Mühlig, TU Chemnitz

In other words, if I've been smoking for years, I also have more receptors that respond to nicotine. So there cannot actually be one value for everyone. But there is one aspect that could be interesting about nicotine-reduced cigarettes, says Doctor Tobias Rüther. Because almost all smokers who are heavily addicted have started in childhood and adolescence. Here people are particularly susceptible to the development of addictions.

It would of course be extremely exciting to see whether the availability of cigarettes, which are less addictive, would not prevent many young people from even starting.

Tobias Rüther, LMU Clinic Munich

And that's what the drug addict actually wants to know now. He's about to put a doctoral student on the topic, he says and laughs.

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