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There are many different nicotine products, including anything with tobacco—cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, etc.,—to special products intended to help wean people off smoking, such as gums and patches. Some companies have also come up with nicotine pellets—small candy-like tablets that contain nicotine and come in various flavors, such as mint or cinnamon. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have also come on the market, delivering nicotine to users without the ill effects of tobacco smoke.
Nicotine is a natural chemical found in tobacco plants. Smaller traces of it can also naturally be found in foods such as tomatoes and potatoes. For much of the 20th century, smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products were widely adopted habits and generally accepted. By the 1990s, however, studies had revealed nicotine to be an addictive substance and further revealed that tobacco products were one of the leading causes of cancer. Although smoking is still popular among many, most are now aware of the dangers of smoking, which may have led to a smaller percentage of smokers overall. Many cities worldwide have implemented some form of smoking ban in public places, further restricting the prevalence of smoking nicotine products.
Not all tobacco nicotine products are smoked. Chewing tobacco, or chew, is tobacco that users insert into their mouth in order to suck the juices. Chewing tobacco comes in two forms: whole leaf or dipping tobacco. Whole leaf chew requires the user to grind the product with their teeth in order to release nicotine-containing juices. Dipping tobacco, on the other hand, is ground up into a finer form; the user merely has to let the product rest inside the lower lip for juices to be absorbed into the mouth. Chewing tobacco products are known causes of cancer in the mouth and throat.
As nicotine is an addictive substance, there is a large market of nicotine products intended to help people stop smoking or chewing tobacco. These products contain smaller traces of nicotine which are intended to slowly wean the user off the drug. After consulting a doctor about which product is best for a particular individual's needs, one may choose from nicotine gum, patches or lozenges.
Such products are meant to be used for a specified period of time, after which the individual has hopefully kicked their addiction. Stopping nicotine consumption in one fell swoop is known as quitting "cold turkey." While this method works for some individuals, for others withdrawal symptoms and cravings prove too difficult to conquer without the aid of a nicotine product.
Some people choose to continue using nicotine products, but wish to at least do so without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and chew. E-cigarettes allow users to inhale puffs of nicotine that simulate the experience of tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes can also emit non-nicotine vapors for helping smokers kick a nicotine addiction.
Candy-like nicotine products manufactured by tobacco giants have also come on the market. The products typically come in the form of strips, orbs and sticks that are candy-flavored alternatives to smoking that contain nicotine. Such products have received widespread criticism under the argument that their candy form could be enticing to younger ages.
On its own—without the harmful smoke, chemicals and increased odds of cancer associated with tobacco products—nicotine is much more benign to one’s health, but still isn't exactly considered a healthy product. Although it can help stimulate energy and induce relaxation in people, its addictive qualities can be psychologically harmful. It can also increase the risk of heart disease by increasing amounts of bad cholesterol.