Nicotine Fact Sheet


  Nicotine Fact Sheet

Coast to Forest Resources

Thank you for exploring our fact sheet series. To learn more about substance use and mental health, check out our other fact sheets. To find local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides. For a variety of national and state-focused resources, please visit our Helplines & Practical Tools page.

What is Nicotine?

  • Nicotine is an addictive chemical found in tobacco plants1


  • Smoke products: 

    • Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, bidis and kreteks (clove cigarettes), & hookahs or water pipes1 

  • Smokeless products: 

    • Chewing tobacco, snuff, dip, snus, dissolvable products (lozenges, orbs, sticks, and strips)1 

  • Vaping/electronic-cigarettes: 

    • E-cigarettes, e-cigs, electronic nicotine delivery systems, vaping devices, or JUULing1

How Nicotine works

  • Nicotine works by increasing the levels of dopamine and producing a “feel-good” effect1

  • When nicotine is consumed via smoking, it enters the bloodstream and then the brain2 

  • When nicotine is consumed in a smokeless form, it enters the body through mucous membranes in the mouth and then enters the bloodstream and brain1

Short term health effects

  • Addiction, bad breath, coughing, fatigue and decreased energy, faster breathing, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, reduced senses of taste and smell, shortness of breath1,3

Long term health effects

  • Addiction, certain cancers (e.g., lung, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, & bladder), chronic bronchitis and emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), exacerbation of asthma symptoms, heart disease, heart attack, vascular disease, aneurysm, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, and impaired immune function2


  • Strong urges or cravings

  • Feeling irritated, jumpy, or restless

  • Decreased concentration

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Increased appetite

  • Weight gain

  • Feeling anxious, sad or depressed4 

Given the symptoms of withdrawal, a person may need medical supervision to ensure their safety during the process.5

Addiction treatment

  • Therapeutic interventions: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), & Mindfulness2

  • Medications: Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), Bupropion, & Varenicline


  1. Tobacco/Nicotine and Vaping  

  2. Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes Research Report 

  3. The effects of smoking and second-hand smoke on health  

  4. 7 Common Withdrawal Symptoms  

  5. Withdrawal  


This fact sheet was developed by the Oregon State University Coast to Forest team, a collaboration of the College of Health, OSU Center for Health Innovation and OSU Extension Service Family & Community Health program. We would like to thank the H 310 Health Field Experience students for their contributions.

For more information and to explore local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides.