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It is widely accepted that most of the harm associated with tobacco is caused by inhaling the smoke produced by its combustion — not by nicotine.
What is nicotine?

Nicotine is a naturally occurring organic compound. Tobacco plants contain the highest levels of naturally occurring nicotine, but it can also be found, at much lower levels, in potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants. It can stimulate the brain’s reward centre, which can elevate mood, and improve cognitive function. But it’s important to note that nicotine is addictive and not risk-free.

What is nicotine

Alternative nicotine products

Combustible cigarettes deliver nicotine very effectively, but we know that smoking is seriously harmful to health. It’s important that smokers are aware of and have access to alternative tobacco and nicotine products that are backed by science, enabling them to make an informed choice.

Vapour, tobacco heating, and modern oral products offer nicotine without combustion. No smoke means potentially less risk, which is good news for smokers and their health. Despite the scientific evidence supporting these alternatives, which is continuing to be generated, there are misconceptions about the harm reduction potential of these products and about nicotine itself.

Alternative nicotine products

Scientific evidence

It’s important that consumers have access to clear, factual information so they are aware of all of their options. That’s why our 1,500 R&D experts continue to test and evaluate these alternative products, and publish their research in peer-reviewed journals. The public health community is also working hard to evaluate the evidence and ensure smokers have access to accurate information. For example, Public Health England has published a series of expert reviews of the latest evidence, drawing on peer-reviewed literature, surveys and other reports. They concluded that “based on current knowledge, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking”.1

1. McNeill, A., Brose, L.S., Calder, R., Simonavicius, E. and Robson, D. (2021). Vaping in England: An evidence update including vaping for smoking cessation, February 2021: a report commissioned by PHE. London: PHE.