One thing that can be said for Mother Nature is that She is very efficient. Nature doesn't expend more energy than is necessary for the system to work. For this reason we have to conclude that tobacco developed the ability to produce nicotine for a very good reason and the reason is clear. Nicotine is a poison.
Tobacco is so toxic that the people that pick the stuff frequently get ill. They suffer from a “short term occupational health risk” called “green tobacco illness”. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, abdominal cramps, excessive sweating, headache, and sometimes fluctuations in blood pressure or heart rate. In first world countries they have to wear special clothing to do their work.
At this point we're asked to believe that Mother Nature becomes schizophrenic, or at the very least suffers from multiple personality disorder. The scientists assure us that nicotine, the powerful poison, in low dosages also produces dopamine. Dopamine is a feel good hormone associated with feelings of pleasure.
So why, I have to ask myself, would Mother Nature take all the time and energy necessary to develop a poison to prevent you from eating it but at the same produces dopamine which encourages you to eat it? Why on Earth would Mother Nature shoot herself in the foot like that?
At this point I need to make it clear that I consider myself an artist before I consider myself a scientist. Hypnotherapy is a science, but it’s a soft science. For this reason I need to put my hand up now and confess that I have not studied the scientific findings that nicotine produces dopamine. Like many, I don’t trust the science and just this week it was announced that UK medical journals will no longer consider research funded by tobacco industry.
How many people do you know slap a nicotine patch on their arm and sigh with pleasure? How many people use nicotine patches after sex? It doesn’t make any sense and here’s why; I don’t think that nicotine on its own will cause a normal, healthy human being to produce dopamine. I think that whole dopamine reaction is a conditioned reflex that starts before we are even born.
Babies have a strong pre-determined sucking reflex that exists before birth and are often found to be sucking their thumbs even while in the womb. We know that babies engaged in sucking activities do produce endorphins and dopamine. These hormones give babies pleasure and comfort which leads to “non-nutritive” sucking. This is just Mother Nature preparing the infant for nutritive feeding when the time is right. Instead of a thumb a dummy or pacifier is later used to help the infant feel safe and comfortable.
As babies grow up, some find it difficult to stop “non-nutritive sucking” because of the release of dopamine and endorphins or because it gives the child a feeling of pleasure and comfort. This inability to stop thumb sucking is often referred to as “the first addiction.”
I believe that when people first start smoking cigarettes, this memory of thumb sucking is reactivated (subconsciously) and with it the feelings of pleasure and the release of dopamine. This then becomes a classically conditioned reflex similar to that of Pavlov’s dogs. Each time the smoker lights a cigarette feelings of well being and satisfaction are recreated and compounded and could even become triggered when nicotine is used through association. The poor victim is told that it’s the nicotine that’s causing the addiction. It’s not the nicotine; it’s the associated feelings of safety and pleasure similar to breast feeding that gets a person hooked on cigarettes.
As such, cigarettes are just a dummy substitute for adults. Cigarette companies don’t want people to know this as people would realise that smoking is an exceedingly odd, expensive and dangerous habit. People would not want to be seen smoking any more than they would want to be seen sucking a dummy. This would be very bad for sales.
This isn't a popular view on what causes smoking addiction but nicotine is deadly and had been shown to cause premature aging. If you know anyone that smokes and you're concerned with their health please share this article.
Troy Robins - Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Oxford & Witney, Oxfordshire in the UK.