Also Known As: Nicotine, Habitrol, Nicorette, Nicotrol
Nicorette is the brand name of a pharmaceutical preparation that contains nicotine for the treatment of tobacco dependence. Nicorette was the first medicinal preparation to facilitate smoking cessation.
Nicorette chewing gum was developed by Ove FernÃ¶ at the pharmaceutical company Leo in Helsingborg, Sweden, following an idea from two physicians, Stefan Lichtneckert and Claes Lundgren, at the Institute of Physiology, University of Lund, Sweden. They suggested the development of a pure nicotine product to be used when periods of forced abstinence from smoking cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms; for example, the crew in submarines experience difficulties concentrating and irritation when they are unable to smoke.
The nicotine from Nicorette replaces some of the nicotine the smoker previously got from tobacco smoke; this relieves some of the craving and withdrawal symptoms, and allows the ex-smoker to concentrate on overcoming the habitual action of smoking. Nicotine is the addictive component in cigarette smoke and the reason for smoking, but the harm caused by smoking is due to other components in the smoke such as tar, carbon monoxide and other gases.
The full dose of Nicorette should be used for about eight weeks, and then the dose can gradually be reduced before treatment stops.
Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae); biosynthesis takes place in the roots and accumulation occurs in the leaves. It constitutes approximately 0.6–3.0% of the dry weight of tobacco and is present in the range of 2–7 µg/kg of various edible plants. It functions as an antiherbivore chemical; therefore, nicotine was widely used as an insecticide in the past and nicotine analogs such as imidacloprid are currently widely used.
In low concentrations (an average cigarette yields about 1 mg of absorbed nicotine), the substance acts as a stimulant in mammals, while high concentrations (30–60 mg) can be fatal. This stimulant effect is the main factor responsible for the dependence-forming properties of tobacco smoking. According to the American Heart Association, nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break, while the pharmacological and behavioral characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those determining addiction to heroin and cocaine. The nicotine content of popular American-brand cigarettes has slowly increased over the years, and one study found that there was an average increase of 1.6% per year between the years of 1998 and 2005. This was found for all major market categories of cigarettes.