Morph Tank by EHPRO & Eciggity

New product incoming from EHPRO & Eciggity and wow it looks to be fantastic! 

The Morph Tank is both an RTA and a Sub Ohm Tank, which was created through a collaboration with EHPRO and Eciggity. What makes the Morph different in the Sub Ohm Tank market is its compatibility with MANY different types of sub ohm coils with the use of adaptors. Why buy more Sub Ohm Tanks when you can simply put an adapter for the coil you want to use into the Morph Tank?


  • Stainless Steel and Quartz Glass
  • Huge Adjustable Cyclops Airflow
  • Wide Bore Delrin Base Drip Tip
  • Compatible with different Sub Ohm Coils
  • Rebuildable Deck Adaptor to build your own coils
  • Includes 3 Adaptors for Sub Ohm Coils (Atlantis / Atlantis 2.0 BVC, Subtank OCC, Delta II LVC)

Further adaptors for different sub ohm coils will be available soon.

June 20, 2015 by Sammy Rowling

Evolv DNA200 200 Watt Temperature Control Firmware Upgradeable Board


Evolv DNA200 bringing high power vaping to the Evolv DNA line of power regulation boards.

Power level is fully adjustable from 1 watt up to 200 watts. Minimum coil resistance of .08 Ohm. Utilising both Ni200 Pure Nickel wire and Ti Titanium wire for temperature control mode. Fahrenheit and Celsius being switchable with just a few presses of the buttons. 

The addition of firmware being upgradeable via a desktop computer application opens up the realms of possibilities for customisation and analytics. 

Regardless of the issues with the DNA40 Evolv is an industry leader bringing innovative technology to market first. Temperature control was an important step and opening up the brains of the DNA200 board is only going to help foster the progression of this important technology for vapers.

June 13, 2015 by Sammy Rowling

14 Electronic Cigarette Studies That Shame the Critics

Lack of research is one of the biggest myths we hear from e-cigarette critics. Many people assume that e-cigs have not been studied in detail because the research is not heavily published by the main stream media. However, there have already been many clinical trials and research projects conducted that found promising results for e-cigarettes. Here is a look at some of the most important studies we have seen to date.

1. Secondhand Vapor Contains Nicotine, But No Combustible Toxins

The Oxford Journal published a study in December 2013 where scientists looked at what toxins might be in secondhand vapor. They found that e-cigs have no combustion related toxins present in the vapor and only a small amount of nicotine was found in secondhand vapor. Researchers concluded that more studies were needed to determine if there was any risk involved with secondhand nicotine exposure.

2. E-Cigs Do Not Stiffen the Arteries

The Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Greece compared the impact of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes on heart function. The researchers discovered that smoking even two tobacco cigarettes will cause the aorta to stiffen, but e-cigarettes caused no difference to the aorta and no stiffening of the arteries.

3. Flavored E-Liquids Help Smokers Stop Using Tobacco

Dr. Konstantino Farsalinos headed up a study to determine whether flavored e-liquids had any impact on the success rate of smokers seeking to quit. He concluded that e-liquid flavoring “are important contributors in reducing or eliminating smoking consumption.”

4. Smoking Kills, and So Might E-Cig Regulation

Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical and executive director of the American Council on Science and Health offered a comprehensive report on e-cigarettes, concluding that e-cigarettes are much healthier than tobacco cigarettes according to common sense. He suggested that regulating e-cigs could be a deadly decision for public health.

5. E-Cigs Are Effective for Smoking Cessation and Prevent Relapse

Researchers at the University of Auckland and the University of Geneva studied the impact of e-cigarettes on former smokers. They concluded that e-cigs could prevent former smokers from relapsing into tobacco use and they could effectively help current smokers quit.

6. E-Cigs Are Not a Gateway to Tobacco Use Among Teens

Dr. Ted Wagener from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center studied the impact of e-cigarette use on 1,300 college students. He discovered that only one person that first used nicotine in the form of e-cigs went on to start smoking tobacco cigarettes. He concluded that e-cigs were not a gateway to tobacco use.

7. E-Liquid Has No Adverse Effects on Heart Health

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study on how e-liquids impact heart cells. After testing 20 different e-liquids, the researchers concluded that vapor had no adverse effect on cardiac cells.

8. E-Cig Use Has No Impact on the Oxygenation of the Heart

Dr. Konstantino Farsalinos studied how e-cig use impacted oxygenation of the heart. He concluded that vaping had no impact on oxygen supply and coronary circulation. These findings were revealed at the European Society of Cardiology Annual Congress in Amsterdam in 2013.

9. E-Liquids Pose No Concerns for Public Health

Professor Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health studied e-liquids to determine if the chemicals in e-liquid could be dangerous. He refuted all the most widespread health concerns about e-liquids (P.s. Thanks Reddit!).

10. Health Improves After Smokers Switch to E-Cigarettes

Independent university researchers conducted a study to find out whether switching to e-cigs had any influence on health. They concluded that 91 percent of smokers that switched to electronic cigarettes had notably improved health. They also noted that 97 percent had reduced or completely eliminated chronic coughs.

11. E-Cigs Reduce Risk of Tobacco-Related Death

Boston University of Public Health conducted a study to see how e-cigarettes impacted mortality risks related to tobacco. Researchers concluded, “Electronic cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco.”

12. Electronic Cigarettes Are Effective for Smoking Cessation

The University of Catania conducted a study to learn whether e-cigs would be effective as smoking cessation devices. After six months, nearly 25 percent of participants had quit smoking completely. Over 50 percent had cut cigarette use in half.

13. E-Cigs Cause No Major Respiratory Impact

Researchers compared first and second hand impacts of exposure to e-cigarette vapor to learn how it would impact respiratory function. The result was that secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke was more damaging to lung function than first hand exposure to vapor from e-cigarettes. They concluded that e-cigs cause no acute respiratory impact.

14. Second Hand Exposure to E-Cig Vapor Poses No Risks

In a French study, researchers found that e-cig vapor dissipated within 11 seconds on average. In contrast, cigarette smoke lingered for an average of 20 minutes. They concluded that secondhand exposure to e-cig vapor causes no public risk.

These studies are just the beginning. Every month, we find out about new studies all over the world to discover the true impact of electronic cigarettes. So far, research clearly shows that e-cigarettes are a better alternative to tobacco use. What are other studies that you hope to see in the future?

October 20, 2014 by Michael Nicholson

Electronic cigarettes: Can vaping help you stop smoking?

Over 250,000 people are taking part in Stoptober. With more people using e-cigarettes than ever, we put them to the test

A couple of decades ago, crudely, it was a case of quit smoking or die. There were very few options for smokers wanting to quit because there just weren’t any real treatments or helping measures around," says Amanda Sandford from Anti-smoking charity ASH. To say that has changed would be an understatement. Last week marked the beginning of ‘Stoptober’ a national NHS campaign aimed at helping Britain’s 10 million smokers quit. One of the more popular methods aiding quitting is the electronic cigarette - or e-cigarette - which has seen a huge take-up among the smoking community.

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) reckons a third of the 2.1 million adults using e-cigarettes are former smokers. Spokesperson Amanda Sandford says: “With the arrival of NRT - nicotine replacement theory - a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the e-cigs. “There has been an explosion of their use among smokers who are using them to cut down in order to quit entirely.” As one of the UK’s 10 million smokers, I visited e-cigarette shop V-Revolution in west London to see if I could be persuaded to forgo my daily cigarettes. Having smoked for five years, I’m on anything from a couple a day to a packet during a night out. Health concerns aside, smoking is becoming an increasingly expensive habit I’d love to cut back on.

Store manager Elizabeth Playle recommended a second generation e-cigarette as I’m a semi-heavy regular smoker. A rechargeable opaque black tube conceals a battery powering the electronic heating elements, an atomiser, contained in a clear, refillable cartridge. As you puff, ‘e-liquid’ in the atomiser is drawn onto the heating elements by fibre wicks and disappears in a cloud of vapour - some of which you inhale. If you can get over the fact you initially feel like a space-age opium addict, the overall effect can be satisfyingly akin to smoking. Prices for a starter kit (including charging devices) go from £25 to £73, with the top-of-the-range e-cigarette offering a variable level of nicotine.

E-liquid flavours tend to ape ‘traditional’ cigarette tastes - Playle guided me through what she might offer someone switching from Malbroro Reds compared to a Camels smoker, with accordingly different nicotine levels. There are also more novelty ones on offer - Pinacolada-flavour anyone? The cartridges cost £7.99 and are supposed to last the equivalent of roughly 200 cigarettes.

Playle, who has managed the busy store since it opened in 2013, says she has seen a huge take-off in business in the last eight months, claiming they sell an average of 50 starter kits daily. “Now, there are so many people starting on the kits so it’s become a lot more socially acceptable.” Her experiences were echoed by other brands. Emma Logan, a spokesperson for JAC Vapour, which commissioned a survey in 2013 showing 75 per cent of its customers had given up smoking, said: “Before it was mostly people who understood tech and were interested in that kind of product or idea. “There has been a shift because if you are a smoker now there is a sense of being socially ostracised - there’s no way you don’t know the dangers and that what you are doing is essentially killing yourself.”

A study of over nearly 6,000 smokers conducted by UCL, principally funded by Cancer Research UK, claims people attempting to quit without professional help are 60 per cent more like likely to succeed using e-cigarettes. “E-cigarettes could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking,” says Professor Robert West of UCL’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, senior author of the study.

E-cigarette in tow, I was suddenly aware of how many people I saw daily puffing away at the things - in pubs, at bus stops, and even at work according to one friend who vapes during the day and smokes when she’s on a night out. The practise has been glamorised by Hollywood and stars such as Leo DiCaprio or Lily Allen. New film Cymbeline sees actress Milla Jovanich prominently vaping throughout.

As e-cigarettes have spread, so too has legislation. Although the government ruled e-cigarettes supplying less than 20 mg/ml of nicotine are consumer products so fall outside health regulations, Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford has called for e-cigarettes to be banned in public. "E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and I want to minimise the risk of a new generation becoming addicted to this drug,” he has said.  Moves to ban them in public have been greeted with dismay by supporters. Playle claims: “There is still a lot of ignorance towards e-cigarettes. A lot of people see vapour and just associated it with smoke, you naturally think it’s a health problem.”

ASH spokesperson Sandford agrees. Although the anti-smoking charity are not claiming “they are 100 per cent safe”, she feels banning them in public could be disastrous for those attempting to quit: “what will happen is they will go back to smoking.”

There are few scientific indications of what the long term health risks of vaping could be. However, elements – such as the sugar used to flavour the e-liquid – may have unintended side effects. Playle says she will always refer a diabetic potential customer to a doctor before selling them a product. The levels of sugar are low, but she still wants to be safe.

After a few days vaping, I found the vapour uncomfortably harsh in my mouth. The amount of nicotine I consumed – inside and absentmindedly – made me feel ill in the same way smoking too many on an evening out might.

In August the World Health Organisation released a report calling for e-cigarettes to be banned indoors, noting their use among adolescents was rapidly increasing, and citing their concern about the role of the tobacco industry in a market worth an estimated $3 billion globally.

The British Medical Association also remains sceptical, claiming tighter controls are needed and added: “any health claims must be substantiated by robust independent scientific evidence”.

Dr Ram Moorthy, Deputy Chair of the BMA’s Board of Science, commented: “further research is needed to learn more about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes and uncover whether they are an effective and safe way of reducing tobacco harm.”

Will Hill, a spokesperson for British American Tobacco, said they were "committed to making this concept a reality for many years.” Having been the first international tobacco company to launch an e-cigarette in the UK market, BAT already have an investment in the burgeoning practise.

The idea was first patented by American Korean veteran Herbert A. Gilbert in 1965. Even the modern-sounding phrasing around electronic cigarettes - ‘vaping’ for example - was propagated in the 1970s. Then in 2003 the Chinese businessman Hon Lik re-patented the electronic cigarette. Imperial Tobacco acquired the intellectual property owned by Lik in 2013 for $75 million.

Having used my new e-cigarette for a week the slow realisation I was absorbing more nicotine than I would usually has undoubtedly put me off them. There’s no end to an e-cigarette so you have to keep an eye on how long you’ve been vaping. The flavours - although undoubtedly improving - still leave a lot to be desired, tasting oddly sweet and cloying.

Personally, I think if you want to quit there’s probably only one way to go about it: cold-turkey. After a week of vaping I was desperate for a ‘proper’ cigarette. But when I finally had one it was distinctly underwhelming. My smoke-friendly palate, destroyed by a week vaping, couldn’t handle actual smoke.

Although I have now bounced back to smoking, I’m buying noticeably less. I didn’t enjoy vaping as a smoking alternative, but as a quitting device I think it’s hard to walk away from.

October 10, 2014 by Michael Nicholson

WHO recommendations on ecigs/vaping are actually detrimental to public health

Encouraging cigarette smokers to switch to electronic versions could be a public health ‘revolution’ and save tens of thousands of lives a year in Britain, a coalition of experts has said. 

The World Health Organisation is wrong to call for restrictions on e-cigarettes and instead should be promoting them as a way to quit smoking, it was argued.

A group of leading experts in tobacco controlled have critiqued a report by the WHO on e-cigarettes and said it contained errors and misrepresentations of the evidence. 

It has been calculated that for every one million smokers who switch from cigarettes to electronic ones, which deliver nicotine but do not contain tobacco, then 6,000 premature deaths would be prevented every year. It could mean more than 50,000 lives a year could be saved in England if every smoker switched.

The experts from the department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London and the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, have published the rebuttal of the WHO report in the journal Addiction. They said the WHO report says e-cigarette use in the young is a major problem and could act as a gateway to smoking cigarettes where as in fact less than one per cent of children who have never smoked have tried them.

The WHO also said e-cigarettes contain toxins, the health effects are unknown and they should be banned indoors, but the group said the amounts are tiny and similar to that breathed in when walking down a city street. Finally they said the WHO assertion that e-cigarettes prevent people from giving up cigarettes is not true and that they are actually as helpful as buying nicotine replacement patches from the chemist.

Prof Peter Hajek, from Queen Mary University said: “These WHO recommendations are actually detrimental to public health. “E-cigarettes could have a revolutionary effect on public health if smokers switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.” He said banning them would be akin to saying everyone should keep an open fire in every room of their own in winter because central heating systems may malfunction. He added that e-cigarettes should be made cheaper than their alternative and they should be permitted in public places where cigarettes are not.

Prof Robert West from UCL said the WHO recommendations were ‘puritanical’ and ‘ridiculous’ and did not represent the current evidence on safety or use of e-cigarettes. He said the evidence shows that smoking rates are continuing to drop as use of e-cigarettes grew, that use of e-cigarettes amongst those who have never smoked is less than 0.2 per cent and using an e-cigarette to help stop smoking is more effective than cold turkey or buying nicotine replacement therapy over the counter, although the NHS stop smoking services still offer the best hope of quitting."

October 03, 2014 by Michael Nicholson

E-cigarette criticisms 'alarmist' say researchers

Warnings over e-cigarettes are alarmist - and increasing their use could save many lives, researchers have said. For every million smokers who switch to e-cigarettes, more than 6,000 lives a year could be saved, according to the University College London team.

Meanwhile another group of London-based experts has attacked criticism of e-cigarettes as "misleading".

Last week the World Health Organization called for e-cigarette use to be banned in public places and workplaces. The WHO said this was because they could increase the levels of some toxins and nicotine in the air. Its report also warned about the risk of e-cigarettes acting as a gateway by which non-smokers might start smoking real cigarettes. But the UCL team said the numbers of non-smokers using e-cigarettes amounted to less than 1% of the population, according to the Smoking Toolkit study, a monthly survey of smokers in England. 

Prof Robert West added that even though some toxins were present in vapour from e-cigarettes the concentrations were very low. "You have to be a bit crazy to carry on smoking conventional cigarettes when there are e-cigarettes available," he said. "The vapour contains nothing like the concentrations of carcinogens and toxins as cigarette smoke. "In fact, concentrations are almost all well below a twentieth of cigarettes." Using these estimates it would mean 6,000 lives a year being saved for every million smokers who exchanged real cigarettes for e-cigarettes, he said. If all nine million UK smokers used them that would equate to 54,000 lives saved out of the current 60,000 premature deaths, Prof West said.

His concerns were echoed by researchers at the National Addiction Centre based at King's College London and the Tobacco Dependence Unit at Queen Mary University. They carried out an analysis - published in the journal Addiction - of the WHO research which contributed to last week's report. They concluded that some of the assumptions WHO had made were "misleading".

'Little hard data'

Lead researcher Prof Peter Hajek said: "I think any responsible regulator proposing restricting regulation has to balance reducing risks with reducing potential benefits. "In this case the risks are unlikely, some already proven not to exist, while the benefits are potentially enormous. It really could be a revolutionary intervention in public health if smokers switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes. "So killing benefits, which are huge, for risks which are small is like asking people to stop using mobile phones and tablets, or restrict their use and further development, because of a one in 10 million chance that the battery might overheat in your device.

The WHO has yet to respond to the criticisms of its work.

Prof John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, which has been one of the bodies that has expressed concerns, said he did not want to see a ban. But he added: "We do want to be sure that any benefits they may have don't undo all the hard work that's been done over decades to save lives by reducing smoking. We are particularly concerned that 'vaping' may lead to young people starting to smoke cigarettes." And he added: "At the moment, there is very little hard data about e-cigarettes: until we get some solid facts on their impact on people's health, we need proper regulation."

Shirley Cramer, chief executive officer of the Royal Society of Public Health, said the argument was not clear cut. "Emerging evidence from the States suggests significant numbers of non smokers are using e-cigarettes, with the potential for them to get hooked on nicotine. "We need to curb the appeal of 'e-cigarettes' to non-smokers - it would help if we stop marketing what is essentially a medicinal product as a cool or trendy fashion accessory."

September 26, 2014 by Michael Nicholson

WHO urges stiff regulatory curbs on e-cigarettes

 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) called for stiff regulation of electronic cigarettes as well as bans on indoor use, advertising and sales to minors, in the latest bid to control the booming new market.

In a long-awaited report that will be debated by member states at a meeting in October in Moscow, the United Nations health agency on Tuesday also voiced concern about the concentration of the $3 billion market in the hands of big tobacco companies. "In a nutshell, the WHO report shows that e-cigarettes and similar devices pose threats to public health,"

Douglas Bettcher, director of the agency's department on non-communicable diseases, told a news briefing in Geneva. The uptake of e-cigarettes, which use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced vapour, has rocketed in the past two years, but there is fierce debate about the risks. Because they are so new, there is a lack of long-term scientific evidence to support their safety, and some fear they could lead to nicotine addiction and tobacco smoking. "We must emphasise that the onus of responsibility for showing safety, for answering many of these questions, must be on the companies and the industries owning them," Bettcher said. "The reports finds, at this point in time anyway, that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes help users to quit smoking or not. The jury is still out," he said.

The European Union has already agreed to requirements around advertising and packaging to ensure the safety and quality of e-cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed banning sales to anyone under 18 but no curbs on advertising.

Activists welcomed the WHO recommendations. "As Big Tobacco corners the e-cigarette market, it is using e-cigarettes as a global PR scheme to gloss over its tarnished image, positioning itself as a 'solution' to the problem it drives. In reality, the e-cigarette industry is taking advantage of the regulatory vacuum to employ the Big Tobacco playbook to hook a new generation on its products," said John Stewart of the U.S.-based group Corporate Accountability International.


Regulatory Options

The WHO launched a public health campaign against tobacco a decade ago. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which entered into force in 2005, has been ratified by 179 states, although not the United States.

There are 466 brands of e-cigarettes, and the industry represents "an evolving frontier filled with promise and threat for tobacco control", the WHO said in the report.

It urged a range of regulatory options including banning vending machines in most locations and preventing e-cigarette makers from making health claims, such as that they help people quit smoking, until there is hard evidence.

Smokers should use a combination of already approved treatments for kicking the habit, it said.

While e-cigarettes are likely to be less toxic than conventional ones, the WHO dismissed the idea that e-cigarettes merely produced "water vapour", arguing they exposed bystanders and non-smokers to nicotine and other toxic substances.

Dr. Armando Peruga, of the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative, said the contents of e-cigarettes vary but that the aerosol expelled by their users contains nicotine, which is known to alter brain development, and other toxins. "There are brands for example that contain formaldehyde, which is a cancer-causing element, at the same level as some cigarettes," Peruga told reporters. "Depending on the brand, some studies have found that they contain heavy metals, for example cadmium which is completely a cancer-causing agent," Peruga said. Others have been found to contain nickel or acrolein, a respiratory irritant, he said. Their use also posed a threat to adolescents and the foetuses of pregnant women, the WHO said.


Bacon to bubble gum

One concern is that e-cigarettes may tempt children, and the report called for a ban on flavours until there was proof they did not attract adolescents. E-cigarettes can be customised with flavours ranging from bacon to bubble gum.

Scientists are divided on the risks and potential benefits of e-cigarettes.

One group of researchers warned the WHO in May not to classify them as tobacco products, arguing that doing so would jeopardise an opportunity to slash disease and deaths caused by smoking.

Opposing experts argued a month later that the WHO should hold firm to its plan for strict regulations.

Major tobacco companies including Imperial Tobacco (IMT.L), Altria Group (MO.N), Philip Morris International (PM.N) and British American Tobacco (BATS.L) are increasingly launching their own e-cigarette brands as sales of conventional products stall in Western markets.

Two major national producers, China Tobacco and Indian Tobacco Company, have recently become producers, Bettcher said.

A Wells Fargo analyst report in July projected that U.S. sales of e-cigarettes would outpace conventional ones by 2020.

A BAT spokesman said overly restrictive regulations could prevent smokers from being aware of a less risky alternative to smoking, and "this can only be bad thing for public health".

September 19, 2014 by Michael Nicholson

Nicotine, the Wonder Drug?

Every drug of addiction must have its day. Morphine remains one of the most potent painkillers ever discovered. Cocaine’s chemical cousin lidocaine is still used by physicians and dentists as an effective local anesthetic. Even demon alcohol, when taken in moderation, cuts the risk of heart attacks, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and a hodgepodge of other ailments.

Now comes nicotine, perhaps the most unlikely wonder drug ever to be reviled.

If dozens of human and animal studies published over the past six years are borne out by large clinical trials, nicotine — freed at last of its noxious host, tobacco, and delivered instead by chewing gum or transdermal patch — may prove to be a weirdly, improbably effective drug for relieving or preventing a variety of neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Tourette’s and schizophrenia. It might even improve attention and focus enough to qualify as a cognitive enhancer. And, oh yeah, it’s long been associated with weight loss, with few known safety risks. (Although, in truth, few safety studies of the increasingly popular e-cigarettes have yet been published.)

Nicotine? Yes, nicotine.

In fact, the one purpose for which nicotine has proven futile is the very same one for which it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sold by pharmacies over the counter, bought by consumers and covered by many state Medicaid programs: quitting smoking. In January 2012, a six-year follow-up study of 787 adults who had recently quit smoking found that those who used nicotine replacement therapy in the form of a patch, gum, inhaler or nasal spray had the same long-term relapse rate as those who did not use the products. Heavy smokers who tried to quit without the benefit of counseling were actually twice as likely to relapse if they used a nicotine replacement product.

And therein lies the conundrum that physicians and regulators will have to wrestle with if the promising studies about nicotine’s benefits hold up: how to endorse a drug linked to one of the greatest public health scourges the world has ever known.

“I understand that smoking is bad,” says neuroscientist Maryka Quik, program director of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Program at SRI International, a nonprofit research institute based in California’s Silicon Valley. “My father died of lung cancer. I totally get it.”

Yet over the years, she has published dozens of studies revealing the beneficial actions of nicotine within the mammalian brain. “The whole problem with nicotine is that it happens to be found in cigarettes,” she says. “People can’t disassociate the two in their minds.”

Tweaking the Brain

The first hint of nicotine’s curious benefits came from a study published in 1966 by Harold Kahn, an epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health. Using health insurance data on 293,658 veterans who had served in the U.S. military between 1917 and 1940, Kahn found the kinds of associations between smoking and mortality that had already become well known. At any given age, cigarette smokers were 11 times as likely to have died of lung cancer as nonsmokers, and 12 times as likely to have died of emphysema. Cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, larynx — on and on. But amid the lineup of usual suspects, one oddball jumped out: Death due to Parkinson’s disease occurred at least three times as often in nonsmokers as in smokers.


The neurotransmitter dopamine sends signals related to pleasure, reward and motor function across neurons in the brain. A lack of dopamine has been linked to movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. 


Following up, researchers expected the finding to be just a statistical aberration in Kahn’s data, but instead quickly confirmed it. Grasping at a final possible alternative to the inconvenient notion that smoking could have a healthful benefit, experts theorized that the association was due only to smokers dying young of cancer, heart disease and lung disease before the age when they might otherwise have developed Parkinson’s. (The neurodegenerative disorder affects about 1 percent of people by age 60, rising to about 4 percent by age 80.) But in 1971, epidemiologists Irving Kessler and Earl Diamond of Johns Hopkins University published a study comparing the smoking history of living Baltimore residents recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s with age-matched controls. Sure enough, they found that the Parkinson’s patients were much less likely than other residents to have ever smoked.

So what was it about tobacco that ravaged the heart, lungs, teeth and skin but somehow guarded against a disease of the brain? In 1979, UCLA neurobiologist Marie-Françoise Chesselet showed that nicotine increases levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential for boosting attention, reward-seeking behaviors and risk of addictions, from gambling to drugs. Dopamine also helps control movement. Nicotine receptors in the striatum, the comma-shaped structure near the center of the brain where movements are planned and controlled, are located near the terminals that regulate and emit dopamine. Even a small dose of nicotine, Chesselet found, stimulates the release of dopamine in the striatum, putting the brakes on movement that otherwise would go uncontrolled.

And that effect suggests why nicotine could help treat Parkinson’s disease. Called “the shaking palsy” in an 1817 essay by the English physician James Parkinson (after whom the disease was later renamed), Parkinson’s is marked by shaking and difficulty with walking, coordination and all other movements. Although its ultimate cause remains unexplained, neuroscientists have long known that as symptoms worsen, dopamine-producing neurons in the striatum die out. Since the 1960s, the gold-standard treatment for the disease has been the drug levodopa, also known as L-dopa, a dopamine precursor that can cross the blood-brain barrier. But the drug is not perfect: L-dopa treatment eventually induces dyskinesia — quick, involuntary movements of the hands, and sometimes of the head and trunk.

Putting together the emerging lines of evidence, Quik decided to treat Parkinson’s disease in squirrel monkeys by administering nicotine. In a landmark 2007 paper, she reported that the monkeys had 50 percent fewer tremors and tics, and that nicotine had reduced dyskinesia 35 percent in those already receiving L-dopa. Studies by Quik and others involving rats, mice and nonhuman primates have since found similar effects. In short, by driving dopamine, nicotine appeared to ease the tremors and tics caused by Parkinson’s, and even the movement disorder induced by the major Parkinson’s drug.

Waiting for Human Evidence

Given the findings, one might reasonably ask how many clinical trials of ordinary over-the-counter nicotine patches or gum as either a treatment or preventative for Parkinson’s have been published in the medical literature. “In humans, none,” says neurologist James Boyd of the University of Vermont College of Medicine. That will change soon. Boyd is now running two such studies. The first, begun in 2010, is a small, randomized 12-week trial of whether a nicotine patch can reduce another problem often associated with Parkinson’s: impulsivity.


Remember, Parkinson’s involves a loss of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates not only movement but also addictive behaviors. It has long been observed that people who develop Parkinson’s tend to be more low-key and risk-averse than average, as if their innate dopamine levels have always been on the low side. When they take L-dopa, however, some have been known to swing to the other side of the reward-seeking spectrum, developing gambling or sexual addictions. Boyd hopes nicotine might push such patients back to a middle ground.

He is also the principal U.S. investigator for a randomized trial that began late last year in Germany and is now being conducted here to test the value of nicotine as a therapeutic drug. The study seeks to answer whether ordinary over-the-counter nicotine gum or patches can halt the progression of Parkinson’s. To get at the answer, one component the study will look at is whether the chemical can relieve the writhing, twisting movements that eventually beset almost every Parkinson’s patient taking L-dopa.

Beyond Parkinson's

While researchers await the results of the Parkinson’s studies, they look beyond to nicotine treatments for other disorders as well.

“Nicotine has separate mechanisms by which it may protect brain cells, aside from its influence on dopamine,” Boyd says. “One of the functions of nicotinic receptors is to moderate the entry of calcium into cells. The presence of nicotine increases the amount of intracellular calcium, which appears to improve cellular survival.”

And nicotine may have an antioxidant effect, serving to mop up the toxic free radicals produced as a byproduct of metabolism, thus protecting the brain. The neuroprotective effects of nicotine were studied in a randomized clinical trial involving 67 subjects in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, where memory was slightly impaired but decision-making and other cognitive abilities remained intact. They received either a 15-milligram nicotine patch or placebo for six months. The results found “significant nicotine-associated improvements in attention, memory and psychomotor speed,” with excellent safety and tolerability.

Other studies suggest that nicotine may be as effective at enhancing attention as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and the wakefulness-promoting drug modafinil (Provigil). In 2008, Paul Newhouse, director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, compared performance on a series of cognitive tasks in 15 nonsmoking ADHD patients while wearing either a 7-mg nicotine patch or a placebo patch. After just 45 minutes with the nicotine patch, the young adults were significantly better at inhibiting an impulse, delaying a reward and remembering an image they had seen.

Even people without any diagnosed disorder might benefit from nicotine. Psychologist Jennifer Rusted of the University of Sussex in Britain calls the drug “the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have.” In addition to improving visual attention and working memory, nicotine has been shown by Rusted to increase prospective memory: the ability to remember and implement a prior intention. (When your mother asks you to pick up a jar of pickles at the grocery store on the way home, she’s saddling you with a prospective memory challenge.)

“It’s a small effect, maybe a 15 percent improvement,” Rusted says. “It’s not something that’s going to have a massive impact in a healthy young individual. But we think it’s doing it by allowing you to redeploy your attention more rapidly.” In short, the drug seems to work by helping users shut out irrelevant stimuli so that important information can come to the fore.

The ability to shut out stimuli could also turn nicotine into a treatment for schizophrenia, where afflicted individuals are overwhelmed by sights, sounds and thoughts that most of us would either ignore or quickly dismiss. Studies in the United States, Canada and Germany have shown that nicotine improves the ability of people with schizophrenia to focus their attention and recall recent events. In addition, the potent antipsychotic haloperidol often causes dyskinesia, which Quik’s 2007 study proved nicotine can relieve.

Not the Great Satan

Perhaps most surprising is that, in studies by Boyd and others, nicotine has not caused addiction or withdrawal when used to treat disease. These findings fly in the face of nicotine’s reputation as one of the most addictive substances known, but it’s a reputation built on myth. Tobacco may well be as addictive as heroin, as some have claimed. But as scientists know, getting mice or other animals hooked on nicotine alone is dauntingly difficult. As a 2007 paper in the journal Neuropharmacology put it: “Tobacco use has one of the highest rates of addiction of any abused drug.” Paradoxically it’s almost impossible to get laboratory animals hooked on pure nicotine, though it has a mildly pleasant effect.

The same study found that tobacco smoke itself is necessary to amp up nicotine’s addictiveness. In 2005, for instance, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that animals self-administer a combination of nicotine and acetaldehyde, an organic chemical found in tobacco, significantly more often than either chemical alone. In 2009, a French team found that combining nicotine with a cocktail of five other chemicals found in tobacco — anabasine, nornicotine, anatabine, cotinine and myosmine — significantly increased rats’ hyperactivity and self-administration of the mix compared with nicotine alone.

In short, the estimated 45.3 million people, or 19.3 percent of all adults, in the United States who still smoke are not nicotine fiends. They’re nicotine-anabasine-nornicotine-anatabine-cotinine-myosmine-acetaldehyde-and-who-knows-what-else fiends. It is tobacco, with its thousands of chemical constituents, that rightly merits our fear and loathing as the Great Satan of addictiveness. Nicotine, alone: not so much.

Despite the potential benefits and apparent safety, researchers like Boyd want more evidence before they’ll recommend a nicotine patch for anything other than its FDA-approved (but seemingly useless) purpose, smoking cessation. “Nicotine has potential drug interactions. It can interfere with blood pressure medications. To recommend something for which there is no good long-term safety data — it’s just wrong,” Boyd says.

To Quik, the upside is clear. “People have tested all their favorites to help treat Parkinson’s and other neurological disease,” she says. “Now nicotine’s time has come.”

[This article originally appeared in print as "The Nicotine Fix."]

By Dan Hurley

September 12, 2014 by Michael Nicholson

Nicotine and Public Health

In the Michael Russell Oration at the Global Forum on Nicotine, Professor Peter Hajek talks about: Michael Russell's seminal work; why harm reduction is controversial and whether alternative nicotine delivery systems increase or decrease cigarette use.

September 05, 2014 by Michael Nicholson

Policy statements from all over falsely accuse e-cigs/vaping of harm potential


The attacks on e-cigs are the first step in a propaganda campaign aimed at greasing the rails for passing regulations. Regulations which will earn astronomical sums of money.
Propylene glycol has been considered GRAS by the FDA since the early seventies and is used in everything from medicines to cosmetics. But now suddenly it's harmful? They are very deliberately making false comparisons between ecigs and analogs in order to push their agenda. It's up to our community. Vapers all around the world, to step up our game and make sure that we start an INFORMATION campaign immediately to counteract every false claim before the MISINFORMATION becomes so embedded in the public psyche that we will appear as nutjuob conspiracy theorists if we wait too long.
Start doing it people. Flood your social networking with REAL information about ecigs. Talk about how they helped you and others quit analogs. There are "studies" coming out that are making the news that flat out state that there is NO EVIDENCE to prove that ecigs contribute to smoking cessation.
Every single vaper I know has used them to quit analogs. That's dozens of people. How about you? But we have an uphill battle because "they" have already also coupled a social stigmata against smokers as well as cigarettes themselves and thus we have a slightly lower credibility in the public perception.
We have a LOT of work to do folks. But if we all take a few extra steps a day we can spread that burden. Many hands make light work.

August 30, 2014 by Michael Nicholson