This is a question I’ve quietly asked myself numerous times in the past 20-some-odd years: Is nicotine really as poisonous as “they” claim it is? I’ve seen the commercials conveying the message that nicotine is actually as poisonous if not more poisonous than arsenic. I’m inclined to need more information, though, because the same commercials claim that a 19-year-old smoker has already lost both of his legs due to his tobacco habit (sorry, but I’m thinking that there has to be another factor in his leg amputations than just smoking almost every other 19 year-old smoker in the world still has their legs). I’ve gone through some pretty serious chain smoking periods in the past. When I drove a taxi, for twelve hours a day, I would regularly burn through three to four packs of Djarum, Sampoerna, or Gudang Garum (filterless) clove cigarettes in an evening. That would be between 2.3 and 2.8 mg of nicotine per cigarette (the highest in the industry, by the way). There are 20 cigarettes in a pack X(times) three packs = 138 mg of nicotine in a 12-hour shift. According to data made available by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) the lethal dose for human beings is thought to be between 40 and 60 mg. I might be misunderstanding this, because there’s something about mg/m^3 involved in this equation, but either way, it would seem that I should be dead after a night like that. When I went home at the end of a long night of vomiting drunks and schizophrenic hookers, I’d be tired… but I’m not entirely convinced that the extremely high nicotine dosing was responsible for said fatigue.
Spurned on by similar realizations, one Bernd Mayer of Karl-Franzens University in Austria delved a little deeper into this issue. His initial discoveries were disturbing in and of themselves. All he could find was a wild goose chase of bibliographical references that circled around and met up with each other, never actually arriving at an actual source. Then he found a 100+ year-old study a Rudolf Kobert put together suggesting that the lethal dose of nicotine was actually very low… which can’t possibly be true because of the amount of smokers who smoke multiple packs of cigarettes every day and survive (at least for the time being). So what is the actual lethal dosage of this mysterious drug?
Another study from an even earlier year (1856) relayed the horrific experiences of “experimenters” who apparently dosed themselves with extremely high amounts of pure nicotine. They experienced everything from headaches to seizures to rectal tenesmus (WTF is that!?!?). The dose they ingested was 4 milligrams of pure nicotine. This, at least to me, suggests that the concentration of the nicotine plays a larger part in its effects on the body than does the amount ingested. If this is true, it certainly means a lot for the E-cigarette community as a whole, due to the fact that pure nicotine is already diluted to 100mg liquid suspended in either vegetable glycerine or propylene glycol. The dilution of the nicotine, if the above theory is correct, would make the nicotine in E-juice (even the higher-content juices like the 24 and 36mg varieties) exponentially safer than some would have you believe.
Either way, I would say that this is a question that definitely needs more looking into. Unfortunately, it’s a social faux pas to suggest that nicotine can’t kill you, or at least that it can’t kill you as easily as was once believed. A few years ago, it would have been nearly impossible to find funding for such an experiment. We have all blindly accepted an age-old, unsubstantiated claim as absolute scientific fact for longer than most of our grandparents have been alive. All of our supposedly “official” organizations and government departments have based serious law-making activity on this “fact.” If the goal of science is to discover the Truth, no matter what the implications might be, then what the world now needs is a more serious, all-encompassing study on nicotine in order to provide the blooming E-cigarette industry with verified information regarding the “dangerous” chemical used in the production of their E-liquids.