Friday, September 11, 2009


This potent addictive chemical most widely known as an additive to cigarettes is a pale-yellow to dark-brown liquid with a slight fishy odor. Nicotine boils at 266 degrees C. It poisons by inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion, or eye contact.


Effects and Symptoms: Nicotine stimulates and then depresses the brain and spinal cord. Skeletal muscles, including the diaphragm, are paralyzed. Initial burning of the mouth, throat, and stomach is followed rapidly by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, twitching, disturbances in hearing and vision, headache, dizziness, breathing difficulty, rapid heartbeat, incoherence, convulsions, slowed respiration, cardiac irregularity, coma, and death. Death usually results from respiratory failure due to paralysis of the muscles. Slow poisoning by nicotine is possible, though a smoker will have a higher tolerance because of the constant exposure to this toxic substance.

Case Studies: A woman living in England in 1940 mixed nicotine with her husband’s aftershave lotion. He applied liberally it to his face and body and died quickly.

In 1968, woman did away with her wealthy but elderly sister by mixing the residue of several cigarette butts in water. After straining the concoction, she placed the poisoned water at her sister’s bedside. Although the sister never drank the solution, she died nevertheless. The good news is her killer was apprehended.


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