What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a highly addictive alkaloid (natural bases containing nitrogen found in plants) found in the nightshade family of plants. The nightshade family includes a diverse variety of plants, herbs, shrubs and trees and can impact on the nerve-function and digestive functions of humans and animals. Nicotine in plants acts as a natural anti-herbivore chemical that discourages insects from eating the plant. Nicotine is pale yellow in color and is oily in consistency. Upon contact with air nicotine turns brown and is extremely poisonous in high concentrations. Nicotine acts as a stimulant when ingested by mammals and this is the reason why many people have a dependence on it.
Where does Nicotine come from?
The main source of nicotine is the tobacco plant. The nicotine is developed in the roots and then becomes concentrated in the leaves of the plant. Anywhere between 2 and 7 % of nicotine can be found in the tobacco leaf. Eggplants and tomatoes also contain a small amount of nicotine but not enough for the substance to be poisonous or act as a stimulant. Most people are exposed to nicotine via cigarettes and cigars which contain large amounts of dry tobacco leaves. The tobacco plant is said to have originated in the Americans. As the population of people in that area began to spread out, tobacco was introduced to other areas of the world. Today China is the largest producer of tobacco producing approximately 2.64 million tones of tobacco per year. This is about 40% of the total world tobacco production. The largest exporter of tobacco worldwide is the European Union exporting approximately 18.1% of the world total.