Nicotine Poisoning: It’s Real

Nicotine poisoning happens when one overdoses on nicotine. Nicotine can be found in numerous tobacco products, such as e-cigs and nicotine gums. Even 60mg of nicotine can be lethal. Signs of nicotine poisoning include agitation, confusion, vomiting, nausea, headache, breathing failure, and coma. In the case of toxicity, do not hesitate and call 911 straight away.

Nicotine Poisoning - It’s Real

How can I prevent nicotine poisoning?

Always keep nicotine away from kids or pets, and make sure you store your products correctly. Sadly enough, 51.1% of cases involved children under 5 who had consumed nicotine by accident. Also, make sure your house and car are tobacco-free. However, remember that the best way to avoid nicotine poisoning is to stay away from tobacco products.

What Is Nicotine Poisoning?

Nicotine can be found in the leaves of tobacco plants. However, there’s nothing natural about nicotine. Nicotine is alkaloid that acts as a stimulant, and although tobacco products are available worldwide, nicotine can be extremely dangerous. Nah, it’s not only about the risks related to smoking or vaping; nicotine itself can lead to fatal outcomes. Believe it or not, nicotine is poisonous. Nicotine poisoning may occur after one has consumed too much nicotine, often by accident.

How Much Nicotine Does It Take To Overdose?

Unfortunately, only 60mg is enough to be lethal. When we think about the vast variety of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, e-cigs, pipes, and nicotine patches, nicotine poisoning seems more than real. Note that nicotine poisoning rarely occurs as a result of smoking. In fact, experts claim that to reach a lethal dose, one must smoke 40 cigarettes at once or chew 15 nicotine gums, such as Nicorette. That’s because smokers absorb only one-tenth of the nicotine in a cigarette, which is not more than 1mg. Of course, many factors, such as weight and age, also should be considered.

Signs & Symptoms

If one overdoses on nicotine, nicotine could lead to overstimulation of the central nervous system (CNS) and neuromuscular problems.

Some of the first signs of nicotine poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Cramping
  • Restlessness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Convulsions

The stimulating effects slowly become replaced by signs of CNS depression. Late symptoms happen 30 minutes after intake:

  • Confusion
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Fainting
  • Coma
  • Respiratory failure


In the case of nicotine poisoning, call 911. Do not hesitate and seek help. While you’re waiting, remove the source of nicotine, and try to prevent airway obstruction. Also, wash the face of the person to keep them conscious or give them water, but do not force them to walk, or vomit. In fact, do not administer antacids, usually used for stomach problems, as they lead to a quicker nicotine absorption. If possible, collect as much information as available, and determine what products the patient has consumed.

At the ER, activated charcoal, intubation, airway support, and IV may be applied. Medicines to treat agitation are also common. The sooner one gets help, the better the chance for successful treatment and recovery.

Data shows that the calls due to nicotine liquids (for e-cigs) rose to 215 per month (2010-2014). Sadly enough, 51.1% involved kids under 5 and 42% – young adults.

If you or someone else shows any signs of nicotine overdose, call a poison center or 911.

How To Avoid It?

Usually, nicotine poisoning can occur by ingestion, inhalation or absorption of nicotine. Therefore, the best way to prevent nicotine poisoning is to stay away from tobacco products.

In fact, most of the cases related to nicotine poisoning include e-cigs or nicotine gums, and occur among kids who have accidentally consumed a fatal dose. Therefore, always keep your products away from kids or pets, and never use tobacco around children. Store products appropriately.

As some cases have been linked to intentional poisoning and spiked drinks, make sure you do not leave your drink unattended.

Last but not least, secondhand exposure has also been linked to some adverse effects, such as nausea and eye irritation. Thus, keep your house and car nicotine-free.

Nicotine Poisoning: In A Nutshell

To sum up, although tobacco products are available worldwide, nicotine is as dangerous as any other illicit or prescribed drugs. Nicotine poisoning can lead to some long-term effects and death. In fact, according to data from 2014, more than 4,024 cases of toxicity have been reported (only in the U.S.). Therefore, always keep your products stored properly and away from kids and pets. Of course, the safest option to prevent nicotine poisoning is to stay away from tobacco products and quit. Nicotine-free life means a safe future!