Heart and Lungs

Heart & Lungs

When a smoker puffs on a lighted cigarette, smoke, including vaporized nicotine, is drawn into the mouth. The skin and mucosal lining of the mouth absorb some nicotine, but the remainder flows straight down into the lungs, where it easily diffuses into the blood vessels lining the lung walls. The blood vessels carry the nicotine to the heart, which then pumps it directly to the brain. While most of the effects a smoker seeks occur in the brain, the heart takes a hit as well. Studies have shown that a smoker's first cigarette of the day can increase his or her heart rate by 10 to 20 beats a minute.

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Anatomy of a Cigarette | "Safer" Cigarettes: A History | The Dope on Nicotine | On Fire
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