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If a non-smoker was to wear nicotine patches, would they become addicted to nicotine? © Dan Bright

If a non-smoker was to wear nicotine patches, would they become addicted to nicotine?

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Asked by: Martin Cox, New Milton

It’s possible, but patches are likely to be less addictive than cigarettes. You inhale about 1mg of nicotine from each cigarette. Daily nicotine patch doses vary from 5mg to 25mg, so a nicotine patch can give the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

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However, cigarette smoke is absorbed through the lungs much faster than the steady dose delivered through a skin patch. The sudden spike of nicotine from smoking, followed by the corresponding low, is part of what creates the addiction in the brain.

Patches also don’t come with the social rituals associated with cigarette smoking. A small number of people have reported feelings of dependency from nicotine replacement mouth sprays and gum, however, so using any nicotine replacement products, except as a way to quit smoking, isn’t recommended.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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