Nicotine and hunger: closer than you think

By Paul Bergen of

A homeless smoker.

In the New World, tobacco was both thought of as a panacea for all that could ail you and also as a spiritual conduit. Using it cured you, kept you safe, and could give you visions. And it also helped with what was more common in those days: a less reliable food supply.

In other words, more people were more hungry more of the time.

Tobacco, and the nicotine it contained, was an effective appetite suppressant and a food substitute. When you smoked, it both distracted you from thinking about food as well as suppressing the cravings.

Lucky Strikes Ad. Reads: To keep a slender finger, No one can deny... Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.

Nicotine: The Appetite Suppressant

We still use tobacco as an appetite suppressant, but more to combat the desire to eat than to survive the times when food is not available. However, the poor (and supermodels) still smoke to alleviate hunger.

Historically it appears that many psychoactive substances were adopted precisely because they helped alleviate hunger. Hallucinations were much more common in those days – both because of the use of tobacco (which had a much higher nicotine content) and many other suppressants with similar side effects, and also because extreme hunger caused people to eat most anything to fill their stomachs and quite often those substances had side effects.

Do you use electronic cigarettes to distract themselves from hunger? And if so, has vaping been as effective as smoking in quieting the pangs? Leave an answer below, or take our poll on our facebook page!

(Tip of the hat once again to Goodman’s Tobacco in History for the historical background.)

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Article Sources

Audrain-McGovern J. and  Benowitz N.L, Cigarette Smoking, Nicotine, and Body Weight, Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Jul; 90(1): 164–168., Published online 2011 Jun 1. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2011.105

7 thoughts on “Nicotine and hunger: closer than you think

  1. You’d think that with all the flavors you can get for e-cigarettes, having stuff like chocolate cake or bacon (yes, it’s real) would let you get nicotine AND feel like you ate something.

    Truth is, those flavors tend to make me more hungry (except bacon, tried it once, stomach was upset for days). In fact, for me, they tend to make me more hungry. I have one eliquid that tastes just like waffles, and every time I vape it, I want to go to the nearest diner and order a big breakfast platter.

  2. When I gave up smoking some years ago I also cut back on my food. I couldn’t eat at all. Things didn’t change when I started smoking again, I still didn’t eat. My husband gave up smoking and put weight on. Since having my ecig I eat even less. My clothes are very baggy on me now. I think everyone is different. Everyones metabolisim is different, and as we get older we slow down and don’t burn so much energy. I’m disabled and don’t go out, I go out once a week with my husband when we do our weekly shop. A lot depends on the life style that you live.

  3. I have noticed that when i am starting to feel hungry that vaping does curve my appetit. Ive used this to make me less destracted at work so i am not only worried about food.

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