Why Does Nicotine Make Me Dizzy?

In modern times, smoking has a somewhat mixed wrap amongst society. 

A source of pleasure, a freedom of choice, a dirty secret, or a source of shame for some, it really does feel as though we are approaching a crossroads in how we as a society approach and deal with nicotine consumption. 


Of course, there are many reasons for this. 

With the continual association between smoking cigarettes and certain kinds of cancer, governments have gone great lengths to limit the impact cigarettes can have on new generations of people. 

This has consisted of banning televised advertisement campaigns, raising the age of purchase, and, in some countries like the United Kingdom, banning colorful designs on packaging to make them seem less appealing. 

This has also been coupled with grisly health warnings, often including haunting photographs highlighting the physical toll smoking can take.

So if we know so much, why are they still appealing? 

Smoking & Culture


Throughout history, tobacco has been consumed in one form or another throughout the Americas and Mexico, used for ceremonial and relaxational purposes long before it was even discovered by Europeans. 

In some Native American cultures, tobacco was seen as a gift from “the creator”, a naturally occurring substance that held relaxational and social benefits. 

Following the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, tobacco became a popularly traded item, encouraged by widespread Spanish shipping of the tobacco seeds back to the “old world”. 

Health & Opulence

Thought of as a health promoting substance by some European explorers, who supposedly studied the Native Americans and claimed tobacco “opened the pores and channels of the body”, tobacco, in the form of chewing tobacco, cigarettes and cigars, soon grew in popularity throughout the colonies by 1700. 

Cigar smoking in particular developed an image of opulence, wealth and sophistication, adopted by the wealthy and upper classes, and fuelled by widespread trade with Cuba and the surrounding islands, where tobacco became a “cash crop”, booming their economies. 

The 20th Century

Whilst cigarettes didn’t share the same level of sophistication as the cigar, they still took on an image of “cool” and glamor thanks to Hollywood Celebrities, who would smoke them in films, television, and their personal lives. 

This notion of glamor came from their seeming modernity, especially amongst women, and the sense of coolness was developed through youth culture, finalizing in the 1950s when youth-orientated cinema pitched it as the signature prop of rebels, outlaws, and musicians. 

And whilst this image is dwindling somewhat today, thanks to modern understanding on health, targeted anti-smoking ads, and the widespread (supposedly somewhat safer) uptake of vaping culture, there is still the lingering specter of the cigarette, especially amongst older generations. 

Physical Effects

Whilst we are all versed in the serious side effects of smoking tobacco, there are several side effects that most people are perhaps unaware of, one of them being dizziness. 


There are several reasons why smoking (especially too much smoking) can cause dizziness, especially amongst younger or new smokers. 



The first, and most simple answer, is that nicotine is a stimulant. This is why smoking can sometimes feel good, and why your brain demands more of it when your body begins to crash. 

Think how your brain is after a strong cup of coffee, and how bad it feels when it begins to wear off. This is what happens with cigarettes, albeit not to the same level of immediate severity. 

Because of this, there is also the risk of overstimulation, where too much nicotine is consumed at too high a strength, and in too quick of a time frame. 

This can be seen especially in cigars, especially larger cigars with a higher nicotine content.

Many cigar smokers will know that, depending on the size, you shouldn’t necessarily smoke it all at once, as this can make you feel “buzzed”, nauseous, and dizzy, a state commonly referred to as “cigar sickness”. 

Your Lungs, The Brain, & Oxygen

When it comes to simple biology, your brain needs oxygen to properly function. 

Dizziness can occur after a lot of smoking, as your lungs can become overloaded with smoke, carbon and burning particles, all of which enter the bloodstream and flood the bronchioles. 

Think about it in terms of high altitudes. When you are in the mountains for example, or any location high above sea level, the air becomes thinner, and it is not uncommon for people to feel dizzy, nauseous, or exhausted. 

Smoking in large quantities can have the same effect, albeit with worse potential consequences down the road if continued. 


Dizziness is also a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal, seen especially in long term smokers who go cold turkey. 

This is due to your body detoxifying itself, and the nicotine receptors in your brain craving another cigarette. 

These effects can’t be counteracted entirely, but there are ways of dealing with the symptoms. One method is controlled breathing, taking long, controlled breaths, holding them for 5 seconds, before exhaling to the count of 7. 

There are also other methods, often associated with quitting smoking, including nicotine lozenges, patches, inhilators, or gum, as well as nicotine toothpicks, which can give a minimal hit of nicotine without the harmful side effects of burning tobacco. 

Duration Of Symptoms

Nicotine poisoning or smoke inhalation symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to hours, whilst withdrawal symptoms are more sporadic and unpredictable. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, the various reasons why nicotine consumption can cause dizziness, even in experienced smokers. 

Of course, there are many harmful side effects of smoking, some much more serious than others, and whilst it does come down to personal choice, there are plenty of helpful sources out there to help you cut down, quit entirely, or to handle unpleasant side effects. 

Why not do your research, and see what will work best for you?

Jonie Dean
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