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Nicotine Invades Indian Bathrooms

In post on October 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Are you concerned about the health of a friend, colleague or an acquaintance, who may possibly be addicted to smoking? It is time you started to think about yourself. It is definitely not about that yoga class that you have postponed or that gym session that you skipped. It is about nicotine. It is the same substance which is present in cigarettes and poses a major threat to our lives and our well-being.

Nicotine in Toothpaste

In a clinical research project conducted recently, the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (DIPSAR) of the University of Delhi found that a number of leading toothpaste brands in India used significant quantities of nicotine in their toothpaste and tooth powders. Out of the 24 brands of toothpastes studied in 2011, seven brands were found to contain the deadly additive.

Nicotine is no longer limited to cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco but has surreptitiously intruded into our personal spaces. Toothpaste is the latest addition to the list of things we need to watch while consuming daily.

According to the study, popular brands like Colgate Herbal and Neem Tulsi were found to contain 10- 18 mg of nicotine in each standard tube. The amount of nicotine in toothpaste is equivalent to the amount of nicotine present in about five to nine cigarettes. Tooth powders like Dabur red, one of the oldest brands in India, Vicco, Alka Dantmanjan and Payokil were also found to contain nicotine. Payokil contained the highest amount (16 mg) of nicotine, which is equal to the amount of nicotine present in about eight cigarettes.

The major toothpaste brands which use nicotine in their formulation, according to the study, include:

Colgate Herbal
Neem paste
Neem Tulsi
RA Thermoseal
Dabur Red
Musaka Gul
Alka Dantmanjan

Nicotine and its effects on our Health

Nicotine is an alkaloid which acts as an ant herbivore, especially for insects. It was widely used as an insecticide, and even now substances analogous to nicotine like imidacloprid are used as insecticides. It is harmful to us even when we are not habitual smokers. The metabolic action in nicotine results in cotinine. This substance is inhaled by individuals who don’t smoke but spend a considerable amount of time in an environment filled with cigarette or tobacco smoke. Nicotine is a carcinogenic substance, which essentially means that it can cause cancer if taken regularly and in amounts exceeding the prescribed limit. Cotinine has similar effects. Tobacco and nicotine are known for causing lung cancer, mouth cancer and many other harmful diseases. Nicotine, once inhaled, affects the brain within 7 seconds. Although the Tobacco Products Act of India (2003) says that nicotine cannot be used in non-tobacco products like toothpaste, the concerned companies seem to be undeterred.

The Nicotine Rationale

In addition to being a deadly carcinogen, nicotine also happens to be a pleasure-inducing substance which is why cigarettes are so popular. When absorbed by the tongue during the process of brushing, nicotine enters the body’s blood stream and generates low levels of euphoria. Another down side of nicotine consumption is that it tends to damage dental enamel and causes teeth to stain.

The fact that the Government has failed so far to prevail upon the leading FMCG manufacturers to at least label their products indicating tar and nicotine content has caused concern among many. Several members of the medical fraternity have written to the Government upon reading the report. How soon any action is forthcoming remains to be seen.


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