Difference Between Caffeine and Nicotine

Caffeine vs Nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine are two of the most commonly abused drugs in various forms. While coffee is the substance (read beverage) that is consumed by people as an energy drink that contains caffeine, the most popular source of nicotine intake is cigarette. Both drugs have effects that are described differently by those who are used to them. However, ask a person and he will tell that he takes coffee to get energy and to stay alert. The same cannot be said about nicotine as the effect dies down in course of time and body develops a dependence upon it. This article attempts to find out the differences between these two drugs to create awareness among people.

There is no doubt that our bodies have no natural requirement of either nicotine or caffeine. What starts as a fad or pleasure becomes a habit addiction hard to leave as both nicotine and caffeine have withdrawal symptoms and people find it hard to give up on these substances. Despite harmful effects when taken in high doses, both drugs are legal, and whereas nicotine is available for adults only, there is no such binding in the case of caffeine and even minors can take it. Though both chemical substances are also available in their raw forms, people prefer to take them in products such as coffee, cigarette, cigar, tea, and some other health drinks. Both nicotine and caffeine are alkaloids that come from plant sources.

While nicotine is produced from tobacco plant and is found in cigarette packs and cigars easily available in the market, caffeine is produced from coffee plant and sold openly in the form of coffee powder and tea bags in all parts of the world. Plants of tea and coffee developed this substance to ward off predators, but human beings use caffeine for pleasure and addiction.

The scientists who separated nicotine from the tobacco plant thought of the substance as a poison and did not realize that their invention would one day become an addiction and habit for millions of human beings in all parts of the world. Synthesis of nicotine from tobacco plant was done by Heinrich Posselt and Karl Ludwig Reimann in 1828 in Germany. However, tobacco plant was earlier used by human beings for medicinal purposes.

It is interesting that caffeine was also separated from coffee plant around the same time nicotine was separated in Germany. It was in 1820 that German scientists produced caffeine from coffee plant. Caffeine is found in many plants naturally as a natural pesticide which is an attempt by plants to save themselves from predators.


While caffeine, can lead to mental alertness and helps in remaining awake once in a while, increasing the dose or taking it regularly many times can cause jitteriness and nervousness. It can also cause upset stomach and headaches. There is difficulty in concentrating contrary to popular misconception that one gets concentration after a cup of coffee. In some people, it hinders with regular sleep and increases heart rate and blood pressure.

Nicotine is certainly more dangerous than caffeine as regular intake over a period of a few years can cause many ailments or at least lead to symptoms that need medical attention. What is bad about nicotine is that initially it provides a kick that is very pleasurable but once a person becomes habitual, he needs a higher dose to get the same kick. This goes on and a stage comes when consumption does not give any kick and it is merely required by the blood of the person which has the presence of nicotine in it. Nicotine stimulates when it is consumed and also acts like a relaxant. It releases adrenaline and increases the metabolic rate of a person. Excessive intake of nicotine leads to cancer of lungs and high blood pressure, both of whom are silent killers.

  • Thulium

    There is a lot of incorrect information in this article. Nicotine alone has not been shown to cause any type of cancer, but the combustion byproduct of smoke certainly does contain many carcinogens. The difference between caffeine and nicotine is that the most common way to ingest nicotine is to smoke tobacco cigarettes, while caffeine is almost never lit on fire and smoked. Smoke-free alternative nicotine sources, on the other hand, are likely to be very similar to smoke-free caffeine products in terms of potential risks and benefits. As mentioned in the article, both caffeine and nicotine can be habit-forming, so people who are unable or unwilling to quit nicotine should be encouraged to seek out satisfying smoke-free alternatives to reduce or eliminate the harms and risks to themselves and others that are created when you light something on fire and inhale the smoke 100’s of times per day.

    • DragonFartOutLoud

      ..or you one could just quit tobacco smoking and smoke e-cigarette, nicotine+tasty fruit flavours minus the nasty chemicals :)

  • Erick

    Both caffeine and nicotine can be used in the morning to wake you up.
    Both can also be used to relax in the evening. At least I do.

    I do use caffeine (red bull) in the evening to sleep better and during the day to wake me up.