I work in a lab type setting, and we occasionally have the opportunity to attend talks given by PIs (primary investigators, ie. the PhDs who run studies). While I see nicotine studies going on (well, just one lab), I wasn't really sure what they were about. I have had a lot more access to other study types, and was kind of in the dark about those. The talk was really enlightening. This particular lab studied a wide diversity of issues. While the negative health effects of smoking are known, the PI went on to explain that nicotine can actually improve memory, keep receptors active and healthy especially into old age, stave off the effects of Alzheimers by about eight years in heavy smokers (and it's pretty well known about protection from Parkinsons), help in some cases of schizophrenia with memory and attention, and help some cases of joint pain (while it worsens others). And probably a few other things I have forgotten. So, they look at these receptors and pathways in the brain to help figure out the various links, which has obvious potential for future health benefits and better understanding of the brain and disease. Pretty neat stuff. There were also a series of slides showing what nicotine causes birth defect wise in lab animals (and humans). The mice ended up having the same wrinkled skin, structural deformities (ie. exposed spines and organs that develop outside of the body), and SIDs that are seen in human babies. They also found that in certain areas (ie. Finland) where a lot of fish is consumed, the deformities were much less severe, and development was far more normal. They isolated the responsible protein or whatever it was from fish (someone was talking in my ear during that part XD), and injected it into the pregnant mice, and the issues such as exposed spines stopped or lessened dramatically. One slide was a clip from the Roanoke Times, and it showed a pregnant woman with the caption that she was concerned about the sound from jackhammer construction harming her baby. Thing is, she was standing there smoking. Forms of denial that come along with addictions were briefly spoken about, so I can definitely see how that will have far reaching effects for kids born to parents who do not stop smoking during pregnancy. One of my favorite, sassy coworkers was sitting next to me. She has smoked since she was 14, and is in her 50s. She had never attended one of these talks before, but became really excited about this one, and now plans to go to the next one. The day after the talk, she bought an E-cigarette and is now trying to quit smoking. <3 I love these talks because they sometimes contain controversial subjects that are hard to approach without being preachy or taking offense (ie. one was on obesity, but everyone seemed deeply interested and I didn't hear of any offense...just lots of curiosity and questions from those with type II diabetes which is what the study mainly covered). Rather than getting into topics such as 'people who smoke are lazy', 'people who are obese are lazy', 'big is beautiful', etc, they put everything into an objective, factual, and accessible form rather than take it to a personal level. I was impressed both by the work being done and also how beneficial results like this can be for many different people from all walks of life. And now I can finally take my breaks outside with my coworker and hang out more, where as the smoke always bothered me too much before! And now I finally know what sort of things nicotine studies cover. I honestly probably had a mental image of rats smoking cigars with little hacker lungs.