Evidence suggests that nicotine may be an appetite suppressant. However, smoking or vaping to help manage weight may lead to chronic diseases and increase the risk of early death.

Nicotine is a highly habit-forming chemical compound in tobacco plants and products such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Tobacco products also contain other toxic chemicals that can cause many negative health effects, including cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Due to its habit-forming properties, nicotine may cause someone to keep using tobacco products. This can increase their risk of developing the negative health effects linked with the harmful substances in the products.

According to the American Lung Association, the number of people smoking cigarettes decreased by 23% among adults and 44% among youth between 2013–2018.

This article examines what research suggests about the relationship between nicotine and appetite and whether smoking can lead to weight loss. In addition, it discusses the dangers of smoking and nicotine, tips for losing weight safely, and when to speak with a doctor.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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A 2018 study noted that some people may smoke to suppress appetite, prevent overeating, and cope with body dissatisfaction. The study’s authors also noted that nicotine suppresses appetite, and gaining weight may be a significant barrier to quitting smoking.

One study from 2016 suggested some adults who use e-cigarettes vape to lose weight.

A 2022 research review found that smoking decreases weight. However, scientists do not completely understand why. The principal constituent of smoking that affects body weight is nicotine, which reduces body weight by:

  • suppressing appetite and food intake
  • increasing energy expenditure
  • raising the resting metabolic rate
  • increasing lipolysis and fat oxidation, which are processes in which the body breaks down fats into smaller molecules to use as a source of energy

The authors of the 2022 review noted that when people gain weight after quitting smoking, it is largely due to nicotine no longer affecting the central nervous system. Nicotine activates parts of the brain that regulate food intake and hormones that affect the body’s energy use.

However, it is essential to note the severe health effects of smoking, which outweigh the effects of nicotine as an appetite suppressant.

Learn about 10 natural ways to suppress appetite.

Overall, the number of deaths among male and female adult smokers in the United States are about three times higher than among similar people who have never smoked. In addition, life expectancy for people who smoke is at least 10 years shorter than for people who do not smoke.

Nicotine is a highly habit-forming chemical and may cause people to keep smoking or vaping, increasing the risk that toxic substances in cigarettes and e-cigarettes may harm their health.

Smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke may cause or increase the risk of developing the following health conditions:

Children who inhale secondhand smoke can be at an increased risk of:

Experts advise that people can lose weight safely by:

  • adopting a nutrient-rich eating pattern
  • doing regular physical activities
  • managing stress
  • talking with a doctor about medications they take that may make it harder to lose weight
  • losing weight gradually and steadily, about 1–2 pounds a week
  • improving sleep health, as research suggests insufficient sleep may contribute to the development of obesity

To get started, people can try these tips to lose weight safely, including:

  • committing to losing weight, changing their lifestyle, and becoming healthier
  • learning about their current health by having a healthcare professional evaluate their weight and potential risk factors for chronic diseases
  • using a food diary to log what they eat
  • tracking sleep, physical activity, and stressors
  • setting realistic goals
  • speaking with family, friends, and others for support
  • monitoring progress

Learn about 20 ways to lose weight safely.

A doctor can evaluate a person’s weight and health risks and advise them on ways to manage their weight and health conditions they have. If someone uses nicotine as an appetite suppressant, they can speak with a doctor about quitting smoking and safer alternatives for losing weight or suppressing appetite.

A healthcare professional can also support someone who thinks they may have disordered eating patterns or difficulties with body image.

Studies suggest that nicotine suppresses the appetite and that smoking links with reduced weight.

However, the risks of smoking outweigh using nicotine as a tool to manage weight. Life expectancy for people who smoke is at least 10 years shorter than for those who do not smoke, and the risk of developing diseases, such as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease, is higher for those who smoke.

Someone who wants to lose weight safely should speak with their doctor, who can evaluate their risks and advise them on how to lose weight gradually. Weight loss techniques may include adopting nutrient-rich eating patterns, managing stress, and getting regular physical activity.