• Tammy Euliano

Murder by Nicotine


“I’m writing a short story and I want the wife, who smokes e-cigs, to poison her husband by putting liquid nicotine in some spicy food (I read that it tastes peppery). How long would it take for the first symptoms to appear, and how long until death?



Ohhh, cruel.


The onset of nicotine is very rapid (minutes), and lasts hours, with the symptoms dependent on the dose. Usually it begins with vomiting, diarrhea, a rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and a tremor of the extremities.


Higher concentrations cause loss of consciousness, seizures (usually with loss of bowel/bladder control), and the victim stops breathing followed

soon after by cardiac arrest.


And this is a drug some choose to abuse.


Sadly, ingestion of liquid nicotine has become a means of suicide, but also several deaths from accidental ingestion have been reported, especially in children. Google images shows many vials decorated in ways that might be inviting to children. I’ve not handled a bottle, but I hope they have a child-safe cap.


The vials purchased can have a variable concentration, even differing significantly from what it says on the label. In the US, liquid nicotine comes in a wide range of strengths. Even wider in foreign countries.


And just for completeness, e-cigarettes are designed to vaporize the liquid in small amounts, to be inhaled. Some choose to disassemble the e-cigarette, and drip the liquid directly on the hot coils, providing a stronger hit of flavor, and of nicotine. The pre-filled cartridges contain about 1 ml liquid, but interestingly, not all contain nicotine.


So how about the bumbling wife tries to kill hubby with e-cig liquid but uses one that has no nicotine…and they live happily ever after.

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© 2020 Tammy Y. Euliano