Nicotine and Caffeine

Nicotine and Caffeine coverFocus on Nicotine and Caffeine

Submitter: It’s a little jarring to see nicotine and caffeine lumped together. Maybe nicotine has decreased in “everyday drug” status since 1990 or maybe I just don’t take caffeine seriously enough, but it seems like an odd pairing. And the “current” stats (from 1989) on smoking are obviously a little of out date by now—down from 29% to about 14% in 2019, per the CDC. The sentence “Like little smokestacks, smokers send out poisonous gasses into the world around them and deep into the world inside them” is pretty great though.

Holly: I think you’re right – smoking is just not as commonplace as it was when this book was published. Caffeine use, however, is still very prevalent (or, at least was in 2018 when that article was published). And I agree – we don’t generally lump those two drugs together. Maybe also because there’s no age-related law on purchasing caffeinated foods and beverages. Kids can buy a chocolate candy bar and a Coke; they can’t buy cigarettes.

Ordinary drugs

Peer Pressure

Cool and Macho

Tobacco addiction

Smoking statistics



  1. The authors are thinking about their diet regime: coffee and cigarettes. But the real culprit here is sugar, not caffeine. Neuroscience since then has shown human brains are wired to crave fat, sugar and salt especially in young children’s brains and those cravings decrease in later adult years. This book neglects the facts on why we crave these things even nicotine and caffeine; it’s not about anyone’s “moral failings”.

  2. I haven’t seen such an anti-caffeine freakout since the last time a couple Mormon boys came to my door.

    Nowadays we’d be more worried about the huge amounts of sugar and HFCS in that last picture!

  3. This reminds me of a photo that comes up in my photo “memories” every year – A few years ago our local convenience store had an elaborate hand-lettered sign on their door about a deal they were offering – by coffee and cigarettes together, get 50 cents off. This was in the 2010s, so I was quite surprised to see this promotion.

  4. Not to mention some confused little kid could tell the teacher, “My mommy and daddy use drugs and give me drugs, too,” when all that happened was that Mom and Dad and the kid had chocolate ice cream at the local Baskin-Robbins.

    Weed, weed, weed, I say!

  5. A lot of kids don’t like coffee because it’s too bitter, but might like it when they get older because their taste buds are less sensitive. A lot of people think it’s because you’ve “matured”, but that’s not it at all. Teens are probably taking more caffeine because they can’t sleep anyway from having to do tons of homework for hours every night. Sad.

    1. Not to mention early school start times, at an age when most people are wired to wake up later and stay up later.

  6. Today’s educational materials on nicotine would include electric cigarettes too. I watched a documentary on teens in the US who used electric cigarettes and there seemed to be a gap between when they came out and teens being educate about how addictive and money wasting they are. Plus later they seemed to have caused lung issues for some young people. The companies that sold them used social media to advertise them to young adults as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, but are also suspected of making the ads and flavours attractive to teens. I’m sure modern materials cover all this.

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