February/March 2016 Teacher's Guide for Let’s Talk about e-cigarettes Table of Contents



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February/March 2016 Teacher's Guide for
Let’s Talk about E-Cigarettes
Table of Contents



In-Class Activities 37



About the Guide

Teacher’s Guide editors William Bleam, Regis Goode, Donald McKinney, Barbara Sitzman and Ronald Tempest created the Teacher’s Guide article material. E-mail: bbleam@verizon.net


Susan Cooper prepared the anticipation and reading guides.
Patrice Pages, ChemMatters editor, coordinated production and prepared the Microsoft Word and PDF versions of the Teacher’s Guide. E-mail: chemmatters@acs.org
Articles from past issues of ChemMatters can be accessed from a DVD that is available from the American Chemical Society for $42. The DVD contains the entire 30-year publication of ChemMatters issues, from February 1983 to April 2013.
The ChemMatters DVD also includes Article, Title and Keyword Indexes that covers all issues from February 1983 to April 2013.
The ChemMatters DVD can be purchased by calling 1-800-227-5558.
Purchase information can be found online at www.acs.org/chemmatters.

Student Questions


(taken from article)


      1. Why is it easier in many states for teens to obtain e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes?

      2. What is the power source that vaporizes the liquid in e-cigarettes?

      3. Why may the presence of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in cigarette smoke be considered toxic?

      4. Of what value is nicotine to members of the nightshade plant family?

      5. How do neurons in the brain “talk” to each other?

      6. What is the importance of the structural similarity between nicotine and acetylcholine?

      7. How is chemical structure of acetylcholine (Figure 2) similar to the structure of nicotine?

      8. What happens when nicotine binds to acetylcholine brain receptors?

      9. How does the body regulate acetylcholine concentration?

      10. Over time, why do smokers want to smoke more cigarettes?

      11. What does research on mice tell us about the effects of nicotine exposure on the prefrontal cortex?

      12. What is the concern about student use of e-cigarettes before the ninth grade?

Answers to Student Questions


(taken from article)


  1. Why is it easier in many states for teens to obtain e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes?

In many states it is easier for teens to obtain e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes because the purchase of e-cigarettes is legal under the age of 18 but people must be over 18 years to buy regular cigarettes.

  1. What is the power source that vaporizes the liquid in e-cigarettes?

The power source that vaporizes the liquid in e-cigarettes is a battery-operated cartridge located inside the e-cigarette.

  1. Why may the presence of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in cigarette smoke be considered toxic?

Tobacco-specific nitrosamines in cigarette smoke are considered toxic because they may cause DNA mutations.

  1. Of what value is nicotine to members of the nightshade plant family?

Nicotine in the leaves of the members of the nightshade family such as tobacco plants helps prevent herbivores from eating them.

  1. How do neurons in the brain “talk” to each other?

Neurons in the brain “talk” to each other through a flow of sodium ions inside the neuron, also causing the release of neurotransmitters and hormones affecting mood, memory and even appetite.

  1. What is the importance of the structural similarity between nicotine and acetylcholine?

The importance of the structural similarity between nicotine and acetylcholine is that nicotine can bind to acetylcholine receptors in the brain.

  1. How is chemical structure of acetylcholine (Figure 2) similar to the structure of nicotine?

The chemical structure of acetylcholine contains a positively charged trimethylammonium group that is similar to nicotine’s positively charged group that contains a nitrogen atom also bound to three groups: one methyl and two ─CH2.

  1. What happens when nicotine binds to acetylcholine brain receptors?

When nicotine binds to acetylcholine brain receptors, the adrenal glands are stimulated to produce epinephrine which increases heart rate and blood pressure (and stimulates the production of dopamine).

  1. How does the body regulate acetylcholine concentration?

The body regulates acetylcholine concentration by producing, storing and releasing it as needed. The body breaks down excess acetylcholine.

  1. Over time, why do smokers want to smoke more cigarettes?

Over time, smokers want to smoke more cigarettes because nicotine inactivates the acetylcholine receptors causing a slower response, resulting in less perceived effect of the nicotine and the desire for increasing amounts of nicotine.

  1. What does research on mice tell us about the effects of nicotine exposure on the prefrontal cortex?

Research on mice tells us that nicotine alters connections that develop between neurons in the prefrontal cortex, causing changes in the neural connections that are responsible for learning and impulse control.

  1. What is the concern about student use of e-cigarettes before the ninth grade?

The concern about student use of e-cigarettes before the ninth grade comes from a National Institutes of Health funded study that found that these students were significantly more likely to smoke regular cigarettes within the next year than non-e-cigarette users.




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