AuthorJames G. Wigmore
“Due to the widespread prevalence of smoking and therefore the frequency
with which nicotine is detected by toxicological screening, there is the
potential of its signif‌icance to be overlooked when present in overdose.
—Corkery, Button, Vento & Schifano, “Two UK Suicides Using
Nicotine Extracted from Tobacco Employing Instructions
Available on the Internet” ()
After my f‌irst two books were published, one on alcohol, the other on
tetrahydrocannabi nol (THC), a number of people suggested that I write
a book on opioids. No one, especially those who were forensic toxicolo-
gists or medicolegal professionals, suggested th at I write a book on nico-
tine. This is t ypical of the neglect of nicotine in forensic science.
When I was a forensic toxicologist in the s and ‘s at the Centre
of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, routinely during a drug screen involv-
ing medicolegal cases (e.g., sudden unexplained death, drug overdose,
impaired driving, and other criminal investigations), nicotine would
be detected. When I asked senior toxicologists about this nicotine peak
on the gas chromatogram, I would get a response that the person was a
smoker and nothing more. During that time smoking was much more
common, and it seemed to be even more common in medicolegal cases
than in the general public. Its presence in these cases was so frequent that
nicotine could almost be considered to be an internal standard.

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