Redrawing the Battle Lines

Separating nicotine from cigarettes and smoking could open new doors for tobacco.

By Lou Maiellano.

Imagine a natural ingredient so promising and intriguing that it is being clinically evaluated to address a variety of illnesses and conditions, including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Tourette syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety. Think about it, an ingredient that would address conditions that are expected to be the scourge of the 21st century.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2010 the cost of direct and indirect medical and caretaker resources for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and age-related dementia approached $210 billion. The association estimates that Alzheimer’s will cost the U.S. $20 trillion over the next 40 years.

Now, think about a treatment regimen that would include an ingredient that has shown significant promise in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s, suppressing its symptoms and managing its debilitating effects.

Think about similar treatment regimens for clinical depression, anxiety and for chronic pain. This sounds incredible doesn’t it?  Yes, it is incredible. But, it’s also ironic, because the ingredient is nicotine and the source of the ingredient is tobacco, often referred to as the public health scourge of the 20th century.

Healthy Benefits
In 2000, research scientists at Stanford University set out to prove that nicotine damages blood vessels. Much to their surprise they found just the opposite. Nicotine prompted the growth of new blood vessels. This finding has led to studies suggesting that nicotine could be instrumental in assisting diabetes patients, who all too often lose lower extremities to amputation—a result of poor blood circulation.

Today, however, the downside of this promising wonder ingredient is that the most efficient way to ingest nicotine is by inhaling the smoke of its burning source—tobacco. In other words, the dangers of the delivery system may very well outweigh the benefits of the ingredient that is being delivered. So, if we could separate the ingredient from the way it is most commonly delivered, we might be able to have a calm, rational discussion about why people consume tobacco and use nicotine. We are a long way from clinical results that demonstrate the positive attributes of tobacco and the nicotine it contains, but we can begin to have a more beneficial discussion about tobacco and nicotine in their many forms and formulations.

According to many well-meaning, and some not-so-well-meaning, groups all tobacco and nicotine use leads to cigarette smoking and inevitable illness and premature death. But, just as much, if not more, research suggests that alternative forms of tobacco—snus, dissolvables and alternative nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes, lozenges and gums, are helping millions of users quit or significantly reduce cigarette consumption. Rather than leading to smoking, these alternatives are leading to declines in U.S. smoking rates as measured recently by manufacturers like Altria and Reynolds.

In time I expect that real, scientific evidence will begin to sway the argument and the vast benefits of nicotine will become apparent and accepted. But, in the meantime it’s essential to separate the tobacco/nicotine reality from the smoking issue. One of the ways we do this is by alerting the general public to the ongoing clinical studies and the potential for good that nicotine appears to have. It’s critical that we not allow the anti-smoking radicals to stain new forms of nicotine delivery with the same brush that they have painted smoking.

It’s clear that new battle lines are being drawn and the industry cannot afford to lose this battle. The industry needs to fight hard to separate tobacco and nicotine from smoking and push hard for an individual’s right to purchase and use nicotine-containing alternatives. It’s essential that this fight not be fought exclusively by large tobacco companies. Retailers and distributors need to join the fray and find a win. The stakes are too high to sit idly by.

Please get the message out! Enjoy the insight! Comments are welcome.


#1 Miami Heat on 04.17.12 at 10:36 AM

Insightful article. Appreciate knowing that there are folks willing to seek out the truth!

#2 Candy Girl on 04.17.12 at 1:04 PM

Thoughtful, provocative article.

#3 Steve Vape on 04.17.12 at 1:09 PM

As someone who follows the e-cigarette industry closely, the amount of push back against something that can save lives, the very thing these groups are supposed to support, gets an unbelievable amount of push back. First the argument was that it must be some ploy by the tobacco companies. Then it moved to the devices aren’t 100% safe. Now the tactic has become this concept of e-cigarettes serving as a gateway to real cigarettes. Pretty much in each case the arguments have been proven wrong. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to push back against the move to demonize nicotine in general.

#4 Copenhagen Charley on 04.21.12 at 5:26 PM

Fascinating article! Thanks for guts to take a stand! One day folks will see the truth – it still will be a battle but we need more info like this to be honestly offered to folks to understand truth!

#5 SNUS GUY on 05.10.12 at 12:39 AM

Lou thanks for posting this very informative article. It really is a story that needs to be told. I often recall my grandfather using tobacco leaves to heal bites as i grew up! So this is very relevant! Great info. Thought provoking!

#6 cig city on 05.17.12 at 11:23 AM

Thanks for sharing – great article.

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