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Reducing the number of smokers remains public health priority for governments around the world. However, the war against nicotine prevents further progress.

The bad reputation of nicotine is getting in the way of providing smokers with a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. A new paper, published by the Consumer Choice Center, aims to debunk myths associated with nicotine and provide some more clarity around what nicotine actually is.

Smoking rates have been steadily declining but it is not thanks to tools applied by the governments,  but rather the innovative alternatives to smoking such as e-cigarettes, snus, etc. Unfortunately, rather than promote an alternative that is far less harmful and gives people a chance to live healthier and longer lives, public officials are waging a war on nicotine. This limits access to those life-saving alternatives. 

Contrary to popular belief, the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic. And while nicotine is an addictive substance, it is relatively harmless and doesn’t increase the risk of serious illnesses (heart attack, stroke) or mortality.

Unlike vaping, conventional nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches, nasal sprays, gums are endorsed by public health bodies. Going against vape and snus just because it is a different way of consuming nicotine is inconsistent, to say the least. NRTs work for some people, but others prefer vaping, and it should be up to consumers to choose their preferred harm-reduction tool. Instead of limiting their choices, we should use all tools at our disposal to help smokers switch.  

Nicotine has been demonised for so long that the health benefits of nicotine consumption have been completely ignored. Research since the 1960’s has demonstrated that smokers show lower rates of Parkinson’s disease, and recently a study suggested the reason for this is nicotine. Another study suggests that nicotine has an appetite suppressing effect and therefore acts as a weight suppressant, and could be used to fight obesity Studies also suggest that nicotine can improve exercise endurance and strength. This explains why many professional athletes use nicotine to improve their performance.

Distorted perceptions about nicotine stand in the way of more smokers switching to less harmful ways of consuming nicotine. Many physicians falsely believe that nicotine is the substance causing cancer in patients. Public health advocates and health experts need to get educated on the topic and encourage smokers to switch to alternatives, such as vaping which is 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.  

Prohibition doesn’t work, as demonstrated by the American prohibition era and numerous other examples. Instead, it pushes consumers towards the black market where providing high quality products is not a priority.

Innovative nicotine products have the potential to save millions of lives around the world, and we should not allow misconceptions get in the way of the fight against smoking-induced diseases.

Read our new paper “Six reasons to stop the war on nicotine” to find out more on the topic

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