The debate rages on about electronic cigarettes, but what is this fight really over. Many public health organizations and federal agencies site the fact that nicotine needs approval as a safe and effective quit smoking aid. But why? As an adult, is it not your decision to use nicotine, just as it is to use caffeine? Nicotine has not been shown to cause cancer. Yes it is addictive, but so are many other things to many people. If we take public health out of the equation, which is exactly what you do when you remove the tobacco, then what is the real issue here? Enter the nicotine prohibitionists.

The same health organizations that claim it is all about public health believe all nicotine products should be a smoking cessation aid. If a certain product is shown to get people to quit smoking, then great, but it is still unclear as to why a nicotine product needs to have this intended use. Can’t I use nicotine because I like it? Can’t I drink coffee because I like it? Can’t I drink beer because I like it? When we start controlling the reason a product is on the market under the umbrella of public health aren’t we attempting to control behavior? To deal with stress, which is a public health concern, am I not able to choose my outlet?

Regulation is important. Kids shouldn’t drink coffee, or beer, or use nicotine gum (which is funny because what is more “kid” then chewing gum?). Regulation is also important to make sure products are not mislabeled and that manufacturing processes follow certain health and safety guidelines.

But regulation to make sure nicotine helps people quit smoking is like trying to make sure all guns are able to protect their owners. They may do just that, or they may be used for fun at the range. Or they may be used to hunt. Or they may be used to collect. People have different wants and needs. Provided the product follows the marketing, labeling, and safety regulations what does it matter why someone uses it. I’ll tell you why: Because when there are no more smokers, it will be much easier to eliminate nicotine altogether. Next up: Caffeine.

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3 Responses to Is Nicotine or Tobacco the Problem?

  1. Rick W. says:

    I need your help. My employer is requiring everyone to fill out a certificate of “tobacco use”. I have been using a vapor producing device for over a year now and have not smoked an analog (tobacco) product since November of 09. Yeah for me! I feel so much better. My clothes and car smell great. No more smoke!

    The basis of the certificate is to be used to deter smoking, chewing tobacco products and to basically increase my insurance premium by $25 a paycheck. It stipulates that if I am found to have violated the authenticity of the certificate then I will be subjected to possible termination or some other vague action.

    My question is this… Do I declare this anwser “Yes” or do I deny “tobacco usage”? I do not chew tobacco. The ejuice is the only form presently used. I have tapered the strength down to 6mg solution from where I started with 11-18mg solution. I can try 0mg soltuion and may do so, soon. Here is the certificate as stated:

    To promote wellness for our employees and their families and to set a positive example for our patients, beginning January 1, 2011, employees will pay a higher cost for medical coverage if the employee or their spouse/SSDP that is covered under the employer’s medical plan has (1) used any tobacco products (including, but not limited to, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars or pipes) in the last 60 days; and (2) is not enrolled in an employer approved tobacco cessation program. This tobacco surcharge will be $25 per payperiod, per covered adult (employee and spouse/SSDP). The surcharge does not apply to dependent children.

    Please make the following elections:

    (1) Have you or your spouse/SSDP used any tobacco products in the last 60 days? SELECT NO/NA IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SPOUSE OR YOUR SPOUSE IS NOT COVERED UNDER YOUR MEDICAL PLAN.
    Employee – Yes
    Spouse/SSDP – Yes

    (2) If you answered “yes” to item 1 above for either you or your spouse/SSDP, indicate below if you and/or your spouse/SSDP are currently enrolled in an approved Tobacco Cessation program.
    Employee – Yes
    Spouse/SSDP – Yes

    For Employee:
    Please select program name

    Enter program name if Other selected above

    For Spouse/SSDP:
    Please select program name

    Enter program name if Other selected above

    Click here for information on resources for tobacco cessation programs.

    I do hereby attest that the above information is true and understand that completing and submitting this form is considered my electronic signature and as such is a legal document. I also understand that if I make a false statement it would be considered a violation of the employer’s Standards of Conduct policy as falsification of a form. This policy viloation could lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, at the sole discretion of the employer/

    If it is unreasonably difficult due to a health factor for you to meet the requirements under this program, or if it is medically inadvisable for you to attempt to meet the requirements of this program, notify Human Resources and we will make available alternative standard for you to avoid the surcharge. For example, if you are currently being treated by a physician for nicotine addiction, we may request an affidavit from your physician and provide a reasonable alternative to incurring the surcharge.

    So, please help! I have to fill this out by the end of the year.
    Rick W.

    • This is just an opinion, I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but right now the court case is attempting to determine if the FDA can make the e-cigarette a new drug and drug delivery device. If they win, then using an e-cigarette would be in the same category as using the nicotine gum or patches, although they may make up some different rules for it. If they don’t win the case then it will likely be regulated as a tobacco product. So right now the categorization of the electronic cigarette is in limbo. With that said, if you ask your employer they will likely call it a tobacco product.

      I agree it seems unfair that you would have to pay extra for insurance because you use an e-cigarette, but in the end it will likely be in the tobacco category. And as you mentioned, if you used the zero nicotine e-liquid then you are definitely not using a tobacco product. And even with the 6 mg/ml e-liquid it seems unlikely that anyone would know based on this study.

  2. Carol says:

    Everyone if different. George Burns was a very heavy sekmor (actor who died at age 100) Others die young of lung cancer some who have never smoked (due to their own smoking or second hand smoke.) Smoking is also a dirty habit. It makes you smell as well as your clothes. Let’s not forget the cost- wow. It also annoys most around you. It will also be the cause of more expensive health ins. It makes you less efficient at work and that and the effects on your health can cause you not to get hired. Quite a few employers feel this way as health ins. is already outrageously expensive.If you’re a guy try sucking on a pipe. Guys and gals go for gum. Amazingly chewing gum has a few health benefits. Even if it has sugar in it it still helps to clean your teeth.You can get mega hooked on them any time. For guys it damages your sperm, for gals it causes birth defects especially slow and inadequate growth. It damages other parts of your innards too. The damage is NOT easily corrected if at all.

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