September 13, 2003

Arriva, NICOWater, and Heather's Unabashed Opinion

I read this article yesterday and earmarked it for blogging.

First, anyone who doesn't know that nicotine is addictive, please raise your hands, shake 'em a bit, and then visit this website. Then come back. (No one left, I know).

Now, that being said, how much does it take to kill you (since, as my loving husband pointed out, nicotine is also a poison). It's about 60 mg to kill you.

The average amount of nicotine in one cigarette is about 1 milligram.

Now, to Arriva and NICOWater. First, a caveat. I don't know prices on tobacco products. I never will because I never have and never will use. Anyone who thinks it's wise for a 31-year old oral cancer survivor to begin a smoking/chewing program, please e-mail me immediately. I'd love to post such advice. What I'm saying, though, essentially, is that I don't know if these products would be cost-effective replacements for cigarettes.

But back to the article.
    Ariva is not the only nicotine-delivery product being slipped through the regulatory cracks. A veritable industry is burgeoning. Consider, for example, NICOWater, which is -- you guessed it -- bottled water spiked with nicotine. When the product was first introduced under a different trade name and marketed as a dietary supplement, the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids and a coalition of public health groups petitioned the FDA to treat it as an unapproved drug. Last summer, the agency did so and forbade its marketing as a nutritional supplement. But now NICOWater is back, and its new manufacturer is selling it as a "homeopathic formula developed for adult smokers who suffer from the symptoms of tobacco cravings." The public health coalition renewed its petition, but the FDA has so far done nothing -- and its rejection of the same groups' petition concerning Ariva does not promise tough action.
Quit petitioning.

    There are two big problems with this state of affairs. The first is that no highly addictive and harmful drug should be marketed without substantial regulatory oversight. It is bad enough that cigarettes themselves should go unregulated by a public health-oriented agency, but it is simply inexcusable that their constituent chemical compounds would be sold in drugstores without triggering the jurisdiction of the agency that supposedly regulates drugs. Moreover, the situation is grossly unfair to drug companies that spend significant time and resources to bring to market traditional nicotine-replacement products under the usual rules of drug and medical device development. Why would smokers buy a heavily regulated and consequently expensive nicotine lozenge when the same nicotine in water is available for far less as a homeopathic formula?
My question exactly. I hope smokers would apply that logic to cigarettes and purchase the water instead. Indeed, there would be MUCH rejoicing in my world. (More later)

    The FDA's current impotence concerning tobacco products in general is indefensible -- a situation Congress desperately needs to correct. Yet the FDA does not need to make current law worse than it already is by interpreting its way out of the oversight of nicotine that it is able to perform.
Pleh - you're not thinking straight, author. The FDA's current impotence has been its impotence for a very long time. Congress' job is not to morally orchestrate the US citizens' lives.

To me, products like these seem like godsends to the non-smoking public. I don't care if people ingest nicotine. I don't really even care much about people who smoke themselves to death except to comment that I believe it to be stupid, and I'm thoroughly annoyed with smokers who won't take responsibility for their own tobacco-induced illnesses. What it comes down to for me is that I am extremely irritated and annoyed by having to breathe the foul shit smokers put into MY air, especially indoor air.

But that's just me, and I have some good, valid reasons beyond being a health nut that I'll not go into here. Back on course. If companies want to put out products containing nicotine, let them. Step gently aside, and let it run its course. Isn't tobacco regulation an oxymoron anyway? It's the drug that's harmful to others (namely, me - I'll admit I'm selfish) in proximity to its use.

So, to recap. I don't care if you smoke. Why would I care if you drank/used nicotine products? If you smoke, you already do.

Just what is the big deal here?


Posted by hln at September 13, 2003 03:42 PM | Health/Fitness/Nutrition | TrackBack

If the product is "homeopathic", as they claim, then it doesn't actually have any measurable quantity of nicotine in it. In fact, it on average will have less than one atom in a bottle.

The concern that I've seen is that it's easily available to kids, and that it's easy to accidentally drink it without realizing what you're drinking. The FDA banned nicotine lollipops as well.

Posted by: bhima at January 10, 2004 03:16 PM

I didn't realize the air BELONGED to you!

Posted by: Kelly at February 11, 2004 04:55 AM