“Nicotine Isn’t The Most Addictive Drug In Cigarettes ‹ Newsweek Pakistan”; Or, Gee, Ya Don’t Say!

Nicotine Isn’t The Most Addictive Drug In Cigarettes ‹ Newsweek Pakistan:

(Via Newsweek Pakistan.)

Just as important as it is to me to expose faulty, biased propaganda disguised as journalism, it’s also important to me to highlight investigative journalism that sheds light on truth.

You might wonder how it’s possible to tell the difference; after all, just as is true for anyone, I’m not immune to the influence of bias myself. Here’s a generally sound principle for discerning the difference:

When a media outlet protects the regulatory status quo, or attacks a dissenting voice or movement, in order to safeguard large, well-entrenched corporate or government interests, that’s usually propaganda.

When a media outlet exposes a flaw in the regulatory status quo, which carries the risk of angering powerful interests, with no benefit to the media outlet exposing the flaw — in short, when you have more to lose than to gain by speaking, and you speak anyway — that’s usually honest journalism.

To contrast the propaganda piece recently put out by Marketwatch (owned by Dow Jones, by the way) I’m presenting to you a piece by Newsweek, along with my commentary, of course, which exposes a truth about cigarettes that anti-tobacco crusaders would probably rather you don’t know, since it stands a good chance of damaging their wider campaign against nicotine in any form.

I encourage you to have a look at the source article first — the link at the top of this post will take you there — and then I’ve got some commentary for you.

“Scientists are learning more about why it can be so hard to quit smoking. Sure, nicotine is a fiercely addictive drug—but that’s only part of the story. Just look at all the millions of would-be ex-smokers who keep on lighting up despite having consumed pharmacies full of nicotine patches, nicotine gum and lozenges, nicotine spray and inhalers.”

As I posited in my book, Smokeless, (which you can get here) I see one reason why pharmaceutical solutions fail so completely — they address only the chemical addiction to nicotine, and do absolutely nothing to break the manual and oral habits associated with smoking.

Patches fail because you don’t lift the patch to your lips, inhale, and hold the patch between your fingers. The gum fails because you don’t chew on cigarettes. Lozenges fail because you don’t swallow a cigarette. Sprays, inhalers, pills… none of this stuff feels, tastes or looks like smoking. Even if it satisfies the craving, it fails to satisfy the habit.

But this article intimates that there’s more going on here. Much more.

“Scientists have wondered for a while if tobacco had more than one addictive component, so Truman and her fellow scientists at ESR and Victoria University of Wellington set out to test that hypothesis. They equipped the cages of some lab rats with lever-activated systems for three different saline solutions: one of diluted nicotine, another of dissolved smoke from factory-made cigarettes, and the third one of dissolved smoke from roll-your-own tobacco. Each test animal had to push its lever an ascending number of times in order to get a dose of its assigned drug.”

The rats showed a strong craving for one “reward” in particular; they pushed the lever significantly more times for the roll-your-own smoke. “That is a formal proof that some tobacco substances are more addictive than nicotine [alone] is,” Truman said.”

So what can we draw from this experiment? While the article states that the researchers haven’t yet identified exactly what it is in cigarettes that’s even more addictive than nicotine, we can certainly infer that something in them is.

What does that mean for vapers? Whatever that thing is, if you’ve switched fully from smoking to vaping, you’ve already defeated your addiction to whatever that chemical is.

“It’s likely to be a while before those addictive substances are identified. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,800 chemicals, including at least 69 known carcinogens. But Chris Bullen, director of Auckland University’s National Institute for Health Innovation, is enthusiastic about the new study. “It could in part explain why nicotine-replacement therapy and other [nicotine-withdrawal] products … might not be as effective as they could be.”

In fact, those products can be surprisingly unhelpful. According to one study published earlier this year, smokers were just as likely to fail in their efforts to quit by using nicotine-replacement therapy as they were without it. Of course, anyone who has ever lit up can tell you that addiction isn’t purely chemical: There’s also the social aspect of smoking, the familiar habit of holding a cigarette or smoking in certain situations.”

Well, you clever little gremlins, you!

“Although the prevalence of adult smoking in the U.S. has dropped from 42.4 percent in 1965 to 19.3 percent in 2010, the number of people who manage to quit smoking remains low, according to the American Cancer Society. Within three months of quitting, seven in 10 smokers are back to smoking; by the time a year is up, that number is close to nine in 10.”

These odds don’t seem to factor in vaping; and they really ought to. They can start by polling me: I quit smoking over a year and a half ago, thanks to vaping, and thanks to vaping, I’ll never return to it. I believe there are millions of vapers already — and the number just keeps growing — who can say the same.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, please remember to support this blog; do good work, and be good to yourselves and each other.


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  • I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your website?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
    so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text
    for only having 1 or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?


    • John Castle

      I appreciate you taking the time to bring this to my attention. Frankly, there’s not a lot I can do on this front. I don’t have the hardware (camera, lighting, et cetera) to do professionally finished video reviews, and I don’t believe in doing something unless I can do my best. As far as more images goes, I’ll try to get into that habit.

      But as you can see from my posting history, and from the newer additions to my list of books along the right hand margin of the page, vaping is only one focus of my site; my primary focus is fiction writing. Vaping has taken over the lion’s share of space here, but a shift back in the other direction is coming. So I’ll try to have more images to go with the descriptions — particularly where hardware is concerned, since images really can’t describe the performance of eliquids — but writing software and techniques, along with book development and release announcements, is going to start getting more of its due from now on.


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