Monday, February 2, 2009

Selling addiction without the smoke?

Has anyone ever wondered why the nicotine patch, or nicotine gum and lozenges, are referred to as "nicotine replacement" therapy? After all, they don’t really replace the nicotine; it’s simply being delivered by alternative methods.

And, if nicotine is addictive, as the anti-smoker brigade claims, then providing nicotine via any method is unlikely to reduce dependence. The addiction to nicotine would remain whether it’s delivered by a Camel Filter, a lozenge or a mint flavoured gum.

The anti-smoker crowd would have you believe that nicotine is every bit as addictive as heroin. But, would anyone recommend using heroin to help wean an addict off that drug? Of course not; they use methadone as a substitute for heroin, to help break the cycle of addiction. Why would anyone believe that providing nicotine to an addict would be any more successful in helping them kick a nicotine habit?

Still, the patch and nicotine gum are being touted by the anti-smoker brigade as a way to reduce or eliminate smoking, despite the highly questionable success rate of these pharmaceutical nicotine products . And, if people get hooked on the gum or the patch, so what? Nicoderm, Nicorettes, etc. are far less hazardous to the consumer than cigarettes. Or at least, that’s what they tell the public.

All anti-smoker groups and charities promote pharmaceutical nicotine. In fact, they’re among the biggest boosters of NRT products. And, that includes Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and a host of other government heath services across this country and in countries around the world.

The patch, gum and lozenges, were introduced as smoking cessation aids; available only with a prescription. Then, thanks to the help of anti-smoker activists, they were made available over the counter.

Now nicotine gum and lozenges, and even the patch, are being marketed as a supplement to cigarettes. Smokers are being told to quit if they can and if they can’t, they can substitute pharmaceutical nicotine in those situations where smoking is not permissible. It all adds up to big bucks in sales for the drug companies.

In Britain, there are suggestions from public health to make NRT products tax free. And, they’re proposing legislation to ensure they remain tax free so that they can better compete with tobacco products. There are proposals to make nicotine gum and lozenges more readily available, in convenience stores and vending machines. And, at the same time, they’re reducing the number of outlets where tobacco is sold; banning sales in pharmacies and vending machines.

The simple truth of the matter is that the drug companies have become direct competitors of the tobacco industry; both selling nicotine products, each vying for market share to enhance their bottom line. And the government has chosen sides; bowing to the demands of anti-smoker zealots and trying to foist overly expensive gum and lozenges on smokers.

This kind of government interference in the marketplace is unheard of in most democratic societies. If governments were serious about eliminating smoking and its alleged hazards, it would bring in prohibition. Instead, they’ve chosen to punish smokers, to reduce them to secondhand citizens while continuing to extort billions in tax dollars. And, they're openly pushing product for the drug companies.

The anti-smoker campaign of de-normalization is being funded in large measure by the pharmaceutical industry. Governments also make a sizable contribution to anti-smoker efforts using money confiscated from smokers via excessive tobacco taxes.

Smoking bans and punitive taxes put pressure put on smokers to quit. The more pressure put on smokers, the greater the profit potential for the drug companies through sales of their own nicotine products. And the more the drug companies profit the more funding there is available for the anti-smoker brigade to continue their assault on smokers.

It’s become a vicious circle; one designed to force more smokers to make use of the nicotine products peddled by the drug companies. And, with the less than acceptable quit rate, they’re assured of a lot of repeat customers.

If smokers are really addicted to nicotine, and they really want to quit as the anti-smoker brigade claims, wouldn’t they be just as happy to get their fix from gum, lozenges, or any number of the other alternate nicotine delivery systems they keep trying to force on us.

Unless . . . people actually enjoy smoking. Do you think?

1 comment:

Michael J. McFadden said...

Excellent points as always Rambler!

Maybe we should start a campaign to sell heroin in pharmacies in gum form to help the heroin users kick their habit. Sure, some folks will worry that kids will get hold of it, but hey, it's not as dangerous or addictive as nicotine so who cares if little Johnny chews a few c*H*icklets (TM) to get through his rough day in 3rd grade?


Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"