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Nicotine has a bad reputation

Lit match

It’s hard to believe that nicotine still has a bad reputation in 2018.

A recent US study showed that adults still hold a negative perception about nicotine. There is an entire internet, experts and research that disproves nicotine as the villain these days.

Truth is that nicotine is as harmless as the caffeine in your morning cup of coffee and has its own unique benefits.

No-one makes noise about the positive effects, but rather keep harping on the false negatives created decades ago in the attempts to scare people off cigarettes.

The study found that a shocking 52.9% of the American public think that nicotine causes cancer from smoking and 21,2% were a bit confused and not sure. Almost just as bad was that 52.5% of smokers believe that nicotine is a carcinogen. Looking at these insights it’s no surprise that so many smokers won’t turn to nicotine replacement therapies to assist them when they want to quit. Previous studies have shown that they would rather go cold turkey than seek help. It then makes sense that a big percentage of quitters fail.

Nicotine got a bad reputation years ago when the media decided to focus on only one chemical found in cigarettes in order to deter smoking.

A cartoon character, aptly named, Nick O’Teen was even created by DC Comics. This Superman villain was specifically created for the Health Education Council’s (HEC) anti-smoking campaign in the 80s. The HEC’s Superman vs Nick O’teen campaign was highly successful with almost a million children requesting more information by way of a form attached to cartoons. The yellow toothed villain didn’t have any super powers but rather plotted ways to give children free cigarettes.

Nick O'Teen

Media stunts like the above is largely to blame for the public having misperceptions about nicotine. When in fact the substance is the least harmful out of the cocktail of chemicals found in cigarettes, aka carcinogens when set alight. Many studies exist that prove that nicotine does not cause heart disease or cancer.

Although nicotine is addictive, it’s no more addictive than the caffeine millions of coffee drinkers ingest daily. “People smoke for nicotine, but they die from the tar,” said Michael Russell in 1976, the father of tobacco harm reduction theory and the developer of nicotine gum.

The public needs to be re-educated

Nicotine is a mild stimulant and there is no research that shows it causes heart disease and or cancer. The benefits of it span from being a cognitive enhancer, increasing short term memory and the biggest one must be that it helps people who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease.

By using the various nicotine replacement therapies such as gum, patches and e-cigarettes, smokers can wean themselves off combustible cigarettes, by getting their daily nicotine hit at a slower rate and a safer method. Many smokers switch to vaping, which is also much less harmful for their health. There is no smoke caused by lighting the cigarette and thus no carcinogens inhaled.

It’s in the public’s interest to be educated on nicotine so that more people seek help from nicotine replacement therapies to quit smoking. In turn this will lead to a much healthier society plagued with less smoking-related diseases.