I don’t think that nicotine should be controversial at all. This is why:
I started chewing nicotine gum instead of smoking cigarettes because I read the studies, listened to prominent scientists, and saw nicotine was essentially harmless. Yes, yes: it’s addictive, but it’s basically harmless. In fact, it’s better than harmless because it may even be good for you. It’s a short-acting stimulant that can act as a cognitive enhancer, appetite suppressant, and may even protect against Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
If Nicotine is Objectively Bad, Why Do People Use It?
There is a common narrative that smokers only smoke cigarettes because they are addicted, and that they only started smoking because it was perceived as “cool”. This may be true for some smokers, but the pharmacological data tells a different story. Nicotine binds to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors which creates its stimulant-like effects, including increased heart rate, vasoconstriction, increased alertness and the release of dopamine. Dopamine release in the brain is a pleasurable sensation. While addiction and a desire to look cool clearly to lead to nicotine usage, it’s undeniable that there is also a physical effect on the body. Nicotine is not just an addictive placebo, like many people seem to believe.
Let’s Compare Nicotine to Other Drugs:
People don’t consume it and make stupid decisions like gambling away their life savings or saying something they later regret. People don’t consume nicotine gum and start bar fights. They don’t get into car accidents under its influence. They just get slightly more awake. When they’re a habitual nicotine user and don’t consume enough nicotine, they get very grouchy and they crave it. They don’t steal to support their habit. They don’t need to go to rehab. They don’t get the shakes. They don’t get incapacitated. They don’t die from withdrawal. Ultimately, I believe that nicotine is very much akin to caffeine when dosed properly to avoid addiction, and consumed in a pure form.
Why Everyone is Scared of Nicotine:
People fear nicotine because they associate it so closely with smoking cigarettes. Smoking kills over 50% of all smokers and every cigarette contains nicotine. Since the majority of nicotine users smoke cigarettes, the correlation between nicotine consumption and health problems is very high. But this is a classic case of correlation not equalling causation. In fact, nicotine is not a carcinogen, and it is the burning tobacco smoke (containing nitrosamines, MOAIs, and thousands of other carcinogenic chemicals) which leads to health problems.
So If Nicotine is Good, Should Everyone Use It?
While I do believe that nicotine is capable of yielding positive effects when used properly, it is clear that the drug is not for everyone. People under the age of 21 should avoid nicotine because of its effects on the developing brain. Becoming addicted to anything before the brain has finished developing results in a much more powerful dependance. Additionally, pregnant and nursing women should avoid nicotine to avoid developmental problems for the fetus (just like many other substances). My point is, if you’re a healthy adult who is going to use nicotine, you should use the least harmful method of nicotine ingestion possible: a pure nicotine product.
What You Should Take Away From This:
I’m very much for intelligent regulation of nicotine products. They clearly need to be safe and, as such, monitored for harmful chemicals. We need to end this stigma around nicotine and recognize that it is distinct from tobacco. We need to encourage people to recognize this fact, and we need to encourage people to use safer products. Nicotine, just like any other legal drug, can be used responsibly for personal satisfaction. The data on pharmaceutical nicotine gums suggest it is the best form factor (from an addiction and safety standpoint) that a human can use and that’s why we have tried to make the best one. If you use nicotine, I believe you should use our product. Or don’t—it’s a free country.