Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is nicotine the villian?

I have often mused about the fate of tobacco in this nation, once even in this format. However, the I have to disagree with a recent editorial in the NY Times (fancy that).

The conclusion in a NYTimes article on FDA control of cigarettes:

"It’s not enough to regulate the varying degrees of nicotine in cigarettes. Ultimately, there’s only one way to deal with the addictive effects of nicotine, especially on children: grant the F.D.A. the authority to get nicotine out of cigarettes altogether. Anti-smoking groups shouldn’t settle for anything less."

I am not a smoker, but I am not an anti-smoker either. The fact is, it is NOT the nicotine that is the "dangerous" part of a cigarette or other tobacco product. Even this article admits that the tars are what carry the carcinigens. Unfortunately, these "tars" and other plant fats also carry the flavor. To simply remove the nicotine from cigarettes would only make them less addictive. Or even non-addictive. Smokers would continue to smoke out of psychological habit and suffer from withdrawal symptoms needing medicinal nicotine for months. And then, believing it didn't matter, they might just keep smoking the cancer-causing product for the psychological "fix" they are use to!

The real dangerous substances are the tars which are very absorbant of trace minerals - especially RADIOACTIVE minerals! In fact, it is probably possible to grow "safe" tobacco in clean soil that has none of these trace elements. It is sure worth a study if nothing else. I propose that this noble plant - sacred to the Native Americans - be treated with more respect. It is more than likely that English settlers, in turning it into a commercial success, have ended up destroying its "reputation" forever.

Why not process the weed down to a non-radioactive (tar free) nicotine delivery system, even ADDING nicotine to make fewer necessary to the addicts. Or, if it is perceived that their will be a great loss of market, then formulate a "flavoring" to replace that lost when removing the tars. Meanwhile, tobacco marketers need to consider a post-smoker world in which the tobacco plant could be transformed into a plant protein source to feed livestock or even human populations. The nicotine could be exptracted for medicinal purposes and as an insecticide.

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