Drug Policy

Can't Light Up? Drink Up Instead.


Nicotine Water, which the Food and Drug Administration removed from the market six years ago, is back. Introduced in 1998, the product was marketed as an alternative to cigarettes in situations where smokers are not allowed to light up. "From a practical standpoint," a company spokesman told A.P. in 2002, "you're on a plane from New York to L.A., this is to keep you from clawing the seat in front of you." The manufacturer called Nicotine Water a "dietary supplement," trying to take advantage of the relatively loose regulatory requirements for products in that category. But in 2002, at the urging of anti-smoking groups, the FDA said Nicotine Water was in fact an "unapproved drug," because "it is intended to treat or mitigate nicotine addiction as a smoking cessation product," and "nicotine addiction is considered a disease." Furthermore, Nicotine Water "contains an active ingredient [nicotine] that FDA has already approved for use in a drug" (i.e., nicotine gum and patches), a characteristic that made the "dietary supplement" label inapplicable.

So how did Nicotine Water get around this obstacle? It now comes in two versions. One provides four milligrams of nicotine and contains a little tobacco, rendering it (according to the manufacturer) a "tobacco product." The other, described as a "homeopathic formulation," contains barely more than half a milligram of nicotine, and I assume it is about as effective as the average homeopathic remedy. This case illustrates both the absurd arbitrariness of U.S. drug regulations and the puritanical zealotry of anti-smoking groups, which actively oppose safer alternatives to cigarettes (including smokeless tobacco), insisting instead on complete abstinence.

shook my head over the regulatory treatment of various nicotine products, including Nicotine Water, back in 2001. Last year I noted how an energy drink introduced as a "dietary supplement" became an "unapproved drug."

[Thanks to Bill Godshall for the tip.]

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  1. So would somebody attempting to bring this through a TSA checkpoint be a drug smuggler?

  2. Hmmmm . . . I should create a drink called Crack Juice. Guess the active ingredient!

  3. Great, now crap like this: The New Electronic Cigarette Look, Taste & Feel like a cigarette is comint up in the Google Ads window, along with that nicorette crap in the right margin.

    Opening up the Skoal can for the second time this hour.

  4. Now at a pharmacy near you: BUZZ COLA with caffeine, nicotine, and just a bit of cocaine . .

    It’s behind the counter, ask for it by name

  5. I bet they would also ban a product that had literally zero nicotine – like a bottled water packaged as “Smoke Water” that made any allusion to cigarettes.

    Isn’t that what they did recently with a drink called Cocaine?

  6. “nicotine addiction is considered a disease.”

    You know something’s wrong when the FDA spouts politically-motivation, unscientific crap like that.

  7. argh! “motivated”

  8. Isn’t chewing tobacco allowed on a plane?

  9. Rhywun,

    Kinda like those AGW agencies too?

  10. Kinda like those AGW agencies too?

    “Accident generated water”?
    “Anthropogenic global warming”??

  11. Isn’t chewing tobacco allowed on a plane?

    Only in the spitting section. I always request a seat in the non-spitting section.

  12. You’re nothing but a bunch of second-hand guzzling dangers deniers.

  13. Yea, what about the second hand exhalation dangers that could easily lead to expiration? Huh huh huh?

    Perhaps a federal solution is in order.

  14. Occam-I don’t know about dip, but I do use snus on planes. Since it’s spitless, the odds are no one will ever even realize you’re using it.

  15. Banning nicotine water killed people, if some people were willing to give up smoking cigarettes and use this safer nicotine delivery system.

  16. The headline led me to believe this was going to be about people drinking alcohol because pot is illegal.

  17. As did I…..

  18. I should create a drink called Crack Juice. Guess the active ingredient!

    It could be one of two things…

  19. Occam’s toothbrush,

    2 things I need to say to you.

    1) LOL!


  20. Over a century ago , people used to drink tobacco tea as just another way to get their nicotine. It also helped with their intestinal parasites. Just make sure you buy reliably organic tobacco and use it in moderation. I wouldn’t mind drinking tobacco once in a while, but I would not want to drink the chemicals producers add to ordinary smokes to make them burn more easily. While they may burn away readily enough to make ihalation OK, they might not be as safe sitting in the gut.

  21. Come to think of it, hamocks woven from tobacco leaves might have some anti-pest properties. If I knew how to get a significant supply of raw leaves, I would love to test that theory.

  22. It appears to this fairly well read individual that smoke, not nicotine, causes cancer and heart disease. Thus an intelligent and honest advocate for the public’s health would locically embrace smoke free methods of nicotine delivery. Since the mojority of activists don’t do that, I’m forced to conclude that their agenda is something other than people’s health.

    We’ve already seen the anti-smoking movements tactics being used in the anti-obesity agitprop. I would like to predict that chocolate or alcohol will be next. Chocolate liquers is the perfect place to start.

    Fucking neo-puritans seems a far more appropriate label for these intrusive busybodies.

  23. A similar case could be made for DRINKING marijuana. Why add the risk of lung cancer by smoking it? Since its already illegal, no one has to bother the FDA. Letting users know the benefits of dissolved dope would be sufficient (that being the preferred method in rural India, where its usually dissolved in milk for some reason, and flavored with sugar and almonds. Go figure)

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