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The Nicotine War is warming up!

April 2011

British American Tobacco (BAT) has launched its latest counter-attack against the combined forces of the medical establishment, the scientific establishment, and Big Pharma (dare I describe them as a coalition).

BAT has announced the news that it aims to build a subsidiary company to peddle non-tobacco nicotine products that (it claims) could wean smokers off cigarettes.

According to Nicoventures aims to provide smokers with
“a range of alternative products, currently unavailable on the market, that offer them the experience they expect to get from a cigarette but without the real and serious health risks of smoking”.

As Allen Carr’s Easyway organisation predicted a long time ago – the war between Big Tobacco and Big Pharma (aided by its medical/scientific establishment stooges) is set to rage on over the coming decades as both factions fight for a slice of the same nicotine addicted market.

With more than a touch of irony and tragic synergy – both sectors of the nicotine industry now appear to be touting the (claimed) benefits of continued (and most likely permanent) nicotine use.

Mischievously, British American Tobacco’s Nicoventures project quotes many of the medical, scientific, and smoking cessation glitterati on their website. Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) are amongst a host of so called experts who have lined up to support (to a greater or lesser extent) the sustained use of nicotine products as (and I still find it hard to even write these phrases) “medicinal nicotine” in the form of a “harm reduction” program.

Of course – rather embarrassingly for ASH, its experts, and the medical/scientific establishment this “medicinal nicotine” is exactly the same ingredient that Nicoventures products will contain.

Nicoventures doesn’t miss a trick when it quotes the Royal College of Physicians calling for greater use of “harm reduction products”. John Britton, Chair, Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians appears to be a true fan of nicotine, claiming that we should be no more concerned with people popping daily doses of nicotine than we are about them taking daily doses of caffeine via their coffee cup.

In fact (not surprisingly) John Britton’s name appears liberally throughout the Nicoventures website singing the praises of the kind of nicotine products that – no doubt – BAT’s subsidiary is proposing. I’m not sure whether John Britton has become a poster boy simultaneously for Big Pharma AND Big Tobacco by design or by default. One can only ponder whether he has taking a shilling from one, the other, both, or neither.

Action on Smoking and Health almost fell over themselves supporting the Royal College of Physicians call for a “harm reduction program” based on prolonged use of nicotine products.

Interestingly John Britton is also on ASH’s Board of Trustees. Is it not more than a little worrying to know that our policy on nicotine addiction appears to be driven by such closely linked and often overlapping groups of individuals?

It is also interesting to note that when ASH demanded that Allen Carr’s Easyway organisation subject the method to a “further study to establish its effectiveness” it was to John Britton’s door that we were directed. He estimated that the cost Allen Carr’s Easyway would have to pay for such a study (overseen by him) would be in the region of £250,000-£500,000. To commit to such a study run by someone so outspokenly in favour of (forgive my sarcasm) the wonders of nicotine would have been ridiculous but I dare say it has provided ASH with a convenient stick with which to beat us from time to time.

Britton and his cronies have gone as far as saying that nicotine has got a bad name and the real problem with nicotine patches and gum is that not enough people are using them. Really? In spite of the multi million pound marketing campaigns? In spite of the fact that they are prescribed free of charge in the UK? In spite of the fact that the end user is highly motivated to quit smoking and is, after all, addicted to nicotine?

Britton goes on to claim that those people that do use them – don’t use them for long enough, and the patches and gum prescribed simply don’t give the addict enough nicotine. Clearly, they claim, what those people attempting to escape addiction to nicotine really need is much, much, much more nicotine.

Nicoventures even quotes the exotically monickered “UK Government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency” in support of their (and don’t forget Britton’s, and ASH’s, and the Royal College of Physicians) view that nicotine has been given an unnecessarily bad name.

It will be interesting to see how ASH, the medical, and scientific establishments react to BAT attempting to squeeze in on (their big buddy) Big Pharma’s ruse.

Of course – no-one really knows the effects of long term nicotine use and I fear that we are heading back towards the dark ages to a time where it took decades to prove the link between smoking and ill-health. Moreover, no-one appears to be counting the human cost of keeping people addicted; a condition that destroys self-esteem, controls addicts lives, and inflicts unnecessary crippling financial burdens on the addict’s family.

Is it not a tragedy of epic proportions that these so called smoking cessation experts continue to ignore Allen Carr’s Easyway; a quit smoking method that has freed millions from the despair of nicotine addiction, has no side-effects whatsoever, and costs from as little as a packet of fags?

Like Big Pharma, Big Tobacco will continue to laugh all the way to the bank while the mainstream smoking cessation, medical, and scientific establishments – no doubt – will continue to feel so very, very pleased with themselves whilst failing to show the slightest interest in Allen Carr’s Easyway. Allen was right – it’s more than a tragedy – it’s a national and international scandal.

See how the Financial Times reports this story here

See the Nicoventures website here