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Friday, January 28, 2011

Nicotine, Nazi's and Magical Thinking (Part II)

Juliet - Death by a Love Addiction (Ban it for the children!)
So we have clearly established that there is a bias against smokers - a significant, government sponsored, and perhaps racially based bias that says smoking is evil, wrong, and unclean.

And we also know that smoking as a nicotine deliver device is "bad."  But what exactly is the problem with nicotine?

Well, the US Surgeon General's report (PDF here) spends a lot of time talking (pages 103 - 110) about nicotine addiction and addictive behavior but no time talking about the effects of nicotine addiction itself other than smoking.  (You can read about the DSM symptoms for addiction in the report.)  So, without any sort of practical comparison, i.e., what is nicotine addiction in the absence of smoking, the report provides virtually no information on the effect of nicotine on the body.  On page 183 the report concludes about nicotine:

Nicotine is the key chemical compound that causes and sustains the powerful addicting effects of commercial tobacco products.

Now, it does NOT list side effects other than the addiction itself and the need for getting your "fix" each day.  In fact, it implies that the tobacco product, i.e., cigarettes, are the problem.  Without smoking, in fact, there would appear to be no more problems with nicotine than, say caffeine.  In fact, caffeine is close behind nicotine in terms of gaining status as an addiction just like heroin and cocaine.

And there are studies such as this that indicate that inhaling nicotine vapors (without smoke) does not cause tumors or cancer like smoking.

In fact, the study showed, the only side effect was weight loss.

(Perhaps nicotine would help with the obesity epidemic...?  In fact, if we banned cigarettes and everyone that smoked dies of obesity instead are we better off?  Think about it...  Is dying in bed from being overweight better than dying in bed because you smoked too much?  Actually both can cause heart disease so the death might actually be due to the same cause.)

So let's compare nicotine with something like, say, Lipitor.  (You can read about Lipitor's official side effects here.  Of course, there are many other problems people report but they are mostly ignored.)

- Muscle problems.

- Kidney failure.

- Liver problems.

Somehow you don't find these serious issues with nicotine. (Of course in sufficient quantity it is a poison and is used as an insecticide in other parts of the world.  But then, too much of anything, like Lipitor or electricity or water, is also a bad thing.)

There are many, many commercial drugs with far worse side effects, in fact fatal, dangerous side effects, that the FDA allows doctors to prescribe every day.  No one is concerned (unless of course they are impacted by such a side effect).  No one cares.  These medicines are socially acceptable and deaths and debilitation from them are also socially acceptable.

Why is this?

Well, for one thing ads for these kinds of drugs now appear on popular TV and radio shows.  Long ago, when cigarette ads were still shown through these media outlets the side effects of cigarettes were considered socially acceptable.  Today, Lipitor can cause your liver to fail and, because as a society, we see the ads for this all the time (and we believe the foolish "cholesterol is bad" Nazi propaganda that goes along with it) Lipitor-based liver failure is a socially acceptable outcome.

(I have written extensively about the entire cholesterol "magical thinking" conspiracy here if you are interested.)

That's right, just like driving 65 MPH which reliably kills measurably more people than 55 MPH driving faster is socially acceptable and a socially acceptable way to risk you life.  No one complains.   No one cries.  Its merely a simple fact of life they humans accept, live and die with every day.

Addictive behavior is part of the human condition.

Have we all forgotten this?

Human's do stupid things all the time.  They find comfort in ritual, fantasy, and addiction.

Love, for example, is also a demonstrable chemical addiction (see this): "Love, in other words, uses the neural mechanisms that are activated during the process of addiction."

So where's the FDA on this love thing?

Where the the anti-love Nazi's?

If love is an addiction isn't it unclean just like nicotine?
 Sometimes its even fatal, just ask Juliet...

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