It doesn’t seem so long ago that there was nothing wrong with smoking in a public restaurant or on an airplane. These days however, smokers are finding themselves at the mercy of anti-tobacco laws. No longer can you light up on a long flight or have an after dinner cigarette after dining out. Even bars, the one place where smoking was almost expected, are beginning to kick people out into the open air to light up. Rules and regulations are causing smokers to be creative about not only where they smoke, but what they use to keep from going through withdrawals. Patches and nicotine gum are products made just for these purposes, and smokers often turn to other alternatives, such as sucking on hard candy to satisfy their oral fixation.
Now they have something else to consider. Nico Worldwide, Inc. has brought to the market a flavored water called Nic Lite. This drink is touted as the alternative to smoking “when you can’t smoke, shouldn’t smoke, or when you choose not to smoke.” With a lemon flavor to make it pleasing to the taste buds (though several offsite testimonials claim that it leaves a bad aftertaste), the point of this water is that it has the nicotine equivalent to two cigarettes with none of the other harmful chemicals found in tobacco products. Nic Lite’s website is quick to point out that this is not a tobacco product, simply a way for smokers to get by when they are unable to light up. The water comes with its own set of warnings, such as the limit of four bottles a day and a warning that it may not be safe for pregnant women or anyone with high blood pressure.
Already found in airports and some convenient stores, the controversy surrounding Nic Lite started out when it had not been approved by the FDA. Critics proclaimed that the fact that it contained nicotine, a drug by all accounts, meant that to Nico Worldwide, Inc. was in violation of having marketed the water illegally. However, it has since been classified as a dietary supplement, which means no action needs to be taken unless the product is found to cause harm, another point that said critics are fighting against.
Critics have targeted another issue with the drink: a new addiction for young people. Though it’s hailed as a nicotine product and not to be sold to anyone under the age of 18, a reporter for ABC news found that she was only carded at a third of the stores she visited to purchase the product. Will it be this easy for young children to get their hands on? It’s likely. For vendors not used to carding for such things as water, being conscious of the sell of this item and remembering to card for it might prove to be difficult.
In an age where it seems like the youth of America are looking for a cheap high anyway they can get it, the idea of nicotine water being readily accessible is a valid fear. Experts say that the amount of nicotine in the drink is much lower than in a cigarette itself, but it still delivers the nicotine hit that smokers feel they need to get by. Is it possible that teenagers will drink that water for this quick hit? I believe that it is possible and it is likely. However, one thing that critics seem to be discounting is that part of the reason so many young people get hooked on smoking in the first place is because it looks “cool.” Will drinking a bottle of water have the same “cool” effect? Only time will tell. Once this item is marketed nationwide, steps should definitely be taken to keep it out of the hands of children, even if it means putting it behind the counter with the cigarettes rather than in the cooler with all the other soft drinks.
As for adult smokers, there are many other factors to take into consideration beyond the need for nicotine. The physical act of bringing a cigarette to one’s mouth in itself is highly addicting. Ask anyone who can’t have a beer without having a cigarette in the other hand. There’s also the mental aspect. People who do nothing more than believe that smoking is helping them handle their stress may have a hard time believing that drinking a bottle of water is doing the same thing.
NicLite might be a new idea, and it won’t surprise anyone if other companies start jumping on the bandwagon sooner than later. However, it’ll be awhile before we can discern whether this product is truly a good alternative to cigarettes or just another fad supplement destined to fail in this tobacco ruled world.