Can’t we just remove addiction from the debate?

Listening to a BBC Business Daily report: Doing Business with Addicts it was obvious that the interviewer was not so much engaged in exploring the pros and cons of e-cigarettes as in rejoining with some inflammatory (which he, I am sure, has confused with tough) questions.

Justin Rowlatt (the interviewer) keeps referring to nicotine as a “fiercely addictive and a powerful stimulant” and “dangerous drug”. And “In an ideal world people would not be taking powerful stimulants”.

Yes, a most powerful stimulant as I have noticed when smokers or vapers run amok and lift twice their body weight soon after inhaling.

But he keeps harping on the addictiveness of nicotine as crucial and that there is something unusual about a business that supplies a drug to people who want it. “Its much easier to run a business if your customers are addicts.” Of course the implication is that this is immoral and no different from selling heroin.

Of course coffee shops are the obvious example of a socially approved drug supplier and safe ingestion site but is the e-cigarette business really any different from any business that provides a product that people like to use or experience on a regular or continuing basis?

Many have pointed out that addiction is too vague a construct to be attached to nicotine and not to walking in the park every day (in other words any activity that makes you feel out of sorts when you are not able to do it). Others have pointed out that addiction is a relationship that can occur between a person and a substance/behavior typically when the person is missing something in life. It is not inherent to the substance or you would not have so many people who are casual or once-for-a-while drug users.

Ultimately whatever your definition of addiction is the focus should be whether the behavior ends up as a benefit or a cost. Does it improve your life? Does it make you feel better or worse and does it impact your health?

Some people find that nicotine improves brain function. Many more people find that it just makes them feel better and that’s the only reason you need to justify using it when, as in vaping, there are no real health costs.

If using nicotine is about as harmful as using caffeine then whether or not it is addictive is beside the point.

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3 thoughts on “Can’t we just remove addiction from the debate?

  1. You seem to be working under the assumption that people argue against e-cigarettes (or much of anything else) with some kind of logic. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. They’re going to try to paint this thing they hate — usually for reasons that have nothing to do with logic — in the most unfavorable light possible.

    If you’re going to ask people like that to ignore the truth that addiction, in itself, isn’t a bad thing, you’ve also got to ask them to admit that there’s no evidence anyone is harmed by vaping, no proof that e-cigarettes act as a gateway to tobacco… hell, you’d even have to get them to admit that they actually do know what ingredients are in e-liquid, and that none of them are toxic.

    Truth is not a currency for these people.

  2. Yes, let’s remove the word “addiction” from the debate. Nicotine, like caffeine, produces “dependency”. Dependency + negative consequences = addiction, but since there are no negative consequences to getting nicotine in a safe way like an ecig there is no addiction.

  3. Pingback: Can't we just remove addiction from the debate?...

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