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Two years ago, possibly unintentionally, a Tobacco Control person admitted what smokers and vapers have suspected all along.

The following pithy paragraph appeared in a Daily Mail article ‘Nicotine is good for you …’ dated December 15, 2013. I’ve highlighted it to show the bogus science surrounding nicotine and tobacco/tobacco-derivative use:

A spokeswoman for Cancer Research added: ‘We don’t fully understand the long-term effects of nicotine use.’

No kidding.

For every study showing positive benefits from nicotine, another shows a negative. And, for those positive benefits, such as the ones mentioned in the Mail, there is always the caveat to stop smoking (emphases mine below):

Professor John Britton, chairman of the Royal College of Physicians tobacco advisory group and professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said one hit of nicotine can have positive effects on the brain.

But he warned the drug is highly addictive

I wrote about this last October, recapping earlier research showing that nicotine is for the thinking man:

Nicotine benefits the brain in several ways

Those who are fearful because of Tobacco Control’s propaganda can rest more easily after reading these posts:

The truth behind the smoker’s lung pictures — they’re fake

Medical data show smoking does NOT cause lung cancer (known since 1985)

Medical benefits of nicotine and a few thoughts on Tobacco Control

‘Biased’ findings

Every time a positive study on nicotine appears, Tobacco Control and the media say it was funded by tobacco companies. A post on the io9 site states that the University of California San Francisco — probably Stanton Glantz‘s* department — has looked at financing behind studies showing nicotine helps to prevent Alzheimer’s:

In 2010, a group from UCSF compared 43 studies on smoking and Alzheimer’s disease and found one-quarter of them were funded by tobacco groups.

Therefore, this means 75% of studies concluding that nicotine use may ward off Alzheimer’s were financed by groups with no conflict of interest.

*Note for non-smokers: Stanton Glantz is the father of the Tobacco Control movement.

More benefits from nicotine

Below is a summary of more benefits from nicotine, which can be delivered via e-cigarettes as well as tobacco. Hard as it is for most of the world to believe, some people smoke or vape for health reasons.

Mental health

An article in the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post discusses the need for e-cigarettes in psychiatric hospitals. Until recently, cigarettes have been made available to patients to calm their nerves:

Those devices might help alleviate some of the deficits associated with schizophrenia …

Depression

E-cigarette Direct’s Ashtray Blog has an article on the benefits of nicotine, many of which are covered in this post from other sources.

That said, the article mentions nicotine’s beneficial effect on depression:

Smoking to improve one’s mood has been a controversial subject, but one study conducted in 2006 confirmed that nicotine led to a significant decline in depression and an improvement in symptoms of depression (source).

This is thought to be due to nicotine stimulating areas of the brain, resulting in the release of serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals lacking in people who have depression.

Observations have shown that those prone to depression are twice as likely to be smokers and are less likely to succeed in quitting, possibly due to these therapeutic effects of nicotine.

ADHD

The same article says that ADHD patients benefit from nicotine:

Studies have shown that nicotine can alleviate the symptoms of ADHD by increasing an individual’s alertness, reducing muscle activity (and thus restlessness/impulsiveness), calming the patient and elevating their mood (source, source).

Of course, no one is suggesting children take up smoking or vaping, but some studies are hoping to develop better treatments which have similar benefits to nicotine (source).

Parkinson’s disease

Research summarised in Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience says that nicotine may help to lessen the negative aspects of Parkinson’s disease (PD):

Nicotine, the more studied alkaloid derived from tobacco, is considered to be responsible for the beneficial behavioral and neurological effects of tobacco use in PD. However, several metabolites of nicotine, such as cotinine, also increase in the brain after nicotine administration. The effect of nicotine and some of its derivatives on dopaminergic neurons viability, neuroinflammation, and motor and memory functions, have been investigated using cellular and rodent models of PD. Current evidence shows that nicotine, and some of its derivatives diminish oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in the brain and improve synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival of dopaminergic neurons. In vivo these effects resulted in improvements in mood, motor skills and memory in subjects suffering from PD pathology.

Ulcerative colitis, sepsis, obesity

The Journal of Translational Medicine has reproduced the full text of a study of nicotine’s benefits on alleviating gut inflammation, particularly in the case of ulcerative colitis. The paper also states that nicotine may benefit patients with sepsis. In brief, nicotine helps counter cytokines, about which I wrote last year.

This is a highly technical paper, therefore, only brief excerpts follow:

Nicotine has been proven effective in reducing obesity-related inflammation and insulin resistance [7] and attenuating inflammation and improving gut function in patients with active colitis [8]. In fact, ulcerative colitis patients with a history of smoking usually acquire their disease after they have stopped smoking [911]. Patients who smoke intermittently often experience an improvement in their colitis symptoms during the periods when they smoke [9,12]. Therefore the development of drugs designed to suppress the aberrant inflammatory response in obesity and ulcerative colitis may be of significant help in giving relief to patients.

nicotine exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in many systems [15,16,21,22] …

ACh and nicotine also reduce the concentration of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein production by macrophages in sepsis patients [31]. HMGB1, a nucleosome protein that acts as a pro-inflammatory cytokine, stimulates other pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-8) and promotes epithelial cell permeability [31]. Treatment with nicotine attenuated serum HMGB1 levels, decreased the clinical signs of sepsis, provided significant protection against death and improved survival in “established” sepsis [31]. Additionally, nicotine treatment was not started until 24 h after the induction of lethal peritonitis in mice indicating that the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway can modulate the inflammatory response even in established sepsis [26].

This effect of nicotine on suppressing cytokine storms might also partly explain why nicotine suppresses appetite. As with all findings, more research must be done:

Nicotine, the principal addictive constituent of tobacco, has been shown to suppress appetite and attenuates obesity in many studies, but the underlying mechanism is not clear. Nicotine receptors are highly expressed in the hypothalamus and medulla, in nuclei that play a significant role in appetite regulation … these findings indicate that nicotine has a number of actions on hypothalamic neurons that could contribute to the reduced food intake and weight loss associated with smoking.

With regard to obesity, the paper goes on to say that there are obese people who are also heavy smokers. Nicotine does not appear to help them. Furthermore, nicotine can make type 2 diabetes patients more insulin-resistant (implying unregulated insulin production) rather than insulin-sensitive:

Moreover, smoking appears to aggravate insulin resistance in persons with type 2 diabetes and to impair glycemic control [70]. Other factors such as low physical activity and poor diet could counterbalance and even overtake the slimming effect of smoking. Clearly, the pathophysiological factors involved in the association among smoking and obesity are little explored, and remain to be elucidated.

Conclusion

My own prediction is that within the next ten to 20 years, the following two things will happen.

One is that people will slowly begin to see nicotine as being beneficial to the human body. The reason this hasn’t happened yet is that, as the Ashtray Blog states:

Maryka Quik who has conducted numerous notable studies on the effect of nicotine on the brain, made a valid point:

“The whole problem with nicotine is that it happens to be found in cigarettes” she said, “people can’t disassociate the two in their mind, nicotine and smoking.”

The second is that Big Tobacco will drop smokers for the most part and begin collaborating with Big Pharma on nicotine-based medicine. (Some tobacco fields in the US have already been sold to Big Pharma for big bucks.)

That’s where the future lies.

Many will say, once again, that nicotine is good for you.

Advertisements

During the tenth month of the year, the NHS runs an anti-smoking campaign called Stoptober.

For the past few years the smoking community in the UK has written essays against the demonisation of tobacco under the hashtag #octabber, ‘tab’ being British slang for ‘cigarette’.

Although Octabber might not be running this year — I am using the tag for my own reference — plenty of us are unhappy with the endless denormalisation and demonisation of smokers in Britain and elsewhere.

Tactics

Non-smokers are probably unaware of all the anti-smoking campaigns that take place under the banner of ‘public health’ — financed by smokers through sin tax on their pack of 18 (no longer 20 for many manufacturers). Never mind that only a fifth of Britons smoke today. The fight here for Tobacco Control, as elsewhere in the West, must continue until no one smokes.

Dick Puddlecote succinctly described how it worked in 2014 — ‘How Stoptober Really Views Smokers’:

The UK’s first state-funded anti-smoking organisation ASH (motto: “denormalising you with your money since 1972”) claim that they “do not attack smokers or condemn smoking”. It’s a debatable point, but the huge tax sponging industry they have spawned don’t seem to share the same mission statement, it appears.

https://churchmousec.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/174a6-stoptober.png

My three aunts — two nurses and one personal assistant (executive secretary, for my US readers) — smoked 20 a day. All stopped when they retired. Two are still alive and one died a few years ago, a great grandmother who outlived her non-smoking husband. They all had children. All the children are healthy. Half of them are grandparents. All have led responsible lives.

More from Dick Puddlecote:

I’m sure you’re very reassured that {cough} highly-respected politicians believe ‘professionals’ who post like this on Twitter are model citizens and should be shovelled skiploads of your hard-earned cash.

He ended his post with another 2014 tweet from the NHS’s #Stoptober:

Remember, if you’re doing Stoptober, everyone is behind you! And this time it isn’t because your breath smells like Fireman Sam’s jockstrap.

Rather crude, wouldn’t you say?

However, people will always smoke.

Attack on vaping

Countless numbers of ex-smokers around the world have taken up vaping.

Some of these people wanted to stop smoking cigarettes. Vaping gives them the same inhaling experience and they can often enjoy a few puffs in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited.

Not surprisingly, vaping has been gaining in popularity.

However, vaping has been under attack by health ministries around the world. A China Daily Hong Kong article from October 13, 2015 states that Brazil banned e-cigarettes in 2009, although they are still readily available on the black market. Canada followed suit in the same year but restricted the ban to e-cigarettes containing nicotine. In 2013, Spain banned vaping devices from public places.

The China Daily article describes the popularity of e-cigarettes among young people. In the United States, vaping among high school students increased exponentially between 2013 and 2014. The US National Youth Tobacco Survey data showed that, in 2013, approximately 660,000 secondary school students vaped. In 2014, their number increased to 2 million. Among middle school students a similar increase occurred; there were 450,000 young vapers in 2014 versus 120,000 in 2013.

In Britain — as in France — health ministries wish to minimise vaping altogether and not just for young people. Never mind that thousands of adults have been able to stop or switch from cigarettes to vaping, which, as the name implies, involves vapour not smoke.

In the UK, the government is openly against vaping. For their efforts, vapers are under attack, as Christopher Snowdon wrote recently in The Spectator. With an indoor ban to come in Wales, he writes (emphases mine):

Banning vaping indoors is such a criminally stupid and negligent idea that even the prohibitionists at Action on Smoking and Health are opposed to it. The unintended consequences are utterly predictable. Once people who have switched from smoking to vaping are thrown outside, they may come to the conclusion that they might as well smoke. Meanwhile, smokers who might switch to vaping have one less incentive to do so. The negative effect on health is plain to see, even if we ignore the glaring fact that none of this is the government’s business.

Also:

Vapers have every right to be outraged by this evidence-free attack on a habit that is not only harmless to bystanders but positively beneficial to them personally as erstwhile smokers. This is the important point to remember about so-called ‘e-cigarette campaigners’. They used to be smokers. You know how some ex-smokers can seem a little self-righteous and pleased with themselves? Vapers have taken that sense of triumph and channelled it into promoting – or, at least, protecting – the product that helped them quit.

Vapers did the notionally correct thing, obeying Public Health, only to find themselves on the wrong side now:

As smokers, vapers spent years being taxed, demonised and kicked into the street. Anti-smoking campaigners would never put it in such blunt terms, but their objective is to make smokers’ lives so miserable that they decide to quit smoking. Vapers did quit smoking, often to their own surprise. They did exactly what was asked of them, but instead of being embraced by their old tormentors, they found themselves with another battle to fight.

Our media and medical communities are full of warnings about the ‘dangers’ of e-cigarettes. Whilst Britain’s ASH might side with vapers, however, the daddy of Tobacco Control, Stanton Glantz

has helped bring about the banning of not only the use, but also the possession, of e-cigarettes on his campus in San Francisco.

Many smokers and vapers predicted this backlash a few years ago. It was only a matter of time.

It’s odd that ex-smokers inhaling vapour can cause such ill feeling. Under such restrictions, we should not be surprised if they take up tobacco again.

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