How to Keep Smoking
On opening the cover of the august organ Tobacco Control of November 2015, I was confronted with what at first glance looked like an ad for a packet of washing powder. Closer inspection, however, revealed it’s an illiterate puff for ‘extra strength gum for enhanced craving relief’. In other words, it’s for chewing gum containing 6mg of the poison nicotine instead of the usual 2mg or 4mg.
Not quite sure about the ‘enhanced craving relief’. Do they perhaps mean enhanced relief of craving? They claim it’s ‘For smokers of more than 20 cigarettes a day.’ So, if you smoke 21 or more cigarettes a day you will either suffer enhanced cravings or you will need enhanced relief from your more severe cravings, it seems. Anyway, the new strength fruit flavoured nicotine gum, they say, ‘is indicated to aid smokers wishing to quit.’
Hold it right there! The word ‘indicate’ in medical parlance means a desirable or necessary course of action. Who says if you want to stop smoking, that is, get rid of nicotine, it’s desirable or necessary to use nicotine? Even the makers of this product seem to have doubts because if you read the small print carefully it also says: ‘It is indicated…to assist smokers who are unwilling or unable to smoke.’
This is actually what is says. Well, if you’re a smoker who’s unwilling or unable to smoke, the problem’s solved, right?
Let’s plough on through the small print. We have: ‘If the patient smokes 20 cigarettes or less (sic) per day, 2mg nicotine gum is indicated.’ Pity they can’t write proper English. But it’s just as well to stick with lower doses, assuming anyone needs the poison nicotine at all, because some people who have quit smoking with the hindrance of nicotine gum have difficulty discontinuing the gum. What should they do? The advertiser has the answer: ‘Contact their doctor or pharmacist for advice.’ Gee, thanks.
Talking of advice, they do inform you that: ‘After about 30 minutes [of use] the gum will be exhausted.’ And so, presumably, will the chewer.
Listed under very common side effects, we have: ‘headache, cough, throat irritation, GI (stomach) discomfort, hiccups, nausea, oral soft tissue pain and paraesthesia (tingling) and jaw muscle ache.’
I won’t alarm you by quoting the even longer list of merely common side effects, but I think you get the point.
By the way, the reference to back up the claim that this new extra strength nicotine gum is indicated for smokers of more than 20 cigarettes a day, is to a poster presentation at a conference prepared by three people who all are employees of, er, the company that makes the gum!
Text and photo © Gabriel Symonds