Saturday, 15 January 2011

Experiment: complete.

The antismokers no doubt pictured me with a rolled-up ciggie in one hand and a lighter in the other, watching the second hand of the clock approach seven p.m. tonight.

Actually, I missed the time. I was busy. First nicotine was at 8:30 when I realised the finish line had passed.

The first thing I did was try Electrofag with and without nicotine. There is a difference in the taste. It's hard to describe; the nicotine has a sort of bitter undertaste. Not a powerful taste but a detectable one. Not unpleasant but not overtly pleasant either. I actually prefer the taste of the zero-nicotine cartridges but that could be simply because I've had a week to get used to them. I'll have to try another comparison after some time back on the tobacco.

It's worth noting that the nicotine you get from Electrofag, like the nicotine in patches and gum, isn't the same as the oxidised (burned) nicotine you get from real smoking. If there is one way in which Electrofag could be improved, it would be to replace the raw nicotine with the oxidation products of combusted nicotine. Maybe also some of the flavoured combustion products of leaves, without the particulates and the obviously dangerous ones, of course. Any trace of benzene in there and ASH will be jumping for joy. In fact, under the current smoking ban, if Electrofag delivered all of the combustion products of tobacco, including particulates, it would still be legal to smoke indoors (until ASH noticed and directed their gormless puppets in government to stop it). No matter what comes out of Electrofag, even if it was phenol and sulphuric acid (Don't. Seriously), it's not burning and therefore not covered by the ban. Now, where does cannabis stand on that, I wonder?

Okay, so what happened during this non-smoking exercise? Keep in mind that all of it is subjective and nonscientific because I was both subject and experimenter and there were no controls.
Here goes -

Real physical effects:

Fatigue. For the first few days I felt tired. I expected that. Removal of a stimulant would be expected to have that effect. The confounding factor is that I knew I had removed what I believe to be a stimulant and I expected to feel tired. I can't rule out that the fatigue was entirely or partially psychosomatic.

Cough. The little cilia in my lungs woke up, said 'Look at the mess in here' and started shovelling. Were my lungs coated in soot? Hardly. I coughed for maybe three days and was cleared by the end of the fourth and when you consider we are talking about a few decades' worth of unswept pipes, that wasn't bad. Of course, those cilia are not paralysed permanently in any smoker. They wake up in the night and whisk the crap up to the back of your throat where it's swallowed. The coal-miner's lung simply doesn't happen - unless you're a coal miner. When you stop, the lung cilia are awake all day too and they really give the place a good clearout. It doesn't take long.

Consider, antismokers: If smoker's lungs looked even half as bad as your propaganda pictures, do you really imagine they'd be transplanted into anyone?

Deyellowfication. The yellow patches on my fingers vanished. A trivial effect but there were so few, I thought I'd mention it.

Non-physical effects:

I missed smoking. Electrofag was okay but I've always regarded it as an add-on, not a replacement. I experienced no frenzied panic attacks, no spiders climbing the walls, no little yellow devil on my shoulder saying 'go on, you know you want to'. No fidgeting, no inexplicable rage, nothing. I missed smoking the same way I miss gardening in the winter months - I enjoy doing it but there are times when I can't.

There were no 'cold turkey' effects at all. None. Nothing even close to the effects a heroin user would describe. In fact, nothing like the symptoms a compulsive gambler or shopper would describe - 'addictions' with no external chemical agent at all.

So there is no addiction. Naturally, this little test proves nothing but it might give someone with the funding and resources an idea. I wondered if this could be tested using tobacco and I think it might be possible.

Nicotine is water soluble so it should be possible to extract pretty much all of it from a batch of tobacco. I don't have the machinery to test whether the resulting tobacco is nicotine-free, but someone does.

So you could take a batch of tobacco, extract all the nicotine from half of it, dry it back to the same water content as the untreated baccy and then set up a trial. One group gets the normal baccy, the other group gets the nicotine-extracted baccy and both groups are told to take care because it's strong stuff. Getting that mesage into them will reinforce the mental image of a high dose of what they think they are addicted to.

It would be interesting to see how many of the nicotine-free group notice, how many complain that it doesn't feel like there's any nicotine and how many complain it's too strong.

Of course, you couldn't entrust this work to the likes of ASH. It would be too easy to over-extract the test batch and end up with something tasteless and insipid, or even unsmokeable. They do have a vested interest in the nicotine addiction story and NRT, after all. If ASH announce they plan to try this, I predict they will find an absolute nicotine addiction by buggering up the test batch so that nobody can smoke it.

An even easier test would be to provide Electrofag users with zero-nicotine cartridges and see if they notice. There is a difference in taste but that should be possible to mask, or maybe reproduce with a flavouring. If the absence of nicotine isn't noticed than it's not a chemical addiction.

In the end, did it work? For me, yes. As I said at the start, it proves nothing to anyone else.

If it gets a few people thinking about how they've been conned both by tobacco companies and the Patch Men into believing themselves addicted, then it has served its purpose.

I saved the cigar until the end of this post. The last time I stopped and restarted, many years ago, the first hit was like high grade skunk so I've eased myself back in with a few rollies first. I find cigars are best enjoyed outside on a still evening, when the blue haze hangs in the air and the midges flee. It's a still night outside but it's below freezing. Therefore it's indoor smog time.

I have a knife handy, to cut my way out of the room afterwards.

Normal ranting will now resume.


subrosa said...

Congratulations LI. I'm rather tempted to find my Electrofag and give it another go. Only problem is it created mouth ulcers but there must be a way to stop that. Which make is better for beginners again?

Isn't it odd though that all of the folk I know who stopped said they felt unable to sleep well for a while. Auto-suggestion at work?

Frank Davis said...


Leg-iron said...

Sobrosa - I found the opposite. I found myself going to bed earlier, most nights. It's the booze and the smoke that keeps me awake.

For beginner Electrofags, I don't know, there are so many now. Of the two I've tried, the Njoy is the least bother, easiest to use and closer in taste to the real thing - but it's all personal preference.

The Njoy was the one I used this last week. Menthol, no nicotine. I only reached the third cartridge.

Frank - *bow*. Someone else can try it next time.

Anonymous said...

WELL DONE, LI! Well done indeed!

During the week of self-denial, you suffered no physical effects to speak of. Your experiment, despite being unscientific, speaks volumes. You are one person, but you are a 'typical' person. By that, I mean only that you are normal!

It is reasonable for you to say, with conviction, that tobacco is not addictive. No statistical, doctor created, mumbo jumbo can demonstrate otherwise because they never demonstrate anything - they merely assert.

Leg-iron said...

By that, I mean only that you are normal!

Weeeellll... normalish.

All those people crowing about addiction are the same people telling us we should stop while simultaneously telling us we can't.

Or, that we can't stop unless we give them money. More money than we currently spend on tobacco.

It's like those weight loss programs that cost a fortune. The only way to lose weight is to eat less, and eating less should cost less money, but somehow it costs more.

Or the Green agenda to use less power. Using less power should cost less, but somehow it costs more.

So not smoking should cost less, but if you do it the ASH/Pharmer way, it costs more.

For me, after many years living among Aberdonians, a little of their philosophy has rubbed off.

If it costs more, you're doing it wrong.

Frank said...

Stopping smoking is easy. I did it three times and haven't smoked now for almost 30 years, except for a single gorgeous cigar on my 70th birthday

lilith said...

I have stopped smoking many times. I had hypnotherapy about four times :-) The most successful time was when I just decided I didn't want to do it. No sleeplessness and a feeling of relief when the thought process "I want a fag" was swiftly followed by "No, I dont!"

Dave H. said...

Sorry, there has to be one bastard that has to try to contradict you:

Surely haven't you (at best) shown that cigarette smoking only produces a mild addiction, the withdrawal symptoms of which are not especially unpleasant, no more than, say, slight irritability and a faint sense of missing something? That doesn't mean you weren't in a strict sense 'addicted'.

Perhaps part of the problem is that when 'health professionals' use words such as addict in relation to smoking, they're trying to conjure up images of needle-scarred junkies lying on filthy mattresses, in order to shame you into giving up.

If so, it's a bit of a cheap trick and they are rather devaluing the term: when benzodiazepine or booze addicts give up, the withdrawal symptoms (esp. DTs for the latter) are not just unpleasant they're quite commonly fatal.

(I might be just irritable because I feel like shit and am indignant it's just because of a sodding cold. Usually when I feel this bad it's payback for an enjoyable previous evening)

Anonymous said...

To get a ruling that nicotine was addictive they had to change the definition of a psychoactive substance, or nicotine didn't qualify.

US ruling turns smokers into junkies
"Nicotine is addictive, a panel of experts on drug abuse decided last week. The decision leaves the door open for the US Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco as it does other addictive substances.

Over the past few months, the FDA's commissioner, David Kessler, has been campaigning for tobacco to be regulated in the same way as many other drugs. To do so legally, he must demonstrate that nicotine is a powerful drug, and that the tobacco companies depend on nicotine's addictiveness to keep smokers smoking."

"In 1988, the US Surgeon General concluded in a report on tobacco that nicotine is addictive in the fullest sense of the word. It is psychoactive, having a direct effect on the brain; it is reinforcing, meaning that users will keep using the drug; it is used compulsively despite harmful effects. The desire to smoke takes precedence over other important priorities, such as health, and smokers become physically dependent on nicotine."

"Despite this, a handful of scientists - inside and outside the tobacco companies - claim the Surgeon General stretched the traditional meaning of addiction too far. They claim his report adds to the growing abuse of the word as in pop psychology's 'food addiction' and 'sex addiction'."

But scientists on the winning side of the debate last week claim the critics misunderstand or misrepresent what constitutes an addiction. 'Tobacco representatives seem to focus in on one element of any definition. They say nicotine cannot be addicting because it does not cause intoxication. But that's only one of the things that goes into an overall definition,' said Richard Hurt, director of the Mayo Nicotine Dependence Center in Rochester, Minnesota."

Differentiating Habits and Addictions: the Evidence That Nicotine Is Not "Addictive".

"In 1984, NIDA defined "psychoactive" (addicting) substances as those that produced "a distortion of the perception of time, space and the location of objects within space" along with disruptions in "physical coordination or psychomotor functioning" (DHHS Publication No. (ADM)85-1374, 1984, pp. 19-20).


Neal Asher said...

I always remember a scene in a pathologisty lab on a TV police drama - one that somehow got past the gatekeepers. The cop asked the pathologist if he could tell by looking at the lungs of the corpse if he was a smoker. The pathologist said no, but he could always tell if they lived in a city.

Pat Nurse MA said...

Yes - well bloody done LI - and thanks so much for telling it like it is.

Random Squaddie said...

I haven't tried giving up for a while, but lately I've been finding that, if I'm not in work I don't want to smoke until about 7 at night at the very earliest.

If, however, I'm going to work I'll smoke from first thing in the morning, including at least one in the car journey, 2 if the traffic is bad.

For the last few weeks, I've been off work and also had a touch of man 'flu for a few days. I didn't smoke at all for several days, didn't suffer any ill effects but also didn't really miss it. Now I feel better I'm smoking again, but as it's the weekend, I haven't had one yet.

I'll probably have about 5 today, similar tomorrow and when I get back to work, who knows??

Ever since I started reading your blog and questioning the received wisdom that nicotine is "as addictive as crack cocaine" I've realised that I can just stop when it gets to the point that I no longer enjoy or want to smoke any more.

For those few days when I wasn't feeling very well I just didn't want to smoke, so I didn't.

I haven't wanted a fag all day today, but I know that, when I have a drink I'll fancy having one because out of habit (not addiction) the two go together like, well, booze and fags.

I am not some addicted victim who will start twitching and go on a rampage if I don't get my "fix". I am a habitual user of a legal substance and I'm getting bloody sick and tired of everything that the righteous disapprove of being labelled as "addictive". Could this be that if you are an "addict" then you need "treatment"?

I've got more ranting left inside me, but that'll do for now!

will said...

well done for putting personal effort into supporting your convictions - something the righteous will never understand let alone undertake. as we are all too painfully aware they prefer extortion from their victims in order to fund the propaganda that justifies the persecution of those same victims.
i dont smoke. i refuse to say im a 'non-smoker'. anyone who self identifies as either a smoker or a non smoker is buying into and supporting the whole righteous bollocks. you are neither you are an individual. your preferences do not define you. whether you smoke or not, drink or not, spit or swallow (toothpaste) prioritise meat or veg you are none of these identities you are you. as an individual of course you would be right to tell me to fuck right off and indentify as a smoker! in the same way people who define themselves by their occupation during introductions should be slapped for their own good. they spend more hours asleep then they do at work so why not identify as a 'sleeper'? again they are neither an accountant or a sleeper they are an individual. noone should go round saying im x and im a inset job title here. why not insert your hobby?
anyway i digress, i dont smoke tobacco or anything else (the righteous seem to think smoking only involves tobacco) but i wholeheartedly support the self ownership of the individual. i only mention that i dont smoke incase any of the bansturbators swing by and claim this blog is in someway funded by 'big tobacco' and the 'fake' comments are 'all' from individuals who smoke.
as further anecdotal support i spent 4 years working in proper cosy rural village pubs pre smoking ban and i recognised the inviolable right of the individuals there to do whatever they liked with the tobacco products that i sold them (cigars from the jar) in the premises of the proprietor who had every right in the world to permit or prohibit whatever he damn well wanted. he could voluntarily do that and the customers could voluntarily patronise the establishment or not. the smell of pipes, cigars and cigarettes was as much a part of the whole experience as the smell of the ales, workmen, food and dogs. as a youngster i remember the 'smell of a pub' being smoke, vinegar (chips) and what i later discovered to be stale lager. yet another joy of life disappearing into a future of endless slavery.

in repsonse to Rose's comment - i wonder if by legislating tobacco into the same category as addictive substances that are illegal and yet continuing to permit the retailing of tobacco products might lead to something. in an ideal world i would hope it would highlight the irrational and arbitrary nature of prohibiting an individual to purchase and consume whatever they want thus overturning the illegality of all substances. but in the unfortunate real world of statist puritanism i suspect it is another step on the road to complete prohibition of tobacco.

in response to Neal Asher's comment - a friend of mine is a research scientist in the field of airborn particulate emissions. he told me that living in a major city will shorten ones life by an average of 6 years. almost entirely due to diesel particulates. completely stunned me. this is not eco rubbish as they are obsessed with CO2. noone mentions the effects of urban living but we all hear about the dangers of smoking daily

will said...

in repsonse to Rose's comment - i wonder if by legislating tobacco into the same category as addictive substances that are illegal and yet continuing to permit the retailing of tobacco products might lead to something. in an ideal world i would hope it would highlight the irrational and arbitrary nature of prohibiting an individual to purchase and consume whatever they want thus overturning the illegality of all substances. but in the unfortunate real world of statist puritanism i suspect it is another step on the road to complete prohibition of tobacco.

in response to Neal Asher's comment - a friend of mine is a research scientist in the field of airborn particulate emissions. he told me that living in a major city will shorten ones life by an average of 6 years. almost entirely due to diesel particulates. completely stunned me. this is not eco rubbish as they are obsessed with CO2. noone mentions the effects of urban living but we all hear about the dangers of smoking daily

Anonymous said...

Random Squaddie

"Could this be that if you are an "addict" then you need "treatment"?"

It would seem so

5 years after the ruling that nicotine is addictive, we get this.


"This partnership with the World Health Organization offers great promise in the effort to reduce tobacco dependence and thus reduce the significant health costs and burden of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths," said Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman, Glaxo Wellcome plc.

"As a company, our commitment is to fighting disease. Tobacco dependence is in every sense of the word a disease with major but reversible health implications.

Together, we can defeat this disease."


Anonymous said...

Don't forget, of course, that you were always aware that you intended to resume smoking, which must had had a significant psychological effect. In any event, I'm not sure if only a few days cold turkey provides enough time to meaningfully assess addictiveness.

Anyway, well done. It's nice to have you back..

Luke said...

I look forward to many more rants Leg-Iron!

Speaking of which, have a look at this recent dose of arse-gravy...

Anonymous said...

More outrageous propaganda, Luke. Actually, the more of this sort of codswollop they publish the better. Even the dimmest of brains should recognise the sham.

The sham is that it is perfectly true! It is a truism. When you breathe in, oxygen enters your lungs. It immediately enters your blood stream - it must, otherwise you would die. The fact that nicotine and other chemicals enter your bloodstream in a similar way is to be expected. So what?

Another example of propaganda bullshit.

Leg-iron said...

lilith - One of the secretaries at a place I worked had hypnotherapy. She stopped smoking but then, she wanted to.

I mentioned it to my boss at the time. He laughed and said 'It won't work on you, you're too cynical'.

I suspect he was right.

Leg-iron said...

Dave H - I haven't proved anything to anyone but myself. There were no withdrawal symptoms for me. I can't regard that as scientific because I knew I was on an experiment. If someone provided me with a week's worth of de-nicotined tobacco without me knowing, that would be a far better test. Of course, if someone did give me a week's worth of baccy now I'd be suspicious.

The one thing that I wonder about is the fatigue. Was it real or did I just convince myself I'd feel tired?

Yes, I knew there was an end to the experiment but that's not the part that makes it unscientific.

I knew I was a test subject all along. That's what makes it unscientific.

I just hope it spurs someone to running a real trial.

William said...

My brother was born in July 1963. My father stopped smoking in January 1963 because with my brother about to enter the world there were things that had to be bought.
So it was kid stuff or fags and the fags lost out.
He simply made a decision to stop and he did. No cold turkey.
He returned to smoking around 1968.
Fast forward to 2007 and he had an extended spell of thirteen weeks in hospital, not smoking related just a kidney that wasn't working as it should and was poisoning his body with infection after infection. At the time of his hospitalisation he was mostly smoking Hamlets. As he couldn't walk for the first six weeks or so he couldn't get out for a smoke so for the second time in his life he simply stopped smoking.

Contrast this with my accountants who decided to give up smoking and now consume vast quantities of some big pharma nicotine mints and constantly crave cigarettes neither of which believe me when I relate my father's experience to them.

As with so much in life all is not what it seems to be.

Anonymous said...

Do a search on "A Critique of Nicotine Addiction" in Google Books.

Read what's there. Compare...

VERY sensible commentary & worthy work totally ignored by MSM & TC.

(I found it BTW looking up a reference to the rabid RCP (Royal College of Physicians) publication "Nicotine Addiction In Britain")

(i.e. also in Google Books)

~ Ross

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