Attempts to quit smoking are as physically strenuous as they are psychologically severe. The exercise itself is expensive, as cigarette smoking is addictive and discriminatory, imposing a regressive tax on minorities and the poor.
The costs may deter people who do not smoke from buying cigarettes, but it does little or nothing to stop existing smokers from spending more money on a product that is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including over 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.
Indeed, in its effort to make a legal product prohibitively costly, government has unintentionally created an underground economy for the illegal sale of cigarettes. That is, it has made cigarettes valuable enough to be attractive enough for organized crime to hijack trucks and sell cartons of cigarettes at below-market rates.
Compounding this problem are increased fees for insuring and treating smokers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion each year.
In short, the current system is neither economically sustainable nor morally sound. Not when we should direct our efforts toward more holistic ways to quit smoking; more healthy ways to stop smoking; more natural—all-natural—ways to alleviate cravings for nicotine and the seemingly insatiable need to keep smoking.
Achieving these goals should be a national priority.
How can a smoking cessation product be healthy? How can cigarette be, as you call it, harmless?
We start with a pledge, which materializes into a product; which is to say if you do not want to substitute one carcinogen for another—if you do not want the treatment to be worse than the disease—you have a duty to innovate your way to a solution. Notice my choice of words, specifically, my emphasis on duty and innovation: Duty is a solemn word, which connotes honor and integrity; which elicits feelings about the content of one’s character and the values we associate with our most sacred institutions.
Innovate is a positive word, too, which harkens to entrepreneurs, of individuals like Steve Jobs and Jonas Salk; of those who not only “Think Different” but think differently about how we live and work; of those men and women who neither allow themselves to weaken nor permit themselves to tire; of those leaders who combine science, technology and the humanities to better the world.
It was not easy to create a harmless cigarette, but that does not mean it was not worth the time and effort to do so. On the contrary, to save one life is to save the whole world.
What is your opinion of nicotine patches and electronic cigarettes?
We complement those products, insofar as there are many smokers who use nicotine and e-cigarettes. Bear in mind, however, that we do not endorse those products; because nicotine is addictive, on the one hand, while e-cigarettes are a source of considerable controversy, on the other. In fact, the FDA may ban the sale of e-cigarettes altogether.
The health hazards and unethical tactics that plague this industry, that are a plague unto the lives of consumers—that cloud the lungs with carcinogens and crowd the market with clever but cancerous appeals to children—these things are wrong.
Why is it so important to have a natural solution to quit smoking?
To ask the question is to answer it. Put a different way, if a natural solution exists and is not expensive, if the choice is between aggravating addiction and alleviating it, if science and technology make this option possible—if the possible is also pragmatic, why not choose a natural remedy?
We believe in chemists with a conscience who devote themselves to helping people to quit smoking, in contrast to chemists who help Big Tobacco to find quicker and more poisonous mechanisms to have nicotine break the blood-brain barrier.
Take, for instance, this scene from the film “The Insider,” which best articulates—and amplifies—our position.
What advice do you have for smokers who have repeatedly tried but failed to quit smoking?
Do not quit trying to quit. There are no panaceas for addictions, but there are safe and effective ways to taper one’s dependency on cigarettes, tobacco, and nicotine. Education is essential to this mission, just as nature is indispensable to the outcome of each person’s quest to quit smoking.
It is incumbent upon us to highlight natural solutions and noteworthy ingredients, so quitting smoking can be less difficult and more successful in general.
Ben Rodman is the Director of Nutrition for Harmless Cigarette