Liquid Smoking: A cheap cure for nicotine addiction?

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British smokers, upset over a recent cigarette ban, might have a solution to their desperate desire for nicotine. United Drinks and Beauty, a Dutch company, is about to release "Liquid Smoking," a non-addictive herbal beverage that, according to the makers, delivers the same kick as cigarettes. It will sell for £1.50 per can, or about 1/3 the price of a pack of smokes in New York City.

Anti-smoking groups are already moving to block Liquid Smoking,claiming that United Drinks should be more forthcoming about its product's ingredients and attacking its can, which resembles a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. Their argument is that the cigarette-like packaging is likely to drive people to smoke real cigarettes. Of course, this assumes that I smoked for over a decade because of an unhealthy attraction to camels, not because of an addiction to nicotine. Damn those evil, spitting, furry temptresses!

When I finally managed to quit smoking three years ago, I did so through a combination of generic Welbutrin, rubber bands, gum, and the grim realization that my wife would kill me if I skipped out of my daughter's birth to grab a smoke. Long before this, however, I had tried numerous methods to kick the demon weed, including herbal cigarettes, patches, nicotine gum, lozenges, jogging, and prayer. The most effective method, however, was probably absinthe, an herbal liquor which did a great job of distracting me from the miseries of nicotine withdrawal. Unfortunately, while the stuff is effective, it is also about 60% alcohol, which meant that I couldn't exactly start the day with a shot of it.

I have to admit that I am intrigued by Liquid Smoking. On the one hand, I agree that the company's vaunted "potent mix of roots from South African plants" is pretty vague, and could include a wide variety of dangerous substances. On the other hand, my own experiences with herb-infused liquids makes me think that this beverage could offer a workable solution for a lot of nicotine addicts. Given my delighted rediscovery of uncongested breathing, running, and lowered blood pressure, I hope that anti-smoking zealots won't let their blind hatred of addiction stand in the way of a potential solution for it.

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He's still trying to get over his absinthe addiction.

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