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Vaping News: Harvard study shows nicotine is not addictive

While FDA officials like Mitch Zeller have continuously called for a national debate on vaping and electronic cigarettes, research conducted by scientists of Harvard University indicates that nicotine is essentially non-addictive.  Unlike combustible tobacco cigarettes, the e-liquid in e-cigs may or may not contain nicotine, but they definitely do not contain the thousands of other toxins and carcinogens found in their Big Tobacco counterparts.

So, what’s the problem?

When Zeller and his team first announced the debilitating FDA deeming regulations last year, the American vaping industry was immediately dumbstruck.  Seemingly overnight, vaping products were now being regulated by the federal government in precisely the same manner as conventional tobacco.  But e-cigs are 100% tobacco-free. 

Even Zeller has gone on record by claiming that ‘People smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar.’ So, why is he trying to bankrupt the vaping industry via the FDA deeming regulations?  Apparently, Zeller and public officials like him still believe that nicotine is addictive and should therefore be federally regulated.  Harvard scientists disagree with this premise.

The Harvard nicotine study

Way back in July 2016, around the same time that the FDA deeming regulations were being announced, Harvard scientists published one of many studies related to alleged nicotine addiction.  The study entitled A study of pyrazines in cigarettes and how additives might be used to enhance tobacco addiction takes a closer look at the pyrazines which are chemical additives used in combustible cigarettes that modify the aroma of the resulting smoke.

Different pyrazines produce different aromas.  Some can make the smoke smell “nutty.”  Others can give the smoke a more “chocolately” odor.  Most of these pyrazines are just plain bad for public health, but the more notable discoveries of the study pertain to the non-existent additive qualities of nicotine.


During the Harvard study, the scientists were focusing on how the inclusion of pyrazines in cigarettes can easily enhance the addiction process.  They allege that back in the 1990’s, Big Tobacco was getting a great deal of negative press.  It was the era of Bill Clinton and the “sin tax” on tobacco, and scientists at the time were sounding the alarm bells that smoking is bad for your health. 

So, Big Tobacco began introducing “low tar” alternatives.  But these low tar cigarettes simply lacked the full-bodied flavor of the more traditional brands.  That is, until Big Tobacco discovered pyrazines that can dramatically alter the tastes of the related smoke.   According to the Harvard study, it is these pyrazines – not the nicotine – that is utterly addictive.

“Taken together, pyrazines appear to increase product appeal and make it easier for non-smokers to initiate smoking, more difficult for current smokers to quit, much easier for former smokers to relapse into smoking, and may mask the risks of both active and passive smoking.”

One problem with this research is that people like Zeller and even some Harvard scientists continue to maintain that electronic cigarettes also contain many of these pyrazines.  It is accusations such as these that have led to the many allegations that the American vaping industry is trying to lure young children by creating e-liquid flavors like “cotton candy” and “chocolate covered cherries,” just to name a few.

To be clear, most e-liquids contain only four primary ingredients:  Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, Flavorings, and water.    And while many of the flavorings may contain an infinitesimal amount of pyrazines compared to tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs are still considered 95 percent safer and healthier, according to such reputable public health agencies like the Royal College of Physicians in the UK.


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