What will the future nicotine market look like in a post-smoking era?
Background: In some countries – like Norway and Sweden – the level of smoking has reached a minimum. Among young adults below the age of 25 the prevalence of smoking is approximately 2%. Availability to low-risk nicotine alternatives have diverted tobacco-prone youth from smoking and helped established smokers to quit. But as smoking is about to be eradicated, the largest reservoir of potential users of non-combustible nicotine products – the smokers - will decrease. And when there is no longer any smoking to cure, the therapeutic function of these products will expire. Can we accept recreational use of low-risk nicotine products whan cigarettes are gone?
Methods: A review of the pro’s and con’s arguments from the emerging debate about recreational use of low-risk non-combustible novel nicotine products.
Results: Pro’s: availability to low-risk products will keep cigarettes from a return, provide pleasure and distinction, addiction without harm is a moral and not a health issue, nicotine is innocuous - not associated typical drug-related problems, gateway-argument not valid in a smoke-free culture, a ban will represent paternalism and lead to black market and risky workarounds. Con’s: the ultimate goal should be a nicotine-free society, addiction is a problem in itself, pleasure is false – people use drugs to satisfy addiction, novel products must be accompanied by the precautionary principle, we must protect the children against an evil industry, the tobacco industry have fooled us for years – now we can retaliate by banning their new products and finally drive them out of business.
Conclusion: The sustainability of the nicotine industry could be threatened.