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Is Synthetic Nicotine The Way to Go?

By Tyler McCanus

Thursday June 30, 2016
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Synthetic nicotine has always been somewhat of a controversial topic. So is liquid nicotine but this may be a good time to get things out into the open. We know that initially people didn’t really understand the concept of this different version of the substance. Nicotine for them was found in the tobacco plant, where it was rolled up and then smoked in a traditional tobacco cigarette form. The very idea of a liquid version of nicotine seemed peculiar to say the least.

But electronic cigarettes established a foundation on this new thing called liquid nicotine. It allowed e-cig juice to include a vital part of what smokers were looking for. Whether or not ‘is nicotine bad for you’ is open to debate but it is a known factor that it is the byproducts of combustion that cause cancer from smoking. Making the switch to ecigs for most people also meant needing a level of liquid nicotine. Some need more, some less, but for most it was an essential component. It gave smokers that feeling that they were used to, but without the actual burning of tobacco.

It was a huge step forward and it helped spawn an industry that now generates billions of dollars a year. Without the ability to deliver nicotine in a consistent and effective way, the electronic cigarette industry wouldn’t be anything near what it is today.

Not that this step was an easy one for the top ecig brands either. It took effort to educate the public, even smokers, about liquid nicotine. The association people had with nicotine in general was one connected to the dangers of smoking. In reality, these were two entirely different things. Yet people did still ask themselves, and some still do, the question is nicotine bad for you. The millions of people who have switched to vaping know the truth already, and hopefully millions more will reach the same conclusion soon.

Synthetic Nicotine. Liquid Nicotine 2.0?

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Given how hard it was to spread the truth about liquid nicotine, one would think it wouldn’t really be touched again. Yet, that is not the case any longer. There is a new type of substance that needs to be explained in the same way that the liquid form of nicotine needed so much explaining. This would be what is called synthetic nicotine. Confused about this being any different? That may be because you believe liquid nicotine is already synthetic.

It isn’t. The current process is to extract nicotine from the tobacco plant and create a liquid version of it so that it can be added to ecig juice. It’s actually a very natural part of the whole vaping experience. So why go and create this new form of nicotine that some in the industry are touting? According to Ron Tully, who started Next Generation Labs as the first company to target the vapers with their “tobacco-free nicotine,” there are two main reasons.

First, Tully claims that it makes ecig juice taste better. He explains that since synthetic nicotine has no flavor at all, no additional sugars are needed to create a better flavor experience for ecig users. This isn’t the case with the extracted version of nicotine, which does have its own flavor adding to the mix. The second reason is that Tully and others believe it will both remove the stigma of tobacco from nicotine and challenge how the FDA defines it, hopefully placing it in a different category, synthetic nicotine.

But synthetic nicotine faces its own obstacles too. First is the renewed doubt about ingesting this product, which on a molecular level is the exact same as nicotine, but is created outside of nature. “A lot of people kind of give you the weird eye,” explained Edward Uy, who is vice president at a vaping company called SQN, which has began carrying ecig juice with it. He also admits it is 13 times as expensive to create from scratch as opposed to sourcing from nature, which will cut into his margins.

The idea, however, is to create a better flavor experience for vapors while flying further under the radar of the FDA. Will this work? Well, that remains to be seen, on both counts. Synthetic nicotine will have to prove that it can educate vapers on something new, after they have already taken steps to accept vaping. They may also have to convince the FDA at some point to not place their product with natural liquid nicotine, which may be the harder battle. As with any new invention, the proof will be in how popular it becomes in the early stages. It will be fascinating to watch as it develops, but it may be that calling this liquid nicotine 2.0 is jumping the gun. Stay tuned for more.

Tyler,

Team ECCR

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