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Nicotine water, or water that contains some nicotine, was originally sold as a way to quit smoking as well as a way to consume nicotine in areas where using tobacco products was prohibited. In 2002, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided that nicotine water, or nic water as some call it, was being sold as a drug to help those addicted to tobacco products to quit their habits, not as a dietary supplement as the product's manufacturers claimed. Today, nicotine water is considered a "homeopathic nicotinum complex formula" and may not being marketed in the US as an aid to stop smoking, but as a method of keeping nicotine cravings under control when using tobacco products is inadvisable. This product continues to be controversial.
The addictive agent in tobacco products is nicotine. When a person quits using tobacco products, the addicted individual will experience withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, and irritability, which may be experienced for months. Some experts think that nicotine is just as addictive as is heroin.
Nic water proponents say that nicotine water tastes like water with a hint of lemon. Manufacturers advertise that one bottle is equivalent to about two cigarettes with effects that will last approximately three hours. Manufacturers point out that nicotine, which is the addictive ingredient, does not produce the health problems associated with tobacco products. It is the roughly 250 other components of tobacco products that can lead people to develop cancers and cardiovascular diseases. The implication can be that drinking nicotine water is safer than smoking cigarettes.
Those who would like nic water removed from the market are concerned that young people, either through design or through accident, may drink nicotine water and develop an addiction. In addition, although manufacturers recommend that consumers not drink more than four bottles a day, the overall availability of nic water and the lack of taste might encourage those who are less careful about their addictions to consume too much nicotine, leading to nicotine overdose. These same people may also combine drinking nicotine water and using tobacco products, which could also lead to nicotine overdose.
Other nicotine replacement products are FDA approved, including nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine gum. These products can be purchased over the counter without a prescription from a doctor if the buyer is at least 18 years old. Physicians can provide other nicotine replacement products by prescription.