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The Economic Impact Of Nicotine?

31st October 2014

The Economic Impact Of Nicotine?

Health Puritanism is on the rise

Health Puritanism is on the rise

So, with the relentless health puritanism currently, where the common theme is that just about everything we enjoy. The so-called 'vices' are to be discouraged, frowned upon, even banned, and through the theme of various health lobbyists and government agencies very much focusing on alarmist tactics.

And guilting the public against anything that looks or seems bad - the general alarmism about:

  • drinking, smoking,
  • vaping,
  • the endless war on drugs, bad lifestyle and so on, there is something missing from the debate.

That something is *why* people do these things in the first place. How can so many ancient behaviors be bad?

In fact when we look more closely, the truth is many of the things we have been told are bad:

  • like saturated fat,
  • dietary cholesterol and eggs,
  • slight excess weight,
  • not exercising vigorously,
  • and stimulants like caffeine and nicotine,
  • and alcohol, are not actually bad for us but actually associated with extended lifespan, at least in moderation.

Health agencies have a track record of getting it spectacularly wrong - just think of the sunlight controversy. 20 years of telling people to avoid sunlight obsessively has caused vitamin D deficiency and not reduced skin cancer. One of the few things they got right was tackling tobacco. But they only did this when it was obvious and extensively proven that tobacco was very harmful. It wasn't due to the precautionary principle, but that is what's being applied to vaping, and the current focus is now on the nicotine since there isn't much other reason to attack vaping.

What I find particularly fascinating is the assumption that every stimulant is bad.

By this I'm talking about nicotine and caffeine. What would happen to us as an economy and society if we removed all the stimulants from the population?

As we learn more about these natural plant molecules we discover they may have some risks but also have important benefits, particularly regarding brain function and perhaps brain longevity, and overal cognitive functioning. So what exactly would happen if we removed them from society?

No one has yet done a whole-system, cost-benefit study on these compounds, including all the health and economic impacts.

With the dangers of the cigarette mainly negated by vaping. We can ask now about what benefits, rather than just costs, to society, nicotine may actually have.

These compounds appear not only neuroprotective but seem to enhance mental functioning in older people. That means potentially inside the window of a persons working life. The improved mental function and neuroprotectant that stimulants appear to bring, is an important area to study from an economic perspective. If they turn out to benefit productivity, one has to wonder how long the government will continue to frown upon it! ;-)

Many things considered bad for us actually aren't. Living like a teetotal saint may not actually benefit society. Babies and bathwater and all that.

Current evidence for neuroprotective effects of nicotine and caffeine against Parkinson's disease.

The neuroprotective effects of caffeine

Caffeine may slow Alzheimer's disease and other dementia, restore cognitive function, according to new evidence

Caffeine neuroprotective effects on 6-OHDA-lesioned rats are mediated by several factors, including pro-inflammatory cytokines and histone deacetylase inhibitions