Tell me lies about nicotine

by Chris Holmes

When I was growing up in the 1960s smokers did NOT think they were drug addicts. Smoking was a habit – perhaps a dirty one, but just a habit nevertheless – and the concept of nicotine replacement products like gum and patches did not exist. But the concept of nicotine replacement did!

The idea of substituting one form of nicotine for another was not conceived originally as ever leading to a saleable product to help people quit, but as “proof” that tobacco smoking was a drug addiction and that the “need” was specifically a need for nicotine. And it was not conceived by any special expert in addiction studies, but by a Scottish General Practitioner called Lennox Johnston.
Now I know that you’ve probably never heard of Lennox Johnston – hardly anyone has – but through the 1930s, 40s and 50s he was busy driving the British Medical Association mad by being well ahead of his time on the subject of tobacco and lung cancer. In 1942 he published an article in The Lancet which declared tobacco smoking to be the main cause of lung cancer, long before it was finally established as the truth in 1969.

The Medical Establishment don’t like being told things by underlings, and Johnston was by no means a member of the Establishment. He wasn’t even English, for God’s sake! So they weren’t going to listen to him or allow him to have credit for anything. He was repeatedly refused funding to conduct research into the link between smoking and lung cancer, which was given instead to Richard Doll and Bradford Hill.

Meanwhile Johnston was also experimenting with pure solutions of nicotine, regularly injecting himself with the stuff and twice nearly dying as a result because nicotine is extraordinarily poisonous even in tiny quantities. Later he assembled 35 “volunteers” who were habitual smokers and gave them regular injections of nicotine whenever they felt a desire to smoke. Some of them came, in time, to prefer the injection to the cigarette – just as we see some smokers, today, coming to prefer the vape stick to the cigarette, or the nicotine lozenge, or the mouth spray or whatever.

So: case closed! Nicotine is what smokers desire and any form of nicotine will do – right?

Trouble is, it doesn’t work. In January 2012, Harvard University published a study that confirmed my own published claims from five years before, namely that Nicotine replacement therapy DOESN’T WORK AT ALL. They looked at the success rates of all the nicotine products at the one year mark and found that the success rate (6%) was exactly the same a willpower alone. This is because smoking isn’t a drug addiction, it’s a compulsive habit.

Expensive Life-Saving Drugs: Would £84m-a-year extra cash help?

by Chris Holmes

Primary Care Trusts are “failing in their duty of care” in blacklisting 19 drugs on the basis of cost alone, according to a report this week in the Metro newspaper (Thursday 24th November, page 8).  Political Editor John Higginson reports that this “appears to go against the NHS constitution, which gives patients the right to receive any drug recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence if their doctor believes it is clinically appropriate.”

The list includes drugs with proven efficacy in the treatment of cancer and also epilepsy – but the PCTs concerned have decided that these drugs cost too much.

The very same Primary Care Trusts also decided it was perfectly okay to spend £84,000,000 in England alone last year (not the whole of the UK, that figure is even higher) on a treatment service which they know from their own research DOES NOT WORK any better than willpower alone when the results are assessed at one year.  I’m talking about the NHS Stop Smoking Services and particularly the nicotine replacement products which we now know for sure have a 6% success rate at the 12 month stage – exactly the same as willpower.

My suggestion is simple: Take that vast amount of money and spend it on life-saving drug therapies that have been proven to be effective, and leave smoking cessation to experts like myself.  I’m a hypnotherapist by the way, and nearly all my smoking clients have already tried willpower, nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, the little inhalator-thingy… some have tried Zyban and the latest (non) wonder drug Champix… then they come to me, convinced that they “have failed” repeatedly and that it is “really hard to stop smoking”!  No, it’s really hard if you try to do it via the NHS.  It’s really easy with hypnotherapy, provided it’s done well.

But I’m not suggesting the PCTs should fund that.  They should be funding those life-saving drugs, not wasting tens of millions every single year on a service that clearly doesn’t work at all.

the book that blew the whistle on the nicotine scam