22 Jan 2009 - Researchers in Japan have identified a gene that may allow for the creation of tobacco that contains no nicotine.
Tobacco plants produce nicotine in their roots and transport the carcinogen to the leaves of the plant to act as a poison against predators. The identification of a gene that assists in this process could lead to the ability to grow tobacco plants that have no nicotine - the addictive substance in cigarettes - in their leaves.
Published in the online version of the Proceedings of National Academy of Science.
Is there any value to producing tobacco without nicotine?
The study authors speculate that cigarettes made with nicotine-free tobacco may make it easier for smokers to quit by giving smokers a way to indulge their desire to handle cigarettes and inhale smoke, but without the nicotine content. Without the addictive nicotine, they reason, smokers would gradually lose interest in smoking.
This is an interesting idea, and it's possible that nicotine-free tobacco could play a role in helping smokers quit, but it's naive to imagine that it would be as simple as that.
In my opinion, there is some value to seperating the psychological aspects smoking from the physical nicotine addiction. However, it is the psychological dependence, NOT the nicotine addiction, that requires the most attention in order to quit for good.
Lots of folks are able to quit cigarettes for a few days, or even a couple of weeks, only to return to cigarettes. When you go back to smoking after that period of time, it is the psychological dependence, NOT the physical addiction, that is dragging you back.