Synthetic nicotine – a tobacco-free future for vaping?
In some ways, it feels like e-cigarettes have gone from nowhere to everywhere in no time at all. The rapid rise of vaping has been a phenomenon and now, given it’s firmly established itself as an alternative to smoking, there are signs that it could move even further away from the unhealthy practice from which it was born as an alternative. What do I mean? Well, there’s a great deal of speculation that the vaping industry may soon embrace synthetic nicotine and truly go post-tobacco.
At present, the way e-cigarettes work is they vaporise flavoured nicotine-infused liquids but, of course, with no burning tobacco leaves and none of the health-damaging effects of tobacco smoke. In that case, the nicotine they contain can theoretically come from anywhere – it doesn’t have to be derived from harmful tobacco at all. This means they can use safer, laboratory-produced synthetic nicotine, which features the same molecular formula as natural nicotine and, yes, remains addictive, but negates the damaging impact of tobacco.
Actually, synthesised nicotine is far from a new concept – it’s just that it’s only caught on, via vaping, so recently. Nicotine was originally synthesised in a lab by Swiss chemist Amé Pictet way back in 1904. Of courses, his process worked on a very small scale; unlike that deployed by Next Generation Labs, the US company that has, in recent years, scaled up the process and made synthetic nicotine e-cigarettes a marketable reality. Its approach features four major steps that take about a week to complete, heating and cooling the chemicals involved to optimise their reactions.
Going forward, it may not be all plain sailing, however. One possible downside for synthetic nicotine could be cost. Sources cite that using Next Generation Labs’ version for e-cigarette production could be as much as 13 times as expensive as using the original tobacco version, presumably because the processes of obtaining nicotine from tobacco plants are, naturally, extremely well honed and established.
Furthermore, it looks likely that production of tobacco-free nicotine may not escape the limitation-causing clutches of the US Government – that is, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recently, the agency officially declared it would regulate e-cigarettes as ‘tobacco products’. Moreover, it’s asserted it can even regulate vaping liquids containing no nicotine, giving an even stronger impression it won’t be turning a blind eye to synthetic nicotine, even though it’s not derived from tobacco. Could this mean then that, in securing a big profitable future for itself, synthetic nicotine in vaping products faces a bumpy ride? Quite possibly.
One thing it does have in its corner, though, is taste. In that, because it’s laboratory-devised and not from tobacco plants, it actually tastes of nothing. So e-cigarettes using the synthetic version aren’t bound to strong flavours; they can be accompanied by lighter, subtler and more creative tastes, should customers be open to them. No question then, when it comes to the flavours, synthetic nicotine could open up a world choice for vapers everywhere!