In response to local smoking bans, it seems smokers now can get their nicotine fix by smearing this rapidly absorbed nicotine-containing gel on their hands. Made by privately-held Blue Whale Worldwide Inc., this gel is marketed to quell the smoker's craving when in tobacco-free zones and will be available soon at your local Walgreens drug store:
Nicogel, which is already sold in 40 other countries including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, could generate $200 million in U.S. sales this year, Whalen said, predicting that sales will reach $1 billion by the end of 2008.What is concerning about this gel, is that it is not an antidote to quit smoking, but rather a cigarette substitute. Nicotine's addictive potential exceeds that of heroin and cocaine. The rapid absorption of the compound through the skin with this gel is marketed as similar to the bolus of the drug one gets with inhalation. And now it'll be available in your local Walgreens drug store.
Smoking bans, which have cleared some air in places such as New York, Washington D.C., Louisiana, and Philadelphia, are helping to make cigarette alternatives, like smokeless tobacco, the fastest-growing segment of the industry, according to Charles Norton, portfolio manager of the Vice Fund, which has $75 million under management.
The U.S. moist smokeless tobacco category, which is dominated by Skoal and Copenhagen maker UST Inc., is one-tenth the size of the cigarette market, but is seeing unit volumes grow 8 percent to 9 percent a year, Norton said. By contrast, U.S. annual consumption of cigarettes is falling 1 percent to 2 percent.
Amazing. I can't get a Sudafed tablet in Walgreens for my cold without an international investigatory tribunal approving the purchase, but a Nicogel tobacco-fix? It will be easily purchased for about 60 cents a fix - much less than a frappachino at Starbucks!
On the bright side, this new craze might make the caffeine-laden energy drinks passé.
I wonder how long it will be before "Nicogel bars" come to a neighborhood near you. They might be modeled after the latest smoking fad near many college campuses: hookah lounges.