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CNN Access: The 'Nico Water' debate

Reder, center, and Goldrick appeared with Zahn on CNN's "American Morning" on Wednesday.  

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

(CNN) -- The possible introduction of "Nico Water" -- bottled water with nicotine in it -- has sparked criticism from opponents of smoking. The product has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

CNN's "American Morning" host Paula Zahn talked Wednesday morning with Steve Reder, from the product's marketers, QuickTest5; and with Danny Goldrick, from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

ZAHN: All right, Steve, what is the point of this product?

REDER: The point of this product is pretty much what you just said, it's for a product of when you want to smoke but can't or when you want to -- when you want to smoke and shouldn't.

ZAHN: So the idea is not to get people to quit smoking?

REDER: That is absolutely correct. It truly is a supplement to smoking.

Drinking up instead of lighting up 

ZAHN: Do you feel any sense of guilt at that, at a time when the nation is so focused on lung cancer rates and the clear linkage that some say has been established between smoking and lung cancer?

REDER: Well absolutely, and that's where we're really trying to lead to and that's why we've looked at this product and are marketing it today as a supplement for that exact purpose, especially in California. And there's a lot of states that are taking that same stance -- there is no place to smoke. However, there is such an addiction of smoking that we're trying to find a source for them for when they can't smoke that they have some way to satisfy that addiction at this point in time. When they're ready to stop smoking, if this helps them stop smoking, good for them.

ZAHN: Danny, what do you think of this new product?

GOLDRICK: Paula, what we think it'll do is help smokers maintain their addiction rather than quit, which we know is the only safe alternative to smoking. Nicotine water is just one of a number of new products -- a new generation of tobacco and other nicotine products -- that are being marketed without any oversight or safety testing by the Food and Drug Administration.

It's really ridiculous that you can take a highly addictive and, in fact, hazardous substance, put it in water and sell it down at the corner store, especially when there are no assurances that the product won't be sold to children. So we and every other -- many other health groups in the country,...

REDER: Well, I'll agree with that.

GOLDRICK: The American Cancer Society, the Heart Association and others are simply asking that the FDA use its existing authority, just like it regulates any other food or drug, to ensure that it's safe and effective before the American public is exposed to it. And we think they have that authority.

If you added nicotine to any other food, it's never been approved for use as an additive to food. Every responsible food manufacturer, if they add something to their product that is not on the list of already approved ingredients, they have to approve its safety. So we're just asking that the company abide by the same rules that the FDA enforces for every food and drug product in this country.

ZAHN: Steve, how did you bypass that process?

REDER: Well we actually haven't bypassed that product -- process, excuse me. We actually have gone out as a supplement into the marketplace. We have sent our label in according to the standards that are necessary for a supplement item, and that's what we're doing.

We are a firm believer of the "We Card" system. I have a "We Card" badge on right now. We expect everybody to be carded at 18. Our bottles are packaged as an 18 years and older product. Our bottles are tamper-proof. They're sold in two-pack and four-pack configurations. We are very, very cautious about who this bottle and who is going to drink this.

Our recommended dosage is two bottles a day. If you want to compare it to the gums, the gums are 22 sticks of gum of four milligrams. That's 88 milligrams. We're asking people or telling people that don't exceed 8 milligrams of water. And the absorption in water, how much water can you really drink?

ZAHN: Well, Steve, here's a question I have for you: You make that recommendation, obviously you're not going to have the Nico Water police out of there. What -- out there -- what happens if you drink more than two bottles?

REDER: How much water can you really drink? That's really what it amounts to. The daily recommended ...

ZAHN: You're not a smoker, right? You don't smoke?

REDER: No, I'm not a smoker.

ZAHN: But I understand that you've actually used this product to relax at the end of the day. Did you get a buzz off of it?

REDER: Well I have -- I -- there is actually no buzz. It actually just makes you relax. I have tasted it just for my own curiosity to see what it would do to a non-smoker.

ZAHN: All right, Danny, the final word from you this morning. You just heard Steve describe the process they did go through to get this to qualify as a supplement. Is that the problem you see that that's the route they took?

GOLDRICK: Well, the problem is that it doesn't qualify as a supplement. It should be regulated as -- it has a highly addictive drug in it, and it's intended to help smokers treat nicotine addiction, and so it could be regulated either as a drug or as adulterated food.

Again, when you add a hazardous product to a food that's never been approved as a food additive, you have to prove its safety. I think the FDA law is clear that it's not, in fact, a supplement. But even supplements that have new dietary ingredients have to show that they are safe or that there's every expectation that they won't be harmful.

We have effective treatments to help people quit smoking, but they have gone through the process of making sure that they are safe and effective. And if nicotine water can show that, then we're all for it. We are working to gain access for the almost 50 million smokers, half of whom will die of tobacco-related disease, to these kind of treatments. But we want to make sure those treatments are, first of all, safe and that they're effective in helping people quit this deadly habit.

ZAHN: Meanwhile, Nico Water hits the store shelves, Steve, in July, and the debate will continue.




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