Stop smoking, drink water
Nicotine-laced bottled water headed for stores, but some groups protest.
May 24, 2002: 10:21 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Nicotine-laced bottled water, the latest in a recent string of controversial products for people trying to quit smoking, will hit store shelves this summer if the product's manufacturer has its way.

California-based Quick Test Five hopes to have its Nico Water on the market by July, its chief executive says. But the product is being introduced on the heels of a controversy about the dangers of nicotine lollipops and lip balm. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last month to pharmacies saying those products pose a danger to children.

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Nico Water is apparently trying to find a niche for its product based on a new school of thought among some researchers. The theory is that some smokers just can't quit, but an alternative nicotine source may reduce smoking rates for others.

The water, to be sold for $2 per half-liter bottle, is said to taste like regular water and is being marketed to help people quit smoking and provide an alternative for smokers who are restricted from lighting up in restaurants or airplanes.

Critics claim that the water poses danger to kids because it looks and tastes like regular water and could be addictive.

"It should be regulated. It has a highly addictive drug in it," Danny Goldrick of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids told CNN. "And it's intended to help smokers treat nicotine addiction."

The group, along with the American Cancer Society and some other health groups, petitioned the FDA in December to review the product's safety, USA Today reported Friday. The FDA is still reviewing the petition.

But according to Quick Test Five CEO Steve Reder the company goes to great lengths to make sure the product is used safely -- and by those over the age of 18.

"We are a firm believer of the 'we card' system," Reder said. "We expect everybody to be carded at 18. Our bottles are packaged as 18 years and older product. Our bottles are tamper-proof. They are sold in two-pack and four-pack configurations. We are very very cautious about this bottle and who is going to drink this."

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FDA warns on lollipop
Nico Water

While the FDA regulates nicotine patches and gum because of their health claims, it does not have control over cigarettes or other tobacco products, USA Today said in its report.

Each bottle of Nico Water contains 4 milligrams of nicotine, equal to about two cigarettes or a stick of nicotine gum. While nicotine is addictive, it does not cause cancer. Other ingredients in cigarettes are carcinogenic.  Top of page