The doctor is in

At this week’s Clark County Board of Health meeting, the county commissioners learned about electronic cigarettes.

The discussion got Commissioner Tom Mielke to thinkin’: What’s really addictive about cigarettes? The nicotine? Or the habit of smoking?

Mielke said he was a two-pack-a-day smoker since the age of 15.

He quit in 1987 with the help of a hypnotist he paid $125. He started again while serving in the state legislature. And quit for a second time – this time cold turkey – six years ago.

At no time, Mielke said, did he have nicotine withdrawals.

“I had a habit of reaching into my pocket, and I had a habit of putting something in my mouth,” he said. “I always didn’t understand when people said they were addicted to the nicotine portion of it.”

“So I really wonder if it’s the nicotine that’s a habit or if it’s a nervous habit,” Mielke said. “I don’t know.”

The room was quiet for a few seconds before Theresa Cross, health educator for the county’s chronic disease prevention program, responded to Mielke.

“Well,” she said, “nicotine is the addictive substance in smoking.”

There certainly are other aspects of smoking that can be habitual – like having something in ones mouth or lighting up whenever hopping in the car – and even addicting, Cross said.

But, as the Surgeon General’s Report in 1988 revealed, nicotine is the drug that causes addiction to cigarettes and other tobacco products.

So perhaps that hypnotist did a better job of “brainwashing” the commissioner (his words, not mine) than he thought.

In that case, Mielke:

You do like Columbian reporters.

You do like Columbian reporters.

You do like Columbian reporters.

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