Your co-worker's comment shows that she has bought into the concept that ALL addictions are BAD. If it was just the demonization of tobacco, then e-cigarettes wouldn't be of concern - they don't contain tobacco. It's also the demonization of the ACT of smoking, over the DANGER of smoking.
A few years ago, the anti-tobacco factions realized that they really couldn't "help" smokers. No matter what they did, they couldn't get the numbers of smokers down. So, instead they turned to demonizing the SMOKER. Making them pariahs - just as bad as h-eroin addicts. Not worthy of sympathy, only of scorn and isolation away from the rest of the population. No love lost for the smoker - they are just "addicts" and addicts are BAD.
The association of addiction being bad is relatively new, as well. Throughout most of modern history, addiction was simply seen as a passion, something a person couldn't live without. This addiction could be bad or good.
After the rise of h-eroin and other drugs in the late 20th century, the term "addiction" came to be associated with only the bad things associate with illegal drug use - prostitution, porn, robbery, murder, job loss, divorce, child neglect, etc.
"Addiction" no longer meant a passion, a need, a desire so strong that you can't live without it. It meant "burden on society" and "destructive behavior," regardless of the actual addiction. This is a relatively new concept.
There is no shame in being addicted to something - so long as it doesn't harm you or anyone else. Everyone has SOMETHING that makes them relax, reduces stress, makes them feel better, able to concentrate, etc. They are probably addicted to that thing, too. If you take it away, they would feel much of the same phycological withdrawl symptons described by drug addicts. But being a drug addict isn't always bad, either. Think about people on anti-depressants. Those drugs help them function and make them feel better (hopefully) and removing the drug would cause misery. Would anyone suggest taking those drugs away or making those people feel ashamed for their need? So, drugs aren't inherently bad - it's just the ATTITUDE about certain drugs.
Think about this, too - nicotine would probably be considered a miracle drug, if it hadn't first been associated with smoking and then demonized. Over 20% of the U.S. population (probably more if you include smokeless tobacco users) find the relief of nicotine so beneficial, that it overrides the fear of cancer and other smoking-related diseases!
As far as cutting down nicotine, that is another myth that anti-nicotine people want you to believe - that all smokers smoke for the same reason and they should be able to quit the same way.
There is a reason that 93% of smoking cessation products fail - they only address one aspect of smoking, mild nicotine dependence.
People smoke for many different reasons:
Smoking cessation products only target one kind of smoker - one who has a minor addiction to nictone and doesn't have a strong hand-to-mouth habit.
- They have a mild addiction to nicotine
- They have a strong dependence upon nicotine to function cognitively
- They have a strong dependence upon nicotine to reduce stress
- They have a strong dependence upon nicotine to counter depression
- They have the hand-to-mouth habit
- They need the "time out" to reduce stress or deliberate
- They need to keep their hands busy
- They need the oral satisfaction to avoid overeating
- They are dependent upon the other tobacco alkaloids or MAOIs
- Two or more of the above
- Other reasons we may not even know about yet
You obviously have more of the hand/mouth addiction and not the nicotine addiction - as do I. I also use vaping (as I did smoking) as a stress reliever and a way to help me concentrate. My husband, on the other hand, needs the nicotine and other MAOIs found in tobacco. He not only uses a higher strength nicotine, he needs to use snus for the other alkaloins/MAOIs.
So, you are correct in that everyone is different.
20% of the population find nicotine so beneficial they're willing to...? Pfffft. 90% of people who use it are just afraid or unable to stop. You're really going out on a limb to paint rainbows, here.
Smokers ARE a burden to society. We (they.. I'm a vaper, now) expect their health plans to take care of them after they destroy their bodies. Not okay.
Society knows it's paying for people with a dirty disgusting "habit" or "addiction" or whatever you want to call it. They believe that smokers are stupid because we (or now, THEY) ARE. We (they) KNOW how harmful and costly it is, most don't even WANT to do it, and yet we (they) don't have the balls to get away from it.
I don't understand how MAOIs work or what they do. But I know that they do keep some people smoking cigarettes. I don't know what to tell them. Keep smoking? I don't know if I could ever tell someone something like that. This tells me that in some EXTREMELY RARE CASES smoking might be more beneficial than harmful.
You do have a point about the misconceptions. Most people on the street actually think that the worst thing in cigarettes is the nicotine. It absolutely is not. Nicotine is one of the LEAST harmful things in cigarettes. My point is that it IS in most cases what people subject themselves to cigarette smoking to obtain doses of A-lot of normal people think the word "nicotine" includes all of the tar. Very common misconception out on the street.