Westchester takes aim at nicotine-laced
By MELISSA KLEIN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: December 24, 2003)
WHITE PLAINS — Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano poured a bit of
bottled water into a paper cup yesterday and sipped as reporters waited
for his reaction.
"That's terrible," Spano said during a morning news conference. "Why
anyone would drink it, I don't know."
Westchester County's war on tobacco had a new target yesterday, albeit a
smokeless one. It was NICOWater, bottled water laced with 4 milligrams of
nicotine, about the amount in two cigarettes.
Spano said the water was no safer than smoking a cigarette and could be
especially appealing to young people. He said the county would look into
whether it could ban its sale to minors.
The water is labeled by its manufacturer as a homeopathic product and says
proof of age is required to purchase it. But Spano said there was no
requirement that a salesclerk ask for such proof.
"This is baloney," he said. "There's no law that forces anybody to do
that. It's just a way of, I think, covering their butt."
The water is made by a company called QT 5 Inc., based in California. The
company's Web site says the water is designed to relieve tobacco cravings,
particularly in light of the growing number of states that restrict
"Now, a smoker can simply sip a 16.9 fl. oz. bottle of NICOWater and
relieve those symptoms, whether trapped on an airplane, working on the
30th floor or at home with the family," the Web site says.
A phone message left with the company's offices in Westlake Village,
Calif., was not returned.
The water, which tastes as if a cigarette had been soaked in it, is sold
locally at Rite Aid stores.
Elaine Price, the director of Westchester's Consumer Protection
Department, said the county has asked the drugstore chain to voluntarily
stop selling the water. The company said it was considering the request,
Jody Cook, a spokeswoman for Rite Aid, said she was unaware of such a
request from Westchester and the company had no plans to remove the water
from its shelves, although it would continue to take feedback from
She said the chain's computer system was programmed to prompt cashiers to
ask for proof of age when selling the product.
Spano said perhaps stores would want to pull the product to avoid any
After drinking the NICOWater, Spano, who said he has not smoked cigarettes
since 1979, said he felt a sensation in his mouth and throat as if he had.
"If I remember correctly," he said.
Gazette's Fair Use Statement