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This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/647,145, filed on Jan. 25, 2005.
The present invention relates to means for aiding in the breaking of the cigarette smoking habit. More particularly, the present invention relates to a method for creating a toothpick for the oral delivery of nicotine.
It is well-known that cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, have many adverse health consequences, including cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and strokes. In fact, it is estimated that cigarettes alone kill more than 400,000 Americans each year—more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, suicides, murders, illegal drugs, and fires combined. Smoking can harm not just the smoker, but also family members and others who breath “second hand smoke”.
What is it about tobacco that makes people so compelled to use it despite all of the health risks and admonitions? Smoking or chewing tobacco makes people feel good, even mildly euphoric. While there are thousands and chemicals in the tobacco plant, one, nicotine, produces all the good feelings that draw people back for another cigarette or plug of tobacco. Nicotine is an addictive drug that makes quitting difficult. As with other addictive drugs, people can experience withdrawals when they get less nicotine than they are used to. Symptoms can include irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and craving for tobacco.
Nicotine readily diffuses through the skin, lungs, and mucus membranes, such as the lining of the mouth and gums. Nicotine moves right into the blood vessels that line these tissues. From there, nicotine travels through the bloodstream to the brain, before being delivered to the rest of the body.
Nicotine normally makes up five percent of the tobacco plant, by weight. Cigarettes typically contain 8-12 milligrams (mg) of nicotine, depending upon the brand. However, approximately one 1 mg is actually absorbed by the body when a cigarette is smoked. Although people metabolize nicotine at different rates, the typical half-life of nicotine in the body is sixty minutes. Thus, one hour after smoking the cigarette, only about 0.5 mg of the 1 mg of nicotine inhaled remains in the body. After three hours only 0.125 mg remains in the body. Thus, smokers typically smoke several cigarettes a day to maintain the nicotine levels in their bodies.
Most medical aids to smoking cessation are nicotine replacement products. The deliver small, steady doses of nicotine into the body to relieve some of the withdrawal systems. Nicotine replacement products have traditionally been available in fourforms: patches, gum, nasal spray and inhalers. Like cigarettes, the products deliver nicotine into the blood, but they do not contain the tar and carbon monoxide that are largely responsible for cigarette's dangerous health consequences. Studies shows that nicotine replacement therapies as much as double the chances of quitting smoking.
However, these forms have drawbacks. The use of the nicotine containing gum eliminates the highly detrimental cigarette smoke. However, the chewing gum is, in many circles, considered to be socially unacceptable and could, in addition, interfere with the speech of the user. In addition, use of the gum does nothing to satisfy the user's need to touch and manipulate a cigarette-like object with his lips and hands.
Nasal sprays are unpleasant to use, and also fail to satisfy the user's needs to touch and manipulate a cigarette-like objects with the user's lips and hands. While a 24-hour patch can be attached to the user's upper arm, or other portion of the body, it is unsightly, especially in the summer, when the user tends to wear short sleeved shirts, blouses or dresses. In fact, sales of such patches drop significantly in the summer. Such patches also fail to satisfy the user's need touch and manipulate a cigarette-like object.
While an inhaler does satisfy a user's need to touch and manipulate a cigarette-type object with his lips and hands, the inhaler is relatively large and unsightly. The use of an inhaler has a social stigma attached thereto, and its usage is very limited in the United States.
As a proposed solution, nicotine-containing dental floss has been devised, such as that disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 5,035,252. However, in order to absorb the nicotine and overcome the withdrawal symptoms, the user must floss his or her teeth many times throughout the day. Although flossing promotes healthy teeth and gums, flossing in public has a social stigma attached to it.
Yet others have proposed nicotine containing toothpicks, such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,924,430. Besides removing food particles, toothpicks have dental hygiene functions by stimulating gum tissue, removing plaque and calculous that accumulate on the tooth surface and help prevent caries. Toothpicks are usually provided by restaurants and are more socially acceptable to use than dental floss.
However, a drawback of such nicotine-containing toothpicks is the lack of control of the amount of nicotine delivered thereby. That is, the inventor is not aware of any nicotine-containing toothpick references which disclose a method for making such toothpicks with an acceptable concentration of nicotine, or a series of nicotine toothpicks which can be used over a prolonged period of time to wean the user from his nicotine addiction.
Many people do not realize that nicotine alone is an extremely toxic poison, sold commercially in the form of a pesticide. Every year, many children go to the emergency room after eating cigarettes or cigarette butts. Sixty milligrams (60 mg) of nicotine (about the amount in three or four cigarettes if all of the nicotine were absorbed) will kill an adult, and consuming only one cigarette's worth of nicotine is enough to make a toddler severely ill. Nicotine poisoning causes vomiting and nausea, headaches, difficulty breathing, stomach pains and seizures. Thus, an adult could become ill by absorbing as little as 8-10 mg of nicotine. As discussed above, nicotine can be absorbed through not only the lungs, but also the mucus membranes as well as the skin.
Accordingly, there is a continuing need for a controlled method of making a nicotine toothpick. Such a method should provide a toothpick with a concentration or level of nicotine which would not harm a user, but serve to satisfy the nicotine withdrawal caused by cessation of usage of tobacco products. Such a method should also include the creation of toothpicks of varying nicotine concentrations so as to wean the user from his or her addition to nicotine. The present invention fulfills these needs and provides other related advantages.
The present invention resides in a method for making a nicotine-containing toothpick. The nicotine toothpick of the present invention is what is known as a Nicotine Replacement Treatment (NRT), which is intended to help people who are addicted to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to quit. The use of a toothpick is socially acceptable, and satisfies the user's fingers to lips fixation, which is the physiological addiction of smoking cigarettes.
The method of the present invention generally comprises creating a solution containing a predetermined concentration of nicotine. The toothpick is then exposed to the solution. The amount of solution added to the toothpick is then measured to determine the proper levels of nicotine in the toothpick. The nicotine toothpick concentration in the solution is typically between 5 mg and 80 mg nicotine per milliliter (ml) of solution. The concentration of the solution can be adjusted, or multiple solutions of various concentrations provided, to create toothpicks of varying nicotine levels so as to create a program for elimination of the nicotine addiction.
In one embodiment, the solution comprises a liquid solution. 1,000 mg of nicotine per milliliter is added proportionately to a water-based solution. Then, between 0.3 and 4.8 ml of the first nicotine solution is added proportionately to 60 ml of a second water-based solution to arrive at the concentration of between 5 mg and 80 mg per milliliter of solution. The toothpick is at least partially submerged in the liquid solution and allowed to soak. The amount of solution added to the toothpick is measured. This can be done by measuring the amount of solution after the toothpick has been submerged and comparing this amount to an amount of the original solution. Alternatively, the toothpick is weighed before it is exposed, and weighed again after it has been submerged, and the weights compared.
In another embodiment, the solution comprises a saliva soluble powder solution. This solution is also provided in a concentration of between 5 mg and 80 mg nicotine per milliliter of solution, and can be adjusted to create toothpicks of varying nicotine levels. The powder solution is distributed over the toothpick, such as by using a tumbler device. Once again, the amount of nicotine powder solution coated on to the toothpick is determined by measuring the amount of powder solution after the toothpick has been coated, and comparing it to the original amount of solution. Alternatively, the toothpick is weighed before and after being coated.
In a particularly preferred embodiment, a sweetener, medicament, breath freshener, or dentifrice is added to the toothpick. This may be done by adding these to the solution. Alternatively, the toothpick is coated with the sweetener, medicament, breath freshener, or dentifrice after being exposed to the solution. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the toothpick is coated with melted Xylitol.
Finally, the one or more toothpicks are placed within a water-proof sealed packaging to prevent contamination, and preserve the chemicals and products.
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.
The nicotine-containing toothpick of the present invention is what is known in the art as Nicotine Replacement Treatment (NRT). The nicotine-containing toothpick of the present invention relieves the person of the nicotine craving by providing that person a small amount of nicotine, which is absorbed from the toothpick through the lining of the mouth and mucus glands and into the bloodstream, and eventually to the brain. As discussed above, nicotine is a very addictive chemical and those desiring to quite smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco often experience nicotine withdrawals and cravings. Thus, the nicotine-containing toothpick of the present invention assists people who are addicted to cigarette smoking to quit.
The nicotine-containing toothpick of the present invention not only relieves nicotine cravings, but also relieves the physical addiction of the finger to lip sensation which is the physiological addiction of smoking cigarettes. Smokers form the habit of holding and fondling the cigarette and repetitively moving the cigarette away and into the person's mouth. The nicotine-containing toothpick of the present invention enables the user to chew, suck on, handle and fondle the toothpick as he/she would use a non-processed restaurant toothpick. Thus, the invention overcomes the disadvantages of nicotine gum and patches.
As discussed above, nicotine is a very dangerous chemical, often used as a pesticide. Ingesting too much nicotine can cause a person to become sick, or even potentially kill the user. Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a methodology of controlling the amount of nicotine imparted to the toothpick. Although a typical cigarette will contain between 8-20 mg of nicotine, only approximately 1.0-1.5 mgs is actually absorbed by the body when the cigarette is smoked. The present invention provides a methodology for creating toothpicks which can impart approximately 1.0 mg into the person's bloodstream, and as a means for controlled relief of the addiction, provide toothpicks of a lesserconcentration such that the individual can slowly wean himself or herself from the nicotine addiction.
The method for making a nicotine-containing toothpick, in accordance with the present invention, includes the step of creating a solution containing a predetermined concentrate of nicotine. A toothpick is exposed to the solution such that the toothpick absorbs or is coated with a controlled amount of the solution, and thus a controlled amount of nicotine. To confirm this, the amount of the solution added to the toothpick is measured.
The term “toothpick” as used herein, is intended to refer not only to the typical “restaurant” toothpicks which are typically comprised of wood and have varying configurations, but also to any other similar member of approximately the size of a toothpick or coffee stirrer which is comprised of a material such as wood our stiff paper capable of being coated with the solution or absorb the solution and packaged for later placement in the individual's mouth for nicotine delivery.
In accordance with the present invention, a known concentration of liquid, in a known amount, is placed in a container. Typically, the liquid comprises water, or is a water-based and non-toxic liquid. Nicotine is added at a desired level, typically between 5 mg and 80 mg nicotine per ml of solution. The nicotine is preferably pure, but can also comprise any nicotine based compounds
The toothpick is exposed to the liquid solution, such as by partially submerging the toothpick in the nicotine-containing liquid. This exposure/submersion is for a determined amount of time such that the toothpick absorbs a given amount of the solution, and thus nicotine. Preferably, the toothpick is submerged for a sufficient amount of time so as to substantially saturate with the nicotine containing liquid.
After the toothpick is removed from the solution, the amount of solution, and thus nicotine added to the toothpick, is determined. In one embodiment, this is done by measuring the supernatant left after the one or more toothpicks have been submerged in the liquid and subtracting this from the original known quantity of solution. The milligrams of nicotine in the absorbed solution contained by the toothpick can then be calculated. In another embodiment, the weight of the one or more toothpicks is determined before submersion in the liquid, and after being submerged in the liquid, and the milligram strength of the nicotine determined by the calculation of the amount of the solution absorbed by the dry toothpicks. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the concentration of the solution or the amount of time the toothpicks are submerged in the liquid can be altered in order to alter the amount of nicotine added to the toothpick.
Additives may be included in the nicotine-containing liquid solution and imparted to the toothpick or coated onto the toothpick after it has been treated with the liquid solution. Such additives can include medicaments, which may include medicines for treating gum disease, such as that caused by chewing tobacco and the like. Dentifrices, such as fluoride or the like, can also be added to the solution or coated onto the toothpick. Breath fresheners, such as menthol or the like can also be added. In a particularly preferred embodiment, a sweetener or flavoring is added to the toothpick. Such can include cinnamon flavoring, imitation fruit flavoring, etc.
The toothpicks are then packaged. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the toothpicks are placed and disposed within an air-tight and water-proof container so as to preserve the chemicals added to the toothpick. In a particularly preferred embodiment, each toothpick is individually sealed in a plastic wrapping. The overall packaging may include toothpicks of a single concentration, or of varying concentrations identified with markings or the like.
By way of example of the above-described methodology, an original solution of 1,000 mg of nicotine per ml of water was created. 1.2 ml of the original nicotine solution was added to 60 ml of water to create a second nicotine-containing solution. This resulting solution yielded a concentration of 20 mg of nicotine per ml of solution.
The second resulting solution was added into containers. In particular, 0.3 ml (containing 6 mg of nicotine) was added to a tube having a diameter of approximately 0.3 cm. A wooden toothpick having a diameter of approximately 0.15 cm was placed into each tube and allowed to sit and absorb the solution for 30 minutes. Saturation of the wood toothpick could be seen 1 cm above the test tube upper surface.
The supernatant was measured as 0.2 ml, indicating that the toothpick absorbed ⅓ of the solution. Thus, each toothpick absorbed approximately 2 mg (⅓ of 6 mg of nicotine). The 2 mg of nicotine contained by the toothpick is well within safe limits, and no more than 2 mg of nicotine would be delivered to the user. It is estimated that approximately 0.5 to 1.5 mg of nicotine would actually be absorbed by the user when sucking on and chewing the toothpick. This falls within the estimated range of milligrams absorbed by the body in smoking a cigarette.
In a particularly preferred embodiment, after the toothpick has been processed and nicotine added thereto, the toothpick is at least partially coated with a sweetener. A particularly preferred sweetener is the FDA-approved sweetener Xylitol. Xylitol is melted from its powder form and coated substantially uniformly onto the nicotine containing toothpick. The toothpicks are then wrapped and sealed individually.
In another embodiment, a given quantity of nicotine is added to a saliva-soluble powder. The powder may also include the medicaments, dentifrices, sweeteners, breath fresheners, and other additives, as discussed above. The powder is then distributed evenly across the toothpicks so as to partially coat the toothpicks.
The amount of original powder is compared to the remaining powder solution in order to determine the amount of powder solution, and thus the milligrams of nicotine added to the toothpicks. Alternatively, as discussed above, the original weight of the toothpicks is compared to the weight of the coated toothpicks to determine the amount of powdered solution imparted toothpicks, and thus the milligram levels imparted to the toothpicks. Typically, the powder solution concentration is between 5 mg and 80 mg nicotine per milliliter of powdered solution, and approximately 2 mg of nicotine or less is added to each individual toothpick.
In a particularly preferred embodiment, a sealant is added to the toothpick. This may be done by melting powdered Xylitol and coating the powdered toothpick with the melted Xylitol to impart a sweetener and seal the powder onto the toothpick. The toothpicks are then packaged, as discussed above.
The toothpicks, in this embodiment may be coated with the powdered solution by placing the toothpicks in a tumbler device with a given amount of powdered solution and tumbling the solution and toothpicks for a set amount of time. The toothpicks may be pre-treated, such as by wetting the toothpicks, if necessary, in order that the powder solution substantially uniformly coats the toothpicks.
In either of the embodiments discussed above, the concentration of nicotine in the solution can be varied to adjust the amount of nicotine added to the toothpick. Alternatively, multiple solutions of varying concentrations of nicotine can be created. In this manner, toothpicks having varying levels of nicotine can be created. Thus, for example, toothpicks containing 4 mgs of nicotine can be sucked on by the user when he or she initially stops smoking. Overtime, toothpicks can be sucked on and chewed containing lesser and lesser amounts of nicotine, such as 2 mg and 1 mg until, the user no longer craves nicotine and has overcome the nicotine addiction. The toothpicks could be packaged such that an initial package contains toothpicks of all of one level or concentration, the user purchasing additional packages of lesser concentration. Alternatively, a single package can contain a sufficient number of toothpicks of varying concentrations such that the user could start from a desired level of nicotine and use toothpicks containing less nicotine over time, such as that dictated by schedule given to the user by a doctor.
Although several embodiments have been described in detail for purposes of illustration, various modifications may be made to each without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be limited, except as by the appended claims.