Nicotine-laced Bottled Water Could be Age-restricted

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Nicotine-laced Bottled Water Could be Age-restricted

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County, N.Y.'s war on tobacco now includes NICOWater, bottled water laced with 4 milligrams of nicotine, about the amount in two cigarettes, according to the White Plains, N.Y. Journal News.

County Executive Andrew 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 news report stated.

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," according to the news report.

A company called QT 5 Inc., based in California, makes the water. 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 smoking indoors, according to the news source.

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, Price said.

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 customers.

She said the chain's computer system was programmed to prompt cashiers to ask for proof of age when selling the product, according to the news report.