In Re: Addictive, Addicting, Usage
Back in the closing years of the last century a war was on between the tobacco industry and its enemies over tobacco regulation, legislation and lawsuits. Go read Thank You For Smoking if you’ve forgotten this chapter of history. Amidst the war we happened to have lunch with a young tobacco lobbyist in Washington DC. She was better dressed than we were and took us to a better class of restaurant than we were used to dining in. She also taught us about the nuances of the English language.
“There is no solid evidence that cigarette smoking is addicting,” she said.
“What are you talking about? Haven’t you seen the videos of rats poking themselves with a nicotine laced needle until their heart stops? Of course it’s addictive,” we said.
“No one argues that nicotine isn’t addictive,” she said. “There’s plenty of evidence of that.”
“Didn’t you just say it wasn’t addictive?”
“Hardly. I said there wasn’t evidence that it was addicting. There’s no evidence that smoking is actually creating addicts. Nicotine may have the property of being addictive but it may not actually be being used by people in a way that this property is effective,” she said. “Look. If it’s not actually addicting, there’s no public health concern. You don’t regulate away an unrealized potentiality unless there is evidence that it the phenomenon is occurring or likely to occur.”
“So you think it turns on a matter of grammar? Addicting versus addictive?”
“Exactly so. Much in the world turns on matters of grammar.”
Crack is addicting--wait, no, addictive...kaboom! [Wordhumper]