As well as my father recently, I have also watched two good friends die of emphysema directly resulting from smoking cigarettes in their younger days. Australia has helped lead the world with not completely stopping people from smoking if they really want to, but at least becoming aware of the risks to their health and advantages of not regularly pouring cigarette smoke through their lungs (1). This has lead other countries to also ban smoking in social or public spaces where passive smoking can affect health (2).
So in recent weeks I have been interested to see several reports about a global comeback in the traditional health rort run by tobacco/cigarette companies – reflecting their infamous traditional ‘paying off’ of scientists to ‘prove’ there is no direct connection between smoking and lung cancer. As a scientific rort this typically involves the regular intentional confusion made between notions of necessary and sufficient conditions for any related effect [In other words because a small percentage of people can smoke all they like and not develop lung cancer as quickly or regularly as many others, a guy dressed in white coat can get up and with a straight face claim that smoking does not cause smoking – when obviously there is a correlation of some kind… which eventually had to be admitted in legal courts and publicly].
The tobacco companies are not just getting up to their old tricks again in poor developing countries around the world like Africa (3). . Even in the US, its interesting to note that they have become perhaps the most ardent admirers and supporters of Trump who has reciprocated the ‘love’: “Day one of Donald Trump’s presidency started with tobacco donations, senior figures have been put in place within the Trump administration who have deep ties to tobacco, and lobbying activity has increased significantly… Not long after Trump promised to transfer power from Washington to the American people, a wave of spending in pursuit of influence was unleashed. In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials….Since then, tobacco companies have been putting points on the scoreboard. Politicians and officials with deep ties to the tobacco industry now head the US health department, the top attorney’s office and the Senate, even as tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death… In the last three years, Trump’s financial disclosures show he earned up to $2.1m from tobacco holdings in diversified portfolios” (4).
More significantly its the Tobacco Companies behind the push for the supposedly safe ‘vaping’ of e-cigarettes (5). Philip Morris International is reported to have billions invested in this alternative mode of its filth lucre business (6). As usual policiticians have no idea how to regulate this (at least understandable from the lack of available knowledge). However, there are emerging reports that not only is the ‘smoke-free’ claim inaccurate (7), but also tests now show that e-cigarettes also have cancer-causing carcinogens. In fact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has come out and directly charged that many companies peddling e-cigarettes are simply making false claims and demonstrably so (8). According to a Tobacco Advisory Group (TAG) “These devices, including those that do not contain the highly addictive drug nicotine, which are now called electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), are harmful to users and cause pollution that is dangerous to non-users” (9). In particular they warn of the phenomenon of ‘popcorn lung’ directly associated with all the fancy flavours of e-cigarettes thought to be quite safe: “Bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), informally known as popcorn lung, is a disease that results in obstruction of the smallest airways of the lungs (bronchioles) due to inflammation. The cause is a flavouring chemical diacetyl, used in flavouring popcorn [as well as many brands of e-cigs]…The frightening thing is that the variety of appealing flavours of fruit, alcohol and candy are attractive to young people”. So all the ‘passive smoking’ regulations on normal cigs will now have to be extended to e-cigs (who would have thought?).
– CKR, 8/2017
Ps. since writing the above there has been an interesting new variation of the overall scam by tobacco companies [e.g. go to http://theconversation.com/filters-a-cigarette-engineering-hoax-that-harms-both-smokers-and-the-environment-85393 ] . In the 1960s they introduced filters on cigarettes and helped perpetuate the myth that filters “reduced tar and other toxicants, and prevented tobacco flakes from entering the lungs”. They knew from early on that this was not the case and as well as being a major source of littering, filtered cigarettes ironically are worse in some respects health-wise.
6. . https://www.reuters.com/…/us-pmi-ceo-interview-idUSKCN1B20A0(Philip Morris International and e-cigs)