[ExI] Is tobacco really harmful?

spike spike66 at att.net
Mon Nov 23 05:04:52 UTC 2009

> A vast body of medical statistics indicates that cigarette 
> smoking causes many diseases.  But these data, almost 
> entirely, pertain to cigarettes with chemical ADDITIVES--of 
> which there are many...  Rob

Rob a couple thoughts on this and couple questions.

Do you have a reference to Dickens characters calling cigs coffin nails?
Can't find anything on google.

Nicotine doesn't cause cancer at all.  The notion is that cancer is caused
by the tar in the tobacco.  So when low nicotine cigarettes were all the
rage, it may have caused smokers to smoke more, which was fine with the
tobacco companies, but might have actually caused more cancer.  Nicotine has
plenty of bad health effects, as my family learned when medications were
developed for Alzheimers patients.  Shelly's grandfather took them, and it
messed him up bigtime.  We think it may have contributed to his stroke.

Regarding grandfathers, mine started smoking as a teen, and quit at around
age 40, which was in the late 1940s.  I asked him about this, since the
medics were not yet adamant about the bad health effects of tobacco in those
days.  My grandfather made an interesting comment, "The doctors weren't
saying much in those days, and many of them smoked, but the life insurance
companies knew all about it.  Anyone with half a brain could easily figure
it out: the smokers had less stamina, coughed more and so forth.  We didn't
really have the lung cancer connection figured out in those days, but the
emphysema connection was easy to see back then, easy."

I thought that was very insightful of the man.

Tobacco additives may cause the problem to be worse, but we have plenty of
evidence tobacco is bad by itself.  Rob don't get any ideas about marketing
organic cigarettes; that will cause us to become pissed offwardly.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org 
> [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of 
> Robert Masters
> Sent: Sunday, November 22, 2009 5:36 PM
> To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> Subject: [ExI] Is tobacco really harmful?
> I'm working on a theory (actually just the germ of a 
> hypothesis), and I'd appreciate comments on it--especially 
> leads toward relevant data.
> A vast body of medical statistics indicates that cigarette 
> smoking causes many diseases.  But these data, almost 
> entirely, pertain to cigarettes with chemical ADDITIVES--of 
> which there are many.  The list of additives in the popular 
> cigarette brands is enormous:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_additives_in_cigarettes
> http://quitsmoking.about.com/cs/nicotineinhaler/a/cigingredients.htm
> http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/cigaretteingredients/Cigarette
> _Ingredients_and_Additives.htm
> Is there any possibility that these additives are a 
> statistical "confounding factor"?  Specifically, could THEY 
> be the cause of the health problems?  Could it be that pure, 
> additive-free tobacco is harmless?
> I don't know of any way to test this hypothesis with 
> statistics--due to the simple fact that, for a long time, 
> almost all the cigarettes being smoked have had the 
> additives.  (Recently, with the trend toward "the pure and 
> natural," a few additive-free brands have come on the market, 
> but they account for only a tiny fraction of the data 
> base--and ten or twenty years ago they were even rarer.)
> Has anyone done any studies on this?  Are there medical 
> statistics on people who smoke, and have always smoked, only 
> additive-free brands?
> In looking for facts to falsify the hypothesis, the only 
> thing I can think of is my (possibly incorrect) impression 
> that tobacco has had a bad health rap for a long time--all 
> the way back into the 19th Century--when, presumably, fewer 
> chemicals, or none at all, were being put into the product.  
> For example, in Dickens' novels, didn't people call 
> cigarettes "coffin nails"?
> Also possibly relevant is the fact that nicotine, in pure 
> form, is a deadly  poison. (I've heard that secret agents 
> have used it for assassinations.)  Is there a known 
> biochemical mechanism by which this toxin (even at low doses) 
> could cause cancer, heart disease, etc.?
> That's about as far as I've got with it.  Any thoughts?
> Rob Masters
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