[ExI] Is tobacco really harmful"?

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Nov 26 23:43:43 UTC 2009

Eugen Leitl wrote:  
> On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 05:06:53PM -0800, Robert Masters wrote:  
>> Tobacco is not the cause of smoking-related disease.   Instead, the cause is the chemicals added to tobacco.  Pure,  additive-free tobacco is harmless.  
> Harmless, which is why nicotine is sometimes still used as an insecticide.  
> Harmless, as in carcinogenic.  

While nicotine works fine as an insecticide, it works because of exactly   
the same reasons human take it - it has cholinergic effects. There does   
not seem to be good evidence that nicotine is carcinogenic in the   
scientific literature. From what I have been reading, the cancer risk of   
smoked tobacco comes from inhaling aerosols loaded with heterocyclic and   
polyaromatic compounds that are produced by burning plant material. In   
the case of smokeless tobacco the cancer risk is again largely tied to   
nitrosamines, more local to the mouth and throat. Smoked cannabis does   
pose cancer risks too, without any additives (and this would likely   
refute Robert Masters hypothesis).  

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University 
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