I’ll skip the long, long back story and get right to the point. If you’ve been looking for a way that individuals and small groups of people acting on their own initiative can control dangerous tobacco products at the local level, this is it. Here’s wishing you a successful 2019.
I recently had a number of off-the-shelf tobacco brands tested for pesticide residues. This was the first time this has been done in the US, in spite of the massive amounts of tax and private money spent every year on so-called “tobacco control and prevention”.
In this post I’m including hard evidence showing the concentration of illegal, totally banned DDT I found on the most popular brand of sweet & fruity little cigars, Swisher Sweets – the top choice among low-income, Black and Hispanic teens. They are also arguably the most toxic piece of shit in the whole pile of toxic shit that this rat pack of corporate criminals sells to kids. Don’t get me wrong – I found extreme pesticide contamination on many of the brands I tested – it’s just that the little cigars stood way out at the top of the contamination chart.
Don’t just take my word for the toxicity of little cigars – the University of North Carolina conducted an extensive study in 2016 comparing the toxicity of little cigar smoke, including swisher Sweets, compared with cigarette smoke. This study was also the first of its kind, just like my pesticide residue study. The North Carolina researchers found detailed hard evidence that little cigars are extremely toxic and are particularly dangerous to young, Black, and Latino smokers compared with cigarettes. (This study, combined with the hard evidence I’m sharing in this post, will blow your mind if you care about mass poisoning of innocent children.)
The one area that this North Carolina study missed was the key role that pesticide residues play in tobacco product toxicity. Like every other scientific and medical study before them, these researchers totally failed to account for pesticide contamination in the tobacco products they tested, and so they were understandably puzzled by the extreme levels of toxicity they found.
However, once you factor in pesticide contamination, the whole picture emerges clearly. The North Carolina data makes sense. It’s the differences in the pesticide burdens of different types of tobacco products that account for the differences in toxicity among types of tobacco products. That’s why it’s so important for local communities to understand the nature of this hidden threat to their children.
I found actionable levels of many different pesticide residues in all the tobacco products I just tested, including several cigarette brands popular with kids. But the overall pesticide contamination of Tobacco products, which regulators manage to ignore, isn’t the key point here. The key point for tobacco product control at the local level is that these little cigar/DDT results are not only grim news for smokers but flat out violate the law.
It is illegal to sell any product contaminated with this level of DDT anywhere in the US. and much of the world. Only soil or water-residual DDT is allowed in any food, beverage, cosmetic or other consumer product, and there is no way that the level I found could occur as a residual from soil or water – it was sprayed on the tobacco used to make this product, and it was sprayed recently. (See commentary below the data.)
The DDT concentration shown below is 700+ times the highest level found anywhere in the entire US food chain from lingering soil or water contamination, and I will guarantee that a sampling of 100 such products will yield similarly shocking results.
So here’s my suggestion. Take this data on your phone to your health department. Show them the DDT levels. Tell them that the same little cigar products are being sold at the mini-mart. (They are.)
And then ask them what the law says they have to do. Tell them that the investigator behind this data will send them the full, certified lab report naming the specific brands we tested and the full results. I almost guarantee that they will try to wiggle out of it – “we don’t regulate tobacco products”, or “we don’t regulate pesticides in tobacco products” or, their favorite excuse – “well, tobacco is so bad anyway that we don’t care about a few pesticides”.
But here’s the beauty of the hard evidence I’m offering. It doesn’t matter if your local health officials think they can regulate tobacco products specifically or not. It doesn’t matter if they think have the authority to regulate tobacco products or not. Unless they are somehow forbidden to investigate and take action in cases of toxic substance contamination in consumer products being sold to children in your county, they do have the authority to act. You may have to make them act by going to the School Board, the District Attorney, and your local media, but they do have the authority to act locally and independently on high-level DDT contamination of anything in your community – period.
These contaminated tobacco products are illegal not because they are tobacco products; they are illegal because they are consumer products contaminated with hazardous concentrations of extremely hazardous, totally banned pesticide chemicals that will be emitted when they are used as intended by the manufacturer.
If you enjoy a sweet irony, I can guarantee that when all the testing is done, most of the premium cigars that the 1% love will turn out to be the most highly contaminated of all. Although some premium cigar tobacco growers still use traditional methods, and grow tobacco without industrial chemicals, I’m quite certain that most premium cigars will prove to be far more contaminated than the cheap little cigars the busboys out behind that five-star restaurant have to smoke.
Pesticide Residue Test Sample #1 Multnomah County, Oregon Received 12/13/2018
|Oregon Cannabis Pesticide Residue Action Levels (PPM)|
|Analyte||Results/Units||na = not a listed or regulated pesticide|
|Exceeds ORS Action Levels √|
|Unregistered Tobacco EPA/Oregon √√|
|Banned/Zero Tolerance √√√|
|Carbendazim √√√||0.843 mg/kg||Carcinogen: WHO|
|DDT, p,p- √√√||0.816 mg/kg**||0.0 – banned|
|Dimethomorph √√||0.0380 mg/kg||na|
|Fenamidone √√||0.0370 mg/kg||na|
|Indoxacarb √√||0.0790 mg/kg||na|
|Mandipropamid √√||0.0770 mg/kg||na|
|Pendimethalin √√||0.0910 mg/kg||na|
|Propamocarb √√||0.0910 mg/kg||na|
|Pyraclostrobin √√||0.0210 mg/kg||na|
** Relevant to risk assessment for these “Little Cigars”; the highest levels of DDT p, p- in all foods tested by FDA in their comprehensive “Total Diet Reports” for 2017, were for catfish filets and for frozen potato fries. The 2.17 ng/g potatoes and 2.3 ng/g levels expressed in the FDA “Total Diet Study” are the equivalents of 0.00217 mg/kg for potatoes and 0.0023 mg/kg for catfish. compared with 0.816 mg/kg in the single little cigar sample tested. Based on my knowledge of tobacco industry practices, additional testing will show serious levels of OCP and other classes of pesticide contamination particularly on tobacco products in the “discount” and low-price market segments and, as we will see, in the premium cigar market segment as well.
I know for certain that as we test other tobacco products, especially the cheap ones, we’ll find stuff that makes DDT look like a hint of mint. However, this data is right now, and approximately 800,000 children between 11-15 are smoking this particular brand of little cigar every day and inhaling every one of the pesticides listed.
But even if the only contaminant were the 0.816 mg/kg (or 816 mcg/kg) DDT ….
“Average adult intakes of DDT were estimated to be 62 µg/person/day (1000 micrograms = 1 milligram) in 1965 and 240 µg/person/day in 1970, before the DDT ban was instituted. The FDA Total Diet Studies show that the daily intakes have fallen since the ban, with daily intakes (for a 16-year-old, 70 kg male) averaging 6.51, 2.38, 1.49, and 0.97 µg/person/day for 1978–1979, 1979–1980, 1984–1986, and 1986–1991, respectively.” https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/chem_background/exsumpdf/ddt_508.pdf
“Based on all of the evidence available, the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that DDT is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. Similarly, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that DDT is possibly carcinogenic to humans. EPA has determined that DDT, DDE, and DDD are probable human carcinogens.”
Here is a first-class study of the toxicity of cigarette smoke compared to little cigar smoke. It’s clear from this data and analysis that little cigars, including Swisher Sweets which were one of the brands tested, are far more toxic than cigarettes. Interestingly, the researchers were puzzled about where those huge differences in toxicity came from. ‘
It was at least partly from the hidden and unaccounted-for pesticides, which were overlooked in this study as they have been overlooked in virtually every American scientific and medical study of “tobacco” smoke. Little cigars are far more contaminated with far more toxic “crop protection agents” than cigarettes because of differences in how the tobacco is raised, and in how much highly contaminated tobacco manufacturing waste is used in making the product.