The Surgeon General’s Warnings are often cited as a barrier against holding the Tobacco Cartel accountable for the suffering and death their products are acknowledged to cause. This post offers evidence that these so-called “Warnings” are not warnings at all, and that they are factually flawed, deceptive, concealing and misleading, and that in reality they serve, by default or by design, the deep interests of the Tobacco Cartel.
If I may I’ll show you how these “Warnings” are the products of a decades-long record of legislative and policy actions that when seen in light of the hidden facts I’ll be showing you, amount to collusion to mislead and deceive science, medicine and the public by withholding deeply relevant material facts on the known contamination of tobacco products with neurotoxins, mutagens, obesogens and other biologically active chemicals many of which are classified as severe hazards at micro-levels of exposure. Whatever the tobacco in tobacco products may or may not be doing to smokers, the impact of these pesticide chemicals on smokers’ health has never been studied and has been either somehow totally overlooked, or deliberately concealed, but has not been mentioned other than the occasional carefully worded and deeply buried dismissal, in over 50 years of “smoking & health research”, legislation, policy, and court cases.
Here just a fraction of what FDA, the Surgeon General, EPA, CDC, and every other government agency that ‘regulates’ tobacco has been concealing since the 1970s. This is lab data from research I conducted in 2018 for my book “Smoke No Evil”.
And while you check out these data let’s keep in mind that FDA just spent tens of millions a few years ago to force the manufacturers of American Spirit to tell smokers that organic tobacco isn’t safer. They had to comply by the way – they couldn’t afford for smokers to see this kind of data regarding all their other non-organic and highly contaminated brands. But you have to ask – what is the government’s game here?
This collusion, which is fully on record and becomes clear once you factor in the hidden facts themselves, has involved the Tobacco Cartel and US government agencies including FDA, Surgeon General, EPA and USDA. These “Warnings” and all the law, policy and decision-making that have flowed from them are fatally flawed by a decades-long record of omission of what science clearly confirms are highly relevant facts that directly and severely impact the health of smokers.
You can browse a few examples of the surviving tobacco/cigarette pesticide research that virtually ended in the 1970s here and here and here and here and here. This clear pattern of consistent omissions and failures to disclose or warn of these material relevant facts has held invariable for over 50 years of these “Warnings”, which is why they are suspect to say the very least.
Because of their direct, measurable severely harmful impact on people’s choices and behaviors these “Warnings” are in themselves hazardous and dangerous to smokers’ health because they deprive smokers of actionable factual knowledge that could if known and understood empower smokers to make their own decisions about their health, safety and lives. This broad, comprehensive failure to disclose or warn, which seems like it must be established policy rather than just a set of coincidences over all this time, comes while these same government agencies benefit financially from massive but ineffectual “anti-smoking” programs funded by the taxation of these same tobacco products.
One simple fact that supports the culpability of these government agencies along with the Tobacco Cartel is that the presence of extremely dangerous concentrations and mixtures of pesticide residues in tobacco products, including pesticides banned worldwide due to their severe hazard to human health, while known to all agencies concerned since at least the 1950s, has never once been cited in any US government action, policy, directive, regulation, research, educational initiative, or legislation intended to warn, educate or protect the public from the “dangers of smoking”. Never once.
Neither the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969, the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1986, nor the GAO 2004 Report To Congress, nor the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 mention pesticides as tobacco product contaminants. The very few times they are mentioned it is peripherally and not directed at tobacco product contamination in any way.
The legislative history of these acts, even in summary, shows clearly the results of intensive lobbying to exempt tobacco and tobacco products from any regulation of hazardous substances – so of course there couldn’t be any mention of severely hazardous pesticides nor of the bodies of scientific and medical research that support a “severe hazard by inhalation’ status for these pesticides.
Perhaps even more difficult to comprehend is that from the 1970s through the 2000s companies of the Tobacco Cartel conducted extensive internal investigations on pesticides and tobacco products but incredibly focused ONLY on how pesticides affected the taste of the product. They are on detailed record as not caring about the toxicity of these pesticides – they even assured their employees who tested the contaminated cigarettes that the pesticides wouldn’t hurt them. Because these research projects were internal the companies were under no obligation to disclose them at any point in any official hearinga and, again oddly enough, not one single lawsuit against the industry appears to have picked up on the presence of these certified killer chemicals in the cigarettes that they have such difficulty in proving that they hurt their clients. So the knowledge of pesticide problems has been there since 1970 within the industry and within the regulatory community but those “problems” have only been whether the pesticides might make the ciggies taste bad. You can browse a few examples of the surviving tobacco/cigarette pesticide research that virtually ended in the 1970s here and here and here and here and here.
If it seems incredible that the Surgeon General would somehow manage to completely ignore the massive body of evidence that tobacco products are contaminated with pesticides beginning in the 1950s and continuing today, take a look for yourself.
Here is a link to the 2014 US Surgeon General’s report “The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress”.
If you search for the word “Pesticide” you’ll get 4 hits – all irrelevant. Those “fifty years of progress” apparently don’t include any consideration of the role played by pesticides and fungicides in smoking disease and death but you can bet that there were and are those within the agency, and the FDA, EPA, CDC and others who know very well what’s going on and are being kept silent by what must be incredibly powerful forces.
Other searches in “50 Years of Progress”: “residue” = 3 hits; “organochlorine” = 1 hit (a cancer citation unrelated to residues on Tobacco); “agricultural” = 1 hit (duplicate of ‘residue’); “insecticide = 1 hit (unrelated citation); “fungicide” = 0; many names of specific pesticides – 0,0,0 etc. hits.
But the ‘official position’ could only be possible if tobacco is considered the substance to be exempt from regulation and, by extension tobacco products because tobacco products are just tobacco made into a product, right? Here’s a link to the legislative history of ‘tobacco’ regulation.
You’ll search in vain for any reference in any US agency documents since around 1970 to pesticide contamination of tobacco products – no reports, no studies, no labs, no inspections, no research – nothing.
The problem with that huge empty gap is that FDA, CPSC, EPA, USDA and other Federal agencies are in a position of long-standing institutional knowledge to be fully aware that they have never conducted a single study of the health effects of smoking tobacco that is uncontaminated with pesticides or adulterants, in other words USDA organic tobacco, and there has never been even one longitudinal study of smokers of uncontaminated, unadulterated cigarettes compared with smokers of pesticide contaminated adulterated cigarettes.
Then there’s the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which is intended to shield. and which almost everyone believes does shield the Tobacco Cartel from liability for manufacturing an unreasonably dangerous product. This Master Settlement, which recites all the transgressions of the Tobacco Cartel in the process of “settling” them, mentions pesticides and fungicides exactly zero times. Yet everyone involved in this Master Settlement either knew or because of institutional knowledge in their industry ought to have known about pesticide contamination of tobacco products, the exemption of tobacco products from regulation, and the potentially causal relationship between pesticide exposure and smoking-related disease and death. Besides, the MSA is only between “Settling States” and the Tobacco Cartel and does not exclude lawsuits by private citizens on their own behalf or that of a class of private citizens, so the Tobacco Cartel is still wide open to accountability.
None of the Surgeon General’s Warnings mention tobacco either – they all refer just to ‘smoking’ – and the wording of these Warnings and of the Master Settlement is not casual – and all those words, the ones selected and the ones omitted, the facts cited and the facts ignored, are the work product of hundreds of lawyers, bureaucrats, legislators, scientists, doctors, concerned citizens, insurance companies, oh, and Tobacco Cartel lobbyists. There is nothing accidental here. The omission of the word “tobacco’ from the warnings, and the omission of any mention of pesticide contamination in any related lawsuits or legislation or documentation or scientific research for that matter, of matters of scientific fact known by the government and the Cartel since the 1950s, cannot be an oversight or an accident.
Oddly enough, the Cartel kept very detailed internal review and research processes going throughout the 20th Century aimed at determining the impact of each of the pesticides they were using on how their cigarettes tasted to smokers. They were concerned that these deadly chemicals might make smokers think the cigarettes tasted funny, and they spent hundreds of millions on this research – in plain sight of government agencies. But because all of this research was “private”, and because they were able to totally suppress any publicly-funded research on pesticide residues in tobacco products, the subject of what these bioactive, xenobiotic chemicals were doing to smokers was totally concealed behind corporate walls. The record cited above, although severely limited in the scope of the pesticides sought in the records, shows that all this ‘research’ was conducted in plain sight of any regulatory agency that cared to notice. Any research shown in this record that these agencies did was strictly a matter of clearing pesticides for use on field tobacco – Federal agencies have all looked away from pesticide residues on the cigarettes millions of people were and are smoking. They are never mentioned.
There was and is, clearly and on the record, a conspiracy of silence in the Federal government that can only be due to impeccably concealed political and economic influence and the deepest possible corruption.
As an example of how deep-rooted this is, RJ Reynolds could easily have defended against the FDA assault on its single organic cigarette brand “American Spirit” by demonstrating that organic cigarettes actually ARE safer to smoke than other tobacco products just by testing a selection of those other products for pesticide contaminants and showing the findings in court, accompanied by some testimony from geneticists, endocrinologists, neonatologists and others who would have some enlightening things to say about pre-natal and lifetime exposure to these pesticides, based on the kind of hard scientific evidence the Court told RJR would be a solid defense. Look your honor – no DDT. Case closed. Safer.
Of course the problem with that strategy would be that those other contaminated and “more dangerous” brands would be all the other RJ Reynolds brands along with all the brands of all their friends in the Tobacco Cartel. Can’t have that – so “American Spirit” just sucked it up and agreed to say on their packs and displays that no, we’re sorry to have to tell you, but organic tobacco isn’t safer to smoke. The decision not to fight back with readily available and fully known (to them) science and fact cost the brand maybe $100 million – but what would disclosing “why” organic tobacco products are a safer smoke have cost the Cartel? Maybe an extinction event, and they know it. So that’s how it has gone for over 50 years – everyone on the Tobacco Cartel side of that American Spirit courtroom knew the real story and we just have to pray that the other side and the court didn’t have a clue and weren’t part of it when they offered that “scientific fact” escape clause, otherwise that would be some kind of conspiracy wouldn’t it?
But if this kind of widespread, ‘penetrates every corner’ omission is deliberate, in light of the well-established science on the risk levels of pesticide exposure on human health, then at a minimum neither the Surgeon General’s Warning nor anything like the “Master Settlement” can be used to shield the Tobacco Cartel that has used decades of political pressure and uncounted amounts of money to ensure that smokers, science, medicine, perhaps legislators, and most lawyers even the best, have all been kept not just ignorant but terminally misled and deceived about the true nature of the health consequences of what smokers are smoking and the genetic damage and disease that is being inflicted on their children and even grandchildren – all preventable. Even the most indirect suggestion of awareness of any of these topics is carefully avoided through extremely careful and deliberate use of language in the each of the Surgeon General’s warnings. They appear to be ‘plain English’ but they are fine-cut gems of deceit and obfuscation.
To understand the context of the creation of the original 1965 Surgeon General’s Warning, the US Surgeon General had extensive factual evidence even in 1965 that since the early 1950s there had been growing industry and scientific research on pesticide residue contamination of the US tobacco and tobacco product supply. In 1962 Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring”, generating an awareness of the potential environmental and human health dangers of DDT, one of the pesticides known to be contaminating the US tobacco product supply. By 1965 scientific and medical concern over DDT, and increasingly over the lesser-known organochlorines, was widespread and growing. There was no way that the SG, during the government-wide research into smoking and health that preceded the Warning, could have missed the massive amount of research on pesticides residues in tobacco products, nor could the SG have been unaware of the developing science on pesticide exposure and the human health consequences.
Here is a summary of DDT regulatory history prepared for Congress by the EPA in 1975 – notice that it goes into what the Surgeon General and Congress knew at every stage of creating the “Warning”.
A reading of this tells us what the Surgeon General ought to have known about the health consequences of exposure to DDT and the organochlorines in 1965 and 1969, as well as the new pesticide class of organophosphates. Although this was early in the science, plenty of scientists and doctors understood what was coming.
There is also a large body of published agricultural science research from the 1955-1970 timeframe in the area of pesticides and tobacco, and there are many studies showing the entire class or organochlorines being used extensively on tobacco. There are even a few studies on some of these OCPs in cigarettes, but those studies tend to focus on DDT, DDE, TDE, and other derivatives. But it is extremely important not to lose focus on the OCPs like Endrin, Aldrin, Dieldren, Toxaphene, Heptachlor and many others that were being inhaled by smokers of the time. Many of these smokers who were young then are suffering in 2021 from the consequences of that early and continuing chronic pesticide exposure and neither they nor their doctors have a clue. The docs and the smokers just attribute what they see and experience to smoking and look no further. If there is any kind of therapy available now or in the future for any of the kinds of damage that lifelong pesticide exposure might do, smokers will never see it unless doctors understand what they have actually been inhaling all those years. And for those who cannot quit, their docs will never see the merit in their switching to organic tobacco. That’s a lot of suffering and dying caused by universal ignorance arising from deliberately crafted deceit.
DDT is the specific focus on who knew what and when they knew it because its dangers were already widely recognized in 1965 and it was being heavily studied by tobacco scientists of the time. However when the final accounting is done on the toll taken by the tobacco cartel’s reckless, negligent, knowing and intensive use of organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides, and what was already known or suspected about their health impact, while acting to prevent knowledge and oversight of their use, thereby preventing any mitigation efforts that might have been made to preserve the lives of millions of innocent smokers who, later on, while they were dying, would be told “Well, you were warned, and besides we were sued and settled forever. We’re bulletproof.”
Maybe not so fast. There’s the little matter of the record. For example, by 1965 the public was seriously up in arms over the dangers of DDT. The USDA has been researching DDT and tobacco for nearly 20 years by then, and many land grant universities were studying the use of pesticides on tobacco. Tobacco was the most valuable crop per acre in the US, and multiple state and federal were all over it with funding for pesticide research. So the use of pesticides on tobacco crops was and is well-known. And yet – the Surgeon General’s 1965 warning didn’t mention DDT or pesticides contaminating tobacco products then and never has since. If you search the long history of dozens of Surgeon General’s “Reports” on smoking and health (links are at the end of this post) you will not find one reference to pesticide residues contaminating tobacco products.
And yet, the every US Surgeon General since 1965 either knew, or by virtue of their authority, command position, and oversight of science and medicine policy and research, ought to have known of the presence of pesticides in tobacco products. High-ranking staff either knew there had to be pesticide contaminants in tobacco products or deliberately looked the other way because material facts and knowledge was all over the government. Despite growing scientific and medical evidence of the harm that done by low dose, chronic and even single-exposures, even at nano-levels, and despite numerous updates of the Warning since 1965, the imminent harm and danger represented by pesticides in tobacco products has never once been addressed or even mentioned. Not even mentioned – in any US Surgeon General’s document or in any other US government publication, policy or regulation.
I believe that this historical and long-maintained and without-exception omission invalidates the Surgeon General’s warning and everything that flows from it in law as a shield for the Tobacco Cartel because it can be documented that these complex interlocking legislative firewalls against discovery of the simple fact of contamination could not exist without an organized conspiracy to conceal and actively suppress this information thus preventing smokers from being able to make ‘quit smoking’ decisions in full light of information on the preventable dangers posed by pesticides and the availability of a safer smoking alternative – tobacco products manufactured from organic tobacco without pesticides – that the defective “Warning” conceals from them.
However, rather than disclosing the factual information that the SG had at hand in 1965 regarding just the tobacco product DDT contamination problem that would, if known even in 1965, have given many smokers and their families a potentially powerful additional reason to quit smoking – this readily available and extremely meaningful knowledge was concealed. We know that it would have been meaningful even in 1965 when the first SG warning was drafted simply by looking at the scientific, medical and public outcry over DDT in the environment.
The USSG and other US government agencies were spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year by the 1960s to get the public to “quit smoking”. The biggest problem with this is that even though there was plenty of evidence in 1965 that DDT exposure was dangerous, in the 50 years since and with the development of literally hundreds of new fungicides and insecticides for tobacco, not a single one has ever been tested for their impact when inhaled as part of a cigarette smoke stream. Not one, not ever.
So how does the US Surgeon General’s “Warning” immunize the tobacco cartel from responsibility when it can be shown with solid documentation that unknown persona or organizations have manipulated that warning so that the dangers of pesticide contamination would never be revealed? The fact that there has not been a single study of pesticides residues contaminating tobacco products since the early 1970s is, in my opinion, irrefutable evidence that organized worldwide repression of research has been occurring.
For over 50 the USSG years been issuing disingenuous, misleadingly worded warnings about smoking while conflating the words tobacco and smoking to create the impression that science has established that smoking tobacco causes disease, suffering and death while being institutionally aware that there are hidden confounding variables in all the science that, if known, could invalidate the conclusions of almost all or all of the smoking and health research over the past decades. In other words, if anyone had ever taken the pesticides into account, and had tested the health consequences of smoking tobacco with and without pesticides, then the SG warning might have some real-world validity.
I believe that the SG Warning is tainted by complicity with the Tobacco Cartel’s decades-long effort to prevent regulatory focus on industry-wide dangerous levels of unregulated and concealed pesticide contamination of the Cartel’s products.
There have been decades of research on the public health implications of any kind of chronic exposure to pesticides known to cause human neurological damage, cancer, obesity, birth defects and more, and this body of research must have been systematically ignored the US Surgeon General, the CDC, the FDA, the EPA, the CPSC, the USDA, and by every other US agency charged either with regulating tobacco products or with protecting the public from dangerous, life-threatening chemical exposures. I say “must have been systematically ignored’ because each of these agencies has specifically and in most cases repeatedly exempted tobacco products from any regulation of their known pesticide contaminants.
This contamination represents a novel route of pesticide exposure by inhalation, conceded by science to often be the most toxic route of exposure. Through repeated inhalation of a complex of neurotoxic, carcinogenic, obesogenic and mutagenic chemicals that over the period of successive legislation aimed at ‘regulating’ the Tobacco Cartel have been widely shown to act on the human body at nano-levels well below the limits of detection.
Regulatory agencies and non-profits are all on board
“Because use of Tobacco products, with or without pesticide residues, is so hazardous to health, all of the Oregon Health Authority’s efforts around Tobacco are aimed at discouraging use of Tobacco products and encouraging cessation of Tobacco use in people already using it.”
Oregon Health Authority 2018
“EPA does not assess intermediate or long-term risks of pesticide residues to smokers because of the severity of health effects linked to use of Tobacco products themselves.”
“Organic,” “natural” or “additive-free” product labels may imply a healthier or safer choice, but that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to Tobacco products. A cigarette with organic Tobacco or Tobacco with no additives does not make it healthier or safer than any other cigarettes.”
Truth Initiative 2018
No Federal or State agency has ever initiated any such studies with an RFP, and to the best of my knowledge no such research has ever been submitted for funding. I have done a complete Federal Register search, but please feel free. Certainly no such study has ever been published. Yet every single agency, public and private, that is engaged in public health regulation and education, spends enormous resources on what they say is a comprehensive search for answers to why cigarettes sicken and kill so many people and why smokers find it almost impossible to quit. They all believe, or seem to believe, that they have the answer.
It’s the tobacco and the nicotine – we just can’t seem to figure out exactly why. But clearly there’s no need to question our basic assumption – it’s the tobacco and nicotine. Period.
During the Tobacco Cartel’s worldwide mobilization against the new wave of concern over smoking and health and the new regulatory environment during the period in the mid-late 1960s when the SG Warnings were first being crafted, high-level strategy sessions (conspiracies) took place in which managing public and legislative perceptions were seen as critical.
“Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” R. J. Reynolds/ B&W executive, 1969 (in: Scientific American, June 15, 2005)
It has worked so beautifully that 300,000,000 people have died of “smoking” since 1970 and there has not been one study of pesticide contamination of tobacco products in 50+ years of intensive focus on smoking and health. Not one of the hundreds of billions of dollars spread around for ‘research’ that the Cartel knew was invisibly being skewed in the direction that they wanted – a set of powerful hidden variables confounding the results of every single study of smoking and health. Those unaccounted-for pesticides distort and invalidate every research study on smoking and health that uses the Cartel’s “Kentucky Reference Cigarette” program that supplies “standardized research cigarettes’ to every research project in the world. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a study on smoking and health that did NOT use Kentucky Reference cigarettes or extracts from them. The results of using these standardized ‘tobacco’ cigarettes, contaminated with invisible, unaccounted-for insecticides and fungicides, is to show that – “yep, by golly, that tobacco sure is dangerous stuff. Look what smoking it did to all those little mice.” Once everybody accepts that it is that tobacco doing the damage then the manufacturers can skate free by saying “Sorry but you were warned. Oh, not about the DDT and Carbendazim and all the rest but hey – you already knew because we totally warned you that the tobacco was dangerous and terrible and would make you sick and maybe kill you and you smoked it anyway so tough luck sucker. Next!”
But … but … the Surgeon Generals warning said smoking and cigarettes and didn’t mention tobacco. That’s right dear reader – the Surgeon General’s warning on cigarette packs never mentions tobacco, only smoking. So who actually says tobacco is dangerous, and proves it with research? (More on this later) Where is the warning that smoking tobacco is dangerous? Nowhere to be seen, but that doesn’t stop the anti-smoking forces embedded in every government agency. That’s clear evidence of a massive, expensive, corrupt word game that is being played today the same way it was played in the beginning. And the suckers are still falling for it.
Very early on the Cartel succeeded in their main goal – implanting the idea that “it’s the tobacco”, because if everybody automatically equates the word tobacco with words like hazardous, dangerous, cancer and death, then it becomes the plant’s fault and we can’t help it if they want to take a little risk – besides, they’ve been warned. Just like the manufacturers of alcohol products – drinkers know the risks. But … what if you were a wine drinker and found that there was a cocktail of neurotoxic pesticides in every glass of your wine, and that they were having a cumulative effect on you, and that the manufacturer knew those neurotoxins were there because they had used them to control pests and increase their grape harvest and the government didn’t make them disclose it so they didn’t. Well maybe OK so far. But how about if we know they had conducted internal tests to ensure that the pesticides didn’t affect the taste of the wine, and since their trade association has issued guidance on the effects of these neurochemicals and how they should spray responsibly, they are clearly aware of their presence. Is there at a minimum a duty to warn?
However, the Tobacco Cartel knew it had a problem on its hands. In a 1968 report to CORESTA, the newly-formed Tobacco Cartel ‘Scientific Organization’, NCSU researcher Dr. Frank Guthrie, a widely published authority on pesticide residues on field tobacco and in tobacco products, sounded the alarm in front of the entire tobacco industry’s executive & management hierarchy- very specifically referring to the health issues presented by the known fact of DDT storage in human fat cells
Notice the concentration of DDT that was considered ‘no problem’ in food back in 1968 – FDA said ingesting 0.04 mg/kg was OK while WHO said ingesting 0.01 was the limit?
Now check the concentration of DDT shown below on just one of today’s tobacco products. This data is from tests I commissioned for my own research – the first tests of pesticides in cigarettes run since 1970. I’ll save you the math – that 0.816 mg/kg in today’s Swisher Sweets is half the 1968 amount of 0.03 mg/pack. If a smoker in 1959 was exposed to 0.03 mg of DDT per pack of cigarettes, and each cigarette weighs 1 gram, that’s 20 grams of tobacco per pack. So in 1000 grams (kg) of tobacco that same 0.03 mg/pack concentration of DDT measured in mg/kg would be 1.160 mg/kg. Since 1959, when DDT was actively sprayed to tobacco crops to 2018 when DDT had been banned for 50 years, the amount contaminating tobacco products was only reduced by half – not near-zero where it should be if DDT weren’t still being used on tobacco. Wonder what’s going on here? We all should.
But it’s not just the concentration in the tobacco, it’s what is inhaled and deposited in the smoker’s blood and tissues. So using calculations based on 1960s research on DDT absorption & retention from cigarettes, I calculate that 168 nanograms of inhaled, not ingested DDT wind up in the blood of a Swisher Sweets smoker with every one they smoke. 10 a day? 20? But the Surgeon General has the nerve – is that the word? – to issue a report entitled “The Health Consequences Of Smoking: 50 Years Of Progress”.
On parallel but separate tracks research had begun on the environmental and health impact of DDT and the organochlorine family of insecticides began in the early 1950s. By the end of the 50s there was widespread recognition of the damage done to wildlife exposed to these insecticides.
By the time the first Surgeon General’s warning was crafted, intense (but controversial) research on the human health consequences of exposure to DDT and the organochlorines had already established that they were carcinogenic.
Because other departments of the US government had been conducting extensive trials and publishing a lot of data on the use of pesticides on tobacco since the late 1940s, and since there were multiple detailed studies throughout the 1950s-60s of the pesticide contaminants in cigarettes, with a lot of attention to DDT and the organochlorines, the US Surgeon General and the US Congress either knew or by virtue of their regulatory and command authority ought to have known in 1965 that pesticides were contaminants in every cigarette being smoked in America.
Now Let’s Focus On FDA
The FDA is in a position of institutional knowledge to know that inhaled pesticides from whatever source represent a clear and present danger to an individual’s health, and that mass contamination of any product that results in the exposure of millions of people to multiple pesticides known to cause multiple neurological, hormonal and genetic diseases is a significant public health threat. With 500,000 ‘smoking-related’ deaths a year in the US and 7 million worldwide, smoking is way ahead of COVID.
So I have to ask why the FDA is making the only manufacturer of organic cigarettes in the US deceive its customers by telling them that they cannot shield themselves from the harm being done by pesticides in all the other brands being offered to them, and that smoking tobacco without pesticides “USDA organic tobacco” is just as dangerous as smoking pesticide contaminated tobacco – every other Tobacco Cartel brand in America.
In designing and forcing this compliance, it can be demonstrated conclusively that FDA has in-depth institutional knowledge that smokers are price-sensitive in their smoking decisions and choices, and they know this because raising the price of cigarettes is the #1government strategy used by FDA and other government agencies in the “anti-smoking” business to force people to cut down or quit. Make cigarettes unaffordable, the mantra goes, and they will quit.
Of course, government-funded research has also shown conclusively, many times, that raising the price does not drive smokers to quit; it drives smokers to cheaper smokes. And of course no matter how cheap a tobacco product the government still takes the same cut – or actually increases it, claiming it’s to get the damned stubborn smokers to quit.
But what this policy also does is this:
Let’s say I’m a smoker who wants to quit, but not really (like most smokers) but let’s say that I am getting more aware of my health and think maybe smoking organic tobacco would be less harmful. I’ve heard all the stories about additives and cancer and ‘7000 chemicals’ in cigarettes and I know that organic means healthier so organic cigarettes might seem like a good idea.
But – the moment I pick up a pack of American Spirit organic cigarettes I see two things – they are telling me right up front that it isn’t any safer, and the price is a couple of bucks higher.
Well no thank you. I’ll just take some vitamins and keep smoking my Marlboros, or Camels, or Swisher Sweets.
So here’s a summary of what I see going on – take a look yourself and tell me I’m wrong.
1. FDA knows that smokers, especially low-income smokers, are price sensitive
2. FDA knows organic tobacco products must be priced higher than non-organic tobacco products simply because it is more expensive to produce organic agricultural products in any category
3. In 2015 FDA forced the manufacturer of American Spirit organic cigarettes to place a warning on the pack telling customers that ‘natural’ tobacco without ‘additives or chemicals’ is not safer than what they’re already smoking.
4. FDA couldn’t attack American Spirit “organic tobacco” in that 2015 action because that “organic” certification is part of USDA’s lucrative franchise and the two agencies work closely together to ensure that their client, the Tobacco Cartel, is protected.
5. So in 2017 the California Attorney General, at the instigation of and in ‘coordination’ with FDA, took legal action and ‘forced’ RJ Reynolds/American Spirit to say on the package that “organic tobacco does not mean safer tobacco”.
6. FDA knows that in addition to a higher price such warnings will this will keep at least some smokers from choosing organic cigarettes, which FDA/USDA knows are not contaminated with pesticide residues, in preference to all other non-organic brands, which FDA has institutional knowledge are contaminated with multiple pesticides including DDT in some brands popular in communities of color.
*For the remainder of this summary we’ll focus just on DDT, one of dozens of pesticides known to contaminate US cigarette brands
7. FDA knows the broad range of health impacts of DDT exposure including endocrine disorders, neurological disease, genetic damage, birth defects, cancer and much more
8. FDA knows that DDT is banned for all agricultural uses worldwide
9. FDA knows that specific tobacco product brands are contaminated with DDT
10. FDA knows that all cigarette brands except a single organic brand, American Spirit organic, are contaminated with dangerous pesticides and FDA knows the health impact of exposure to these pesticides
11. FDA knows that none of the pesticides that contaminate tobacco products have been tested for the health effects of exposure through inhalation by smoking because FDA knows that no such research has ever been funded
12. Since 2015 FDA has been forcing price-sensitive smokers to avoid the only alternative that will not expose them and their children to pesticides known to be health & life-threatening at exposure levels the FDA knows they will be exposed to when inhaling non-organic pesticide-contaminated tobacco products.
13. Since 2015 approximately 3 million American smokers have died from “smoking-related” disease. Approximately the same number of spontaneous abortions are reliably estimated by CDC to have occurred among smokers. Approximately 7 million of 32 million diabetics smoke, and exposure to DDT and other organochlorines has severe health consequences for diabetics. Approximately 12-14 million Americans smoke Swisher Sweets, a tobacco product proven to be contaminated with heavy concentrations of DDT. There is no data by which to directly estimate the impact of the FDA pro-active affirmative decision to expose these 12-14 million mostly Black and Brown smokers to DDT from this single tobacco product.
14. FDA is pursuing a strategic policy that FDA’s own research shows is impacting poor and marginalized smokers disproportionately. This is because brands that are most highly contaminated with the most dangerous chemicals are also the lowest-priced brands made with the cheapest imported tobacco. FDA has full institutional knowledge, through its research relationships with USDA, EPA and CDC among others, that imported tobacco is highly contaminated with pesticides and FDA knows that includes at least one banned pesticide – DDT – that is then used to manufacture tobacco products, which FDA pro-actively rejects as needing regulation or inspection of any kind.
15. The entire FDA/USDA strategy actually suits the Tobacco Cartel 100%, because now they believe it’s far less likely that anyone is going to ask why smoking organic cigarettes might be safer than smoking all the others.
FDA is directly complicit, along with co-conspirator ‘anti-smoking’ agencies and ‘anti-tobacco’ non-profits who collaborated on the design and implementation of this policy, and the Tobacco Cartel itself who is the behind-the-scenes director and prime beneficiary – always – in 100% of whatever the scale of disease and death is being caused by smokers being misled, lied to, and otherwise discouraged from choosing an organic tobacco product and who because of this widespread conspiracy are continuing their exposure to DDT and other life-threatening pesticides in non-organic tobacco products every day of their lives since the FDA’s implementation of this strategy in 2015.
This FDA strategy combined with the history of the US Surgeon General’s ‘warnings” are evidence of the widespread web of concealment and deceit created by the Cartel to shield themselves from – what? If they were not terrified of the disclosure of pesticide contamination of their products why would they have worked so tirelessly and at such great expense to create this complex network of checks and balances in their favor? And now of course the Cartel is trying to move people away from any relationship with anything called ‘tobacco’ and into straight nicotine hits. What isn’t understood is that this is a plan to move away from the exposure to massive liability that will happen when and if awareness begins to dawn of just what has been perpetrated through this trans-generational conspiracy and crime against humanity by private wealth, not a genocidal dictator or police state.
Yet every official statement including the Surgeon Generals warnings, seamlessly conflates smoking-related disease and smoking cigarettes with tobacco while they have institutional knowledge that the message is misleading and deceptive and may in fact be obscuring a major preventable contributing cause of smoking-related disease and death.
I believe that a conspiracy to conceal the threat created by pesticides in tobacco products exists and has existed for decades because the factual evidence is and has been in plain sight. However, it is as much about what is not there as what is there to be seen. What is not there is any published study of any possible pesticide residues in tobacco products since the early 1970s. For the past 50 years evidence of the multiple causal relationships between pesticide exposure at the molecular level – below the limits of detection – and human genetic and physical damage have been solidly established. There is no argument that pesticide exposure causes injury and death – there are literally thousands of studies of that. The only arguments among pesticides exposure & health researchers center around how much exposure to which substance or combination of substances causes what outcomes.
However, exposure by inhalation hundreds of times a day over years of smoking have never been studied – not once. Why would they, since it is only happening with tobacco products and that knowledge is sealed away from view.
Nevertheless everyone involved on the government side has or ought to have deep institutional factual knowledge that there are pesticide residues in tobacco products. Everyone involved also has or ought to have deep institutional factual knowledge that chronic exposure to many of these same pesticides, some at nano-levels, has been strongly associated or causally related to multiple diseases and conditions. These include breast cancer, obesity, neurological diseases, birth defects, degenerative diseases, cancer, and autism – by no means an exhaustive list, but how long does such a list have to be?
From the 1950s until present (2021) there has been institutional knowledge in multiple Federal agencies that field tobacco grown in the US is contaminated with residues. In fact there is rather detailed regulation of what pesticides can be sprayed on US tobacco. But that’s where it ends. No inspection of tobacco products, and no inspection of tobacco from Brazil or India – which is where the DDT contamination comes from, by the way. Beginning in the 1980s the US tobacco product ecosystem was increasingly populated with brands manufactured from tobacco grown in world jurisdictions without regulation of pesticides use on tobacco crops. For those countries, tobacco exports are a top revenue-generator, and millions of their farmers are dependent on tobacco for survival. There is no regulation, and US agencies acknowledge this fact. However, they do not inspect tobacco that is imported for manufacturing tobacco products for the residues of pesticides, and they only require that the importers certify that the shipment is not contaminated with any pesticides registered for use on tobacco in the US in excess of the US regulatory limits on field tobacco. There is no requirement that the importer disclose any pesticide residues of pesticides not registered in the US, nor that their shipment is not contaminated with the residues of any banned pesticides like the DDT and Carbendazim that our tests found on one brand of little cigars.
My argument here is that in 1965-69, when the health warnings on cigarette packs were being written by Congress and the US Surgeon General, through intense negotiation with the Tobacco Cartel and their Congressional representatives, the SG already had access to 15 years of environmental and health research not just on DDT but on an array of other organochlorines and then organophosphates. There was intense scientific and medical attention being paid to the environmental and health consequences of exposure. The USDA, the US Surgeon General, and the Congress knew that Tobacco and Cotton were the heaviest users of these chemicals. All this heavily-funded research was directed at the health consequences of exposure through commercial, agricultural and government spraying, industrial use, household bug sprays, and every other conceivable way that people could be exposed.
But never on exposure by smoking contaminated cigarettes. Federal research money was never then or since directed toward any such investigation – it never happened, in spite of the intense concern over the causes of smoking-related disease, and in spite of the massive body of research on pesticide exposure – although never on humans and never on exposure by smoking/inhalation.
The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 and the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969
Required a health warning on cigarette packages
Banned cigarette advertising in the broadcasting media
Called for an annual report on the health consequences of smoking
Historian Samuel Hays summarizes the evolution of concern over DDT:
“Whereas proceedings against DDT in the late 1960s had centered on adverse ecological consequences, similar proceedings in the 1970s focused primarily on human health.”
This paper has been focused on one insecticide, DDT, that has been shown to contaminate a single sample of one tobacco product. In the same set of lab tests, five samples of five brands were tested. All showed contamination with insecticides and fungicides that are known to have human health consequences. Exposure to some of the chemicals detected are known to have human health consequences at the molecular level – below the limits of detection. So if they are detectable, their concentration must be more than sufficient to cause the damage attributed to them at molecular levels.
Here are links to every one of the Surgeon General’s publications, including every one on tobacco and smoking. There are only a few minor and insignificant references to pesticides (>10) and there are no references to their presence as residues in tobacco products or to their potential impact on smokers’ health. There are no research references to pesticide studies – even any unrelated to smoking and just about the dangers of exposure. Nobody reading any of these reports would have even a hint that it was anything but tobacco and nicotine killing smokers and destroying the lives of their children.
BTW – when you have any of these reports open you can search the entire document instantly by using Control+F (PC) or Command+F (Mac), then enter the term you’re looking for like ‘pesticide’ in the search box that pops up, and it will find every instance of that term in the document. Handy when searching crap like this.
Surgeon General’s Reports
- Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health
- The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress
- 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action
- Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults
- How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease
- The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation
- The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke
- Bone Health and Osteoporosis
- The Health Consequences of Smoking
- Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity
- Women and Smoking
- Youth Violence
Calls To Action
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities
- National Call To Action To Promote Oral Health
- The Surgeon General’s Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior
Conference Reports and Proceedings
- Closing the Gap: A National Blueprint to Improve the Health of Persons with Mental Retardation
- Report of the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health
Workshop Reports and Proceedings
- Proceedings of the Surgeon General’s Workshop on Improving Health Literacy
- Surgeon General’s Workshop on Women’s Mental Health
- Surgeon General’s Workshop on Making Prevention of Child Maltreatment a National Priority
- Report of the Surgeon General’s Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment
- Report of the Surgeon General’s Workshop on Osteoporosis and Bone Health
- Report of a Surgeon General’s Working Meeting on The Integration of Mental Health Services and Primary Health Care
Find anything in any of these documents, produced with great effort at great expense over the course of generations? Pretty strange oversight, wouldn’t you say?
To wrap up this post, here is a table showing the incredible number of pesticides that are actually permitted on US-grown tobacco. The table isn’t from any official US source – you’ll never find that info. This is from a website of a lab testing company that apparently does trials to find out what levels of these pesticides can be detected on tobacco grown here in the US. But don’t worry – most US tobacco is considered so clean by countries that do have pesticide residue standards, like the EU, that most of the US tobacco with these pesticides will wind up overseas. US smokers get the really gnarlylike stull DDT and Carbendazin from places like India and Brazil. That’s a whole ‘nuther story – and much worse than what you see here. Which is bad enough – right?
Table I: Percent recoveries for pesticides included in the EPA approved list and USDA monitoring list for tobacco determined using QuEChERS extraction, dSPE cleanup, and GCxGC-TOFMS analysis.
|500 ppb Fortified Sample (100 pg on-column)||50 ppb Fortified Sample (10 pg on-column)|
|Pesticide||Regulatory List*||50 mg PSA, 50 mg C18, 50 mg GCB||25 mg PSA, 7.5 mg GCB||50 mg PSA, 50 mg C18, 50 mg GCB||25 mg PSA, 7.5 mg GCB|
|* EPA approved list and USDA monitoring list|