(Editor’s note) If you have been following my posts of the preceding 12 chapters of “Opium & The Opium Appetite”, you know that the author holds prohibitionists in pure contempt. He objects to their obnoxious moralizing, but he objects even more because the remedies they have always proposed – moral condemnation, forced confessions, and foul imprisonment – are demonstrably ineffective and invariably do nothing but cause further suffering and harm.
In this chapter we see Alonzo Calkins as a doctor who fully appreciates Opium as a powerful natural medicine, one which had no equal in his day and, truth be told, has no equal today, although finally the world is also finally beginning to re-awaken to the powerful, natural healing virtues of Cannabis and Coca. So-called pharmaceutical science has discovered plenty of ways to take the basic power of Opium and magnify it many times over through chemical manipulation, but if Mother Earth had never given her People the Opium Poppy, doctors would still be stuck with leeches and bleeding to “heal” their patients.
(From) “Opium And The Opium Appetite”
By Alonzo Calkins, MD (1870)
Chapter XIII: Utilities And Anomalies Of Opium
“Quo nihil magis meliusve terris Fata donavere, bonique divi.” – Horace
“Take the goods the gods provide thee.” – Dryden
Like as the prince of Athenian orators, when interrogated upon the essential constituents of eloquence, pronounced action to be the first, the second, and the third cardinal element, so the physician, whom long experience has made sage, on surveying the broad field of the materia medica, would name opium as the “quo magis nil simile aut secundum,” his first, his second, and his third reliance.
Opium has been denominated, and in no extravagance of hyperbole, the grand catholicon for human ills. Laudation here has scarcely been exhausted even in the excess. In the “Opiologia” of Wedelius, opium is the “medicamentum ccelitus demissum,” the heaven-born gift. Tillingius styles it the “ anchora salutis sacra,” – the bower anchor of health. Sydenham says that “medicine without it would go at a limping gait;” and John Hunter, in an exuberance of enthusiasm, exclaims: “Thank God for opium!” Van Swieten in his estimate does not fall behind: “Opium, le plus efficace de tous les medicaments et sans quoi tout de guerir cesserait d’exister, est le remede de quoi le Tout-Puissant a fait present pour le bonheur et la consolation de l’humanite souffrante.”
Opium is indeed the Columbiad of the medical arsenal. Of this most potent agent thus writes Dr. Lee: “In disease, suppose the dose restricted within warrantable bounds, neither headache nor nausea nor discomfort in any form ensues, but a peaceful sleep is brought on, to be succeeded by a feeling of refreshing. Not merely is nervous excitement quieted and physical depression guarded against, but more: when there has been degenerescence of tissue, as from phagedenic ulcerations, opium, while it assuages pain, arrests in notable ways the morbid waste that is going on and re-energizes the languishing functions. The powers of this life-renovator, working out as they do under sinister conditions, appear indeed almost marvellous, far surpassing in their magnitude any force that inheres in alcoholics or quinine, or in all the anaesthetics besides.”
In the hour also that presages cold death’s approach to disjoint the mortal fabric, opium viewed as a euthanasial resource alone is second only to the vital air we breathe.
As an instance of the adventitious support that opium often renders under disease, the case of the late Dr. O. of New York may be adverted to. An invalid half his life and from inherited causes, he was afflicted mainly with a form of neuralgia which seemed disposed to concentrate its force in the knee joints. Pains most acute, of the spasmodic sort, would suddenly invade the parts and without any premonition whatever, and pass off again perhaps as suddenly. The suffering at such times was excruciating, amounting indeed oftentimes to an agony. By-and-by there were evidences of what is denominated locomotor ataxia, which would show itself for instance on his getting into his wagon, when he would be a considerable time exercised in effecting the proper upright balance. There was but one resource that had been found of service to the mitigation of his pains, and that was morphine. This he took very regularly and for a good while, two grains three times for the day. His life, which indeed was by this help rendered tolerable only, was doubtless prolonged at least ten years beyond the limit by natural course. A prominent symptom, and one of great annoyance, was a habitual constipation, which had no other relief for the time than in the use of cathartic pills taken every three to four days.
Life in this instance may be said to have gradually worn down with the progress of the nervous exhaustion, and death surely was rather a boon to be longed for than an evil to be deprecated.
The magical virtues which popular belief has ascribed to the poppy have been embodied in story and commemorated in song. Thus the illustrious Carthaginian queen – “evicta dolore”, overcome with grief and chagrin in the prospect of being deserted and left forlorn by the wily adventurer, to whom, out of the fulness of her confiding heart, she had so generously proffered an asylum and a refuge after his toilsome wanderings, all-despairing now, while dissembling her ultimate purpose, devises this stratagem. As if hoping, when other hope had failed, by availing herself of some magic influence, still to detain the fickle Aineas within her realm and against the declared decrees of fate, she commissions her sister Anna to undertake a journey away to Ocean’s farthest margins, even unto Ethiopia’s bound, there to seek out a Massylian woman, priestess in Apollo’s temple (and the same who had preserved the golden apples in the gardens of the Hesperides, by soporizing the dragon that was lying in wait and watching his chance for them), and there to procure from the sorceress a phannakon that should dissolve her present enchantment, and deliver her desolate spirit from the thraldom in which the perjured Trojan now held her captive.
The piquant Moliere, ever liberal of his satire in squaring accounts with the doctors, while ridiculing the routine medicaments of his day, has indirectly, perhaps unwittingly, pronounced a laudation upon opium.
That opium imparts to the imagination a wonderful vivacity and to the tongue a most lively volubility, is a fact that in instances has had signal display. There was Jane, Duchess of Gordon, half a century back, the cynosure of the gay throng and the life-spirit of the conversazione, whose life had been of as little account to the outside world as her death was of concern to the magic circle within which she had lived and moved. She drew her peculiar powers of inspiration confessedly from this same energizing fountain.
A New York lady, of scarcely inferior but only of more circumscribed fame, and a rival who might have been by chance association, there was, a patient some twenty years ago of Dr. C. A. Lee. “My friend, Miss H. (thus writes Dr. L.), a lady of brilliant endowments by nature, to which, however, opium gave additional lustre, was accustomed to have her paregoric, a pint, daily. Regularly as the morning came her bottle went to the apothecary’s, and by night the contents were used up. Bright as a star in Andromeda’s girdle, she shone amid the throng from eight o’clock in the evening to midnight and past, often seeing the grey morning ere she retired for bed. Marvellous indeed were her parts and her power of display; but then it took her the entire day to rouse the fires and get up steam.”
A pertinent case belonging to the same family is contributed by Dr. Quackenbos. Mrs. B., who died about ten years since at the age of 65, contracted the habit of stimulating upon opium, using the same according to a doctor’s prescription for hemorrhage incident to the first parturition. A sherry wine glass three times a day was her measure, and in regard to quantity she was always very precise, not having deviated in any degree as was believed for the last fifteen years. Being a lady of fashion with abundant wealth, she divided her time between city and her country house, without occupation either physical or mental, such as was likely to give a favorable diversion to a growing morbid taste. Change for the worse in almost every respect grew upon her as the months advanced. The skin contracted a turbid yellowish hue and had a good deal the feel of parchment. What, however, is an exceptional condition, she had no regular constipation, nor did she in the progress of years get dropsical.
Her daily routine was this. Four o’clock in the morning was her hour for bed and from this on to ten, when she had her first glass or eye-opener. By this time the whole frame would be agitated with most intolerable tremors; but a cup of black coffee (the strongest), taken soon after, helped to steady the nerves very decidedly. The day was worried through as best it might be by one who was without the capacity to enjoy, and with whom the hours went laggingly along. The second glass was upturned at six in the evening, a little precedent to her breakfast, the first meal of the day. The third glass was taken at eleven, and now she was ready for the living room. In the daytime she looked like a woman; now she appeared as of the “fat, fair and forty” age (without the fat). The transformation she had undergone by this was marvellous even to her familiar acquaintances. Her skin (for she was of a sanguineous temperament) now shone again transparent as in youth, her eyes sparkled as with a gem glitter, and the brilliancy of her conversational talents concentrated upon herself the admiring attention of all beholders. Her dinner hour was now twelve, and at this time she had an enjoyable repast. Her death had no connection with the habit, having followed upon an attack of pneumonia.
The transient exaltation of the imaginative faculty under the inspiration of opium has an exemplification in the polished and highly poetic style of Dr. Thomas Brown’s treatise on the “Philosophy of the Human Mind.” In elaborating his chapters the author would sometimes trench upon the deep hours of the night, feeding the intellectual fire meanwhile whenever it flagged with bountiful potations of whiskey that had been “seasoned” from the laudanum vial.
Sir James Mackintosh, a pupil of the doctor’s at the time, hearing the office one morning somewhat abruptly and unexpectedly, happened to overhear a private order (which was intended for the daughter’s ear alone} delivered in the following terms; “ My dear, bring me the moderate stimulus of a hundred drops.”
Distinguished criminal-lawyers (and a conspicuous instance was Erskine of England) have been wont to prepare themselves for a special effort with the same sort of help.
In 1770 (Kerr) a famine pervaded India, and so severe and widespread did the suffering become, that only people of wealth had the means of providing for their wants, and making their condition at all tolerable, in the substitution of opium for other food, procuring it finally at a most extravagant cost.
Says a correspondent of the L. Med. Gazette, concerning the cotton-famine of 1863-4: “More suffering was experienced among the factory people of Lancashire (a class that now make large use of the stimulus), through pecuniary inability to purchase their opium, than from restriction in their food: thus extensively had laudanum superseded food proper.”
“Grande aliquid, quod pulmo animoc pnelargus anhelet.”- Pkrsius
“The London poor, many of them (says Dr. Anstie), use opium considerably, but in the form of laudanum rather, and more extensively when they are upon short wages. Under the force of the stimulus, the desire for food proper is evidently dispelled in a most remarkable way.” The halcarras (runners between Bombay and Surat) sustain themselves during their fleet journeys upon the opium bolus, without other addition than a small stock of dates (Dallaway).
Could the thousands of our soldier volunteers, the half-starved, half-frozen gaol victims of Winder and Wirz, in that Dartmoor of Secessiondom, Andersonville Prison, have been granted the dole of a grain ration only of the quietive, hundreds from among the thousands that there perished might even at this hour be rejoicing by the family hearthstones again. Let the women of “the crafts” be admonished how they come to supplement with an opium pill the scanty noon lunch at the shop.
This roborative virtue inherent in opium has been put to practical service upon various emergencies. Dr. Burnes had a journey to make one night in the Cutch country through a rough region, without so much as a bridle path for road. With his guide, a native, he made a halt at midnight for refreshment. Following the example of the other, he was persuaded to use a drachm of opium, taking one-half himself and giving the remainder to his horse. Having re- mounted, they pursued their journey of forty miles to its completion by morning, riders and horses both having held out in very good condition.
There was a Canadian farmer, one Paxton, now sixty years old, healthy and athletic to an unusual degree, who had been habituated to opium a good while, having taken at the rate of two ounces, and in his later years three ounces per week. With a proper amount he was able to do the work of two common men, but without it he was reduced at once to a state of prostration and misery. In his desperation he would, if necessary, even send his boys over the winter snows for miles of a night to procure a supply. He was a free liver sure enough, for he drank whiskey in proportion, and chewed tobacco besides.
Dr. F. D. Lente knew an old cripple bent up with rheumatism, whom he had repeatedly seen drink off his quarter-tumbler of laudanum, and without more ado than a toper would make over his half-gill of whiskey. This much he would take as he could get it, whether it was by purchase or as a free gift, for. as he said of the draught, “It set him up all straight again.
A case every way remarkable if not altogether unique, evincing how the depression arising from short food and the exhaustion coming of exposure to the elements combined may be surmounted through the energizing operation of opium, is here recorded as it was detailed in the hearing of the writer by the chief party concerned, and as confirmed by a surviving brother, Capt. R. H. Griswold of Old Lyme, Conn., and by the late Dr. N. S. Perkins of New London.
In the year 1818-19 Captain Henry Griswold set sail in the ship Almira, bound from Cadiz for New York, with a cargo of salt. A few days out the vessel from being overladen sprang a leak, requiring an immediate abandonment. The crew took to the long-boat on its being brought alongside, though at the risk of being swamped, for the ship went under in about fifteen minutes. There was barely time to throw aboard a single cask of water, besides a few biscuits hastily gathered up from the dinner table; for the rest they must trust to luck.
Afloat now, captain and crew to the number of nineteen, in a crowded craft without shelter of any kind, they were “driven by the wind and tossed” to contend with withering sun and pelting storm and surging sea as best they might, and for twenty-one long days and nights. In progress the day-ration was necessarily reduced to one gill of water and half a cracker. Three of the number, having meantime gone into a delirium, were secured to the thwarts, and of these one died on the seventeenth day. The captain, constitutionally enthusiastic and jovial, had kept up the heart of his men with cheering words, interspersed now and then with a song or a yarn, and an occasional sip allowed from the winter-green vial he had taken along. Thus they fared.
A Saturday night had come, when the captain, having dropped into a doze for the first time, seemed to himself to spy land in the distance (they were nearing Fayal Harbor, though unconsciously), and upon the shore a man in the habit of a friar standing and beckoning Awaking, he breaks out in these words: “Cheer up, my boys, and worry the night through, we shall sight land tomorrow.” Sure enough, (and who shall doubt any longer about dreams and premonitions!) next morning there hove in sight and within hailing distance a boat bearing what appeared to be the identical friar as seen in the dream. They were soon in port, but almost exhausted, all but the captain, the only man of the company now able to raise himself upon his legs.
Here is a mystery truly, now to be explained. The captain, when ready to leave his cabin finally, on casting his eye hurriedly around caught sight of a vial that was standing apart on a shelf. This, without any forethought, he slipped into his vest pocket, taking from the medicine chest at the same time the vial of wintergreen. From the latter he distributed to the men once a week regularly; the other vial (and it proved to be the laudanum vial) he reserved for his own private use. This he applied from time to time to his lips and tongue, but stealthily and unobserved by the crew. The effect in reviving his strength and spirits was indeed magical; and to the use made of the liquid he attributed (and correctly, no doubt) his sustained power of endurance. His constipation (that most pestering symptom appertaining to sea life) he managed effectually on getting ashore, with the help of a half-pint draught from a bottle of olive oil. Another very noticeable effect of the laudanum was that it made the stomach tolerant of sea water.
Among the Orientals opium is used as a preparative for the battle-field. In 1850 (Chinese Register) just as a fight with the rebel force on the Northern frontier was impending, it was found one morning that the imperial soldiery to the number of some thousands had made a stampede for a foray upon the neighboring country, with the intent of renewing their stock of opium. What precise advantage, however, is to be expected from such stimulus may be calculated from a fact mentioned by Hue in relation to the campaign of 1832 against the Yaous, that the emperor’s army, though numerically superior, fell much below their adversaries in pluck and steadiness. The repeated successes secured by the rebel chief, often against great odds, are ascribed by this tourist to the abjuration of opium, as exacted of them in accordance with the prescribed rule of military service.
The Rajpoots (that soldier-class whose meat and drink one might almost say is opium), when the morning preceding an expected battle has come, take a double charge of the stimulant, and thus fortified they are able to confront their enemy as with a wall of fire, never receding, never yielding, but like tigers fighting on even to the death.
The martial impetuosity of the Turk, so diverse from his habitual apathy of demeanor at home, is wakened up by similar incitements, just as “Dutch courage” on the Zuyder Zee is provoked by draughts of Schiedam.
The Moslem soldier, says Barbier, in anticipation of an onslaught to be made upon a host in the field or upon a beleaguered town, prepares himself with an extra of the kind. This “bello vivida virtus” is thus portrayed by Byron in his “Siege of Ismail:”
“And one enormous shout of “Allah!” rose
In the same moment, loud as e’er the roar of war’s most mortal engines,
To their foes hurling defiance; city, stream, and shore resounded,
“Allah” and the clouds, which close with thickening canopy the conflict o’er,
Vibrate to the Eternal Name:
Hark! through all sounds it pierceth – “Allah, Allah, Hu!”
During the month Ramadan or April (the Mohammedan Lent-season), when no food of any description can be swallowed between sunrise and sunsetting on pain of anathematization, this sort of device is often practised: two or perhaps three opium-pellets (hashisch is sometimes combined), folded together concentrically, yet so that each is enclosed in its separate wrapper, are thus swallowed in mass, to undergo successive solutions in the stomach.
The great poet of his day, who was wont to see with his own eyes whatever was worth the seeing and describing, makes a brief allusion in the following lines:
“Just at this season Ramazani’s fast
Through the long day its penance did maintain;
But when the lingering twilight-hour was past,
Revel and feast resumed the rule again.”
Certain anomalous uses to which opium has been applied, for it is a kind of double-edged tool that must be handled cautiously every way, a something “dextraque laevaque a parte timendum”, may be properly adverted to here. In those Eastern countries where tortures are self-inflicted by way of penance, opium (or it may be bhang, one or both) is the common preparative.
There was the fakir that came under Heber’s notice in India, who in his journeyings around was wont to exhibit to the gaping crowd his tongue pierced with a bodkin. The Hindu widow was prepared for the suttee by a drugging of the same sort. The dervishes of Etolia, says Tournefort, undergo a like discipline, and then run the gauntlet between flaming torches, severely scorched, but apparently indifferent to pain. At Delhi and other Indian capitals, where effeminate rajahs, the degenerate representatives of the great Timur, long held nominal sovereignty, but where petticoated neuters really guided the reins, there once obtained a practice of this kind. To obviate the rivalry for the succession that was very sure to arise among a large household of superfluous princes of the blood, there was hit upon the device of reducing them to the condition of imbecility through a systematic training upon opium from childhood forward.
At Stamboul they used a more expeditious instrument, the bowstring. Aurungzebe had an invention of his own devising, an opiated elixir, Poust so called, which he was wont to commend as a morning draught to obnoxious courtiers and suspected sultanas. Such potion, while less repulsive to appearance, was none the less efficacious than the glaive of the Capidji bachi, or than the sack and a fast anchorage in the Bosphorus.
Exploitations upon opium here at home have thus far taken less of the tentative form, but then the likelihood is we shall be able from time to time to “report progress.” The same element used by the pen painter to heighten the coloring of the “ horrible and awful,” and that supplies puffiness to the platform spouter in his laborings upon the forcible feeble of oratory, may serve equally well the purpose of the astute drover for “putting into condition” a limpsy bullock before his exhibition at Bull’s-head, or that of the stable jockey in getting up his spavined jade for a third appearance at Tattersall’s: just as in India teamsters and farriers contrive to give to a hide naturally coarse and rough a sleeky look and feel, or to infuse a mettlesome vigor into the flabby muscles of a spent animal by a liberal administration of poudre arsenicale (Morewood).
(Editor’s Note) In this chapter, Calkins relates tales of both great tolerance for Opium and great sensitivity to its influence, and doesn’t go to any lengths to explain the difference except for remarking that Opium gets them all in the end. Of course, dying at the age of 100 after smoking Opium all your life doesn’t really do much for what Calkins wants us to think of as a death sentence. Unlike many of his other chapters, however, he doesn’t rant and condemn the moral weakness of those who over-indulge, nor does he go to great lengths regarding the life circumstances of those he describes. Some of these “collected tales” are quite interesting; the rest merely ho-hum. I am posting this chapter mainly to maintain the flow of the narrative. I couldn’t find a graphic that illustrates what Calkins calls “Opium Idiosyncrasies” but perhaps this one is idiosyncratic enough to make the point. I didn’t know that Buddy Holly played the banjo.
(From) “Opium And The Opium Appetite”
By Alonzo Calkins, MD (1870)
Chapter XII: Idiosyncrasies
“Quo teneam, vultus mutantem,Protea, vinclo?” – Horace
“’Tis green, ’tis green, sir, I assure ye –
Green (cries the other in a fury),
Why, sir, d’ye think I’ve lost my eyes?” – Merrick
Individual constitutions here and there turn up to notice, upon which the action of opium appears to be nearly if not quite innocuous; others again, if not altogether intolerant of the malign influence, are extremely impressible to such influence. All such are cases of idiosyncrasy.
Organizations there are which seem fortified by the very constitution of their nature against exterior influences altogether. Thus speaks Cabanis: “N’oubliez pas jamais, qu’il est des organisations qui triomphent de tous les exces, parcequ’ils ont recu de Dieu le privilege de se retremper ou tant d’autres succombent.
Memorable instances may be cited in illustration.
Darius (says Athenaeus), an extravagant wine-bibber, was never overcome by intoxication. This monarch took the pains to have engraved over his tomb the following epitaph (Henderson): “Here lies the man who could drink more wine and bear it more bravely than any other.”
The great commoner, Pitt, on retiring from the House of Commons after an exciting debate, would drink off two bottles of port as if it had been so much lemonade. Carre d’ Avignon instances an invalid, yet short of his fiftieth year, who daily consumed two-thirds of a litre of brandy, and with this two pounds of tobacco in the course of a week. Marcet knew of a case not unlike, a man who besides his pint of spirit used up in the course of the day a gallon to a gallon and a half of country-ale. Drinkwater of Worcestershire had a field laborer who could drink his sixteen quarts of cider in the working hours of the day; but even this man is put into the shade by a Welsh squire told of, who weighed forty stone, and whose score was eight gallons of “home-brewed.”
Brissiac, one hundred and sixteen years old as reported, died as he had lived, with a cigar in his mouth. Von Tschudi while in Peru met a coquero, a man reputedly one hundred and thirty years of age (a centenarian undoubtedly), who had been a coca eater the larger part of his life, but who had never been sick, not for a day.
There was a gentleman of New Jersey, Dr. G. known to the writer, who died something more than ten years since at the ripe age of eighty-two. This man, hale and agile, an early riser, a temperate eater, and of marked mental activity, was a noted consumer of whiskey, though never to the extent of inebriation. The quantity for a single drink was about half a wine glass, but this was repeated three times or sometimes oftener before breakfast, and so in proportion for the other parts of the day, to the amount altogether of one to one and a half pints. Such cases, however, belong rather to the catalogue of rare cases.
Tolerance of opium is as conspicuous as is that of other narcotic stimuli. There was Mahomet Rhiza Khan of Schiraz, who took opium enough at a time to poison thirty ordinary persons, and yet when seen ten years after when he had got to be ninety-six years old, he was to appearance as vigorous as ever.
In the Pharmaceutical Transactions (London) of 1860 is the report of an inquest held in the case of a young rogue, who, now tired of life and prepared to shuffle off the mortal coil, proceeded (as appeared from a memorandum left on his table) after the following manner: Laudanum, a half-ounce draught, was followed up by eight grains of the gum; but these proving inefficient, four grains of morphine and a swallow of Battley’s liquor (what he had kept as a reserve) were superadded, all having been used in about a week’s time. The pistol completed the business: “Il lui falloit, au lieu d’opium, Un pistolet, et du courage.”
A more extraordinary case than the preceding has been published by Dr. MacGillivray of Canada. A man of good estate, thirty-seven years of age, who used alcoholic liquors withal and to excess, had besides been addicted to the use of opium now three years. One day and in the doctor’s presence he swallowed a drachm of morphine in half a tumbler of whiskey, and in twenty minutes from this four ounces of laudanum, and finally in the evening, after their return from the opera, he finished off with fifteen grains additional of morphine, with whiskey as at first no prejudicial effects had followed to appearance, though the man admitted his constitution was being gradually undermined. Death from delirium tremens occurred some months after.
Instances less conspicuous, but scarcely less significant, are of no infrequent occurrence. Dr. Russell at Aleppo was one day with a Turk, who in his presence swallowed a drachm lozenge in the morning, repeating his dose at noon and again at evening, and without evident prejudice. Dr. Tait of Edinburgh knew a lady of mature age, ruddy-faced and sound, who had enjoyed her daily half-ounce of laudanum for twenty-four years. Wilberforce, who, as advised by Dr. Pitcairn, had used opium for its roborant power a term of years (though in moderate amounts only), observes, that for any peculiar sensations experienced he was scarcely aware on any one day whether he had taken his dose or had forgotten it. There is a New York lady of patrician connections, Mrs. M., who began the use of opium not far from twenty-five years back, and for causes incidental to the married state. She has reared a family of children nevertheless. Her measure for a good number of years (and what has not since been materially deviated from) was two drachms of morphia every day. The only obvious indication of the habit a certain sparkle in the eyes and a very moderate exaltation of the spirits, and the only morbid effect of consequence, a transient diarrhoea after any casual intermission.
In all such cases, however, signs of deterioration will ultimately show themselves (Dr.L.). In a lower sphere of life was an elderly lady of New Jersey, who used to come over to Moreton’s every three or four days for her opium, seldom varying inside of half a drachm or exceeding a drachm. Thus she did for ten years (though she had been an opium eater for twice that period) down to her death, which occurred about 1850, she being then in her sixty-ninth year. Health in the general was fair, constipation was never complained of, the countenance showed nothing usual other than a degree of sallowness, and the death appears to have had no obvious connection with her habit.
In the London Lancet of 1837 is a narrative by Morewood of an Indian prince, a sensualist of the Oriental type proper, pampered in his imbecility of enjoyment by whatever power could command or gold could purchase. The account is his own, as given on a visit of the English ambassador. Eighteen hours of the twenty-four he spent in sleep (if a dreamy stupor be such), being aroused at intervals, and then only for the renewal of his boluses; the remaining time he passed in a state of half-waking, engrossed ith his hallucinations and reveries. This potentate that was by a Dei-gratia right purely, but victim really to a bondage more abject than pertained to the humblest of his menial attendants, used ounces of opium every day, taking no food proper, a little pilau only excepted. A servile imitator without the merit of originality, he practised upon a text that had been proclaimed centuries before: “Eat, drink, and sleep – what can the rest avail us? – So spake that sceptred fool, Sardanapalus.”
At the opposite extreme are cases as remarkable, evincing the idiosyncrasy of intolerance. An instance is given by Reaumur. Several young men having come together one evening for a carousal, it was agreed to make an experiment upon one of the number, by dropping into his wine a four-grain powder of opium. The individual upon whom the deception was practised having retired to bed, was not thought of again until the next morning, when he was found rigid in death. Tournon gives the case of a lad with earache, whose ear having been plugged with a bolus of four grains, he fell into a sleep soon after, but to wake no more. Morphine too in the proportionately small dose of one grain, and half an ounce of laudanum also (if not less than this), have acted fatally (Sieveking).
A very unusual exemplification of extreme sensitiveness under morphine, in the person of Dr. Vandervoort of New York, is here given as communicated by himself. For some unwonted and extreme nervousness, the doctor has now and then found a wonderful quietive in morphine, but what is especially noticeable is the amount of effect so out of proportion to the extremely small quantity used. Three minims of Magendie’s solution (only 1/4 of a grain of morphine) would within a moderate space throw him into a state of serene sedation and most voluptuous repose, to be followed in three or four hours by a profuse sudorific action of the most comfortable kind, and finally by a sleep for the night calm and refreshing. No nausea or other unpleasant symptom was felt in the morning, unless the amount had been exceeded by a single drop or two, or in case the original dose had been repeated.
There is an idiosyncrasy of a secondary order, and of artificial creation rather, the creature of habit carried to excess, but none the less distinguishable and peculiar when once established. This is a morbid lesion of some kind, which, however perplexing to the scrutiny of the anatomist, is none the less discernible in its developments. Here or there may be observed a case of extreme sensitiveness and impressibility of the stomach under the action of opium, whatever be the preparation used or however reduced the dose. Perseverance in the use, or a revived use only after a period of intermission, becomes doubly hazardous. Analogies may be observed in the action of the bromides, of lead, of mercurial salts, upon such as have once undergone the characteristic organic changes. A lady, Miss Louisa X., then under the care of the present writer, suffered once a severe salivation of more than three weeks’ continuance, and, all from a ten-grain dose of calomel, notwithstanding that the medicine had been followed within four hours by oil as a counter-agent This pathologic excitability of the organism had been established through the intemperate employment of mercurials, more than ten years before, against a malarious fever.
The popular belief that opium, used habitually, if in moderation, is proprio vigore pernicious, is a proposition to be accepted only with qualifications. The differences observed are ascribable almost as much to race perhaps as to individual temperament. The peoples of the Orient generally, being of the phlegmatic cast more, are able to bear with more certain impunity than Europeans, not stimuli only but narcotics as well, be these alcoholic liquors or opium or tobacco. The Chinese, as Dr. Parker observes, have indeed “a susceptibility to opium like wax to the seal.”
European families, if perhaps less responsive under the primal influence, appear altogether less tolerant under the permanent impression. If not “wax to receive,” yet “marble to retain” they certainly are. Dr. Macpherson says, that though the Chinese, rich and poor as well, are smokers in so large proportion, nevertheless as a people they are athletic and vigorous and capable of great endurance, and that the lower orders both as to intelligence and physical stamina are quite equal if not superior to the uncultivated classes of the West.
Sir H. Pottinger, and also Mas, Spanish envoy at Peking, have drawn similar inferences from their observations. Even Dr. Little, while insisting that body and mind with it do not seldom wear out from excess, holds that the majority suffer no more from smoking opium than do Englishmen from smoking tobacco. The coolies certainly, inveterate smokers as they are, scarcely yield in persevering endurance to any class we could pit against them.
The indolent Turk too, as appears, is fully as tolerant of the narcotic as his neighbor of the Farther East. A great consumer of tobacco, coffee, and opium, one and all, he breaks down only exceptionally. Turn him out for the big doses. Edward Smith met with a gentleman in Smyrna, who took his three drachms in the morning and at night again, and without experiencing either exhilaration or narcotism in an unwonted degree. This person himself expressed the conviction, however, that his extravagance was wearing him out.
On the borders of the Mediterranean and the Euxine with their balmy skies, like instances, not uncommon, could scarcely be matched here in Cisatlantic land. The prima-facie objection to opium lies no more in the possible extravagance of use and the incidental liabilities than in the presumption, that the habit once fastened upon the man is fixed irreversibly, impressible to no impulse of the will-power from within, unyielding before any moral persuasives brought to bear against it from without. Facilis descensus – smooth is the slide over the slippery verge, but, revocare gradum – to face the whirl and surmount an overwhelming tide, here is a conflict too mighty for mortal endeavor. The desperate opium eater is like some reckless mariner pushing his fragile bark along an unexplored sea, careless of the hidden rock on which he may split or of the foamy eddy into which he is being furiously borne, until in a moment he has passed from sight, “Imo barathri ter gurgite sorptus.”
(Editor’s Note) This chapter contains some pretty offensive, elitist, racist language, so please be advised.
This chapter is a recitation of horrors, in particular the terrible price that infants and children pay for toxic substances ingested by their mothers before and during pregnancy. The damage done by using toxic Opium-based quack “medicines” to keep infants quiet and manageable was a world-wide phenomenon in the 1800’s, directly attributable to ruthless exploitation of gullible women promoted through the advertising of hundreds of tonics and elixirs. These “medicines” did indeed contain opium, but not fresh, pure opium gathered directly from the poppy. The manufacturers of these toxic brews used instead the cheapest dregs of global Opium commerce along with alcohol, morphine, heroin, and other popular toxins like mercury and bromine to boost the sedative effects of their “infant syrups”.
Interestingly enough, in 19th Century accounts of opium growing villages where people used pure opium from infancy, and where babies were fed opium straight from the field primarily because it dulled hunger, although everybody in these villages were opium addicts in the sense that they were daily lifetime users, the accounts that describe the rural poverty and primitive living conditions don’t describe the horror and degradation of addiction, but often report – somewhat bemusedly – widespread longevity and good health. Starvation, poverty and disease seem to have been the biggest obstacle to living long healthy lives in these villages, not Opium addiction. For the most part in these disparaging and racist 19th Century reports, scenes of degeneration and human degradation due to Opium addiction are confined to the cities, far away from the poppy fields and far down the chain of toxic adulteration of the opium and inhuman exploitation of the people.
Calkins joins others of his age and class and is at his judgmental, racist worst in those parts of this chapter where he analyzes the degeneration of the human race under the influence of opium, but that does not reduce the usefulness of his observations of life in America as he encountered it in his medical practice. Neither does the racism and smug superiority of the observers he quotes from around the world negate the factual component of their observations of the effects of cheap, adulterated, toxic Opium on poor, ignorant and castaway people compared with the relative good health and longevity of people in the rural Opium-growing villages.
In reading this chapter what strikes me the most clearly is that virtually none of the terrible fates of the people that Calkins describes were created through moderate consumption of pure, natural Opium; they are instead quite obviously victims, people whose lives are equal parts misery, pain and hopelessness, and who turned to whatever they believed would give them even a moment’s peace, regardless of the consequences for them or their children. That is the horror described here, although Dr. Calkins does not quite have the perspective to see the true nature of the horrors he describes. We can’t condemn him for this shortcoming – how many of us, were we living in 1870 and seeing the world that he experienced every day, would know any better?
What I find unforgivable is that today, 150 years later, the ruling classes whose wealth comes largely from exploitation of helpless people are still successfully convincing the “good people” of every society to blame both the victims and the substances that the victims use to escape their painful lives, and to ignore the plain evidence of their rulers’ greed and consummate evil. The continuing success of this transparent mind manipulation and the failure of society’s institutions to call this class of despotic parasites to justice is the most solid evidence I can find (along, of course, with nuclear and biological weapons in the hands of madmen) that the human race is quite likely doomed – not the fact that frightened, suffering people continue to try to escape the calculated misery of their lives in any way they can.
“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Chapter XI: Immature Development And Family Degeneracy
“Sevior armis – Luxuria.” – Juvenal.
“O Luxury, thou cursed by heaven’s decree!
How do thy potions, with insidious joy, diffuse their pleasures only to destroy!” – Goldsmith
Morel, while admitting that the medium term of life has doubled within three centuries, contends nevertheless that the race, taken as a whole, is degenerating. The idea, far from being paradoxical, derives a certain speciousness of support certainly from the general fact, that there are numerous deteriorating agencies perpetually at work, whose operation is purely pernicious, and whose end is destruction. Peoples, like individuals, their climacteric attained and the solid buttresses of a rigid temperance and a severe morality once undermined, verge by rapid slides towards disintegration and decay. In the stolid visage of the organ grinder from the Tyrol, or in the stupid grimace that greets you from the upturned faces of a group of Neapolitan lazzaroni – “Proles docta ligonibus Versare glebas” – is there discernible, in faintest tracery only, one solitary vestige of lineament that perchance links their pedigree with the Gracchi and the Metelli of old?
“Poor, paltry slaves! yet born midst noblest scenes;
Why, Nature, waste thy wonders on such men?”
When Vasco da Gama and Albuquerque voyaged to Malacca, there to plant colonies that should reflect lustre upon their ancient mother, little prescience had they even in dim shadow of the debasement and apathy into which these settlements were eventually to sink. Here upon this Peninsula, says Dr. Yvan, where the Portuguese settlers number at most but three thousand, one may see on every street boys with etiolated complexion and puny limb, who if perchance they survive the period of childhood will pass at once to that of adult life (for here there is no intervening season of youth), to lapse ere long into a premature decrepitude. An enemy, subtle as the serpent, more malignant than war and pestilence combined, has wrought out the mischief.
So, too, Formosa (Isle of Beauty) presents the spectacle of a race once hardy and warlike, but now sunken in an emasculating decline through subjection to the same pestilent invader. Of the children in Malacca whose parents have been habituated to opium, says Surgeon Smith, “They go about with the physical expression of general enervation, and in their mental aspect the imprint of dullness and fatuity. So of the boys in Amoy, whose index marks are watery eyes, sunken cheeks, and sallow faces, an idiotic expression, and a mopy gait”
Verily, “the iniquities of the father’s development a curse visited upon the children even unto the third and fourth generations.”
Assam, as appears from the account by Bruce, presents an equally ugly picture. “Opium is the plague that threatens to depopulate this beautiful country. Here is a people, once vigorous and thriving, now the most demoralized and degenerate of all the tribes of India.
As in China, where population has fallen off from an annual advance of three percent, to one-third this, so here the natural increase is visibly kept down through impaired fecundity; and as for old men, there are very few indeed. Deplorable as is the physical corruption of the Assamese, their moral debasement is even worse. Eking out existence in a miserable effeminacy, and utterly impervious to any sense of shame, they will recklessly go to any excess for the procuring of their stimulus, even to the bartering of wife and children. The doctrine of hereditation, in which is implied neither the transmission of vice actual (personal transgression involving will), nor yet the certain perpetuation of any one definite appetite before every other, but only a proclivity to someone kindred taste or habit, meets us as far back as when Plato speculated and Aristotle dogmatized, if indeed we do not find the germ of the same in the story of “ man’s first disobedience.”
Hippocrates presents the main idea thus: “Patrum in natos abcunt cum semine mores.” with Mercatus, “Habitus per assuetudinem acquisitus, transit in naturam.” Lucretius also long since enunciated the same idea, and he at a later day is followed by Valsalva: “Animal simile simili generat, secundum naturam in actu.”
Synd Ahmed Bahador, a pundit of the day, claims for the Brahminical Mishna the original promulgation of the doctrine. Vouatt finds an analogy obtaining in the inferior animals. As exemplifications of development in the human constitution may be instanced, oinomania, boulimia, nymphomania; in the moral, not unfamiliar examples are, pseudomania, kleptomania, phonomania. The “corruption of blood” as indicated in the general physiognomy, works in either of two ways: by directly obstructing the proper evolution of the brain-substance, or else by bringing about at a later period an impaired integrity of structure, and by consequence an enfeebled vitality, and besides a circumscribed power of intellection.
Dr. Palmer of Ontario, speaking of women addicted to opium, observes that they seldom venture upon marriage, for that barrenness and disappointment in other respects are the results in prospect. Mrs. P., a patient of his, who made her beginning two years before marriage, that is, ten years ago, was divorced after a time. No children came of this union, and there was no sufficient explanation of the fact other than in the existence of the habit. This person, notwithstanding her “general denial” is known to be using morphine to the amount of a drachm per week.
Most toxic agents, of whatever name, appear to possess some common property, by virtue of which they determine primarily to the brain or the spinal axis. The observation is borne out by various pathologic evidences. Prof. Ogston of Aberdeen, upon examining the brain of a woman who in a drunken fit had just drowned herself, found in the cerebral ventricles a fluid that in physical properties corresponded essentially to alcohol. In the Illinois Journal of Medicine is recorded the case of a man, also drowned while intoxicated, from whose brain, on removal of the calvarium, there emanated an odor distinctly alcoholic. The consequences to be expected under similar conditions are thus expressed by Morel: “Sous l’influence des alcooliques et quelques narcotiques (telles que opium) il se produit des perversions si grandes dans les fonctions du systeme nerveux, qu’il en resulte des veritables degenerescences, soit par la force directe de Tagent toxique, soit par la seule transmission hereditaire.”
Two cases from Prof. Z. Pitcher, M.D., of Detroit, evince very considerable diversities of effect under the operation of the same narcotic – opium. Mrs. P. E. A., now twenty-eight years of age, was the mother of two children. Phlegmasia dolens after each confinement, and a general hyperesthesia existing which each return of the menstrual period always aggravated, had got into the using of opium, periodically only at first, but by-and-by continuously, until the habit had become settled. After a few years, the narcotic not being found to suffice the nervous craving, alcohol became an additional resort and in large and increasing amounts. Nutrition was not essentially interfered with by these excesses, nor was she disqualified for supervising the affairs of the household through infirmity, cither physical or mental, and, besides, she had been able to nurse and rear the children independently of help. Upon the cessation of the menstrual function, the addiction to both stimuli grew upon her more and more; and for the rest of her life or to her 64th year, the daily dose, somewhat irregular, was often a scruple. The temperament of this patient might have led to the use of whiskey independently of the existing causes.
Mrs. H. B., now about forty-five years of age, and mother of eight children, was married at twenty. Health continued good until the birth of the youngest child (eight years since). Embolia of the uterine sinuses (pursuant upon the last birth) with its attendant sufferings led to the practice of taking morphia daily in small doses, but with much regularity, though in quantities increased as time advanced. At intervals the alkaloid has been somewhat reduced in amount from the substitution of alcoholic liquors; but lately both stimuli have gone on together and to extravagance. Conspicuous upon all occasions is a growing imbecility of mind, the more evident now from being in painful contrast with the natural moral force once so brilliant and strong in her habitual demeanor.
The idea of an influence of some sort transmitted from a corrupted fountain rests upon a foundation stronger than mere presumption. In Norway, “…in 1825, the spirit-duty was taken off, and in ten years from that the increase in percentage of congenital idiocy was ascertained to be as 150 to 100.” Dr. Howe, in a Report to the Legislature of Massachusetts rendered in 1848, makes return of one hundred idiots, whose parents to nearly one-half were found upon inquiry to have been habitual drunkards. According to the second Report of the Binghamton Asylum, it was ascertained that out of 1406 persons who had suffered delirium tremens, the parents or else the grandparents on one side or the other had been drunkards in 980 instances. Dr. Down in the London Lancet for 1859 records two cases pertinent to the main inquiry. In one family there was a child five years old with the intelligence of a nine months’ infant, but without deformity of body. Several of the children showed corresponding defects. In another family a part of the children were growing up healthy in look and of normal stature, and the last of the entire group also presented as good an appearance, in the intervening period, and after the father had become a habitual drunkard, two children were born, markedly distinguished from the rest in their stinted arms, big bellies, and bulgy heads. There was ground for believing that in both instances procreation had been effected inter paroxysm.
The proper view to be taken of these and other analogous cases is this undoubtedly; not that a certain physical appetite or organic vitiation, nor that a definite moral proclivity is certainly determined, but rather what Dr. Parrish has termed it, “an inherited condition of system.”
Nero, says Petronius, in the beginning of his reign deported himself soberly and in the exercise of a mild, forbearing spirit; but ere long, “tel racine, telle feuille”, throwing off all disguise, he rushed headlong into wild and even unnatural excesses, as if he would subvert the very order of nature, nursing his high-blown vanity and malignancy of temper in the practice of cruelties, such as were to have been expected of the monster brood born of an Agrippina. “Can a fountain send forth from the same mouth both sweet water and bitter?”
Hartley Coleridge, who followed his father in propensity to excesses, though in a collateral course rather, is forced in the agony of his desperation to exclaim, “ O woeful impotence of weak resolve!”
But we are not compelled to halt upon analogy, however significant that may be viewed as negative, pregnant evidence. There are facts confirmatory of this sort of foetal susceptivity where opium also has been the toxic used. Upon an inquest held at Walpole by Dr. Macnish, it appeared that a child, five years of age, though to appearance only so many weeks old, had never been able to walk nor so much to utter an articulate sound. The mother during her gestation (as was in evidence) had taken to morphine, using a drachm a day in the months just preceding her demise. The child, born before the habit had become fixed, showed a normal development and the aspect of general health
A confirmatory case is by H. Vanarsdale, M.D.. of New York. In this instance the parties, both of them, were healthy and robust by original constitution and by habits of life too, with the exception that the woman had for a very considerable period been in the practice of using morphine regularly and to great excess. An infant born subject to the liabilities had only a very imperfect physical organization with weak intellectual indications.
Pestilent as opium is upon the brain developed in its maturity, yet more pernicious, times over, is the reaction when it falls upon immature years. Whether the child suck in the poison mediately through the natural lacteal channels, or whether it receive the same pure and undiluted as measured out by the teaspoon, contamination is equally assured. “Mourir en fleur ou vivre bien petit” – such is the slippery tenure of life, such the inexorable necessity imposed. In view of such prospects, what shall be thought of a fashion obtaining among families of distinction in China, that of encouraging boys yet within the age of puberty in the use of the opium-pipe, with the fallacious expectation that such habit may perchance exert a resistive force against appetites and indulgences of a more sensual character? The furnishing of laudanum by their impoverished parents to children employed in the cotton mills of Lancashire may make a plausible show of excuse; but what can be said in palliation of practices, as in some of the lace factories for instance, where the infant incumbrances, fruits of the “ impermissa gaudia” enjoyed in their liaisons de convenance, are put upon Godfrey as precedent to the stronger alcoholic tincture, by which together they are used up in about six months?
Dr. Harper says of the Fen districts, where laudanum is given extensively, that the infant mortality is at an excessively high figure, and his account is corroborated by the doctors and the clergy of the parochial districts all over England
A pertinent case is from Prof. Pitcher. J.W. A., a young man at the time and a midshipman in the Navy (about 1825), had contracted the habit of intemperate drinking. His father, with the view to his reclaiming, sent him into the Indian country in charge of an attache of the American Fur Company. Having reached Sault de St. Marie he had an attack of delirium tremens, and to get rid of the horrors of his hallucinations he one day made a plunge into the Falls. Rescued from this peril, he renounced whiskey for eight years, or during his residence in this region, having substituted in its place tobacco, of which he used large quantities.
Soon after reaching the wintering-ground of the detachment, he married a half-breed Chippewa, by whom he had one child, a daughter, with feeble intellect and scrofulous habit. On his return to Detroit, in 1835, Dr. P. met him again. Meantime he had taken a second wife, one-fourth Shawnee, and, as appeared, had become habituated to opium in connection with his tobacco, though as yet and for some time after he was able to keep his habit disguised.
At the outbreak of epidemic cholera in 1849, being in painful dread of an attack, he voluntarily and without advice gave up all his narcotics; but there followed upon the change an appalling fit of delirium as before, with accompanying spectral illusions indescribably terrible. Recovering again, he resumed his opium, now in the form of morphine, increasing the amount until he had reached 20 grains. From this time onward there proceeded a gradual decay of intellectual power, the will especially becoming extremely feeble. The habit continued until 1856, broken only by death.
In his case the appetite for alcoholic stimuli – the reverse order is the common one – preceded the opium. The children born after the second marriage did not all inherit the infirmity of the parent; the two that were of his own temperament showed a tendency to phthisis. Both became intemperate drinkers, and one died such; the other, having substituted opium for alcohol, still survives, the progress of the original malady being apparently arrested.
In relation to hereditary transmission generally, Dr. P. is of opinion that the liability is greater when referable to the mother. A case of Dr. Palmer’s seems to incline to the doctrine of qualified hereditation. The youngest child of a family, now arrived at his majority nearly, has grown up an illiterate dullard, from sheer incapacity to learn anything. Following the mother but on a different line, he has thus early taken to dissipated ways, with the prospect of dying a sot. The mother, Mrs. H., now of the age of 50, has used opium for half this period, though never exceeding a drachm for the week.
There came under the writer’s notice, not long since, an invalid eighteen years old perhaps, of scrofulous habit somewhat, with an obscure indication of choreic tendency, and in intellect decidedly below par. This girl, the fifth in the series, was born after an interval of half a dozen years, by which time the habit of the mother (which had had its beginning soon after marriage, if not considerably earlier) was thoroughly established and in more palpable development. No indications of taint were noticeable in the older children.
The reckless employment of opiated preparations to the imperiling of infant life almost exceeds belief. There was a woman in Singapore, a desperate smoker at the rate of 36 grains of the chandoo daily, with two young children to care for, which she managed only this wise. To stay their noise (for they would whine and moan all the day if left to themselves) she would breathe over their faces a whiff or two of opium smoke. This practice (a common one in her country, as she represented to Surgeon Smith) allowed her to go to her task in the fields, unincumbered and unembarrassed.
Parrish of Philadelphia knew of a mother who used to give her child (it was but two years old) for a morning-potion a tablespoonful of laudanum, and for a similar purpose.
Paregoric, that household bane so empirically and yet so lavishly dispensed by imprudent mothers, whether for its present sedative efficacy, or whether for its supposed prophylactic virtue, has been, as an instrument of retributive evil, the very Nemesis of the nursery.
Here is an enumeration of particulars by a medical correspondent of the “Morning Chronicle”;
“Serious suffusion of the brain, if not degenerescence of the substance, with disruption of the cranial sutures, extreme nervousness and a lowered vis vitae, a sallow, corrugated skin, a tympanitic abdomen, limbs shrunken and shrivelled, a mopy gait, the faces hippocratica as of the death-spook in the window, youth in fine already transformed into the ugliness of decrepit age, with tabes mesenterica or dropsy in the not distant future — such are the appearances, such the prospects.”
“Could our mortuary registers reveal more of the hidden causes that are unremittedly operating to the impairment of the physical constitution ere the primal period has passed, they would tell of children sacrificed in hecatombs year in and out, the passive victims of syrups and elixirs whose labels are as audaciously false as the gilding is vulgarly profuse.”
“A case in point once fell under the observation of the writer of these pages. Mrs. B., a matron of a New England town, had taken for adoption into the family a boy then two years old. The child, from excess of solicitude and out of a mistaken kindness, was pampered with candies and other entremets during the day, so that by the time night had come it had got gorged to repletion. Restive now under its colicky pains it was not to be amused with cradle rockings, and so the dernier resort, the infallible paregoric vial, was taken into service. The dose, ten drops for a start, soon grew to a teaspoonful, and such supply was continued unremittedly through several months. As in similar cases, brief was the course and urgent the close – hydrocephalus in the sixth year. “So fades the lovely blooming flower.”
“Purpureus veluti cum flos, succisus aratro, Languescit moriens.” – Virgil.
I have to begin this post with a bit of background. While this introduction may not seem true to the title of the post, I hope that you will give me a chance to tie it all together. Unfortunately it is a long and complex story, so if you are easily bored then this post is probably a bit much for you, It is certainly not entertaining. But if you are wondering why it seems to be that so many companies get rich by sending American men and women into combat, and why those men and women are so instantly forgotten as they waste away from undiagnosed and untreated “syndromes” after their usefulness is over, then perhaps you’ll give me a chance to tell you at least one part of the story – a virtually unknown part at that.
The Back Story
I’ve been interviewed recently by a journalist and two historians who were all working separately on the origins of Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company. It was very interesting for me to try to recall events of those days as my memories were probed by these professionals, because I haven’t thought about any of those experiences for a long time.
In the process of recalling events and friends, many now sadly gone, I began thinking about what SFNT started out to be, and what it became.
If Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company had become what Robert Marion (may he rest in the arms of the Great Spirit) and I intended it to be, it would have become a network of Native American growers of organic traditional tobaccos on Native American sovereign lands, as well as special-purpose agricultural cooperatives of Native American growers and other growers of any ethnicity, growing organic heirloom strains of tobacco from around the world. By now of course that vision would include organic Landrace Cannabis strains and organic Coca Leaf.
And the products that this company could have created would have been true to the Spirit, which I have to assume they are probably not, under non-transparent corporate management. It wouldn’t take much to test for authenticity if you know what it’s really important to look for. This recent “Ammonia” & “Menthol” lawsuits are a good example of people not really knowing anything about the industry and the processes it uses. From the industry’s perspective they are useful idiots. Or maybe they are actually doing the industry’s business – it’s hard to tell.
In the original vision, given to us by the Tobacco Spirit, people buying the products would know where the tobacco in their cigarette was grown and harvested just as surely as someone who buys a bottle of Napa or Bordeaux estate wine knows exactly where it came from and who grew it.
Finally, the economic benefits would have flowed to the growers not just in the form of premium prices but in ownership and participation in profits. As is shown by the recent Japan Tobacco Company purchase of worldwide marketing rights to “American Spirit” for $5+ Billion, there was plenty of money to be shared among many, many people. But that isn’t the American corporate model.
You can understand the chasm between the original Spirit and Corporate clone extraordinarily clearly than when you look at these two images. On the left is the original image that Robert and I used (under license from the NYC Public Library) on our first packages of “American Spirit”. On the right is the Corporate version, no doubt the result of millions of dollars and endless meetings. But in the end, the differences in the vision behind the two images are striking, aren’t they?
The left-hand image is the essence of what “American Spirit” was intended to be, and might have been, and the right-hand image is the essence of what it has become.
As I look at the corporate image for the first time in years, because I don’t keep up with the company or its products, I find myself asking if “100% Natural Tobacco” is intended these days to mean the same thing as “100% Natural Tobacco Leaf”? Because they don’t have to mean the same thing, at all. The US imports hundreds of thousands of tons of tobacco waste, not Leaf but stems and stalks and assorted garbage from the Third World Tobacco processors that could, if you wanted to do such a thing, be ground up, processed into smoking materials and still called “100% Natural Tobacco”. I do have to wonder why the word “Leaf” doesn’t appear anywhere in the company’s claims.
When Robert Marion and I started producing “American Spirit” as a rolling tobacco we used only leaf tobacco – mostly “hands” of traditionally cured whole leaf tobacco from responsible growers we found in North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky, along with as much New Mexico Rustica as I could raise in my half-acre garden. We used as much as our friends on San Juan Pueblo could grow, and we also bought quite a bit of Rustica from people who gathered it in the wild in Northern New Mexico, where it is called “Punche”. We used paper-cutters to make the Tobacco into little curls just right for rolling and smoking.
In a little side-experiment, I remember using my wife’s Cuisinart (I had to buy her another one) to make snuff out of the Rustica. “Coyote Snuff ” was pure Rustica and was powerful stuff and quite popular too. People called it “Legal Coke”.
However, what concerns me is that the “grind up the Zimbabwe Tobacco factory floor sweepings along with those African Tobacco roots, stalks and rat turds” approach is already being used by “Tobacco” manufacturers including the corporate owner of American Spirit. After all, nobody thinks that all those “Tobacco Stems, Roots, Stalks & Waste” are being imported to make just to make rat poison – we know that this garbage is being used to make billions of cigarettes. Hell, you can even find the companies bragging about it in their internal literature. (More specifics later.)
The “Tobacco” industry is a master at using words and phrases that seem to mean one thing, and that carry all the positive connotations that word or phrase would carry if it actually meant what it appears to mean, but that same word or phrase can actually mean something altogether different. The real trick here is that if they are ever caught out they can put on their innocent face and say … “but, but, that WAS real tobacco taste we were using. We extracted it from real Tobacco….. Well, yeah, it was from real tobacco waste from Zimbabwe factory floors, but it was REAL!!!! We never said that the cigarette was real tobacco, just the taste.”
This just one example of what any company in the entire “Tobacco” industry could be doing, if they were evil enough. To go a little further …
Just as the phrase “true tobacco taste” doesn’t mean that there is any actual tobacco in what you’re smoking, the phrase “100% Natural Tobacco” doesn’t mean anything more than the product contains some part of the tobacco plant, not necessarily leaf. Technically and legally a manufacturer could use 100% tobacco stems, stalks and roots, grind them up and make cigarettes out of them and call their product “100% Natural Tobacco”.
We already know through extensive documentation from impeccable sources that companies like RJR import Tobacco waste and blend it with domestic cellulosic waste (think about that for a minute – wouldn’t used “Depends” count as cellulosic waste?) and make many different brands of cigarettes.
The only question in my mind is whether “American Spirit” has been contaminated by its corporate masters or not, because in the end the claim “100% Natural Tobacco” means nothing without complete transparency for the reasons just outlined.
I also find myself asking if “additive-free” means that nobody in the growing/processing chain “added” anything to the “100% Natural Tobacco” ever, or if those words actually mean something else. Perhaps there is a regulatory class somewhere called “tobacco additives” and “additive-free” is supposed to mean, perfectly legitimately, that none of these particular flavor and aroma chemicals are being used. Or, if there is a class of chemicals and substances that are technically known as “Tobacco Additives”, then anything not on that list is technically not a recognized “Tobacco Additive”. It’s hard to know what “additive free” means in any given instance of its use as a commercial claim because the phrase “additive-free” can actually mean a lot of different things.
The original vision was to use only pure, leaf tobacco and only natural, traditional tobacco flavorings like honey, molasses, and rum. Our early customers knew what they were smoking and could depend on it.
Today of course the Vision would have to include Cannabis-infused whole leaf organic heirloom smoking tobaccos. Ah well – so much for Vision.
We know that the image has changed, along with the Spirit. But here is the real question – is the true Spirit of Tobacco gone, or is the Spirit of Tobacco merely waiting for others who have the Vision?
Meanwhile, it is clear that the so-called “Tobacco” industry is one of the most prolific “Murder For Profit” gangs in history. And the weapons that they use are so clever that for some reason with all of its sophisticated tools modern science and medicine can’t seem to put the facts together and make a case for mass murder for profit.
The problem is, on its face anyway, simplicity itself.
If you can’t diagnose, you can’t treat. And if you don’t know where to look, and what to look for, you can’t diagnose.
That is currently the case with Gulf War Syndrome, which is actually the story of America’s War On Veterans, and Who is profiting from this war. So here is the story that I promised in the title of this post. I hope that it is worth your time to read.
Realizing that it is asking a lot of busy people to read a long and complex posting, here is a quick summary, followed by a discussion of the evidence.
1.Over two dozen well-done studies from 1994-2013 have all concluded that Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) diseases are caused by dual exposure to pyridostigmine bromide (an anti-nerve gas agent forcefully administered to GW troops) plus pesticides those troops were exposed to in theater.
a. It is very important to note how rarely scientific and medical studies actually state that they have identified the cause of such a complex issue as GWS.
2. RAND Corporation (2000) identified the Gulf War pesticides as:
a. One organochlorine pesticide (lindane)
b. One repellent (DEET)
c. Two pyrethroid pesticides (permethrin, rf-phenothrin)
d. Five organophosphate pesticides (azamethiphos, chlorpyrifos, diazinon dichlorvos, malathion)
e. Three carbamate pesticides (bendiocarb, methomyl, propoxur)
3. The majority of Gulf War troops were not exposed widely to most of these pesticides – in fact the numbers exposed and the subsequent numbers of Vets with GWS don’t match up at all.
a. For example, in the case of Lindane only one incident was reported, and that report is seriously questioned.
b. Something else is going on – and this post will reveal what that something is.
4. Studies of the persistence of symptoms after exposure show that the combination of exposure to PB and pesticides causes permanent neurological, genetic and other kinds of damage and disease in Gulf War Veterans
5. “The Defense Department estimates that approximately 250,000 personnel took at least some pyridostigmine bromide during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. During the 1990-1991 Gulf War, all U.S. troops were to have received packets containing pyridostigmine bromide pills.” http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/faq/faq_pb.jsp
6. None of the studies explain why Gulf War Veterans continue to develop NEW symptoms and diseases decades after exposure – this explicitly worries and puzzles many of the researchers, and they say so.
7. None of the studies explain why Gulf War Veterans continue to come down with these terrible diseases in far greater proportions than demographically-matched non-Veterans 20-25 years after exposure – this also puzzles and worries researchers, and they say so.
8. None of these studies explain why the children (and grandchildren) of Gulf War Veterans are coming down with developmental and neurological disorders in far greater numbers than demographically-matched cohorts – this is really troublesome to the scientists and doctors studying GWS – and again, they are very frustrated by their inability to explain this.
9. This post will present what I believe is compelling evidence that the explanation for all these missing pieces of the puzzle is the presence of residues of dozens of never-identified pesticides in cigarettes, chewing tobacco and wet snuff.
a. Remember that these research studies have PROVEN that exposure to PB and 6-10 specific pesticides are the cause of GWS.
b. So, what if the exposure isn’t to 6-10, but 60+ pesticides, many far more dangerous than the 10 or so identified in the GW studies
c. And what if the exposure wasn’t just during the Gulf War but every day since that war.
10. Many of the pesticides used on tobacco worldwide are known to be powerful carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, DNA mutagens, and endocrine disruptors in very small doses, especially when that dosage is chronic, sub-lethal, and in many cases bio-accumulative.
11. Here is the list of pesticides used worldwide on Tobacco, especially on tobacco grown on “contract farms” in political/economic dictatorships worldwide and therefore likely, at least in some cases, to be present as residues in US Tobacco Industry products.
a. DDT, TDE, Chlordane, Lindane, Aldrin, Endrin, Dieldrin, Heptachlor, and Toxaphene, Anilazine, AziaPhos-Methyl, Captan, Diflubenzuron, Leptophos, Malathion, Methoprene, Mirex, Cyclohexane, 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), Chloropicrin, Maleic hydrazide, Acephate, Methyl Bromide, Isocarbophos, Dimethoate, Pendimethalin, Dicrotophos, Chlorpyrifos, Fenamiphos, Mancozeb, Flumetralin, Metalaxyl, Clomazone, Ethoprop, Endosulfan, Mefenoxam, Pebulate, Ethephon, Napropamide, Sulfentrazone, Imidacloprid, Aldicarb, Butralin, Dimethomorph, Methomyl, Malathion, Ethyl Parathion, Methyl Parathion, Disulfoton, Sethoxydim, Spinosad, Carbaryl, Fonofos, Benefin, Bacillus Thuringiensis, Carbofuran, Diazinon, Diphenamid, Isopropalin, Omethoate, Phismet, Phoxim, Oxamyl, Methidathion, Thiodan, Pendimethilum, and Trichlorfon. Also the solvents Toluene, Benzene, Phosgene, Hexane, and Xylene.
12. Given the findings with regard to exposure to PB and a small number of pesticides causing Gulf War Syndrome diseases, just imagine what exposure to PB and the 60+ pesticide residues in Tobacco Industry products has been doing continually to the health of Veterans who continue to smoke, dip or chew since the early 1990s when this tragedy began.
a. Remember – we are talking about ongoing daily exposure to these pesticides for decades, not a few months exposure in the Persian Gulf several decades back.
13. Many of these pesticides, like DDT and the other Organochlorines, are banned from any use at all in most countries, but are still widely and illegally used on tobacco in the Third World.
a. US manufacturers import hundreds of thousands of tons of pesticide-contaminated tobacco stems, scrap and waste from Third World manufacturers and use proprietary processes (Like RJR’s G7 process, described in Exhibit 9 below) to convert this toxic waste into “tobacco” products.
14. With the exception of the questionable Lindane exposure, none of the pesticides identified in the GWS studies are Organochlorine pesticides– only Organophosphate and Carbamate pesticides
a. Probably because there aren’t supposed to be any Organochlorine pesticide residues anywhere, in anything.
15. There has never been a study of off-the-shelf cigarettes, wet snuff or chewing tobacco to determine in detail which pesticide residues are present in which brands.
a. Never. Not once in all the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on research into why Tobacco Industry products kill. Think about that.
16. CDC and other studies show a significantly higher proportion of all Veterans who are smokers than non-Veterans in all age groups. Details further on in the post.
17. Other studies of the proportion of Gulf War Veterans who continue to be smokers, chewers and dippers show that GW Vets continue at higher rates in every category compared to non-GW Vets and to matched demographic civilians. Details further on in the post.
18. There are no studies of the interaction of pesticide residues in Tobacco Industry products with pyridostigmine bromide.
a. None. That’s because tobacco exposure has NEVER been considered as part of the issue by any GWS researchers.
b. Could it be that every single one of the researchers missed the connection between Tobacco Industry products and GWS?
c. Is it possible that there was undue outside influence at work?
19. However, as stated in #1 above, the BIG BREAKTHROUGH is that thanks for the PB/GWS/Pesticide studies we now know unequivocally that ingesting even a few pesticides by inhalation in interaction with pyridostigmine bromide has been shown to be CAUSAL in the development of GWS diseases.
20. I believe that if proper studies are done they will show that the preponderance of Gulf War Veterans who have developed GWS disease are smokers, chewers, or dippers – or were at the time but may have stopped sometime since.
a. No such study has been done. This has gone right over everyone’s head – or else they’ve been told not to look into it.
b. OK – call me a conspiracy theorist. I won’t deny it.
c. A simple research model would prove or disprove the thesis – divide GW Vets into three groups;
i. ongoing Tobacco Industry product users since their Gulf War days,
ii. users during the Gulf War who have since quit,
iii. and never-users, and compare GWS rate for each group.
21. However, with regard to GW vets who once used but who have stopped, it’s important to note that since many of the pesticides used in Tobacco production are bio-accumulative, even years after stopping these pesticides remain in the body and their health effects remain potent.
a. This has been established conclusively in the case of exposed tobacco field workers in underdeveloped countries.
22. I believe that it is the ongoing, chronic sub-lethal exposure to pesticides in cigarettes, wet snuff, and chewing tobacco, combined with the forced administration of pyridostigmine bromide at the time of service, that is the CAUSE of most or even all of the suffering and death experienced by Gulf War Veterans and their families.
a. The PB and few pesticides identified in the studies may have started the lethal ball rolling, but it is the ongoing exposure, as well as the kinds of pesticides in Tobacco Industry products, that can explain many of the aspects of the research that puzzles and confuses researchers.
23. I believe that a study that determined which pesticide residues are present in which brands of Tobacco products, combined with a study of what proportion of Gulf War Veterans who suffer from GWS diseases are “Tobacco” product users (or who were exposed to second-hand smoke during their service), would show that it is the products of the Tobacco industry that are responsible for most of the ongoing suffering and death of our Gulf War Veterans.
a. You can’t treat if you can’t diagnose, and since doctors are almost universally ignorant of the presence of pesticides in Tobacco Industry products, how would they have a clue about where to look when a Gulf War Vet with GWS presents as a patient?
b. If they don’t have a clue about their patient’s 20-30 years of chronic, sub-lethal exposure to multiple pesticide residues, why would they consider pesticide poisoning?
24. Of course the presence of pesticide residues in so-called “tobacco” products explains a lot of the suffering and death among all smokers, dippers and chewers from all walks of life, but because Gulf War veterans were specifically forced to accept administration of pyridostigmine bromide, the culpability of this criminal industry and the US Government is magnified many times over.
25. This completes the summary of what this post contains.
The Trail Of Evidence
Please let me be clear. I am not advocating that Tobacco product pesticide contamination is the only causal factor in GWS. This is, after all, a syndrome – a collection of symptoms, diseases and consequences. For example, there is stunning evidence that a substantial portion of GWS is the result of compulsory military vaccinations against anthrax and other chem-bio weapons. The central issue I am trying to raise is that there is a significant, overlooked, and deliberately obscured connection between Tobacco industry products and GWS. If this connection can be confirmed by factual evidence, then ONE of the major factors in GWS will be revealed, and the culpability of what I am convinced is a criminal conspiracy will be evident.
The Tobacco industry is guilty of knowingly manufacturing unreasonably dangerous products and, in the case of Gulf War veterans, making an already intolerable set of circumstances even worse. Once the connection between PB and pesticides was firmly established, the Tobacco industry had to be aware of the ongoing damage their products would cause specifically for Gulf War Vets, having nothing to do with any other “dangers of smoking”. Some of these companies actually make “Organic” tobacco products, so they fully understand what their non-organic products contain. Yet they said or did nothing. Furthermore, while Gulf War Veterans with GWS can’t hold the US Government, the US Military, the PB manufacturers, the vaccine manufacturers, or the pet collar and no-pest strip manufacturers accountable for the damage they caused, holding the Tobacco industry accountable is a whole different matter, legally and morally.
Let me begin by showing you the abstract of an important study on the causes of the wide range of diseases that even today, 25 years after the fact, continue to sicken and kill Gulf War veterans.
Study Title: Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors and Gulf War Illnesses
(by) Beatrice Alexandra Golomb
(In) Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, USA.
Mar 18, 2008; 105(11): 4295–4300.
Published online Mar 10, 2008.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.0711986105, PMCID: PMC2393741
Increasing evidence suggests excess illness in Persian Gulf War veterans (GWV) can be explained in part by exposure of GWV to organophosphate and carbamate acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEis), including pyridostigmine bromide (PB), pesticides, and nerve agents. Evidence germane to the relation of AChEis to illness in GWV was assessed. Many epidemiological studies reported a link between AChEi exposure and chronic symptoms in GWV. The link is buttressed by a dose–response relation of PB pill number to chronic symptoms in GWV and by a relation between avidity of AChEi clearance and illness, based on genotypes, concentrations, and activity levels of enzymes that detoxify AChEis. Triangulating evidence derived from studies linking occupational exposure to AChEis to chronic health symptoms that mirror those of ill GWV. Illness is again linked to lower activity of AChEi detoxifying enzymes and genotypes conferring less-avid AChEi detoxification. AChEi exposure satisfies Hill’s presumptive criteria for causality, suggesting this exposure may be causally linked to excess health problems in GWV.
Here is the link to the full article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2393741/
Just to be clear, pyridostigmine bromide (PB) is the chemical administered, forcibly in many cases, to US troops in the Gulf War on the premise that it would protect them from Saddam’s nerve gas. And the pesticides referred to were also present in the Gulf War theater as a result – or so it was thought – of other kinds of chemical weapons, as well as the “pet collars” worn by many Gulf War troops and the “No-Pest strips” hung in living quarters and vehicles to try to ward off the man-eating fleas and other insects that live in that harsh desert environment.
For an excellent research paper on GW exposure to these pesticides please see:
As early as 1996 alarms were being raised, even about the DEET that the GW troops were using, much less the pesticides in the Pet Collars and No-Pest Strips..
J Toxicol Environ Health. 1996 May;48(1):35-56.
Neurotoxicity resulting from coexposure to pyridostigmine bromide, deet, and permethrin: implications of Gulf War chemical exposures.
Abou-Donia MB1, Wilmarth KR, Jensen KF, Oehme FW, Kurt TL.
“Of the three-quarters of a million service personnel involved in the Persian Gulf War, approximately 30,000 have complained of neurological symptoms of unknown etiology. One contributing factor to the emergence of such symptoms may be the simultaneous exposure to multiple agents used to protect the health of service personnel, in particular, the anti-nerve gas agent pyridostigmine bromide (PB; 3-dimethylaminocarbonyloxy-N-methylpyridinium bromide), the insect repellent DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), and the insecticide permethrin (3-(2,2-dichloro-ethenyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylic acid (3-phenoxyphenyl) methyl ester). This study investigated neurotoxicity produced in hens by individual or simultaneous exposure to these agents (5 d/wk for 2 months to 5 mg/kg/d PB in water, po; 500 mg/kg/d DEET, neat, sc; and 500 mg/kg/d permethrin in corn oil, sc). At these dosages, exposure to single compounds resulted in minimal toxicity. Combinations of two agents produced greater neurotoxicity than that caused by individual agents. Neurotoxicity was further enhanced following concurrent administration of all three agents. We hypothesize that competition for liver and plasma esterases by these compounds leads to their decreased breakdown and increased transport of the parent compound to nervous tissues. Thus, carbamylation of peripheral esterases by PB reduces the hydrolysis of DEET and permethrin and increases their availability to the nervous system. In effect, PB “pumps” more DEET and permethrin into the central nervous system. Consistent with this hypothesis, hens exposed to the combination of the three agents exhibited neuropathological lesions with several characteristics similar to those previously reported in studies of near-lethal doses of DEET and permethrin. If this hypothesis is correct, then blood and liver esterases play an important “buffering” role in protecting against neurotoxicity in the population at large. It also suggests that individuals with low plasma esterase activity may be predisposed to neurologic deficits produced by exposure to certain chemical mixtures.”
However, even the studies of the effects of chronic exposure to PB and Permethrin in chickens (above) and lab rats – not humans – are pretty revealing. Here are a few excerpts from one of the more complete studies on this single chemical interaction. One can only imagine what a study of the effects of chronic exposure in human beings to PB and the entire list of cigarette pesticides would reveal.
TITLE: Synergistic Actions of Pyridostigmine Bromide and Insecticides on Muscle and Vascular Nociceptors
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Brian Cooper
CONTRACTING ORGANIZATION: University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 33511
REPORT DATE: July 2012
TYPE OF REPORT: Annual
PREPARED FOR: U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
Fort Detrick, Maryland 21702-5012
Key Research Accomplishments:
Chronic Exposure to Permethrin, Chlorpyrifos and Pyridostigmine Bromide:
• Persistent voltage and amplitude changes in Kv7 protein currents specifically in vascular
• Persistent amplitude changes in KDR protein currents specifically in vascular nociceptors
• Persistent increases in membrane resistance specifically in vascular nociceptors
• Muscle nociceptors unaffected (Nav1.8, Kv7, KDR)
• Skin, vascular and muscle nociceptor Nav1.8 protein inactivation and deactivation
• Chronic effects of neurotoxicants/PB differ from acute effects of permethrin
Acute effects of permethrin on the pain system:
• Permethrin activates muscle nociceptors but not skin or vascular nociceptors via Nav1.8
• Permethrin increases muscle nociceptor excitability, but not the excitability of skin or
• Permethrin increases skin, muscle and vascular nociceptor AP duration
• Permethrin accentuates skin, muscle and vascular nociceptor voltage dependent
activation of Nav1.8 protein (hyperpolarized V.50)
• Permethrin retards skin, muscle and vascular nociceptor voltage dependent deactivation
of Nav1.8 protein
• Permethrin slows the rate (decay) of Nav1.8 inactivation of muscle, skin or vascular
• Permethrin has no influence on the normalized peak amplitude of skin, muscle or
vascular nociceptor Nav1.8
• Permethrin has no influence on voltage dependence of skin, muscle or vascular
nociceptor inactivation of Nav1.8
• Permethrin has no acute influence on Kv7 amplitude or activation in muscle or vascular
• At physiological temperatures (~35.5C) the acute influence of permethrin on spontaneous activity and action potential duration and after hyperpolarization are greatly reduced but not eliminated.
The bottom line is that the vast preponderance of medical and scientific investigations over the last 20 years or so have concluded that it was the combination of exposure to pyridostigmine bromide and pesticides, along with smoke from burning oilfields, and in a small number of instances possible nerve gas exposure, that has resulted in the wide range of diseases and severe disability and death continuing to occur among Gulf War veterans even 25 years after exposure. Study after study has shown that the diseases related to PB and pesticide exposure are far greater among Gulf war veterans than among any comparable demographically matched group.
KEY POINT – NO OTHER SOURCES OF PESTICIDES, AND NO OTHER PESTICIDES, ARE MENTIONED IN ANY OF THE STUDIES OF THE HEALTH ISSUES SUFFERED BY GULF WAR VETERANS.
So, staying for the moment with what happened when troops in the Gulf War were exposed just to the pesticides that were documented – a total of no more than 6 pesticides – plus the PB that the US Government forced them to ingest, plus in a few cases the fumes from a single destroyed chemical weapons dump that contained mostly unknown compounds – we already have quite a high level of exposure. And we also already know what impact a sufficient level of exposure to each of these agents has on human health. So what’s new?
It turns out that it isn’t just the exposure to these individual pesticides and other chemical agents that matters. Check out the following observation:
“It is not feasible to predict the toxicity of agent mixtures in general, or of pesticide mixtures (or pesticides in combination with other agents) in particular, on the basis of the toxicity of single compounds (Marinovich et al., 1996). Moreover, the number of possible combinations increases exponentially with the number of agents, as 2n; thus, 10 compounds have over 1,000 possible combinations that could have different consequences.
When agents are experienced together, the effect may be additive, synergistic, or antagonistic, and the character of the interaction may differ for different effects of the compounds.
Because of the computational intractability of studying every possible combination, the FDA does not require examination of drug combinations in determining approval for an individual drug; it does not even require examination of combinations that may commonly occur together.
Similarly, health consequences of pesticide mixtures, and co-exposures to pesticides and other factors, are in general poorly understood, and “testing even most potential mixtures with the classical toxicological protocol is unfeasible” (Marinovich et al., 1996).”
(from) “A Review of the Scientific Literature As It Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses – Volume 8, Pesticides”
So we now understand that even if the consequences of exposure to individual agents are known, we really have no idea what happens when a person is exposed to multiple agents at the same time. And – importantly – we don’t have any idea of what happens when they are co-combusted and inhaled. Don’t get me wrong – this is not the entire “Smoking Gun” referred to in the title of this post. I simply have to put the pieces of the picture together for you one by one, and once the pieces are assembled I am confident that you will see the entire picture, if I’ve done my job.
So now let me offer you a few excerpts from very recent (2013) full-scale review of all of the diseases and conditions that collectively are known as “Gulf War Illness”.
Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans:
Research Update and Recommendations, 2009-2013
Updated Scientific Findings and Recommendations
Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses
“Overall, the Committee’s review of the many Gulf War studies published through 2008 identified only two types of exposures—pyridostigmine bromide and pesticides—that were consistently associated with a significantly increased risk for Gulf War illness. In addition, dose-response relationships between severity of exposure and probability of development of Gulf War illness were identified for both exposures.
The two exposures were also associated with significant differences in objectively measured health outcomes in Gulf War veterans, including alterations in neuro-cognitive function and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal measures. Taken together, the consistency of the epidemiological associations, the significant dose-response effects, and observed associations with objective biological measures led the Committee to conclude that the evidence strongly supported a causal role for both pyridostigmine bromide and pesticide exposures in the development of Gulf War illness.”
“Overall, the Committee’s review of the many Gulf War studies published through 2008 identified only two types of exposures—pyridostigmine bromide and pesticides—that were consistently associated with a significantly increased risk for Gulf War illness. In addition, dose-response relationships between severity of exposure and probability of development of Gulf War illness were identified for both exposures. The two exposures were also associated with significant differences in objectively measured health outcomes in Gulf War veterans, including alterations in neuro-cognitive function and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal measures.
Taken together, the consistency of the epidemiological associations, the significant dose-response effects, and observed associations with objective biological measures led the Committee to conclude that the evidence strongly supported a causal role for both pyridostigmine bromide and pesticide exposures in the development of Gulf War illness.”
“Based on its review of the epidemiological evidence published since its 2008 report, the Committee offers the following conclusions and recommendations for future directions of research efforts.
1. Prevalence of Gulf War illness. All population-based studies conducted since the Gulf War have continued to identify a significant excess rate of chronic symptomatic illness, variously defined, in 1990-1991 Gulf War veterans. A large majority of studies indicate Gulf War illness prevalence in the 25-30% range.
2. Prognosis for veterans with Gulf War illness. Little additional information on the long-term prognosis of Gulf War illness has become available since 2008. Prior data suggest that there is little to no improvement in the health of ill Gulf War veterans over time. The effect that aging will have on this vulnerable population remains a matter of concern.
3. General health among Gulf War veterans. Studies published since 2008 continue to document poorer general health status and greater disability among Gulf War veterans. Despite the extensive number of studies conducted with Gulf War veterans in the 23 years since Desert Storm, medical surveillance of this population remains seriously inadequate.
4. Medical conditions in Gulf War veterans. Very little research has yet been conducted to determine rates at which Gulf War veterans have been affected by medical conditions of possible concern. As a result, it is not currently known if Gulf War veterans have experienced excess rates of most medical conditions.
Disorders of concern reviewed in this report include the following:
1. Neurological disorders. Although neurological conditions are a prominent concern for Gulf War veterans, and research has found an elevated incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), rates of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases (e.g., seizures, stroke, migraines) in Gulf War veterans are currently unknown. Research on the prevalence of neurological diseases has not been conducted despite repeated recommendations by this Committee and the Institute of Medicine and explicit legislation by Congress. The prevalence of these disorders is particularly important because they can be expected to increase as the Gulf War veteran population ages.
2. Cancer. Since 2008, research using state cancer registries has suggested that there may be an increased rate of lung cancer in Gulf War veterans. Brain cancer mortality has been shown in two studies conducted by VA to be significantly increased in the subgroup of Gulf War veterans with greatest exposure to oil well fire smoke and to low-level nerve agents released by the destruction of Iraqi facilities at Khamisiyah. In general, cancer risk remains unknown and understudied.
3. Other diagnosed medical conditions reported at excess rates. Research since 2008 continues to indicate that Gulf War veterans report being diagnosed with a variety of medical conditions at significantly higher rates than non-deployed era veterans. These include chronic digestive disorders, respiratory conditions, heart disease and skin disorders. Although consistently reported by Gulf War veterans, these conditions have not been further evaluated or characterized by epidemiologic or clinical studies.
4. Sleep dysfunction. A single study published since 2008 has identified sleep abnormalities in a group of Gulf War veterans compared to obesity-matched controls. Sleep disturbance is an extremely common symptom in veterans with Gulf War illness and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has shown some promise for treating a range of symptoms in veterans with sleep apnea in a small treatment trial.
5. Adverse reproductive outcomes and birth defects. No definitive new information is available on birth defects in offspring of Gulf War veterans, and no research has ever been published concerning neurological or other medical conditions affecting veterans’ children. It is important that medical and reproductive outcomes be assessed in children of veteran subgroups of interest (e.g. exposure, location, illness subgroups).
6. Multi-symptom conditions: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity. These disorders share similar symptoms with Gulf War illness, but most Gulf War illness patients do not meet criteria for them. Gulf War veterans who meet criteria for these disorders often differ significantly on tested parameters from non-veteran populations who are diagnosed with them. It may be necessary to consider people with these disorders who are and are not Gulf War Veterans separately in research studies, including treatment research.”
Let’s Zero In On That “Smoking Gun” A Bit More
I began this post by asserting that the “Tobacco Industry” is the villain behind the excessive number of Gulf War Veterans suffering from the diseases of Gulf War syndrome.
To begin the zeroing-in process, let’s look at the data on how many Veterans are smokers compared with non-Veterans who, of course, were never exposed to the combination of PB and pesticides.
The CDC tells us part of the story.
“In the United States, cigarette smoking prevalence is higher among people serving in the military than among the civilian population. Cigarette smoking prevalence is even higher among military personnel who have been deployed. During 2007–2010:
• Male veterans aged 25–64 years were more likely to be current smokers than nonveterans (29% versus 24%).
• Among men aged 45–54 years, 36% of veterans reported being current smokers, compared with 24% of nonveterans.
Here are two additional studies that drive home the point that FAR more Gulf War Vets were and still are smokers, chewers and dippers than Vets who served elsewhere or than other demographically-matched groups.
Exhibit # 7
J Gen Intern Med. Feb 2010; 25(2): 102–103.
Published online Jan 15, 2010. doi: 10.1007/s11606-009-1224-1
Effects of the Wars on Smoking Among Veterans
Lori A. Bastian, MD, MPH and Scott E. Sherman, MD, MPH
“ Although smoking rates in the US declined by 50% between 1965 and 2005, about 21% of adults are current smokers. The prevalence of smoking is estimated to be up to 40% higher in veterans than in the general population. The total burden of Veterans Affairs (VA) health-care costs associated with smoking range from 8% to 24%. While the VA has increased its efforts to fight the “war” on smoking, actual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are producing veterans who are smoking at alarming rates. The prevalence of smoking among veterans returning from recent wars is similar to that of the US adult population during the late 1960s.”</em>
This is pretty strong evidence that Gulf War Vets who went on and exposed themselves not to a few pesticides from Pet Collars and No-Pest Strips, but to a chronic sub-lethal mix of pesticides as virtually undetectable residues in Tobacco Industry products.
Exhibit # 8
Mil Med. 1996 Mar;161(3):165-8.
Tobacco use habits of naval personnel during Desert Storm.
Forgas LB1, Meyer DM, Cohen ME.
“This study examined availability and usage of tobacco products, and their potential impact on the oral health of naval personnel deployed to Desert Storm. Of 4,200 surveys mailed to a randomly selected sample, 45.6% were returned (N = 1,915). The respondents included 55.9% who reported a present or former smoking habit, 34.1% who identified themselves as current smokers (SM), and 23.8% who were smokeless tobacco (ST) users. Tobacco products were easily and inexpensively accessible through ship stores, exchange, or military support organizations (USO). While in the Persian Gulf, 7.0% started SM and 9.3% started ST, resulting in an overall 4.7 and 6.1% increase in SM and ST, respectively. Of those who were already tobacco users, 29.2% reported more SM use and 19.0% used ST more often. Stress (35.1%) and boredom (21.4%) were the most frequently cited reasons to start or increase use. Although 30.5% of respondents reported military personnel have encouraged them to quit, 77.2% reported that anti-smoking efforts have been unsuccessful in influencing them to quit. Since the tobacco usage rate is higher in the military than in the civilian sector, greater emphasis on preventive efforts in warranted to promote health and wellness.”
Here is a KEY FACT about the entire research literature on GWS:
A thorough search as many of the studies of Gulf War Syndrome as I could find found ZERO references to (1) Smoking (2) Cigarette or (3) Tobacco. Not a single reference. And IMO never mentioned means never considered. I would hate to think that Tobacco products had been considered and that a decision was made to exclude them from the studies.
Here’s why that fact is key to understanding the role that the Tobacco Industry has played in the sickness, suffering and deaths of tens of thousands of these Veterans. Virtually every brand of cigarette, snuff and chewing tobacco manufactured in America contains a vast array of pesticide and herbicide residues, along with the residues of some of the most toxic industrial solvents and other classes of chemicals in existence.
Remembering that all the authoritative studies found that it was the combination of exposure to PB and a few relatively benign (if such a statement can be made) pesticides that is causal for Gulf War syndrome diseases, check out the following undoubtedly incomplete list of pesticides that are used on Tobacco crops in the US and worldwide. I gave you this list in the summary at the beginning of this post but I believe that it bears repeating here now that you’ve had a look at some of the supporting evidence for the “Smoking Gun” thesis.
DDT, TDE, Chlordane, Lindane, Aldrin, Endrin, Dieldrin, Heptachlor, and Toxaphene, Anilazine, AziaPhos-Methyl, Captan, Diflubenzuron, Leptophos, Malathion, Methoprene, Mirex, Cyclohexane, 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), Chloropicrin, Maleic hydrazide, Acephate, Methyl Bromide, Isocarbophos, Dimethoate, Pendimethalin, Dicrotophos, Chlorpyrifos, Fenamiphos, Mancozeb, Flumetralin, Metalaxyl, Clomazone, Ethoprop, Endosulfan, Mefenoxam, Pebulate, Ethephon, Napropamide, Sulfentrazone, Imidacloprid, Aldicarb, Butralin, Dimethomorph, Methomyl, Malathion, Ethyl Parathion, Methyl Parathion, Disulfoton, Sethoxydim, Spinosad, Carbaryl, Fonofos, Benefin, Bacillus Thuringiensis, Carbofuran, Diazinon, Diphenamid, Isopropalin, Omethoate, Phismet, Phoxim, Oxamyl, Methidathion, Thiodan, Pendimethilum, and Trichlorfon. Also the solvents Toluene, Benzene, Phosgene, Hexane, and Xylene.
I would encourage you to pick just a few of these pesticides and do a search on health effects through inhalation or mucosal absorption (as with chewing tobacco and wet snuff).
But the presence of these terribly dangerous chemicals isn’t the whole story by a long shot. Two key points to keep in mind:
1. We have already shown that the health impact of exposure to multiple pesticides is not additive, it is exponential.
2. There have very few studies of what happens to any of these pesticides when they are heated and inhaled – a burning cigarette is in effect a “dry distillation” instrument. So, for example, when DDT is burned it produces, among other things, Dioxin. So do many of the other Organochlorine pesticides. Can I assume that I don’t have to explain why inhaling Dioxin 10, 20, 30 or more times a day is not a good idea?
Wrapping It Up
I can show through documentary evidence that I have obtained over my 30 years of working on this project that the top executives and Board members of the cigarette companies knew, or by virtue of their positions of authority should have known that their products contain these chemicals that irrefutably cause cancer, heart disease, neurological degradation, fetal malformation, and all of the other diseases that these pesticides cause without question.
Extensive documentation exists that proves that these companies know what their products contain – they have simply used their financial and political clout to prevent any research, ever, that would prove that these immensely dangerous chemicals are in their products and that they know they are there.
Since I have been making the point that most, though not all of the pesticide contamination in US Tobacco Industry products is the result of the industry’s use of highly contaminated imported foreign tobacco waste, let me offer you just one of literally hundreds of instances of documentation that I have collected over the years that, taken together, create a framework for proving guilty knowledge on the part of these companies.
This document also shows how brazen these people are – they are actually asking for an environmental tax credit for using toxic tobacco waste to manufacture their products rather than taking it to the landfill!
Waste Not; Want Not
In 1998 RJ Reynolds filed an appeal against a ruling by the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources that it could not classify the waste tobacco it uses to manufacture its cigarette products as solid waste in order to take advantage of tax breaks for disposing of solid waste in environmentally sound fashion.
RJ Reynolds argument was that since it was taking this waste and manufacturing it into cigarettes it was disposing of it in a way that qualified it for tax breaks. In other words – “We aren’t dumping this trash into the landfill, we’re pumping it into people’s lungs, so we deserve a tax break.”
The case number is no. COA01-74 in the North Carolina Court of Appeals filed: 19 February 2002. The full text of the case and the court’s ruling is available at
Aside from the preposterous idea that since RJ Reynolds was disposing of millions of pounds of waste by making it into products and selling those products to smokers rather than dumping the waste in a landfill and therefore deserved a tax break for being good environmental stewards, the summary of this lawsuit reveals information about how RJ Reynolds manufactures its products that ought to give any cigarette smoker pause to realize what suckers they are being made into by this cigarette giant.
Here are a few of the details directly from the court papers from COA01-74 North Carolina:
1. In manufacturing tobacco products, Reynolds buys tobacco leaves at auction. The tobacco is sent to a stemmery, where the stems (hard, woody part of the leaf) are separated from the lamina portion of the leaf (material in between the stems). The separation process also generates small scraps of tobacco (scraps) and very fine scraps of tobacco (dust). The usable tobacco lamina material is sent to the manufacturing operation where it is blended and processed into cigarettes.
2. The stems, scraps and dust are packed into containers and sent to a storage facility until they are either processed into reconstituted sheet tobacco, through a process known as the G-7 process, or are discarded. The reconstituted sheet tobacco is shredded and blended with the processed lamina strips and made into filler for cigarettes. The reconstituted tobacco filler is part of most brands of cigarettes made by Reynolds, and enables cigarettes to be made with lower tar and nicotine content which according to Reynolds has been “demanded” by smoking consumers.”
3. Reynolds uses approximately seventy million pounds of tobacco stems, scrap and dust each year in making reconstituted sheet tobacco. Reynolds also disposes of between five and seven million pounds of tobacco waste materials in landfills each year. This material is of a lower quality than the stems, scrap and dust used in the G-7 process; much of it is generated by the manufacturing process, rather than the stemmery, though some tobacco waste generated by the stemmery is also disposed of.
4. In order to keep up with its production requirements for reconstituted tobacco, Reynolds imports tobacco stems purchased overseas. For example, in 2006 ( the latest year for which US Government data is available), the US imported 136.8 Million pounds of Tobacco stems. In other words, there weren’t nearly enough stems being produced from US tobacco for the manufacturers to use in making their products. These manufacturers, on the other hand, would probably say “Well, Tobacco stems are Tobacco, so what’s the big deal?” The big deal of course is that many of the most dangerous pesticides used on tobacco overseas (like slug and snail control chemicals) are taken up from soil application into the roots and stems, and others translocate from the leaf where they are sprayed into the stems and stalks.
5. Reynolds sells reconstituted tobacco to other manufacturers of tobacco products, and manufactures reconstituted sheet tobacco for other tobacco manufacturers, using stems, scraps and dust supplied by them. As you can read in the case file, one of Reynolds’ witnesses testified that even if there were no tax incentives for recycling and resource recovery of or from solid waste, Reynolds would still operate the G-7 process because of its cost-effectiveness.”
6. While it’s bad enough that this cynical giant corporation wants tax breaks for selling waste to its customers, what isn’t revealed here is that the waste is toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic and endocrine-disrupting. That single sentence “In order to keep up with its production requirements for reconstituted tobacco, Reynolds imports tobacco stems purchased overseas” holds the clue. When you look at where RJ Reynolds buys its tons of waste overseas you find that it is coming from countries that have absolutely no regulations on pesticide and other toxic chemical use on tobacco crops. This means that the waste that RJ Reynolds is putting in its cigarettes, and that Reynolds is selling to other cigarette manufacturers as reconstituted “sheet”, contains high levels of pesticides that are totally banned for use on any crop in the US.
7. These chemicals are known carcinogens, they are known to destroy nervous systems, they are known to produce deformed babies, and they are known to produce dozens of fatal diseases in humans. Furthermore, carefully-done research studies show that many of these pesticides are far more dangerous to children, young women, Hispanics and African-Americans that they are to white males.
8. I would also like to point out that RJ Reynolds could choose to manufacture its cigarette brands from pure tobacco leaf grown in the US under strict pesticide regulations. The reason it chooses to pack its products with toxic waste is because it is so damned profitable to do so, and because nobody has called them on the practice.
Exhibit # 10
“Pesticide use is one of only two exposures consistently identified by Gulf War epidemiologic studies to be significantly associated with Gulf War illness. Multi-symptom illness profiles similar to Gulf War illness have been associated with low-level pesticide exposures in other human populations. In addition, Gulf War studies have identified dose-response effects, indicating that greater pesticide use is more strongly associated with Gulf War illness than more limited use. Pesticide use during the Gulf War has also been associated with neuro-cognitive deficits and neuro-endocrine alterations in Gulf War veterans in clinical studies conducted following the end of the war. The 2008 report concluded that “all available sources of evidence combine to support a consistent and compelling case that pesticide use during the Gulf War is causally associated with Gulf War illness.”
“Organophosphates are of concern to both scientists and regulators because they work by irreversibly blocking an enzyme that’s critical to nerve function in both insects and humans. Even at relatively low levels, organophosphates may be most hazardous to the brain development of fetuses and young children. The EPA banned most residential uses of organophosphates in 2001, but they are still sprayed agriculturally on fruits and vegetables. They’re also used to control pests like mosquitos in public spaces such as parks. They can be absorbed through the lungs or skin or by eating them on food”
What Can Be Done?
The most powerful thing that can be done would cost at most a few thousand dollars, and that would be to collect a good sample of off-the-shelf so-called “Tobacco” products including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, dry snuff and even Vape, and then using good evidence-handling procedures get these samples to a qualified testing lab and have them do a comprehensive analysis for residues of chemicals that do not occur naturally in the Tobacco plant. This would include the broad list of pesticides referred to earlier in this post, plus all other non-natural chemicals such as flavoring and aroma agents as well as the “smoker satisfaction” chemicals that the industry uses to create “brand loyalty” – a cute little label for deliberate chemical addiction that has zero to do with nicotine. The analysis would also look at the actual constituents of the products themselves, especially to determine how much of each product is actually tobacco, how much is actually tobacco leaf, and how much is non-tobacco materials like municipal waste.
Believe it or not, this analysis has never been done. But with the results in hand, injured smokers of all kinds including veterans exposed to both PB and “tobacco” products but also children of smokers, spouses of smokers, chewers, and other classes of victims could mount a real class action suit – not one of those res-herring class action lawsuits that pretend to go after the “Tobacco” companies for misleading claims and consumer fraud but that actually serve the interests of the “Tobacco” industry by providing them with the excuse that they have been investigated, sued, adjudicated and either slapped on the wrist or vindicated.
Here is a story is about an Australian oncologist who, dismayed at the damage that she saw “Tobacco” doing to her patients, was horrified to find out that her medical institution held “Tobacco” company stock as part of its investment portfolio.
Well, she set to work, she did, and although the gruff, cynical world of big money managers was skeptical at first, this plucky, photogenic Australian Oncologist has managed to create a very successful “Tobacco-free Portfolio” movement worldwide.
The article is chock full of feel-good quotes from financial wizards who were absolutely bowled over by the moral and ethical intensity of the Aussie doc’s arguments, and her ghastly photos of diseased lungs, and now they are 100% on board with her in shunning the “Tobacco” industry’s stocks in their portfolios.
The problem here is emblematic of the failure of anti-“tobacco” movements to even begin to identify who and what they need to be attacking. The core of the problem is that the industry has so completely propagandized people and institutions at all levels that most people actually believe that it is Tobacco killing all those people who die from smoking cigarettes.
While these movements and lawsuits and non-profit (sic) campaigns are all aimed at “Tobacco”, that plague-like carrier of the dreaded addictive nicotine toxin that destroys lives and stalks children, the industry slides right by because its products have almost nothing at all to do with Tobacco anymore. 100% of the attacks against the industry based on the assumption that its products are “Tobacco” are virtually meaningless and a complete waste of hope, energy, and money.
Almost all US cigarette brands are up to 100% recycled waste with nicotine added in precise dosages. Does anyone who reflects for even a few seconds believe that it would be possible to manufacture billions of cigarettes from natural plant material and be able to print the precise amount of tar and nicotine on every pack? The amount of nicotine varies so much from field to field, from plant to plant, and from leaf to leaf that even if they were using actual Tobacco leaf they couldn’t control the amount of “Nicotine & Tar” without doing some major processing.
The only way the industry can achieve uniformity is to produce a synthetic product, and in fact the industry does just that, by the millions of tons each year. The industry calls it “synthetic smoking materials” or, in a more colorful (and unconsciously accurate) industry term, “sheet tobacco”. That’s what it is – recycled waste processed into sheet of material that are then shaved, infused with precise amounts of hundreds of chemicals including nicotine, and then shaved into little curls and made into cigarettes. Anyone who knows the industry is laughing at the “Ammonia” lawsuit. Sure Ammonia is used in manufacturing “tobacco sheet” – huge amounts of it. But it isn’t “added” to the material, it’s used in a super-cooled process to puff it up after its been shaved into little curls so that it will look and smoke more like real leaf. The Ammonia is long-gone by the time those little ciggys are all packaged up and ready to be inhaled by some poor idiot who really is being deceived, manipulated, injured and murdered as a result of deliberate, profit-driven decisions of this industry.
If the 2016 US “Tobacco” industry were to be a startup industry with no history, and it came to even the highly-manipulated US regulators with the products it currently makes and proposed to make those products, they would not only be denied they would probably be arrested as terrorists.
But after many decades of very expensive and well-crafted propaganda, this industry now has even those who see it clearly as committing crimes against humanity led unknowingly to be aggrieved at “Tobacco” and to spend all their energy and resources attacking the “Tobacco industry”.
I’m afraid that for the most part anti-“Tobacco” people are useful idiots. They aren’t stupid, or foolish, or wrong in what they are trying to do. Bless them. However, they are being so effectively manipulated that they are the “Tobacco” industry’s most ardent defenders when it comes to anyone trying to point out the error of their “anti-Tobacco” ways.
In the 1980s I had written a four-part expose of the “Tobacco industry” at the request of a senior editor with the Nader organization, and just before that series was to begin publication, a senior member of Nader’s Board, a well-known “anti-Tobacco” physician, said (as my editor told me) that they had spent so many years convincing people that Tobacco was the worst possible thing for their health that they weren’t going to publish anything that might suggest that it might not be the Tobacco that’s the problem at all.
This industry is completely protected at the institutional/governmental level, and it seems that all of the “anti-Tobacco” movements in the world have also been effectively co-opted.
This industry has been earning more real wealth than any other tightly-held industry in the world for generations and that wealth has gone into ownership of hundreds of companies in every industry and every financial sector in the world. So as sincere and well-motivated as our Australian Oncologist is, I’m afraid that the hideous damage she sees in her “Tobacco” smoking patients has little or nothing to do with Tobacco, and the so-called “Tobacco” companies are fully divested out of range of any possible legal or regulatory action.
Many of those hundreds of companies owned by “Tobacco” money are consumer products, food, transportation, retail and leisure companies that advertise heavily in every medium. So any story about any strategy that had even a remote chance of actually harming the interests that profit directly or indirectly from the slaughter would not make it into any medium that relies on advertising. Stories that are really dangerous to the “tobacco” industry somehow don’t make it through the media screening process. And there’s not a whiff of “tobacco” anywhere in the room where the decision is made to kill the story at the editorial level – they’ve simply heard from a few of their best retailer and consumer products advertisers. I have personally seen this happen.
So you can be that the “Tobacco industry” isn’t worried about the “Tobacco-free Portfolio” movement one bit.
Divesting “Tobacco” company stock as a means to rein in their murderous behavior is worse than ineffective – it makes people feel that they are actually accomplishing something. No portfolio manager could divest of every stock and bond connected to every company owned by “Tobacco” money – there wouldn’t be many stocks or bonds left to own.
But you can’t even scratch the “Tobacco” industry by selling off its stocks. However, the industry still puts on a good show for the quixotic victors whenever someone like our plucky Aussie Oncologist does appear.
It fights and fights and then gives up and wails and gnashes its teeth – just like it did with the “big” Tobacco Liability settlements a few years ago. “Oh stop, stop. Here, take a few billion dollars. You’ve got us. We give up. We’ll do better from now on.”
We’ve all heard it and seen it and while a lot of us know it’s just an act very few of us can see what a truly well-crafted act it is. This act cost hundreds of millions, probably billions of dollars and decades to craft to perfection. The industry has been hiring the best behavior modification scientists in the world for decades, along with thousands of other scientists in many other disciplines, either directly or through hidden sponsorship with “research grants”. The industry almost has a 100% effective mindset in place at all levels of society, and keeping people fixated on “Tobacco” and “Nicotine” is at the core of the strategy.
However, if you have read this far you are one of the people that the “Tobacco” industry really, really hopes will just shrug your shoulders and walk away. Oh well, it’s all true but what can be done about it?
I do have a small suggestion. A class action lawsuit that actually identifies a class of cigarette smokers that consists of people who have been damaged by this industry in specific ways by cigarette products based on a specific, broad and deep knowledge ON THE PART OF THE ATTORNEYS of how the industry operates, would succeed quite nicely and not just in a monetary awards for the plaintiffs. Such a lawsuit could actually lead to meaningful change, if not from the existing “Tobacco” industry then from an alternative heirloom, truly natural Tobacco movement on the local level, perhaps right alongside legalized Cannabis. I don’t believe this kind of legal action has ever been tried, but would love to hear from anyone who knows of such a case.
This industry’s vulnerability is that it is so wealthy, powerful, diversified and protected that it has come to rely completely on its ability to keep on fooling all the people all the time. This industry believes that it controls all of the rules of the game that it has us all playing. And Rule #1 is that we all agree that Tobacco and Nicotine are the problems. So, all together now …..
This industry is pure psychosis in institutional form.