Students who smoke are at significantly heightened risk of school failure, but nobody can explain the clear connection. In the latest, large 2016 study of child smokers over one-third of Late Starters (35.8%) and almost half of Continuous Users (44.4%) dropped out of high school. Go figure.
We’ve shown through lab analysis that there are high concentrations of DDT and other endocrine-disrupting pesticides present in tobacco products. These pesticides are proven to cause severe developmental and cognitive deficiencies. Since many dropout teen smokers were also born to smoking mothers, we have to ask if there could be a birth to death connection between tobacco product pesticide contamination and lifelong failure for some, or even many of the 1.2 million children who drop out every year? Are these the “replacement smokers” the industry talks about?
What if DDT-contaminated tobacco products, and perhaps especially little cigars like Swisher Sweets, are directly responsible for at least some of America’s high school dropouts? Could the extreme levels of DDT and other endocrine-disruptors recently (2018) detected in little cigars be contributing to the unusually high rates of ADHD and poor cognitive performance metrics among high school dropouts who smoke them?
Our research strongly suggests that many dropouts may actually be victims of the tobacco product choices that they are being driven to make by poverty, social class, race, and by terribly wrong-headed public policy. Anyone who truly understands the tobacco industry knows that the cheaper the tobacco product, the more contaminated with pesticide residues.
Could high school dropout rates be reduced simply by restricting or banning community-wide sales of tobacco products that are proven to be contaminated with illegal pesticides that are known to present extreme hazards to critical human developmental processes that affect learning and cognition?
We know that 1.2 million children dropped out of High School in the US in 2016.
We know that poor non-white children are disproportionately represented in the dropout population and suffer the lifelong consequences disproportionately.
We know that poor non-white children who are regular smokers disproportionately smoke “little cigars” and that economics is a major factor in this behavior.
We know that “little cigars” are disproportionately marketed by the manufacturers to poor, non-white and young neighborhoods and communities that, coincidentally or not, have the highest dropout rates.
Our recent lab results show that Swisher Sweets, the most popular brand by far among child smokers 11-17, has extremely hazardous levels of DDT and other endocrine-disrupting pesticides. We are certain that these contamination levels will prove to be representative of little cigars as a product category.
Endocrine-disrupting pesticides are known to present multiple severe hazards to human fetal and child development including high risk of cognitive deficit disorders.
While many of the pesticides identified in Swisher Sweets are unregulated and have very little human toxicological history, DDT has an unequivocal status as an “extreme hazard” to humans and in itself may be sufficient to account for an undetermined portion of observed ADHD and cognitive deficits among child smokers.
We know that DDT specifically crosses the placental barrier and that this puts the unborn children of pregnant teens who smoke little cigars at severe risk of life-long DDT-related developmental learning disabilities.
We know that 27% of girls who drop out are pregnant.
We know that inhaled DDT is incrementally more toxic than dietary DDT.
We know that poor human diet/nutrition exacerbates the impact of DDT