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
So, girls who smoke DDT-contaminated little cigars, who are pregnant, who have poor diets, and who drop out of school are themselves severely compromised by the impact of pesticides and are also at heightened risk of giving birth to a baby who is developmentally compromised due to DDT exposure in utero.
We talk about the cycle of poverty. Could tobacco product pesticide poisoning be a 100% preventable driver of a major part of that cycle, failure at school?
Multiple studies show that children who initiate smoking with little cigars are predominantly from low-income families and choose contaminated little cigars over less contaminated cigarettes because of price, convenience and marketing. In other words, their decisions are price-sensitive but otherwise mindless.
We know that a primary tobacco prevention and control strategy is to raise taxes on the theory (that they are scrambling to prove) that higher prices discourage starting and promote quitting. The claim is that this strategy reduces overall harm from smoking. This is demonstrably counter-factual when actual price-sensitive behavior is accounted for, which consists of simply switching to or starting with cheaper brands with greater pesticide contamination. Therefore greater not less harm is done especially to young smokers by increasing taxes as a control and prevention strategy.
We must ask public health authorities and legislators whether tax-based tobacco control and prevention strategies are unintentionally reinforcing dropout rates by driving young smokers to cheaper, more contaminated brands of tobacco products?
Research On Pesticides, Kids & Learning
“We conclude that prenatal DDT levels may be associated with delayed Processing Speed in children at age 7 years and the relationship between prenatal DDE levels and children’s cognitive development may be modified by sex, with girls being more adversely affected.”
“A critical window of exposure to DDE in utero may be the first trimester of the pregnancy, and psychomotor development is a target of this compound. Residues of DDT metabolites may present a risk of developmental delay for years after termination of DDT use.”
In utero exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and neurodevelopment among young Mexican American children
“Prenatal exposure to DDT, and to a lesser extent DDE, was associated with neurodevelopmental delays during early childhood, although breastfeeding was found to be beneficial even among women with high levels of exposure. Countries considering the use of DDT should weigh its benefit in eradicating malaria against the negative associations found in this first report on DDT and human neurodevelopment.”
Prenatal organochlorine exposure and behaviors associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in school-aged children.
“The authors found higher risk for ADHD-like behaviors assessed with the CRS-T at higher levels of PCBs and p,p’-DDE. These results support an association between low-level prenatal organochlorine exposure and ADHD-like behaviors in childhood.”
Increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder associated with exposure to organophosphate pesticide in Taiwanese children.
“Children with higher urinary DMP concentrations may have a twofold to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD. We report a dose-response relationship between child DMP levels and ADHD. Organophosphate pesticide exposure may have deleterious effects on children’s neurodevelopment, particularly the development of ADHD.”
Association of pyrethroid pesticide exposure with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children.
“Results found an association between increasing pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD which may be stronger for hyperactive-impulsive symptoms compared to inattention and in boys compared to girls.”
Developmental neurotoxic effects of two pesticides: Behavior and neuroprotein studies on endosulfan and cypermethrin.
“The results indicate that both pesticides may induce altered levels of neuroproteins, important for normal brain development, and neurobehavioral abnormalities manifested as altered adult spontaneous behavior and ability to habituate to a novel home environment. The neurotoxic behavioral effects were also present several months after the initial testing, indicating long-lasting or even persistent irreversible effects.”
“Epidemiologic data reveal that children aged 6-15 with detectable levels of pyrethroid metabolites in their urine were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.”
“Results support an association of prenatal OP exposure with deficits in social functioning among blacks and among boys, although this may be in part reflective of differences in exposure patterns.”
“Among the findings associated with increased pesticide levels are poorer mental development by using the Bayley index and increased scores on measures assessing pervasive developmental disorder, inattention, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Related animal toxicology studies provide supportive biological plausibility for these findings.
Additional data suggest that there may also be an association between parental pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes including physical birth defects, low birth weight, and fetal death, although the data are less robust than for cancer and neurodevelopmental effects.
Children’s exposures to pesticides should be limited as much as possible.”
Banned Pesticides In Tobacco Products – Background
The tobacco industry is extremely careful not to allow (more on that later) studies of pesticide residues on its cigarette products in any country but particularly in the US. The industry is exquisitely aware that if the extent of this chemical contamination were known, particularly the presence of multiple banned organochlorine pesticides in their products, then especially at the state and county levels public health officials and regulators would have no choice but to call an end to industry’s game.
And then there would also be a brand new basis for some hefty civil lawsuits as well as domestic and international criminal charges for everything from negligence to genocide.
About time too, don’t you think?
So here’s an outline of the issue and why I think it represents a new broad area for regulatory control of the harm being done by Tobacco products. I would love to hear from organizations with a Tobacco product control agenda who would like help in crafting a local strategy of pesticide residue identification – we have fully certified high-level labs here in Oregon with experience in Tobacco testing that are ready to help.
European regulators in several countries, notably Germany, and acting through the EU Commission as a whole, are already way ahead of the US in identifying and regulating the public health threat caused by pesticide residues in Tobacco products. But, because of the tight control that the Tobacco industry has over the US media, Americans who are casually consuming “the news” will NEVER hear about these controls on pesticide contamination. And because of the control that the Tobacco industry has over the US scientific and medical communities, you will NEVER find that anyone in the entire anti-tobacco movement has ever spent a few hundred bucks and tested some off-the-shelf Tobacco products for pesticide residues. Go ahead – Google away. It’s just not there.
Does that strike anyone other than me as a bit odd?
That tight grip on public knowledge, by the way, comes from clandestine financial controls, domination of advertising, hidden ownership of important media, and co-opted journalists at every level of every important media player. To the Tobacco industry, this is all a game-planned process.
That may sound like a cold-blooded way to refer to the slaughter of untold millions of people across generations of smokers and their families, but you can be certain that as far as the tobacco industry is concerned it’s a game, and when it comes to money they are definitely cold-blooded, and they’re playing for keeps.
The Smoking Gun
As you read this please keep in mind that all it took to bring down Al Capone was one small tax evasion charge that the feds could make stick.
So. There has only been one small study of pesticides in actual commercial cigarettes since the 1970’s, but if that study is at all representative of the state of the 2018 commercial cigarette market (parenthetical comment – it is, as you’ll see documented later) then regulators worldwide ought to be pulling cigarettes from shelves and running them through pesticide testing. Don’t you think?
Geiss, O., Kotzias, D., “Determination of Ammonium, Urea and Pesticide Residues in Cigarette Tobacco“. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin (FEB), No. 12 (2003), 1562– 1565
I can hear the Tobacco science flacks now. “Well, that data is from 2003. That was 15 years ago. And besides those pesticides aren’t permitted on tobacco anymore.”
So, you would think that if nasty old Endosulfan, Heptachlor and 4,4-DDE, and a whole lot more organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides weren’t being used on tobacco anymore then the tobacco industry scientific organization CORESTA wouldn’t be publishing “good practice” guidelines updated June 2018 that lists acceptable limits on them – right?
Well, just because the tobacco industry chooses to publish good practice limits on those banned pesticides, that doesn’t mean they are still being used – right? When you read the document it is absolutely clear – these pesticide residues are being detected in Tobacco and Tobacco products worldwide and the industry is worried enough to publish “good practice” and “stewardship” guidelines, including guidelines for dozens of pesticides that are banned because chronic exposure in any amount is hazardous – like through a few hundred puffs of Tobacco product smoke or vapor a day.
Also if you open that CORESTA link above, please notice their innocent little qualifying remark:
“The GRLs are applicable to cured tobacco leaf while focusing on processed tobacco leaf which is predominantly used for the production of traditional cigarette tobaccos and the GAPs associated with the cultivation of these tobacco types.”
In other words we are just going to ignore the issue of pesticide residues on Tobacco stems and trash, which we know are present in higher concentrations than on the leaf, because we don’t want to raise that particular issue.
How We Know Brazilian Tobacco Is Widely Contaminated
With that hidden public health issue in mind, let’s look at pesticide use on tobacco in Brazil – as good a place to start as any. We could look at dozens of other countries, but Brazil is the biggest exporter of tobacco to the US.
First, note that Brazilian tobacco uses twice as much pesticide per hectare as the next biggest user, cotton, and three times as much as soybeans. That is significant – it means that Brazilian Tobacco plants are drenched with these chemicals.
That’s how we know beyond reasonable doubt that Brazilian Tobacco waste exports to the US are contaminated, and probably very heavily contaminated. That doesn’t worry the US Tobacco companies because nobody is watching what they do except for their own people, a few corrupt officials, and some piss-ant regulations that aren’t enforced and don’t matter.
Well, OK. So tobacco uses a lot of pesticides. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are using banned pesticides, or pesticides known to be dangerous if inhaled even in small doses on a chronic basis.
Actually, they are. If you click here and are a patient reader there’s all the evidence you’ll ever need that tobacco from Brazil is lethal – and not because it’s tobacco.
That link is a pretty detailed research piece that looks at the health impact of pesticides on tobacco farmers in Brazil, and in the process it talks in detail about the pesticides they are exposed to. Of course, these are the same pesticides whose residues wind up on Brazilian tobacco. Check it out.
So, it’s clear that a great many pesticides being used on tobacco in Brazil. This isn’t the only piece of evidence, by far. When you look at all the evidence, it is clear that banned organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides are being used intensively on Brazilian tobacco as recently as early 2018.
The reason that’s important is that all of the trash from the Brazilian tobacco industry – not the tobacco leaf, but the stems and waste from the factory floors – winds up being shipped to the US for manufacturing into American cigarettes. That tobacco trash and stems is if anything more heavily contaminated with pesticides than the tobacco leaf (because it includes systemic pesticides), which is kept in Brazil and Argentina for making cigarettes out of real leaf tobacco – the kind demanded by smokers in Latin America.
The contaminated tobacco trash is sent to the US, and look who’s bringing it in. (We’ll get to why in a minute.)
That’s a whole lot of tobacco trash, isn’t it? Well, those are only the records of two shipments of toxic waste brought to the US by Big Tobacco. There are plenty more. Now, let’s talk about why they are bringing in all those tobacco stems from Brazil and other waste dumps on the planet.
How Brazilian Nerve Poisons Get Into Those Marlboros, Camels etc.
It’s really pretty simple. The tobacco industry figured out years ago that American smokers didn’t really care what they were smoking, and since the tobacco companies could sell the actual leaf to Europeans and Latin Americans who cared, why not use all those stalks and stems and trash that they were just throwing away and figure out how to make cigarettes out of it?
Here’s a short video by Philip Morris showing in detail how they take tobacco waste and turn it into cigarettes. They treat this process as though it is a miraculous achievement. While you watch how this cigarette giant makes fake tobacco for American smokers, remember those pesticide residues on those millions of pounds of Brazilian tobacco waste they’re grinding up and bragging about.
There is major deception at @ 2:11-20. Can you can spot it now that you know about the pesticide residues in that trash they’re turning into cigarettes?
At this point you may be asking what contaminated Brazilian tobacco trash has to do with where we started – banned pesticides in commercial cigarettes in Europe, including two prominent American brands.
The relevance is that the banned pesticides in those 2003 EU cigarettes got into them exactly the same way that banned pesticides are getting into every US cigarette manufactured with Brazilian tobacco stems and trash in 2018.
The tobacco stems and trash that are being exported from Brazil ( and other countries, but Brazil is the biggest US supplier) to Europe and to America are used for the same thing – to make fake tobacco cigarettes chock full of invisible poisons on that waste Tobacco just like in the Philip Morris video above. Philip Morris, RJR and the others know for a fact that their manufacturing materials are contaminated with banned toxic substances, and they may even quietly test for some of these poisons, but they have never issued a recall for a single batch of Tobacco products which they would have a positive duty to do if banned pesticide residues were detected.
So What Can Be Done?
Quite a bit, actually. In a coming post I’ll link you to peer-reviewed journal research that demonstrates the level of public health threat presented by these hidden toxic substances, and I’ll share with you the results of a little public health effort here in Portland to test off-the-shelf Tobacco products being sold locally whose origins can be traced to imported Brazilian Tobacco waste. Stay tuned for what I expect to be some interesting results.
Meanwhile if you like what I’m trying to do here, please hit that little donate button below and drop a thank you on me. I would appreciate knowing that you care about the work I’m doing.
Can you believe that RJR tried to get a tax credit for disposing of tobacco waste by processing it into cigarettes instead of dumping it in the landfill? Check it out – links to the original court case are below.
As this post is written the tobacco fields of Virginia and the Carolinas are flooded and destroyed. There are millions of pounds of waterlogged tobacco lying in mud mixed with sewage and dead pigs,the whole mess waiting to be plowed under or hauled away.
Or not. It turns out that cigarette giant RJR has a series of secret processes for making all kinds of tobacco waste into cigarettes. The tobacco farmers may be 100% wiped out, but I’ll bet RJR already has crews out there gathering up those dead stalks while they’re firing up the equipment to run that crap through their secret “G-Series” processes. More on that shortly.
But … if a few months from now that second-hand cigarette smoke drifting around on the streets suddenly starts smelling faintly like rancid pigshit with maybe a hint of faux mint you’ll know why.
Here’s the background on the secret G-Series processes that RJR doesn’t voluntarily reveal to anyone.
To Set The Scene
Picture a North Carolina courtroom in 1998. The great, all-powerful RJ Reynolds has just filed an appeal against a ruling by the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources. And lost.
The ruling says sorry, RJR can’t classify the tobacco stems, scraps, dust and trash that it uses to manufacture its cigarette products as solid waste.
Now, doesn’t that bring up the question – why would RJR want to classify its manufacturing materials as solid waste?
It sounds like a sneaky little tax loophole but hey, if RJR wants to get a tax credit for disposing of their waste in an environmentally sound fashion, what’s the problem?
The problem is that RJ Reynolds claims it is “disposing of” this waste by manufacturing it into cigarettes, and says that qualifies it for tax breaks because the waste isn’t going into landfills. It’s being bought and smoked by their customers.
There are some really clever folks down North Carolina way.
Can’t you just see those no-neck monsters with cheap haircuts sitting around the table gloating, all fashionably attired in blue dress shirts with white collars. “Get this – we already know how to take all that trash that doesn’t cost us a dime and get a bunch of dumb fucks to pay us big bucks to smoke it, and now our lawyers are saying we’re gonna get ourselves a big tax break for making them smoke that shit and not tossing it into the landfill. Pretty damn sweet!”
The Secret G-Series Processes
What made the RJR boys giggle is that their research scientists have been really successful over decades of work in coming up with a whole series of ways to use worthless tobacco trash and waste to make cigarettes. These processes, code-named the “G Series” were a major set of developments for RJR. They form the base of a major part of their wealth, allowing them to manufacture synthetic smoking materials out of tobacco trash and recycled waste and supply it to the entire US cigarette industry. (The Europeans won’t touch this shit.)
Here’s a quick look at some of the code-named RJR projects to develop processes for turning trash into cigarettes.
The RJR G-Series Codes
Internal Identification Codes for G-Processed Tobaccos follow this pattern:
G__-nnL = base for item id.
G = is a number for the process
Nn i= a number for a specific version
L = a letter for a modification
The G-Code Family
G7, G16, and G17 series codes refer to reconstituted tobacco processes while G13, G14 and G18 refer to expanded tobacco processes. G15 series refers to pectin release cast sheets.
G7-A Ammoniated tobacco sheet developed in response to Marlboro (RJR, 1991b).
G7AE Ammonia applied to the G7 extract prior to making the reconstituted sheet (Gignac et al, 1988).
G7-10B 1.2% DAP Treated G7-1 Sheet
G7-DAP Evaluate DAP for improving the taste of G7A (RJR, 1989b).
G13-23 Freon Expanded Cut Filler
G14-1 Expanded Cut Roll Stems
G15-2 Pectin release Cast Sheet (100% Dust Recipe)
G16-2 Lowest Nicotine Tobacco Sheet
G17-1 Reconstituted Tobacco Strands (RTS)
G18-1 Propane Expanded Process (PEP)
To access the full Tobacco company manufacturing code base go to:
RJR’s “Toxic Waste Into Cigarettes” Court Case – The Smoking Gun
The “Toxic Waste Into Cigarettes” 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
The basic idea is that since RJ Reynolds is disposing of millions of pounds of waste every year by making it into cigarettes and selling them to American smokers rather than dumping all that waste in a landfill, the company therefore deserves a tax break for being good environmental stewards. The testimony of RJR and others recorded in this lawsuit reveals information about how RJ Reynolds manufactures its products that ought to give any cigarette smoker, and any regulator, and any jury, cause to realize the extent of the knowingly deceptive and harmful practices of this cigarette giant.
The only reason all this doesn’t set off alarm bells is that the so-called “tobacco” industry has spent (quite literally) billions of dollars on social conditioning so that your reaction on reading anything negative about cigarettes is very likely “So what – I know all that. I’m tired of hearing about it. It’s old news.”
If you think those ideas are your own, think again. They are implanted.
But really consider the evidence, so cleverly hidden in plain sight, and it becomes compelling and conclusive even in partial outline. Sooner or later the cigarette industry is going to have to answer for this hidden but discernible criminal conspiracy against humanity, which is of a magnitude and horror that makes it virtually incomprehensible even to thoughtful minds. And that, of course, is exactly the idea.
Here are a few of the details directly from the court papers from COA01-74 North Carolina:
In manufacturing tobacco products, Reynolds does buy 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 becomes part of what winds up as a cigarette.
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 related treatments known as the G-Series processes, 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”.
Reynolds uses approximately seventy million pounds of tobacco stems, scrap and dust each year in making reconstituted sheet tobacco for its own use, and many millions more for other manufacturers. 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-Series processes; 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.
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 still real 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.
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.”
While it’s bad enough that this corporation wants tax breaks for selling waste to its customers, what isn’t revealed here is that this “tobacco” waste is highly contaminated with toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic and endocrine-disrupting agricultural chemicals and pesticides. 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.
Many of 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 a range of debilitating and fatal diseases in humans. Furthermore, carefully-done research studies show that many of these pesticides, especially the more recent chemicals that attack DNA and other genetic materials in insects, are far more dangerous to children, young women, and the unborn in every population, and to people with Latin, Native American, Asian or African biological ancestry, than they are to adult Caucasian males. That explains why pesticide residues in cigarettes “aren’t a problem” for the white guys running the so-called “tobacco” industry.
RJ Reynolds and all the others could choose to manufacture their cigarette brands from pure tobacco leaf grown in the US or even other countries under strict pesticide regulations. The reason they choose to pack their products with toxic waste instead is because it is so profitable to do so, and because nobody has called any of them on the practice.