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Thoughts On Coca, Cannabis, Opium & Tobacco – Gifts Of The Great Spirit


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HIV/AIDS Tobacco Harm Reduction With American Spirit

If clinicians treating HIV/AIDS patients who can’t stop smoking knew what hidden fungicides those patients were inhaling they could probably do a much better job of treating them.

Here’s The Data

Community Tobacco Control Partners Test Results 12/18

The Purpose Of The Project

Given the data on fungicide and pesticide contaminants that you see here, and understanding that it is critical that fungicide treatments, which are very commonly used in treatment for HIV/AIDS, must not be co-administered with most other HIV/AIDS medications:

Which tobacco brand above do you think would be most harmful to an HIV/AIDS patient currently undergoing treatment and still smoking?

Which brand above would be least harmful to a patient undergoing the same treatment and still smoking?

How much clinic time and human and financial resources could be conserved, and how many patients’ lives saved, if patients in HIV/AIDS therapy were not being compromised daily by an inhaled fungicide cocktail from smoking that they can’t control? 

I propose a simple, inexpensive way to use economic incentive, hard evidence, common sense and an appeal to simple pleasures to change the harmful behavior of smoking during HIV/AIDS therapy.

Merely labeling the behavior harmful and harping at people to quit obviously doesn’t do the job.

The Problem

A very high proportion of people in HIV/AIDS treatment continue to smoke, and they’re driven to cheap tobacco brands by poverty and sometimes choice.

  1. We also know that the pesticides in many tobacco brands like those shown above attack the immune system, so heavy smoking with exposure to these endocrine-disrupting pesticides in addition to the fungicides all go together to make a young LGBTQ person who smokes much more vulnerable to acquiring HIV/AIDS if and when they are exposed.
  2. We know that cheap brands are heavily contaminated with fungicides that are known to interact harmfully with most common HIV/AIDS medications.
  3. Existing cessation programs and strategies do not work well, when they work at all.
  4. Patients who continue to smoke disrupt and negate their therapy in ways that their health care providers can clearly see but cannot identify the cause. They know smoking is involved but don’t know how. 

What doctor or nurse who is carefully keeping fungicide applications separate from other medications for a patient could know that the patient was dosing themselves with a cocktail of fungicides 40-60 times a day or more through smoking?

Street Math

If a person is paying $6.00 for a pack of cigarettes they are getting 20 cigarettes containing 0.8 grams of “tobacco-like material” at a cost of $0.375/gram, or $10.65/ounce. If they’re paying $8 a pack that’s $0.50/gram and so on

No cigarette smoker ever does that math, but those numbers will get any patient’s attention as part of the onboarding process because everyone on the streets knows how to do drug math. Once a person sees what they’re paying and what they’re getting, and are presented with an attractive option that has compelling economics behind it too – I believe that motivation to participate would not be a problem.

The American Spirit Harm Reduction strategy

You can see the core of the proposed harm reduction strategy in the data above. Tobacco brands differ wildly in their harm potential. It’s that simple. So we find a way to empower the most marginalized among us who must smoke to be able to choose the least harmful way to pursue their need.

I don’t show organic tobacco in the data for an good reason – we tested Organic American Spirit for use as the substrate for the brand tests and it had no detectable pesticide residues.

But if an HIV/AIDS patient is smoking any tobacco brand contaminated with any of the fungicides you see in the data above, getting heavier as the brand gets cheaper, then you can see exactly how harm reduction will work right up front.

The only question is – how can you transition people from the most harmfully contaminated to the least harmfully contaminated kind of tobacco?

I propose that we use the power of economics and the market.

Here’s how it could work – there are a lot of variations.

Program Delivery

First: The clinic locates a lowest-cost source and buys the least-contaminated Roll-Your-Own (RYO) tobacco available, which is probably probably American Spirit Blue.

ASB is not organic but we tested this brand in cigarette form (see the data above) so we know what those pesticide contaminants are from hard data.

A good retail or online cost for a 5 Oz. can of American Spirit RYO will be around $30. 5 ounces of RYO will yield about 135 RYO cigarettes per can, so each cigarette will cost @ $0.22 each to make.

Many clinic clients will already know what American Spirit tobacco is but it’s likely that none can afford it or even find it for sale where they hang out.

It doesn’t have to be American Spirit – there is a much cheaper, down-home approach using whole organic tobacco leaf and a little machine that I’ll describe in another post.

It’s important to stay away from every other kind of RYO tobacco unless you find one clearly labeled “organic” because all the RYO tobacco I’m familiar with is very cheap stuff and is very likely as contaminated as cheap cigarettes themselves. 

Next steps: The onboarding procedure can be kept simple.

Participation would be voluntary, just like a clean needles or condoms programs, and the same response to criticism is merited. Of course it would be better if people didn’t use IV drugs but access to clean needles is in everyone’s interests. Same with tobacco products.

There should be an orientation session during which fact-based explanations are offered of why the program is being offered and how it works.

The clinic can set registered clients up with a supervised place and provide the supplies for patients to roll their own using the provided RYO tobacco.

Cigarettes can either be hand-rolled by the patients and staff, maybe in a communal atmosphere like a morning coffee and rolling session. or a very simple $300 hand-turned rolling machine can be used that allows a person to crank out 20 cigarettes in minutes.

The Important step: Paying For The Program

Let’s assume that the program has to pay for itself, or at least partially do so.

Finances can be handled several ways, keeping in mind that the patients are currently paying at least $6 or so a pack, or $0.375 for 0.8 grams. 

Plan A:The clinic could recover the full cost at $0.25 per one gram RYO cigarette which is half of what the clients are paying now on the street.

Plan B: Or the clinic can make the proposition irresistible to patients and charge $0.10/cigarette; or you can just charge nothing.

Plan C: Or, we may simply want to ask for a suggested donation of around half of what they’re currently spending on street tobacco rather than charging anything specific – it depends on the clinic’s finances and preferences.

The point is that even if a clinic served 100 patients at 20 cigarettes each a day at no charge that would mean 2000 cigarettes a day at a total cost of $500 a day or $5 a person to transition them away from the massive harm being done to them without anyone’s knowledge.

So a program serving 100 people would entail $15,000 if you were buying the RYO tobacco at retail. But let’s assume that the participants carry the program 100% by paying or donating $0.25 for each of the 20 hand-rolls in their daily allotment.

That would mean that other than administrative costs there would be few other expenses in running the program, and the participants would experience both health and economic benefits and maybe other positive things.

The Economic Impact On Patients

However they pay, or if they don’t pay, people should only be able to roll a limited amount at a time for personal consumption. That could rationally be set at 20 hand-rolled cigarettes a day – one pack.

Even if a patient is paying full price, or donating it, that $0.25 a cigarette is half what they are currently spending, so that’s money in their pocket. If they were paying $6 a pack and are now paying the equivalent of $3, they are way ahead. If they are paying nothing, they are $6 ahead.

However, one economic positive that could come out of the program even though it might not be formally recognized, is that if a person is allowed to roll themselves 20 cigarettes per day’s supply the reality is that they will probably only need ten of those, and will be able to make a little money by selling them on the street, which will add to the money they are saving by not buying commercial cigarettes.

If they are saving $3 a day buying or donating for 20 cigarettes at the clinic, and then also sell 10 of those to other people ( a knock-on tobacco harm reduction effect) at let’s say $0.50 each, then that’s another $5 in their pocket. So this harm reduction program could pay for itself and put at least $8 more a day in patients pockets while salvaging their expensive HIV/AIDS therapy.

I’m not talking about flooding the streets with hand-rolled American Spirit cigarettes, although that might make a wonderful conceptual art piece. I also don’t see too many legal objections to this (although anti-smokers will be venomous) since the tax has already been paid on the tobacco and the patients who sell some of their hand-rolled cigarettes are just adding value with a hand-rolling service for the buyer. If I buy apples and pay the tax and then slice them for people and sell those slices, maybe I need a vendors license technically but in this case … really?

The number of cigarettes involved in a program like this in the context of a city wouldn’t put a dent in the bodega sector’s revenues, but it could make a lot of financial difference for those in the program.

Summary

When you think about the money wasted on smoking prevention and cessation programs that don’t work, here is an idea that is simple and seems to have the potential to solve a very big problem because if it works in one place it can work virtually anywhere. If there are legal or regulatory issues raised, there are workarounds like having a physician prescribe the natural tobacco. 

While it’s tempting to focus on positive health outcomes as the greatest potential benefit of this proposal, it’s important to realize that this program would also mean that every patient would immediately have more disposable income. Not big bucks but I personally know that sometimes three bucks is what you need. How people choose to their extra disposable income it is wide open, but getting rid of the cost of a pack of cigarettes a day could make a big difference in many patients’ lives.

Finally, my pretty extensive experience with natural tobacco is that most smokers, especially of cheap brands, will instantly say that it is a lot better smoke. Most smokers of conventional tobacco brands find American Spirit, which is 100% actual Tobacco, stronger and more like “what real tobacco should be”.

Fair Disclosure: This proposed harm reduction approach uses American Spirit Blue RYO tobacco for a specific set of reasons shown in the data and analysis above. I have no relationship of any kind with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, the American Spirit brand, or any other tobacco company or product. I started the company and invented the brand but that was long ago and far away.

Related Posts That May Interest You

Hidden Endocrine Disrupters sickening Oregon LGBTQ Smokers

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Hidden Causes Of HIV/AIDS Treatment Failure

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Prostate Cancer & Tobacco Pesticides: Hidden Links

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Obesity & Obesogens: The Tobacco Connection

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Ancestral DDT Exposure & Trans-generational Obesity

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Smoking & Breast Cancer – A New Link?

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Little Cigars And High Liver Cancer Rates In Marginalized Communities

As I continue to mine the data from our December 2018 tests of off-the-shelf tobacco products for pesticide residues I keep running across small surprises that have big implications. Here’s a good example – the data has just shown me a likely connection between little cigar use and the puzzling high rates of liver cancer in Hispanic, Black and Native American communities.

The connection may lie in two of the pesticide contaminants just found in Swisher Sweets – check the carbendazim and cypermethrin in the right-hand data column below. Exposure to either of these chemicals is strongly linked to liver disease; exposure to the two chemicals together appears to have much greater impact than just the simple sum of their effects. They are more than merely additive and they are synergistic. (many additional citations below)

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2012 May;110(5):433-40

“Carbendazim impends hepatic necrosis when combined with imazalil or cypermethrin.”

“Low doses of carbendazim in combination with low doses of imazalil or cypermethrin caused very pronounced hepatic necrosis, more than any of the three individually applied pesticides or combination of imazalil and cypermethrin.”

Community Tobacco Control Partners Test Results 12/18

This study, like the others cited below, is an experiment to see what happens when you combine these two liver toxins. They use mice and rats. They aren’t saying that in the real world you would ever find people exposed to levels of carbendazim and cypermethrin like this at the same time. That would never happen. Except …

If you’re a super-cool young Latino dude smoking Swisher Sweets and fantasizing Carly B, or maybe a young Black mother smoking them because she’s heard they’re less harmful than cigarettes. They’re going to get the full load of carbendazim and cypermethrin together, over and over with every puff. 

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2012 May;31(5):492-505

“Carbendazim combined with imazalil or cypermethrin potentiate DNA damage in hepatocytes of mice.”

“In combination with carbendazim clastogen, properties of imazalils and cypermethrins were potentiated compared to all other treatments and control.

Higher long tail nuclei (LTN) in females indicate that certain cells in females were especially prone to total nucleus disintegration. ‘

Due to synergistic effects, low environmentally present concentrations of imazalil and cypermethrin in food, and especially their mixtures with carbendazim have genotoxic potential that could be particularly dangerous over prolonged exposure in mammalian organism.”

There’s not a single study anywhere that looks at individual pesticides in tobacco products and their impact on human health as inhaled toxins, much less when they are inhaled together day after day in a supertoxic cocktail. I suppose you could call this a simple oversight on the part of thousands of highly trained, highly paid scientists, doctors and regulators. I suppose you could say that.

But that’s exactly what millions of Latino, Black and Native people throughout the Americas are doing – inhaling that carbendazim/cypermethrin cocktail 20-40-60 times a day every day. That’s their only option too, because their only choices are the cheapest most contaminated brands of tobacco products, not the relatively cleaner high-end cigarettes smoked in economically privileged White communities. 

Young Latino, Black and Native American little cigar smokers are also inhaling at least 16 other pesticides in combination with the carbendazim/cypermethrin. No studies exist on what that incredible level of toxic synergy may be doing, but the studies on just the carbenzadim/cypermethrin combination are certainly suggestive. How about if you just add a little DDT to the mix? Done.

Both carbendazim and cypermethrin (and DDT) are potent high-tech Endocrine Disruptors, and they are present here in very significant concentrations, not traces, although endocrine disruptors have been conclusively shown to operate independently of concentration. This characteristic is known as a non-monotonic dose response, and is a much-needed refinement of the standard approach to determining a pesticide’s hazardous levels of exposure. This is especially true with the ED pesticides like Carbendazim and Cypermethrin that appear to have no safe level of exposure at all.

Extraordinarily important work by Dr. Laura Vandenberg of Massachusetts Public Health has shown that the classic way of looking at pesticide toxicity is not only wrong but dangerous in an age of designer pesticides that no longer rely on the brute force of chemical poison. http://dose-response.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Vandenberg-2013-dose-response.pdf

According to Dr. Vandenberg, and these are my words, there is a strong belief among regulators, and way too many scientists, that once you establish a level at which a pesticide does measurable damage you can simply project backwards in a straight line to lower doses and estimate a level where it can’t possibly do any harm.

That makes regulators happy – they have a number. That means they have a full-time job monitoring that number. Above that number – we have a problem and we get to enforce our rules. Below that number – you’re good to go and we’ve done our job protecting the public. Next!

That approach worked great with the first pesticides, which were all heavy-duty poisons. The more poison you use, the more bugs you kill. When bugs develop resistance, use more. If the first spray doesn’t get them all, spray again. But regulators keep people “safe” by limiting the amount that can be used per acre. If you’re a farmer and you reach that amount and the bugs keep eating your crop you yell at the chemical companies and they come up with a newer, stronger, different kind of poison using the same process.

What dose of this new shit kills all the rats? OK, that’s too much. How about a lower dose? Hmmm – still kills a bunch and now it seems to cause tumors. How about this teeny weeny dose? Hey, that seems to work. Look – no bugs, and the rats are alive. Well, most of them. We’re good to go! Off to the tobacco fields! Better living through chemistry.

But then all the poisons stopped working. Well, not entirely, but you had to keep piling them on and it got to the point where all those organochlorine pesticides were causing some alarm. Some may remember Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”. The tobacco industry, from the very beginning the world’s heaviest users of these poisons because bugs love tobacco leaves more than any other plant, realized that they needed something better. Not safer, just better. They already owned all the regulators and were in the process of owning the scientific community so nobody was looking at pesticides in tobacco products, even though cancer was beginning to explode and everybody knew it was “smoking-related”. Nobody ever asked “smoking what?” because “everybody knew” it was tobacco. The fact that the tobacco pesticides were beginning to be identified as super-toxic environmental carcinogens somehow escaped attention, and gave the chemical industry time to develop other kinds of “Crop Protection Agents”.

Endocrine disruptors break out of the old poison/dose relationship completely, but regulators haven’t even thought of keeping up. Endocrine disruptors are the ag industry’s answer to poison fatigue. You don’t have to keep using more and more, and the numbers don’t set off any regulatory alarms because you’re using stuff that nobody understands. All we know is that it takes care of our bug problem.

ED’s are designed to work at any level – in the latest ones all it takes is a couple of molecules at the right place at the right time and – voila – no baby insects or, more commonly, “non-viable offspring”. The bugs have babies but they don’t survive to eat those valuable cops like tobacco – their fave in the whole world.

A Swisher Sweets smoker, whether they are smoking the little cigar intact or just using the wrapper as a blunt, is inhaling a blend of carbendazim and cypermethrin with every puff. Since smoking patterns vary, let’s just say that little cigar smokers are exposed through inhalation multiple times a day every day. Since these chemicals operate independently of dose, their concentration matters for other reasons but not to explain what they so to the smoker’s liver. What they are likely to do to smokers when they are inhaled together seems pretty clear, even though these studies are only on rats and the rats are eating the cancerous combo, not smoking it.

Here are a few of the studies that seem to make the connection – what do you think? There are lots of related refs – but how many do we need to begin asking questions about the safety of some of these tobacco products?

Int J Exp Pathol. 2012 Oct;93(5):361-9

“Effect of cypermethrin, carbendazim and their combination on male albino rat serum”

Alpha-cypermethrin and carbendazim are synthetic; α-cypermethrin belongs to a class of synthetic pyrethroids and carbendazim belongs to the class of carbamate fungicides. The current study was carried out to evaluate the low-dose exposure of individual and mixed forms of cypermethrin and carbendazim.

The experimental results indicate that even low-dose use of the synthetic pyrethroid carbamate and their combined form results in consequential negative effects on cell function.

Toxicol Sci. 2015 Sep;147(1):116-26.

“Oral Exposure of Mice to Carbendazim Induces Hepatic Lipid Metabolism Disorder and Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis”

Carbendazim (CBZ) has been considered as an endocrine disruptor that caused mammalian toxicity in different endpoints. Here, we revealed that oral administrations with CBZ at 100 and 500 mg/kg body weight for 28 days induced hepatic lipid metabolism disorder which was characterized by significant increases of hepatic lipid accumulation and triglyceride (TG) levels in mice.

The serum cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein levels also increased after CBZ exposure.

Correspondingly, the relative mRNA levels of some key genes related to lipogenesis and TG synthesis increased significantly both in the liver and fat.

Moreover, the increase in serum IL-1β and IL-6 levels by the treatment of CBZ indicated the occurring of inflammation.

Furthermore, the levels of bioaccumulation of CBZ in the liver and gut were very low as compared in the feces, indicating that most of CBZ stayed in gastrointestinal tract and interacted with gut microbiota until excreted.

At phylum level, the amounts of the Bacteroidetes decreased significantly in the feces after 5 days CBZ exposure. High throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene V3-V4 region revealed a significant reduction in richness and diversity of gut microbiota in the cecum of CBZ-treated mice. UniFrac principal coordinates analysis observed a marked shift of the gut microbiota structure in CBZ-treated mice away from that of the controls.

More deeply, operational taxonomic units’ analysis identified that a total of 361 gut microbes were significant changed. In CBZ-treated groups, the relative abundance of Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria increased and that of Bacteroidetes decreased.

Our findings suggested that CBZ could lead to hepatic lipid metabolism disorder and gut microbiota dysbiosis in mice

Toxicol In Vitro. 2014 Dec;28(8):1507-20. 

“Potential involvement of chemicals in liver cancer progression: an alternative toxicological approach combining biomarkers and innovative technologies.”

Pesticides as well as many other environmental pollutants are considered as risk factors for the initiation and the progression of cancer. In order to evaluate the in vitro effects of chemicals present in the diet, we began by combining viability, real-time cellular impedance and high throughput screening data to identify a concentration “zone of interest” for the six xenobiotics selected: endosulfan, dioxin, carbaryl, carbendazim, p’p’DDE and hydroquinone.

Endosulfan, was able to strongly modulate all the studied cellular processes in HepG2 cells, followed by dioxin, then carbendazim.

Our in vitro data indicate that these xenobiotics may contribute to the evolution and worsening of hepatocarcinoma, whether via the induction of the EMT process and/or via the deregulation of liver key processes such as cell cycle and resistance to apoptosis.


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Obesity & Obesogens: The Toxic Chemical Connection

Community Tobacco Control Partners Test Results 12/18

Toxicologists have just designated a new class of chemicals, aptly naming them Obesogens. With chronic exposure, or with exposure before birth at a critical development point, these chemicals initiate body processes that lead directly to childhood, teen and adult obesity and the range of related diseases.

Tobacco products are full of Obesogens, far more of them in far greater concentrations than in any other environmental or consumer product source. Yes Obesogenic chemicals are everywhere, and yes they are in every diet, but their presence as heavy contaminants of tobacco products is a unique kind of hidden health threat whose proportions are unseen.

The data above displays some of the pesticides we just  identified in our tests of tobacco brands popular with kids.  Our tests were the first ever of off-the-shelf tobacco brands for pesticide Obesogens. We’re especially concerned about the concentrations of some of the azole fungicides we found, in addition to the DDT.

Kids who smoke these tobacco products are being exposed to a pesticide cocktail with each inhalation, 50-100 times a day. This is a level that is unmatched by any other type of exposure to Obesogens or to any class of pesticides. None of the studies of obesogenic chemicals look at what happens to young people who are dosing themselves with a cocktail of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals every waking hour, but it’s pretty easy to see what researchers will find when they do the science.

Here’s some of what is already known.

“Obesogens disrupt the molecular mechanisms controlling the development and maintenance of adipose tissue. This disruption has the potential to produce larger and more numerous fat cells, which could in turn lead to obesity and related complications. Obesogens can also alter programing of metabolic set points, appetite, and satiety.” https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/EHP2545

Consider the extreme concentration of DDT we found in the Swisher Sweets (in the data above). This brand is #1 in popularity among child and teen little cigar smokers in marginalized communities. Keeping the Swisher Sweet DDT concentration of 0.816 mg/kg in mind, check this out:

Cano-Sancho G, Salmon A G, LaMerrill M A. 2017. Association between exposure to p,p0-DDT  and its metabolite p,p0-DDE with obesity: integrated systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ Health Perspect 125(9)

Obesogenic chemicals trigger complex responses by human endocrine and immune systems. Pesticides that persist in body tissues like DDT and Carbendazim are particularly powerful Obesogens that operate 24/7, so even when a child is sleeping these Obesogens are at work deep in their tissues.

Pesticide researchers are hard-pressed to study the effects of a single pesticide thoroughly, and when it comes to the multiplying effects of combined pesticides they pretty much throw up their hands – although they do it sounding very scientific and technical. But whatever brand a child or teen is smoking, when you look at the dozens of Obesogenic pesticides that are being inhaled puff after puff as a toxic cocktail we can be sure that the potential for inflammatory obesity is multiplied.

The cheaper the tobacco product the more Obesogens it has. Notice the progression from American Spirit Blue cigarettes to Swisher Sweet little cigars in the data table above. In a new variation on an old story, the very communities where the cheapest tobacco products are marketed are communities of children and adults who are most genetically vulnerable to inhaled pesticides and their Obesogenic effects. Hispanic, African-American and Native American children and teens seem to be particularly susceptible to Obesogenic chemicals. These communities also have the highest rates of both smoking and obesity. I think we have the connection in Obesogenic pesticides.

Unfortunately all the research on inhaled pesticide exposure so far is either on exposure through diet or through environmental causes – accidental releases, agricultural drift, etc. Nobody has ever studied the health impact of inhaling a pesticide cocktail 50-100 times a day, but when it comes to dosing yourself with Obesogens that sounds like a pretty dramatic way to do it.

Janesick A S,Blumberg B. 2016. Obesogens: an emerging threat to public health. Am J Obstet Gynecol 214(5):559–565, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26829510

Heindel J J, Newbold R, Schug T T.2015. Endocrine disruptors and obesity. Nat Rev Endocrinol 11(11):653–661, PMID: 26391979, https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo. 2015.163

My concern is that those fruity, sweet, cheap and heavily marketed “Little Cigars” that are especially appealing to Hispanic and African-American children and teens who smoke are the most heavily contaminated with obesogenic pesticides of any tobacco product category we’ve tested so far. Obesogenic pesticides in these cheap tobacco products being marketed to dietarily and genetically vulnerable youth may account for some of the increased incidence of obesity among children and young people in these communities.

Of course, it isn’t just pesticides in cheap tobacco products making poor marginalized people obese – there are obesogenic chemicals in everything that people incarcerated in marginalized communities have available to eat and drink, and in virtually everything in their toxic environment. It’s just that tobacco products are the most concentrated source of the worst possible kinds of pesticides all blended together into a toxic cocktail that you inhale rather than drink, and that as one of its main side-effects makes smokers obese.

Eskenazi B, Chevrier J, Rosas L G, Anderson H A, Bornman M S, Bouwman H, et al. 2009. The Pine River statement: human health consequences  of DDT use. Environ Health Perspect 117(9):1359–1367, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737010/

The big difference between tobacco products as an Obesogenic chemical source and all other sources is that illegal obesogenic pesticides in cheap tobacco products are 100% preventable as a contributing factor to childhood obesity.

Black and Brown kids are forced by economics and corporate marketing to choose only from among the lowest quality, most contaminated, most “Obesogenic” tobacco products. That’s all you find for sale in marginalized communities. 

Kids are being subjected to these hidden, unregulated obesogenic chemicals for just one reason – they mean higher profits for the tobacco manufacturer. Tobacco companies take the cheapest possible tobacco trash swept up off the dirt floors of their factories in Third-World countries and ship it to the US by the freighter-load to make into those sweet, fruity little treats that teens love to smoke. (What happens to the actual tobacco leaf is another long story.)

More importantly, the obesogens in tobacco products are inhaled, not eaten. This is absolutely critical. All the research on the toxicity of pesticides shows much higher toxicity for the most hazardous chemicals when inhalation is the route of exposure, even though there is no research on what happens when pesticides are inhaled regularly every day, every waking hour.

Roots Of The Atrocity

Tobacco has always been an extremely profitable crop, but a very tough crop to farm. The problem is that bugs love tobacco more than just about any other plant. Tobacco is so high in every kind of sugar and high-quality protein that every bug, animal and worm in nature is irresistibly drawn to munch on those extremely tasty, extremely valuable tobacco leaves. So, for centuries growing tobacco meant prodigious hand labor in the tobacco fields day and night by black and brown people, with great wealth accruing of course to White people who used that wealth as the basis for early American economic development, and for hundreds of years Tobacco steadily built the foundation of American wealth along with cotton, sugar and alcohol of course.

But all that tobacco wealth, with all the power that it conveyed, wasn’t a real industry until agricultural chemicals came along, and then when they did tobacco was one of the earliest and strongest adopters of pesticides. That was because they saw immediately that $100 worth of chemicals could increase profits $500 an acre because of the extra tobacco not eaten by bugs, and $10,000+ for the manufactured products from that extra tobacco. So really, from the tobacco companies’ point of view, using those chemicals was and still is largely a business decision. If smokers die early well, that’s why they advertise so heavily to kids. The industry actually uses the term “Replacement Smokers”.

With the chemical revolution came highly effective Organochlorine pesticides that sprang directly from WWII Nazi poison gas experiments, and virtually overnight the tobacco companies switched from human labor in America to ever-diversifying chemical “crop protection agents” in the Third World that let them grow tobacco at a fraction of the cost of human labor, increasing their already insane profits even more. The difference in profit between growing tobacco using hand labor and using chemicals is what has made the tobacco industry rich beyond imagination since 1950, and they’ve used that wealth to make sure that no government gets in the way of their use of those extremely profitable chemicals.

As a result, chemical contaminants that are totally banned on any other consumable product are not regulated at all on tobacco, and the tobacco industry is continually coming up with new exotic chemicals to use on their fields of GM tobacco and all those chemicals are winding up in the lungs of poor smokers and vapers.

Those little cigars that are being marketed so successfully to young Latino and Black kids are loaded with the residues of the chemicals used to control bugs on the tobacco because they are made with the waste from higher quality tobacco products made for sale in wealthier communities. Tobacco leaf, which is relatively less contaminated then the trashy parts of the plant, goes into the expensive cigarettes. Again, check the data at the top of the post and ask yourself – which gets sold at the suburban mini-mart and which gets sold at the bodega?

White smokers get to choose the cleaner, higher quality tobacco leaf if they’re informed enough to do so while Black and Latino smokers get little cigars made with the trash swept up off the tobacco factory floor and don’t have any choice except other equally contaminated cheap shit.

Here’s why the trashy parts are the most contaminated parts of the plant. The tobacco industry pays huge bucks to its scientists to design chemicals that will kill the bugs on the tobacco leaves and then trans-locate into the stems, stalks and roots of the plant so that they don’t affect the flavor of that precious tobacco leaf that’s going into the premium smokes. The contaminated trash parts of the tobacco plant – after the leaf is removed – is what goes into making all those cheap, fruity smokes that poor Black & Latino kids are being trained to love.

So that’s it. Poor young Black and Latino people who fall for the tobacco companies’ propaganda are being sickened, poisoned and made morbidly obese all simply because the tobacco companies can make more money using chemicals that happen to be Obesogenic, and carcinogenic, and teratogenic, and just plain xenobiotic on their crops that they don’t have to account for when they are selling their trash to kids in poor communities around the world.

It doesn’t really matter to the tobacco companies if their smokers get sick and obese and diabetic and have cancer and die young as long as they (1) keep smoking and (2) create at least a couple of replacement smokers before they die. It’s all just a numbers game to them.

But as for us? All it will take to answer this arrogance with finality is for one communities to act to investigate their local tobacco product supply. Then if they find it contaminated, and especially if some of that contamination is from banned substance like DDT, they can then pass local ordinances that impose reasonable pesticide residue standards on tobacco products being sold in their community. 

If a child struggling with obesity has a smoking mother, both mother and child should be tested for Obesogenic pesticide poisoning which if found could lead to treatment. Anyone struggling with obesity who smokes, especially little cigars, should get their blood tested for Obesogenic pesticides. As long as the body is carrying a burden of Obesogenic chemicals, especially if they’re being constantly replenished by smoking or breathing second-hand smoke, no amount of dieting, pharmaceuticals or surgery will help.

I believe that those states where Cannabis is legal and where pesticide residue standards have already been put in place with lots of careful consideration will be the first where communities will insist on these reasonable standards. Our federal and state agencies and legislators have largely been compromised by tobacco industry stealth tactics over the past 50 years of carefully tended regulatory loopholes, exemptions and curious omissions. Local community officials have not been so compromised because the tobacco industry likes to work from the top down – they think of themselves as too wealthy and powerful to be accountable.

They just haven’t met the right Justice of The Peace or Magistrate yet who has a dear niece who can’t stop smoking Swisher Sweets and who is obese, diabetic, and has one child with leukemia and another with ADHD. Show the judge that list of Obesogenic and Xenobiotic pesticides in what his niece has been smoking and ask him if he’s OK with that.