I’m getting more than a little tired of hearing the too-clever bullshit from self-serving agencies like FDA and from anti-smoking hustlers like Truth Initiative claiming that organic cigarettes aren’t safer than regular commercial cigarettes because all tobacco is equally hazardous. That’s either a deliberate lie or gross ignorance. They either actually know nothing of the industry about which they claim great expertise, or they are lying about what they actually know to cover years of incompetence and/or complicity.
An Oregon non-profit I started last year just finished testing five brands of tobacco products for pesticide residues, and we found hard evidence of extreme differences between the safety levels of organic tobacco and off-the-shelf mini-mart tobacco products regardless of what you may think about tobacco itself.
What you see above is the first-ever hard data on pesticide residues in regular, commercial tobacco products. See any differences between brands? By the way, what you don’t see here is American Spirit Organic because we tested that and found exactly ZERO pesticide residues.
So please tell me – are there any differences here?
Is the least contaminated tobacco product safer than the most contaminated one, or not?
Even if you assume that the tobacco in all three brands is the same, which it isn’t, would you say there are differences in safety levels, or not?
If someone you love is smoking and you can’t get them to stop, which of the three brands above would you want them to smoke, and why?
If your kid is sneaking off and smoking, which of these brands would you least want them to be smoking, and why?
Looking at that hard data, only blind arrogance or a hidden agenda could continue to claim that the DDT, Carbendazim and Penconazole residues in the little cigars that kids are smoking right now, today doesn’t matter because tobacco itself is so bad anyway. Yet that is exactly what EPA, FDA, all the anti-smoking groups, and all the state health departments pretend to believe. That’s their excuse for doing nothing, and it’s pathetic. Here’s why.
Alcohol products are “so bad anyway” and are certainly right up there with tobacco products in terms of the death, disease, personal and social costs and widespread suffering they cause, but you can bet that there would be an “all hands on deck” emergency alarm sent out if even a few of the pesticides we just found in tobacco products were found in beer or wine down at the mini-mart. That contaminated shit would be pulled from the coolers instantly, and there would be lawsuits and congressional investigations. There would be no shrugging of shoulders and saying what the hell, alcohol is so bad for people anyway that a few pesticides don’t matter.
That may be harsh, but this level of self-serving deceitfulness while enormous numbers of people die from pesticide contaminated tobacco products every year, and while children around the world are sealing their future fates by being lured into smoking these cheap contaminated tobacco products, all of which is 100% preventable, is beyond disgusting.
We ran our tests on off-the-shelf tobacco products from local mini-marts – exactly what the kids buy and where they buy them. The question we asked ourselves after looking at the results is – if it were possible, wouldn’t the kids smoking this trash, idiots that they certainly are, be safer smoking these products if they were exactly the same crap as they are now but weren’t additionally contaminated with the extremely hazardous pesticides?
We know that 1 in 13 of all the children under 17 alive today will die prematurely, painfully and expensively of “smoking-related” disease. That is a whole lot of children and future suffering. Do you think any of it could be prevented just by requiring tobacco manufacturers to remove pesticide residues from their tobacco?
They could do that, almost in a flash. Why don’t they? Because they don’t have to, and because it’s much more profitable to use chemicals than to use labor, even in the remote areas of the Third World where they grow their tobacco out of sight of regulators and inspectors.
The fact is that millions of future deaths can very likely be prevented by acting now to set reasonable standards for pesticide residues in tobacco products. Those standards exist – simply look at Oregon’s pesticide residue “Action Levels” for Cannabis, or the FDA’s own “Action Levels” for DDT in everything but tobacco. Everything.
Every tobacco product on the market could be made with organic tobacco – no problem. Give the industry 3-5 years and a drop-dead set of conditions and they will do whatever they have to do. It would take longer to actually become organic, but in 3-5 years the world tobacco supply could be 75% cleared of pesticide residues.
However as long as “players” like FDA and Truth Initiative and others like them play the “All Tobacco Is Equally Bad” game nothing will change. Of the total number of smokers dying each year, a significant number die because of the arrogant conceit of those who believe (or at least pretend to believe) they know all the truth there is to know about Tobacco when they have never once set foot in any tobacco field anywhere, much less a field that has just been sprayed with DDT in Nicaragua or Brazil.
And then in 2015 the moralists and parasites had the nerve to go after organic tobacco. The problem is that they apparently don’t know what Tobacco is, or really that much about it, because if they did they wouldn’t have gotten themselves into the really stupid trap of insisting for the record that there’s no difference between organic tobacco and severely contaminated tobacco. They may claim when finally confronted that they don’t know about all those pesticides, but they are on the record as fully informed.
Of course if they did admit they have known about the pesticides all along then they would also have to admit culpability in 50 years of countless deaths and measureless suffering that could have been completely prevented by insisting on reasonable regulations on pesticide residues in tobacco products. The problem of organochlorine pesticides in heavy concentrations in tobacco products was first realized in the 1950’s, and was heavily documented through the 1960’s. There was testimony before the Senate calling specific attention to the problem. That issue quickly died in the US Senate of 1969.
Then in the 1970’s as smoking and health issues became a major public and scientific concern, the Tobacco industry realized it had a severe problem, and a nationwide lid was clamped on any research referring to pesticides in tobacco products. Research continued in other countries and has resulted in strict but reasonable laws regulating pesticide residues in tobacco products. But in the US beginning in the 1970’s what research couldn’t be directly corrupted or subtly misdirected was subverted through strategies like the “Reference Cigarette” program.
That’s quite a few years of preventable deaths that lie at the feet of those who have been so fixed on hating what they believed was Tobacco that they never once stopped to ask if it was actually Tobacco they were hating.
But then in 2015 they scored what they thought was a face-saving victory – they got RJR to go public and say the words – organic tobacco does not mean a safer cigarette. They finally got payback for years of feeling powerless in the face of the whole tobacco industry. unfortunately, we know that FDA was only able to force RJR to agree to their lies because RJR didn’t want to have to defend American Spirit organic by showing WHY American Spirit organic cigarettes are safer. They are safer because they aren’t drenched with pesticides like every other commercial tobacco brand, including every other RJR brand besides organic American Spirit.
Notice that in the data tables above even the regular American Spirit Blue non-organic brand is lower in pesticides than the Marlboro or another RJR brand, Camel. That’s a big difference in safety levels even among non-organic brands, much less between organic and non-organic. However, if RJR had defended American Spirit organic tobacco on that simple evidence-based premise then they would have had to admit how contaminated all their other products are, and why. Oops! That’s a non-starter. Think of the lawsuits!
So it was a much, much better deal for RJR to let FDA pretend they scored a big win, just like years before the Surgeon General’s warnings were a godsend to tobacco manufacturers. It let them say – hey, you were warned. The so-called “Tobacco Settlement” was an even bigger fraud – look at what is actually being done with all that money. Lots of “Tobacco is really really bad” advertising, lots of huge salaries and nice perks, everybody congratulating themselves on what a great job they’re doing, and no change in the numbers of people suffering and dying, or in the number of kids heading down that dead-end road.
Until my little non-profit finally got funding and was able to begin testing tobacco products a few months ago, not one dime has ever been spent by the “anti-tobacco” forces to test for these contaminants that by themselves make these products illegal, period. But then the “Tobacco is really really bad” game would be over, wouldn’t it. Imagine the public reaction if it became clear that people in positions of responsibility and authority had known about pesticide contamination of tobacco products for many smokers’ lifetimes and had never once spoken out.
FDA knows what it has to do in return for being allowed to look like a winner in the organic tobacco derby. Their part of the deal is not to make too much noise about all those “crop protection agents”. That’s what the industry calls pesticides. After all, crops need protection, right? so much better than a nasty word ending in “cide”.
FDA and the anti-tobacco PR and advertising shills are allowed to beat the drums and make up endless variations of the “Tobacco Is So Bad” meme because that doesn’t hurt the tobacco industry one bit, but it does allow thousands of people to keep doing extremely dubious work to justify their lucrative titles and careers “fighting tobacco”.
Ever wonder why FDA is being so helpful in the industry’s pivot away from tobacco and toward e-cigarettes? Are they are all hoping that their complicity in 50 years of slaughter for profit will just slide on out of sight? Yes, complicity. FDA has had institutional knowledge of the presence of heavy concentrations of hazardous pesticides in tobacco products for over 20 years and has not once, ever brought it up in any hearings or testimony or research. That’s complicity.
I call the tobacco industry’s reckless, negligent, criminal behavior “slaughter for profit” simply because the tobacco industry doesn’t have to use pesticides at all. Traditional tobacco growers used hand labor for hundreds of years and did just fine. The tobacco companies use chemicals in place of labor strictly for increased profits and they have rigged the regulatory systems of the world so that they are protected from the consequences of their greed-driven decisions.
No matter. I’m here to call bullshit right now with simple hard evidence. AKA facts. You decide.
Check the data below after you read the following incredible weasel-statements and then you tell me:
Are these bureaucrats full of shit or not?
Are some tobacco products safer than others, or not?
Should people who smoke be protected from these contaminants, or do they deserve whatever happens to them?
If these chemicals were in wine or beer, would that be OK just because alcohol is known to be so hazardous to health anyway.
Does it not matter that the most hazardous of these brands, the one with 375 times the highest background level of DDT, is the one that most kids 11-16 love?
“Because use of tobacco products, with or without pesticide residues, is so hazardous to health, all of the Oregon Health Authority’s efforts around tobacco are aimed at discouraging use of tobacco products and encouraging cessation of tobacco use in people already using it.” Oregon Health Authority 2018
“EPA does not assess intermediate or long-term risks of pesticide residues to smokers because of the severity of health effects linked to use of tobacco products themselves.” EPA 2018
“Organic,” “natural” or “additive-free” product labels may imply a healthier or safer choice, but that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to tobacco products. A cigarette with organic tobacco or tobacco with no additives does not make it healthier or safer than other cigarettes.” Truth Initiative 2018
No differences at all? Really?
Notice the array of fungicides, marked in red. If you’re familiar with HIV/AIDS therapy, think what inhaling these fungicides is doing to patients. Think of what the worldwide effects on fungicide resistance will be from the exposure of millions of smokers to this fungicide cocktail. Concerned about fungal resistance? Look at tobacco products and consider how simple it would be to produce tobacco organically, or at least to some reasonable standards. And people really do have the right to know.
|Pesticide Residue Test Sample #1 Multnomah County, Oregon Received 12/13/2018 from Columbia Food Labs/Pixis
|Oregon Cannabis Action Levels (PPM) – A Reasonable Standard|
|Analyte||Results/Units||na = not listed ORS|
|Exceeds “Action Level” √|
|Not Registered – Oregon √√|
|Banned/No Tolerance √√√|
|American Spirit (Cigarette)|
|Azoxystrobin √||0.936 mg/kg||0.2|
|Propamocarb √√||0.252 mg/kg||na|
|Azoxystrobin √||0.897 mg/kg||0.2|
|Dimethomorph √√||0.0220 mg/kg||na|
|Propamocarb √√||0.129 mg/kg||na|
|Azoxystrobin √||0.875 mg/kg||0.2|
|Chlorantraniliprole √||0.377 mg/kg||0.2|
|Dimethomorph √√||0.0210 mg/kg||na|
|Propamocarb √√||0.167 mg/kg||na|
|Penconazole √√√||Trace||na (USDA-NT)|
|Swisher Sweet (Little Cigar)|
DDT, p,p- √√√
|Dimethomorph √√||0.0380 mg/kg||na|
|Fenamidone √√||0.0370 mg/kg||na|
|Indoxacarb √√||0.0790 mg/kg||na|
|Mandipropamid √√||0.0770 mg/kg||na|
|Pendimethalin √√||0.0910 mg/kg||na|
|Propamocarb √√||0.0910 mg/kg||na|
|Pyraclostrobin √√||0.0210 mg/kg||na|
|Fluopyram √√||0.0380 mg/kg||na|