Tobacco: Facts, Myths & Opinions
by Joyce Kohl
April 2, 1998
If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
With that said, let’s take a look at some proven facts and some theories. Some you may not agree with, but don’t bother to send email to debate the issues as you won’t receive any responses.
On a personal note, I’ve been addicted to nicotine for 35 years. I make no apologies for that addiction, for I enjoy smoking.
Statistics are thrown around by both sides of the tobacco debates and the laws being enacted in an effort to create a smoke-free world. What are statistics? They’re a collection of data based on a hypothesis, or even a list of hypothetical ideas about any given subject.
For example: One set of statistics claims a 37 percent decrease in smoking from 1975 to 1985. How was the data collected? Did they go door to door asking individuals their smoking or non-smoking habits? Did they mail out surveys? They gathered information from a selective portion of the population answering specific questions. The participants may or may not answer truthfully. Where do they go for the data collecting? To a hospital? Or maybe they decided the number of quit-smoking aids purchased was sufficient. Statistics prove nothing! Give the people credit for having some common sense and let them draw their own conclusions.
There’s nothing worse than an ex-smoker, a bible-thumper, or the uninformed non-smoker – unless it’s a set of rules agreed upon by by all three to impose their rights upon the rights of others. If all cigarette smokers were to quit tomorrow, where would the law makers gather the revenue now paid by purchasers of cigarettes? The cigarette excise tax has not yet been a deterrent to smoking. But that’s not the subject. Let’s get to the facts – the chemical properties of tobacco, the products made from tobacco, and the health hazards associated with tobacco.
Basic chemistry shows that nicotine contains the exact same addictive bonding properties as other addictive drugs such as and heroin and morphine, yet our distinguished researchers through the U.S. Surgeon General have only recently released the evidence as being a “new” discovery. Even an elementary science student learned this fact at least as far back as the middle of the century. Nicotine is a toxic substance and can be lethal.
On the other hand, the other products made from tobacco save lives. At the molecular level, Nicotine contains the same addictive bonding as heroin. No one has identified the specific substance that causes cancer in smokers. Here are some other uses for tobacco:
Nicotine Sulfate: Insect control
Nicotine Tartrate: Used in a medicine as a drug which counteracts the effect of tetanus and strychnine poisoning
Rutin: A kind of sugar used in treating certain types of high blood pressure
Cigarettes, Cigars, Snuff, Chewing Tobacco and Pipe Tobacco
The tobacco plant is in the nightshade family, Solanaceae, along with 20,000 plus other members. A few of the plants are potato, tomato, ground cherry, red pepper and eggplant. Poisonous plants are belladonna, Jimson weed and bitter sweet. The beautiful petunias belong here, too.
Smokers have more of the hormone DHEAS (produced by the adrenal gland) in their systems than nonsmokers. DHEAS has been proven to extend human life.
Nicotine dependence in cigarette smokers is far greater than those who smoke pipes or cigars, tobacco chewing and the use of snuff. The habit of cigarette smoking is more intensive. The dependency is more than a habit – it’s a drug addiction.
Research by some doctors in France indicates that inhaling deeply into the lungs distributes the cancer-causing agents evenly around the lungs and thus prevents the build-up of deadly carcinogens in on area, which tends to cause cancer of the lung.
If a smoker survives past the age of 55, their life is extended up to 15 years longer than nonsmokers.
Nicotine relieves stress
Nicotine improves cognitive performance even on tests requiring sustained attention
Cancer – there IS enough scientific evidence, thus statistics aren’t needed
Emphysema – a breathing disorder which is non-reversible
Irritant to asthma sufferers and to many non-smokers
Fire – Ask any fire department.
The ordinary cold is worse for smokers
Shortens the life of pets if smoking in the house
There are claims to lower birth weights. Note: Another hypothetical statistic which may have been created by males and/or women who are unaware of the fact that lower birth weights are ideal for the full-term births. Doctors used to prefer lower birth weights because of easier and less painful deliveries. Common sense comes into play here. Don’t smoke during a pregnancy – not because of a possible lower birth weight, but because deep breathing during delivery won’t generate coughing. More importantly, will your baby be born addicted to nicotine? If so, this could account for most of the “walking the floor with a new baby” nightly and into the wee hours of the morning for several days or weeks.
Rudeness on Both Sides
The rudeness of both non-smokers and smokers is shocking. Non-smokers will sometimes say to a smoker, “I smell smoke all over you. Even your hair stinks.” This is sometimes said through a breath reeking of an alcoholic beverage. Or even by a person whose perfume or after-shave permeates the air.
The rudest non-smoker is the one who is a guest in your home, and while outside on your own patio, you light up a cigarette and the guest starts a sermonette on the hazards of smoking. One guest in particular is well-remembered as he sat slouched on the swing in his baggy clothes, two sets of loop earrings in each ear, and his hair in a ponytail. Strange how he considered illegal smoking to be okay.
Then there are the smokers who used to lie in order to get the best seats on airplanes. Their seats would be up front, but as soon as the smoking light came on, they would race to the back of the plane to where the now-looked-upon-as-second-class-people-because-they-smoked were sitting then plop down on the arms of the aisle seats and light up.
Rudeness is apparent in both; confined to neither. However, the non-smokers are finally taking over as the ultimate kings and queens of rudeness. They’re quickly becoming the most obnoxious and uncaring people in the world. While they sit upon their thrones and throw rocks, they are clouding up the atmosphere of smokers wanting to become non-smokers.
Why do people who are “allergic” to smoke crowd around ashtrays in the smoking areas and take the “only seat to be found” near or in designated smoking areas? Does the availability of seats directly affect allergies and the dangers of secondhand smoke?
Why did people continue their tirades about secondhand smoke when the nineteen studies in the late 1970s and early 1980s to establish a relationship between secondhand smoke and lung cancer in nonsmokers gave these results: Six of the studies were so poorly done, scientists refused to look at the results. The other thirteen studies were vastly different. Only six had anything which could be called “statistically significant.” The other seven failed to link secondhand smoke to cancer.
AFTER THOUSANDS OF TRIALS, THERE WAS A COMPLETE FAILURE TO PRODUCE LUNG CANCER IN LABORATORY ANIMALS WHICH HAD BEEN EXPOSED TO LARGE VOLUMES OF TOBACCO SMOKE.
Why don’t people concentrate on alcohol abuse instead of tobacco using? There are no problem smokers. More deaths are caused by drunk drivers than from tobacco-related deaths. Smokers do not have impaired responses.
Why do some religious sects preach about the sinfulness of using tobacco? Some of the answers are: Unnatural; Abuses the body, which is a Temple of God. So is cooking our food unnatural – as is driving a car. Overeating abuses the body. Multiple births breaks down the health of women. Overworking men die young from heart attacks.
It boils down to proper perspective and getting the facts. Make an informed choice – which could be nothing other than: NEVER LIGHT THAT FIRST CIGARETTE and NEVER TAKE THAT FIRST PUFF. If you’re already a smoker, the choice to quit or not is up to you. When/if you decide to quit, set a date and TELL NO ONE. Why expose yourself to their idiotic comments?
It’s Your Choice
There are FREE rehab centers for heroin and cocaine addicts; there are none for those addicted to nicotine. Comparisons of heroin addicts versus nicotine addicts are similar ONLY in the fact that both are chemically dependent on a drug. One is legal; one is illegal. Isn’t it ironic that government (remember, folks, YOU are the government) pays for rehabilitation of illegal druggies, while the nicotine addict must either quit “cold turkey” or purchase all aids to breaking the addiction? The facts about tobacco have been presented here.
Whether you use tobacco or not, whether you eat potatoes or tomatoes or not, is still a choice. As the do-gooders of more and more groups with “our best interests in mind” push for more legislation to limit choices, the higher the fence around us becomes and the quicker we become a resident straight out of Orwell’s hypothetical society.
It’s glaringly obvious that the use of tobacco for pleasure COULD be a choice for premature death or certainly unpleasant times during the golden years. The same can be said for obesity and alcohol. Taking away one person’s rights in order to establish another’s rights has always been one of the first signs of a dictatorial government; a socialistic society; and the cause of wars and unrest throughout history. We still have a choice, but for how long? And then what is next on the do-gooder agenda to control the masses for the benefit of all?
I ignored the facts I didn’t like and accepted those I did.
For eight years my medical records have these words: “Irreversible emphysema.”