Big Tobacco influencing governments’ tobacco policy


This 2017 video says about itself:

3 June 2017

Smoking kills. So if you’re in an industry where your product is damaging the health of people who buy it and they know it, then you should in theory go out of business. But shares in companies listed in the Bloomberg tobacco producers index have risen 351% since 2009, making it one of the best investments of the past decade.

Graphic warning labels and taxes seem to have some impact on reducing the number of smokers but less so on industry profits which keep rising. And investors can’t quit buying the stocks because operating profits continue to go up.

Different tax regimes around the world mostly account for the difference in price. But governments are not as hooked as the consumers who buy cigarettes. Consumers cough up for higher prices because they crave the drug in tobacco – nicotine. Without nicotine, addiction there would be no tobacco industry.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

How the tobacco industry ‘extends its tentacles all over the government

Marc Willemsen, professor … at the University of Maastricht names, eg, an employers’ organization such as VNO-NCW [the biggest bosses’ organisation speaking for many types of industries]. “It represents strongly the interests of the tobacco industry.” …

That lobbying is done at national politics in The Hague, but also at European Union level. An internal document of Philip Morris mentioned about hundreds of MEPs which lobbying techniques they were sensitive to, revealed TV program Radar Extra in December 2017.

Tobacco giants such as Philip Morris also make funds available for research.

Philip Morris tobacco and Dutch Bergen op Zoom local authority: here.

Smoking, from royal promotion to doctors’ objection


Karel I cigars box

This photo shows a decades old Dutch cigar box, of the brand Karel I. The upper left corner of the box says ‘Hofleverancier’, meaning that this cigar factory had a royal warrant of appointment. The factory does not exist anymore.

Karel I is the Dutch name for Charles I, king of England (1600-1649); depicted on the case. The cigars were named after that monarch as he encouraged smoking because he could get money from taxing it. Charles I’s father, King James I, had hated tobacco.

Karel I cigar band

There is also tobacco named after Charles I’s son, King Charles II.
King Charles II tobacco

In the 20th century, Dutch school children were asked a question, to which the correct reply was King Charles II. One pupil replied: ‘Karel I’. The teacher said: ‘Wrong. Karel I is a cigar’. Another pupil said: ‘Karel de eerste’ (=King Charles I; in Dutch one should name him ‘de eerste’, ‘the first’. Saying ‘I’= ‘one’ like the first pupil did was grammatically wrong for a prince’s name). The teacher said: ‘Wrong. Karel de eerste was de sigaar, as he was beheaded.’ In Dutch the saying ‘was de sigaar’ means ‘became a victim’.

Willem II cigar box

There also used to be, and still is, another Dutch cigar brand: Willem II. It is called after a contemporary of English kings Charles I and II: William II, 1626-1650, stadtholder of the Dutch Republic and prince of Orange. The crown depicted on the box should refer to the small principality Orange in France; as stadtholders did not have princely powers in the Republic.

Willem II is also the name of a Dutch premier league football club. But that club is named after a different Willem II: King William II of the Netherlands, 1792-1849.

Now, in the 21st century, smoking is not as popular anymore as in the days of King Charles I or the early twentieth century.

This 1 February 2018 Dutch TV video says about itself (translated):

The University Medical Center Groningen joins the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital in suing the tobacco industry. The hospital reported this on Radio 1 on Thursday morning. It is suing them for serious abuse. According to the hospitals, the fight against cancer is extremely uphill, as long as the tobacco manufacturers wantonly make people addicted. It is the first time in the Netherlands that hospitals make declarations because of severe abuse. The hospitals are assisted by lawyer Bénédicte Ficq.

Human evolution, fire and smoke


This video says about itself:

Smoking Causes Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema

20 jul. 2012

This 3D medical animation created by Nucleus Medical Media shows the health risks of smoking tobacco.

ID#: ANH12071

Transcript:

Every time you smoke a cigarette, toxic gases pass into your lungs, then into your bloodstream, where they spread to every organ in your body. A cigarette is made using the tobacco leaf, which contains nicotine and a variety of other compounds. As the tobacco and compounds burn, they release thousands of dangerous chemicals, including over forty known to cause cancer. Cigarette smoke contains the poisonous gases carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, as well as trace amounts of cancer-causing radioactive particles. All forms of tobacco are dangerous, including cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco and snuff.

Nicotine is an addictive chemical in tobacco. Smoking causes death. People who smoke typically die at an earlier age than non-smokers. In fact, 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States is linked to cigarette smoking.

If you smoke, your risk for major health problems increases dramatically, including: heart disease, heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, and death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Smoking causes cardiovascular disease.

When nicotine flows through your adrenal glands, it stimulates the release of epinephrine, a hormone that raises your blood pressure. In addition, nicotine and carbon monoxide can damage the lining of the inner walls in your arteries. Fatty deposits, called plaque, can build up at these injury sites and become large enough to narrow the arteries and severely reduce blood flow, resulting in a condition called atherosclerosis. In coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis narrows the arteries that supply the heart, which reduces the supply of oxygen to your heart muscle, increasing your risk for a heart attack. Smoking also raises your risk for blood clots because it causes platelets in your blood to clump together. Smoking increases your risk for peripheral vascular disease, in which atherosclerotic plaques block the large arteries in your arms and legs. Smoking can also cause an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is a swelling or weakening of your aorta where it runs through your abdomen.

Smoking damages two main parts of your lungs: your airways, also called bronchial tubes, and small air sacs called alveoli. Cigarette smoke irritates the lining of your bronchial tubes, causing them to swell and make mucus. Cigarette smoke also slows the movement of your cilia, causing some of the smoke and mucus to stay in your lungs. While you are sleeping, some of the cilia recover and start pushing more pollutants and mucus out of your lungs. When you wake up, your body attempts to expel this material by coughing repeatedly, a condition known as smoker’s cough. Over time, chronic bronchitis develops as your cilia stop working, your airways become clogged with scars and mucus, and breathing becomes difficult.

Your lungs are now more vulnerable to further disease. Cigarette smoke also damages your alveoli, making it harder for oxygen and carbon dioxide to exchange with your blood. Over time, so little oxygen can reach your blood that you may develop emphysema, a condition in which you must gasp for every breath and wear an oxygen tube under your nose in order to breathe.

Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are collectively called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. COPD is a gradual loss of the ability to breathe for which there is no cure.

Cigarette smoke contains at least 40 cancer-causing substances, called carcinogens, including cyanide, formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia. In your body, healthy cells grow, make new cells, then die. Genetic material inside each cell, called DNA, directs this process. If you smoke, toxic chemicals can damage the DNA in your healthy cells. As a result, your damaged cells create new unhealthy cells, which grow out of control and may spread to other parts of your body. Cigarettes can cause cancer in other parts of your body, such as: in the blood and bone marrow, mouth, larynx, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterus, and cervix.

Smoking can cause infertility in both men and women. If a woman is pregnant and smokes during pregnancy, she exposes her baby to the cigarette’s poisonous chemicals, causing a greater risk of: low birth weight, miscarriage, preterm delivery, stillbirth, infant death, and sudden infant death syndrome. Smoking is also dangerous if a mother is breastfeeding. Nicotine passes to the baby through breast milk, and can cause restlessness, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, interrupted sleep, or diarrhea.

Other health effects of smoking include: low bone density and increased risk for hip fracture among women; gum disease, often leading to tooth loss and surgery; immune system dysfunction and delayed wound healing; and sexual impotence in men.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Are modern humans simply bad at smoking?

Published on 21 September 2016

Scientists looked for the genetic footprint of fire use in our genes, but found that our prehistoric cousins – the Neanderthals – and even the great apes seem better at dealing with the toxins in smoke than modern humans.

Mixed blessing

The art of making and using fire was one of the greatest discoveries ‘ever made by man’, wrote Charles Darwin. Besides providing protection against cold temperatures, the use of fire in food preparation and the introduction of energy-rich cooked foods in our prehistoric diet had a major impact in the development of humankind. However, fire use comes at a cost. Exposure to the toxic compounds in smoke carries major risks for developing pneumonia, adverse pregnancy outcomes in women and reduced sperm quality in males, as well as cataracts, tuberculosis, heart disease, and chronic lung disease. In short, the use of fire is a mixed blessing.

Debate

This mixed blessing, however, put researchers at Leiden University and Wageningen University on the trail of finding genetic markers for the use of fire in prehistoric and recent humans. The use of fire is notoriously difficult to ‘see’ for archaeologists, and this has led to strong disagreement over the history of its usage. A very early start is advocated by Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham, who argues that our Homo erectus ancestors were already using fire around two million years ago. However, numerous excavations and intensive research carried out by archaeologists in Europe and the Near East suggest that control of fire occurred much later, around 350,000 years ago.

Genetic markers for fire use

In order to bring fresh data into this ‘hot’ debate, the Leiden/Wageningen team studied the biological adaptations of prehistoric and recent humans to the toxic compounds of smoke: fire usage implies frequent exposure to hazardous compounds from smoke and heated food, which is expected to result in the selection of gene variants conferring an improved defence against these toxic compounds. To study whether such genetic selection indeed occurred, the team investigated the gene variants occurring in Neanderthals, in Denisovans (contemporaries of the Neanderthals, more related to them than to modern humans), and in prehistoric modern humans.

Tobacco

Single nucleotide variants in 19 genes were tested that are known from modern tobacco-smoking studies to increase the risk of fertility and reproduction problems when exposed to smoke and hazardous compounds formed in heated food.

These genes were compared with variants observed in Neanderthals and their Denisovan cousins, and were also studied in chimpanzees and gorillas, two closely related species that are obviously not using fire, and are therefore not exposed to smoke on a regular basis.

Neanderthal more efficient in handling smoke?

In a study now published in PLOS ONE, the team shows that Neanderthals and the Denisovan predominantly possessed gene variants that were more efficient in handling the toxic compounds in smoke than modern humans. Surprisingly, these efficient variants were also observed in chimpanzees and gorillas, and therefore appeared to be evolutionary very old (ancestral) variants.

Plant toxins

The less efficient variants are observable from the first modern human hunter-gatherers for which we have genetic information onward, i.e. from about 40,000 years ago. The efficient defence against toxic compounds in chimpanzees and gorillas may be related to the toxins in their plant food. Smoke defence capacities in humans apparently hitchhike on those adaptations, developed deep in our primate past. Our prehistoric ancestors were probably already good at dealing with the toxic compounds of smoke, long before they started producing it through their campfires. What allowed for the emergence of less efficient hazardous chemical defence genes in modern humans is a question for future research.

Traces of long-lost human cousins may be hiding in modern people’s DNA, a new computer analysis suggests. People from Melanesia, a region in the South Pacific encompassing Papua New Guinea and surrounding islands, may carry genetic evidence of a previously unknown extinct hominid species, Ryan Bohlender reported October 20 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. That species is probably not Neandertal or Denisovan, but a different, related hominid group, said Bohlender, a statistical geneticist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “We’re missing a population or we’re misunderstanding something about the relationships”, he said: here.

Homo erectus: Early humans were able to speak and crossed sea on boats, expert claims. Language expert suggests Homo erectus learned to speak early in mankind’s history, enabling them to cross oceans: here.