Big Tobacco tries to corrupt MP

This September 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

We’re quitting smoking, so why is Big Tobacco booming?

Smoking rates are falling in the UK, US and much of Europe. Forty-five per cent of Brits smoked in the 1960s and 70s, compared with just 15% today. You would think this was bad news for cigarette profits, but tobacco companies are making more money than ever. They claim they no longer market traditional cigarettes, but behind-the scenes tactics suggest otherwise. Leah Green explains how the most successful business enterprise in history has weathered its fall from grace.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The British tobacco corporation Imperial Tobacco Benelux has approached GroenLinks party MP Paul Smeulders for a lobbying job. Smeulders denounces this effort to recruit staff extensively on Twitter. “I am not in favour of being asked for this as a sitting member of parliament”, he says.

Smeulders and his party are strongly opposed to the tobacco industry. GroenLinks has made recordings of the telephone conversation. …

In the various videos that GroenLinks shows, it is clear that the recruiter who works for the tobacco corporation suggests that especially a GroenLinks MP who is strongly opposed to smoking would be useful for the company.

In the Netherlands, lobby contacts between the tobacco industry and politics, such as ministries and MPs, are undesirable. …

The Netherlands also signed the World Health Organization (WHO) anti-smoking convention on January 6, 2014. In it, eg, countries agree to give as much openness as possible about the tobacco industry including lobbying, that is, influencing politics.

Thirdhand smoke damages human health

This 14 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

On Call For All Kids – The Dangers of Thirdhand Smoke

Many people are familiar with what firsthand and secondhand smoke is, but have you heard of thirdhand smoke? This can be dangerous to adults, teens, children, pregnant moms, adults with respiratory illnesses and even pets.

Jasmine Reese, M.D., an adolescent medicine specialist and the director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Specialty Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, shares issues that impact children as a result of thirdhand smoke.

Learn more: here.

From the University of California – Riverside in the USA:

Scientists find thirdhand smoke affects cells in humans

June 28, 2019

Thirdhand smoke can damage epithelial cells in the respiratory system by stressing cells and causing them to fight for survival, a research team led by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has found. The finding could assist physicians treating patients exposed to thirdhand smoke.

“Our data show that cells in humans are affected by thirdhand smoke,” said Prue Talbot, a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, who led the research. “The health effects of THS, have been studied in cultured cells and animal models, but this is the first study to show a direct effect of thirdhand smoke on gene expression in humans.”

Study results appear in JAMA Network Open.

Thirdhand smoke, or THS, results when exhaled smoke and smoke emanating from the tip of burning cigarettes settles on surfaces such as clothing, hair, furniture, and cars. Not strictly smoke, THS refers to the residues left behind by smoking.

“THS can resurface into the atmosphere and can be inhaled unwillingly by nonsmokers,” said Giovanna Pozuelos, the first author of the research paper and a graduate student in Talbot’s lab. “It has not been widely studied, which may explain why no regulations are in place to protect nonsmokers from it.”

The researchers obtained nasal scrapes from four healthy nonsmokers who had been exposed to THS for three hours in a laboratory setting at UC San Francisco. The UCR researchers then worked to get good quality RNA from the scrapes — necessary to examine gene expression changes. RNA sequencing identified genes that were over- or under-expressed. They found 382 genes were significantly over-expressed; seven other genes were under-expressed. They then identified pathways affected by these genes.

“THS inhalation for only three hours significantly altered gene expression in the nasal epithelium of healthy nonsmokers,” Pozuelos said. “The inhalation altered pathways associated with oxidative stress, which can damage DNA, with cancer being a potential long-term outcome. It’s extremely unlikely a three-hour exposure to THS would cause cancer, but if someone lived in an apartment or home with THS or drove a car regularly where THS was present, there could be health consequences.”

Because gene expression in the nasal epithelium is similar to the bronchial epithelium, the researchers note that their data is relevant to cells deeper in the respiratory system. In the samples they studied, the researchers also found that brief THS exposure affected mitochondrial activity. Mitochondria are organelles that serve as the cell’s powerhouses. If left unchecked, the observed effects would lead to cell death.

Pozuelos explained that the team focused on the nasal epithelium because the nasal passage is one way THS can enter people’s lungs. The other common exposure route is through the skin, which the researchers did not study, but plan to in the future.

Already, the researchers are working with groups in San Diego, California, and Cincinnati to study long-term exposure to THS, made possible with access to homes where people are being exposed to THS.

“Many people do not know what THS is,” said Talbot, the director of the UCR Stem Cell Center. “We hope our study raises awareness of this potential health hazard. Many smoking adults think, ‘I smoke outside, so my family inside the house will not get exposed.’ But smokers carry chemicals like nicotine indoors with their clothes. It’s important that people understand that THS is real and potentially harmful.”

A Finnish study coordinated by the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku, Finland, shows that exposure to parental smoking in childhood and adolescence is associated with poorer learning ability and memory in midlife: here.

Lethal child labour in the USA

This Human Rights Watch video says about itself:

MADE IN THE USA: Child Labor & Tobacco

(May 14, 2014) Child labor is common on tobacco farms in the United States, where children are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and other dangers.

Child tobacco workers often get sick with vomiting, nausea, headaches, and dizziness while working, all symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning. Many work 50 to 60 hours a week without overtime pay, often in extreme heat. They may be exposed to pesticides that are known neurotoxins. Many also use dangerous tools and machinery, lift heavy loads, and climb to perilous heights to hang tobacco for drying.

The largest tobacco companies in the world purchase tobacco grown in the US to make popular cigarette brands like Marlboro, Newport, Camel, Pall Mall and others. These companies can’t legally sell cigarettes to children, but they are profiting from child labor. US law also fails these children, by allowing them to work at much younger ages, for longer hours, and under more hazardous conditions than children working in all other sectors. Children as young as 12 can work legally on tobacco farms and at even younger ages on small farms.

Read more here.

By Jessica Goldstein in the USA:

Report: 452 child workers died in the US from 2003 to 2016

5 January 2019

About 452 child workers died in the United States from 2003 to 2016, according to a December 20 analysis by the Washington Post. Over 16 percent of those, or a total of 73, were children aged 12 years and younger. The age groups with the next highest number of deaths were 16- and 17-year-olds, with 110 and 145 deaths during those years, respectively.

A child worker is recognized by the US government as any worker under 18 years of age. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act—a set of federal laws which set age, hours worked, wage and safety requirements for minors in the US—14 is the minimum age for most non-agricultural work.

However, there are many exemptions to the law. In the US, children are legally allowed to deliver newspapers, perform in radio, television, movies or theatrical productions at any age. They are also allowed to work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or what are deemed to be “hazardous jobs”), perform babysitting or minor chores around a private home, and work as homeworkers to gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths.

The majority of child deaths from 2003 to 2016—52 percent, or a total of 235—occurred in agriculture, although agricultural workers account for less than one-fifth of the total number of child laborers in the US. The disproportionate number can be attributed to the fact that the agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting sector, which accounted for over 11 percent of total workplace deaths in 2017, is one of the most dangerous occupations in the US.

Another cause is that small family farms are exempt from most government regulations of child labor in the US. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal organization that regulates workplace safety, states that “youths of any age may work at any time in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or person standing in place of their parent.”

Children younger than 14 are allowed to work on a farm with their parents’ permission. Children younger than 12 can work only on farms so small that they’re not required to pay the minimum wage. Children are prohibited from working during school hours, which means they must work either in the early morning or evening hours. In some seasons, these are the hours with the least amount of sunlight, meaning that they make working conditions more dangerous.

Farmworkers 15 and younger are prohibited from operating a combine harvester or most larger tractors, using dynamite or other explosives, or performing other hazardous tasks. But there are exceptions for children who have been trained on certain tasks and machinery in a program such as 4-H. Children younger than 15 may and regularly do operate smaller vehicles, like tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), on family farms.

According to a 2018 report by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, the number of youth worker fatalities in agriculture has been higher than in all other industries combined since 2009. In 2015, child workers were 44.8 times more likely to be fatally injured in agriculture when compared to all other industries combined.

Transportation incidents were the most common fatal event, with tractors and ATVs being the primary vehicles involved. Transportation incidents also cause the most workplace fatalities in the entire US labor force, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2017.

The high number of child deaths in agriculture can be traced to the reactionary policies of the Obama administration enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, in order to serve the profit interests of the major corporations and big banks and to suppress the class struggle.

In addition to stripping back health and safety regulations during his two presidential terms, Obama’s Labor Department in 2012 refused to enact proposed regulations that would have forbidden children younger than 16 years of age from completing “agricultural work with animals and in pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins.” The regulations also would have forbidden farm workers under the age of 16 from handling most “power-driven equipment” and from contributing to the “cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.”

Outside of agricultural work, the Washington Post report shows that children died working in construction (56), administrative and support and waste management (28), restaurants, hotels and retail (39 total) and several other occupations.

There is no way to know exactly how many children work in the US at any given time, as no official data is available for the total number in agriculture, family businesses and household work, including babysitting and housekeeping work for pay.

Data for employment of 15- to 17-year-olds show that 2.5 million children in this age group were working during the summer of 2017, and the number fell to less than 2 million for the rest of the year, when school is in session in the US. Both statistics are the highest level of employment recorded for this age group in the post-2008 period.

According to the report, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Childhood Agricultural Injury Survey separately found about 524,000 children worked on farms in 2014. The survey found about 375,000 ‘working household children’ that same year. Two-thirds of them were 14 or younger, according to the [Government Accountability Office’s] analysis.”

The number of children working and killed at work in the United States exposes the stark reality of the capitalist system: Even in one of the most advanced capitalist economies in the world, child labor is not eradicated, nor will it be unless the profit system is replaced with a planned economy based on fulfilling social need.

That so many children are working points to the fact that living standards for the working class have fallen so low that children are going to work at younger ages out of economic necessity, evoking images of children in the Victorian era who risked their lives in dangerous factory and mine work in order to support their families.

Small farmers are especially susceptible to pressure to use child labor, with a general lack of capital making production costs exceedingly high when compared to the economic gain.

Unless the working class intervenes with its own strategy to take control of the means of production, not only will child labor continue to exist in the US, but conditions for child laborers in the US will begin to fall closer to those faced by children on the continents of Asia and Africa, where it is much more common.

Betsy DeVos, current education secretary in the Trump administration and one of the few cabinet members who has not been fired or resigned, has been a member of the board of the Acton Institute. This right-wing think tank advocates the abolition of mandatory schooling and the loosening of child labor restrictions, as illustrated by one of its blog posts from early November 2016, titled “Bring back child labor.”

Including in coal mining.

After fraudulent cars, fraudulent cigarettes

This 2017 video says about itself:

How Smoking 1 pack Wrecks Your Lungs ● You Must See This !

I decided to do my own small test with cotton balls to determine the real effects of smoking a pack a day and what it does to your mouth, throat and lungs not to mention how it compromises every system in your body in order to try to tell you to stop smoking and stop slowly killing yourself. The effects of smoking on your body are no secret and if you don’t know by now, here is another reason why you need to quit smoking. It’s never to late to quit and once you see what a pack a day does to your lungs it will give you the fuel you need to fire up the will power and quit! Good luck on your journey to quit smoking. Remember, waiting another day could be too late.


The machine was set to smoke each cigarette at the same pace each time. Each cigarette that was smoked, was drawn through and past the cotton balls into the pump and exhausted into the air. The smoke was not held. None of the cigarettes were smoked into the cigarette filter. I used Du Maurier cigarettes. The filters on Du Maurier cigarettes are hollowed out and come like that. The smoke was filtered through the cotton, catching some, not all, of the junk. (evident by the accumulation in the hoses) Actual smoking is twice as bad since you also blow the smoke out past all of the same organs twice. Whether the machine smoked the cigarette all at once, or bit by bit, it’s close to the same since the smoke was not blown back through the cotton again which would have made the cotton look even worse.

Remember the posts on this blog on fraudulent software in cars of Volkswagen and many other car corporations? Fraud, with connivance of national and European Union authorities? With as results killing of bees, killing of humans, etc.?

Well, it is not just cars. There is the European Union project REACH. Its original intention was to replace the 2000 most dangerous substances in the chemical industry wherever possible. However, then the chemical corporations lobbied at the EU.

They won: only 15 substances were registered. The other cancer causing or otherwise dangerous substances were left alone.

And now, after the cars which seemed to be not so polluting at tests, but proved to be very polluting during driving, cigarettes which claim to cause not that much cancer on their packages, but which in practice …

Translated from Dutch Trouw daily, 12 June 2018:

Forget the marketing stories: there is a lot more tar and nicotine in cigarettes

Joop Bouma

The RIVM [Dutch public health and environment watchdog] analyzed 100 brands of cigarettes that are on the market in the Netherlands, according to a strict Canadian method. The tar and nicotine values ​​are much higher than shown by the EU measurement method.

Forget the marketing stories about low tar and nicotine levels. Every cigarette is about as bad in terms of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. And some cigarettes are extra bad. This applies especially to cigarettes whose makers suggest that they contain less tar and nicotine. Exactly those brands are chock full of the carcinogenic substances.

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) put a hundred Dutch cigarette brands in a smoke machine and measured them, according to a measuring method used in Canada. In this Canadian Intense (CI) method, the tiny ventilation holes that the manufacturers have made in the filters and sleeves of their cigarettes are completely covered. The results are remarkable: in one case up to 26 times as much tar was measured as specified [on the package]. With nicotine it was not much better: up to 17 times as much and carbon monoxide up to 20 times as much.


In the European measurement method prescribed in the EU directive for tobacco products, the ventilation holes are open. As a result, clean air is sucked in during machine smoking. The measured tobacco smoke is therefore strongly diluted during the measurement. For example, the cigarettes stay within the limits of the Tobacco Act (maximum 10 mg tar, 1 mg nicotine and 10 mg carbon monoxide). But in practice smokers cover the holes with their fingers, so they get much higher doses.

Of the 100 cigarettes examined, there is only one brand that remains under the legal limits for the Canadian smoking method. That is the originally Greek product Karelia I. But even with this extremely thin cigarette with little tobacco, the tar content is ten times higher than specified.

The RIVM resigned early last month from a Dutch standards committee that advises on the international level on the measurement of carcinogens in tobacco. That committee is dominated by industry, eight of the ten members are from the tobacco business. …

Chock full of tar

The leader is the Marlboro Prime brand of Philip Morris. According to online tobacco vendor Rob Rijkers in Maassluis, this is a cigarette with ‘the softest taste of Marlboro, with less smell on and around the smoker’, but the product is actually full of tar. The cigarette falls in terms of marketing in the category ‘low tar and nicotine levels’. According to Philip Morris’s own specification, this Marlboro product only has 1 mg of tar, one tenth mg of nicotine and 2 mg of carbon monoxide. After masking all the holes that suck in misleading air, it appears that this cigarette delivers more than 26 mg of tar, 1.7 mg of nicotine and no less than 40 mg of carbon monoxide to the smoker.

And why are the European Union and the Dutch government not stopping this fraud at tests, and why are they not having the more realistic Canadian tests? One cause: the revolving door between government and Big Tobacco. CDA party politician Hillen used to be the Dutch minister of wardefence‘. Now, he is a Big Tobacco lobbyist. VVD party politician Schippers used to be the Dutch minister of health. Now, she is a Big Tobacco lobbyist.

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.

Big Tobacco’s unhealthy influence on health policy

This video says about itself:

This France-Canada co-production goes behind the scenes of the huge tobacco industry, whose economic power has been expanding for five decades at the expense of public health. A gripping investigation covering three continents, Nadia Collot’s film exposes the vast conspiracy of a criminally negligent industry that conquers new markets through corruption and manipulation. To confront the tobacco cartel, anti-smoking groups are organizing and scoring points, but the fight remains fierce. With its diverse viewpoints, shocking interviews and riveting images, The Tobacco Conspiracy deftly defines the issues in a complex situation where private interests and the public good collide. Enlightening and engrossing, this documentary is a hard-hitting critique of an industry gone mad.

Director: Nadia Collot
Genre: Documentary
Year of Production: 2006
Kuiv Production

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is resigning from committees that issue international advice on measuring the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarettes. According to the RIVM, the influence of the tobacco industry in the committees is too big, which as a result of there is too little emphasis on the protection of public health.

These are working groups of Dutch, European Union and international committees dealing with tobacco and e-cigarettes. In addition to the RIVM and the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), eight delegates from the tobacco industry also attend the working groups. …

The RIVM points out that the World Health Organization (WHO) has established that “the interests of the tobacco industry are not compatible with those of public health”. Another reason to get out of the committees is a new method for examining the content and emissions of cigarettes. This method was developed by the WHO, independent of industry.

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.

University refuses Big Tobacco money

This 2012 video says about itself:

Smoking Causes Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema

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

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Utrecht University does not want money from the tobacco industry after all

Today, 13:14

Utrecht University will not allow an investigation into cigarette smuggling to be paid by a research fund founded by tobacco giant Philip Morris. After social pressure from, among others, the Dutch Cancer Society, the university decided to raise the necessary 360,000 euros itself.

“The tobacco industry is not a normal industry and it is therefore undesirable that they finance scientific research”, says KWF [Dutch Cancer Society] director Sigrid Attema. Half of smokers die of their addiction. In the Netherlands that number is 20,000 annually, according to the KWF. Attema therefore calls the choice of the university “a sensible step”.

The KWF has 92 studies at institutions affiliated with Utrecht University. The KWF would no longer finance any future research if the university were to join forces with the Philip Morris International (PMI) Impact Fund. In new conditions of the KWF it says that researchers financed by them should not have any ties with the tobacco industry.

Investments in nuclear weapons, tobacco stopped

This video from Britain says about itself:

Jeremy Corbyn: ‘I want to see a nuclear-free world‘ – BBC News

27 September 2016

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he is not a supporter of nuclear weapons amid questions about Trident renewal. He was speaking to BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

The biggest pension fund stops investing in tobacco and nuclear weapons

Today, 14:13
Updated at 14:16

The pension fund of civil servants, ABP, wants to sell all its investments in tobacco and nuclear weapons within a year. Currently, the fund has invested around 3.3 billion euros in such corporations.

For years, there has been pressure on the pension fund not to invest in tobacco and nuclear weapons. The fund now says it has come to realize that a more sustainable investment policy must be applied, after discussions with participants, employers and interest groups.

A discussion has begun over the past month in Australian strategic and military circles about the necessity of building nuclear weapons, or developing the capacity to do so, against the alleged threat posed by nuclear-armed powers, above all China: here.

The Economist magazine, the influential London weekly described by Karl Marx over 150 years ago as the “European organ” of the “aristocracy of finance,” has devoted its latest issue to discussing “The Next War” and “The Growing Threat of Great Power Conflict.” Its lead editorial opens with a chilling warning: here.

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


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.


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.


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.