Big tobacco companies pull out all the stops to hold onto smokers and, even non-smokers . The e-cigarette is so controversial, there’s talk of the FDA banning this psuedo-safe smoking device. These devices use a battery-powered heater to vaporize synthetic liquid nicotine in a small cartridge. They lack the infamous tar that regular cigarettes deliver, but the FDA is still concerned about the potentially harmful nicotine these e-products depend on to keep smokers addicted. And, there’s another wolf in sheep’s clothing that alarms FDA — “harm reduction” cigarettes.
“GMO“ Tobacco and Other Nasty Stuff
“Harm reduction” cigarettes seem low-tech when compared to their e-cigarette counterparts, but they employ some pretty sophisticated “smoke & mirrors” chemistry to reel in the average smoker. This involves the use of genetically modified tobacco to cut down on the concentration of nicotine. Developed by North Carolina State University scientists, the GMO tobacco was designed to resist bugs attacking the tobacco plant. The problem here is that you’re injecting and infusing the genes of bacteria from the DNA of other living things into tobacco seeds. Worse yet, tobacco plants are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, which remain in the plant. Mixing these bug and weed killers into an already harmful product adds to its toxicity.
A Chemical Cocktail Your Nervous System Can Do Without
When a cigarette burns at 1700-degrees Fahrenheit, the pesticides used to kill bugs are mixed with ammonia-treated nicotine, creating a chemical cocktail that challenges your central nervous system. Researchers at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado identified three previously undetected pesticides in cigarette smoke. These carcinogenic endocrine disruptors include Flumetralin (banned in Europe), Pendimethalin (which targets the thyroid), and Trifluralin (which affects prostate and breasts). Surprisingly, all have been approved for use by the EPA, which claims, “No information exists for long-term low-level inhalation exposures to these compounds.”
Side Effects of Side Stream Smoke
Stem cell scientists at UC Riverside took a long hard look at the side-stream smoke of harm-reduction cigarettes. What they found is that these brands impaired the growth of human embryonic stem cells — more than conventional brands. The reduced carcinogens in harm reduction cigarettes didn’t equate to reduced toxicity. Researchers noted that embryonic stem cells are ideal for evaluating the toxicity of cigarette smoke because these cells are most sensitive to chemical stress. The study results appear in the November issue of Toxicological Sciences.