Mike the Mad Biologist

Organic Cigarettes?

Isn’t this kinda missing the point? Here’s an ad I saw in the Weekly Dig:

organicigarettes

Yes, an organic cigarette would probably be less harmful than one…laced with dioxin. But it’s still a cigarette. It’s not good for you. In fact, it’s bad for you.

I think the label organic has jumped the shark….

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Laden
    March 14, 2009

    These are actually pretty good cigarettes. For cigarettes.

    But of course, you shouldn’t smoke.

  2. #2 Brad Pitcher
    March 14, 2009

    Environmental health is another good reason to choose organic

  3. #3 peter
    March 14, 2009

    Actually, the nicest thing about them is that they were much easier to quit than marlboro or camel.

    I’m guessing the lack of extra additives. but that’s purely anecdotal…

  4. #4 Art
    March 14, 2009

    Fair enough point on cigs and the overreaching on the organic label. But, there is always a but (butt), I have noticed that most cigarettes I get downwind of cause my sinuses to freak out. These and a few clove bases ones don’t.

    A friend, who knows something about such things, claims the difference is the crap; glycerin, used to slow and even out burning; nitrates, used to keep cigs burning even when not smoked; etc.

    I don’t know but the effect on my sinuses is consistent even when I’m unaware of which cigs are being smoked. I really don’t know or care how these addicts chose to poison themselves but I do object to being backed up with slime.

  5. #5 mark
    March 15, 2009

    They’ve been advertising these in the Baltimore Shitty Paper for years. They’re not only organic, but also natural–and anything natural is good for you, isn’t it?

  6. #6 The Ridger
    March 15, 2009

    C’mon, you’re a scientist. Can you really not wrap your mind around words having more than one meaning? Or advertisers lying through implication?

  7. #7 Brian X
    March 15, 2009

    These things have irked me forever — the very embodiment of hipster-oriented greenwashing, with a heavy dose of Cherohonkee thrown in. Whoop-de-doo, organic cigarettes… don’t forget, Penn and Teller pointed out the existence of “All Natural Ricin” in one of their books. (I wonder if the irony would be lost on them…)

  8. #8 Oran
    March 16, 2009

    I agree with Brad. There are other reasons to support “organic” agriculture. It reminds me of the debate about hormones in dairy production focusing on whether the milk itself is healthy and not on the long term side effects of production. I think organic tobacco is a great idea!

  9. #9 Ryan
    March 17, 2009

    I sat on a plane next to a woman who smoked these, and then lectured me for an hour about why I shouldn’t drink orange juice because of the chemicals used to grow the oranges. [groan]

  10. #10 Mahakal
    March 19, 2009

    What Peter said is very true. It’s much easier to quit smoking these than Marlboros or Camels or what have you brands which are chemically treated evidently to make them extra addictive. So it’s a reasonable approach to step down to Organic American Spirit and then quit those. I also found it helpful to smoke pot instead when I craved a cigarette. Much healthier than tobacco.

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  14. #14 Tim
    March 23, 2009

    You guys have it all wrong. Organically grown tobacco is much safer than commercial tobacco. US Surgeon General C Everett Koop stated on national television in 1990 that tobacco radiation is probably responsible for 90% of tobacco-related cancer. Radiation comes from commercial tobacco because it is grown with radioactive fertilizers that leave Polonium 210 and Lead 210 concentrated in the tobacco. This is the major cause of cancer. Organic tobacco lacks these radioactive carcinogens, (yes it contains dozens of other carcinogens so it is not safe) but those dozens of other carcinogens only cause 10% of tobacco’s cancerous effects.

  15. #15 Rob W
    March 23, 2009

    I don’t understand why you’d pan these so cynically.

    Absolutely, they should be (and ARE) legally required to make it clear that these are still bad for you in all of their advertising.

    But even if the health harm is equally bad (and possibly it isn’t? dunno; I don’t smoke anyway), if the tobacco is organic, that has various positive ramifications for the entire growing process — fewer nasty chemicals in the runoff water, fewer nasty chemicals used in processing, and so on. All of that is a good thing for us NON-smokers.

    And if there can be something shown about them being not quite as bad for your health, well, good. You can’t just say “stop smoking” and ignore all other info… that smacks of abstinence-only sex ed kind of logic. If people switch and they’re healthier (vs. trying to quit, failing, and being no better off than before), it’s a net win.

  16. #16 llewelly
    March 23, 2009

    I think the label organic has jumped the shark…

    I think it went over the shark in about 1995.

    For what it’s worth, ‘American Spirit’ is not the only or the first ‘organic’ tobacco. (Although I’ve not previously seen ‘organic’ tobacco in a machine-rolled cigarette – in my experience it has always been pipe tobacco or roll-your-own tobacco.)
    I’ve been seeing ‘organic’ tobacco since sometime in the late 1990s. (This in Salt Lake City, no less.)
    Speaking of roll-your-owns, I suspect (but have no data) that switching to roll-your-owns would reduce health risks far more than any changes to the sort of tobacco. Roll-your-owns take time to roll, and require both hands (for most people anyway). (Obviously actually quitting is best of all.)

    Also – although I think the ‘organic’ label has mostly failed in its goals (in the sense that ‘organic’ products are only marginally more likely to be environmentally more sound, and no more likely to be healthy), one of its goals was the health of the people who produced the good – not just the health of the people using it. And when it comes to the production of tobacco, there is certainly a great deal of room for improvement in that area, although I’ve no idea whether ‘organic’ tobacco achieves any of those improvements.

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  19. #19 Devere
    May 5, 2009

    ALL tobacco plants in order to protect themselves from small predators (bugs) employ at least two major “natural” chemical defenses. These are nicotine and polonium. ALL healthily grown tobacco plants will have these two substances in abundance. The tobacco which “Natural American Spirits” contain actually have much MORE nicotine AND polonium per breath than do most other cigarettes brands. Polonium is really NOT an additive that is added or allowed to be left with the tobacco but rather it is simply a substance contained within the nicotine leaf (plant) itself.

  20. #20 Tobias Schmidbauer
    May 20, 2009

    Mike wrote:

    Yes, an organic cigarette would probably be less harmful than one…laced with dioxin.

    Dioxin is organic! So being organic does NOT mean no dioxins!

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  24. #24 Dave
    September 9, 2009

    Don’t blow off the polonium thing…just because it naturally occurs on tobacco leaves doesn’t exonerate the use of phosphate fertilizers which increase the amount by a lot. Not using these fertilizers means a lot less radiation for smokers.

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  27. #27 Kurt Battles
    September 14, 2009

    Why would so many non-smokers bother to weigh in on something that has little if any effect on them? Boredom? Pharmaceuticals have marketed products for years off-label. Viagra for women, fantasy stuff likely.

    What on earth would cigarette companies do to increase market share and profit, anything they can get away with. A natural or organic cigarette has to be better than commercial brands. I will try anything but commercially marketed products given a choice..

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  29. #29 Mark Miller
    January 13, 2010

    Are ALL cigarettes “bad” for EVERYONE? Think about that… The objective evidence clearly says NO, for all who are open-minded enough to see (more) clearly….

  30. #30 devere
    January 14, 2010

    The tobacco plant is a pesticide in of itself. It employs at least several methods of eradicating small insects. The cyanide contained within the plant has a dizzying effect upon the organism and disorients it. The nicotine creates a certain heightened state of activity in addition to creating a chemical dependency so that the insects will not leave the plant for another until it is finished off. Then the radioactive elements contained within the tobacco leaf itself when consumed will create the emission of alpha waves from the inside and create a cancerous death. The healthier the tobacco plant is the more it will produce these natural chemicals. Furthermore since the tobacco crop nowadays is derived from hybrids they have a higher concentration of these and other elements. You can expect to consume more of these natural elements from high nicotine cigarettes such as “Natural American Spirits” which does use a hybrid tobacco. The real reason that phosphates have to be introduced into the soil is that the tobacco plant is a very soil depleting plant and requires the addition of phosphates, potassium, and nitrates into the soil. It is indeed one of the most soil depleting crops. All phophates in the soil contain similar amounts of radioactivity which the tobacco plant is adept at absorbing into its natural pesticide mechanism for the destruction of bugs and other creatures that would be stupid enough to try to consume it.

  31. #31 mdc
    January 18, 2010

    Are you people as stupid as your postings are showing? How many Native Americans have you known that have died of lung cancer or any other cancers in the past?….None. Not until the white man entered their lives. Now if you were a multi-billion dollar industry and wanted billions of more wouldn’t you have your scientists conjur up some chemicals to make addicts of folks and keep them smoking your products at any cost? Of course you would. So, centuries of Native Americans smoking good’ol non-chemical laced tobacco has led to how many deaths in the 1,000 of years past? Probably none. So, how can natural and organically grown tobacco be harmful, except for the nicotine (gee might as well have a good cup of Joe) be harmful? Plus the nicotine concentration isn’t even close to that of commercial cigs (since they add more to them). Good God people. Enjoy your smokes. Stay away from the Tobacco Giants who poision people for money. Smoke natural, organic tobacco, pot, or whatever you desire. G.D., anyone who spends money on corporate giants to poison themselves is an idiot anyways. The corporate giants aren’t going to change business and come up with a less addictive and dangerous smoke. Use your freaking heads. Everyone out here is a G.D. armchair scientist. Live your lives your way. Do what you choose to do.

  32. #32 devere
    January 19, 2010

    Natural American Spirit is owned by RJ American, parent company of RJ Reynolds (Big Tobacco). The tobacco that they use are in fact processed from genetically modified hybrid leaves with an ultra-high nicotine content that the American Indians had never traditionally used in any of their ceremonies. And if that weren’t enough NAS is said to use urea instead of ammonia in order to further inhance nicotine absoption. Sequoia (re: Cherokee alphabet) is one person that very possibly did die from his smoking habit.

  33. #33 Jack
    January 29, 2010

    American spirit is owned RJ Reynolds but is not a corporate creation of the parent company. Althought many will state without proof or convincing argument that RJ Eyenolds has alterd the original formula on American Spirit cigs, I believe that cigs are the same as it was prior to RJ’s buyout. Historically Americans have been smoking for more than 200 years, yet 90% of all smoking related deaths have all come in just the last 45 years. Life long smokers have been around since the revolution yet we do not find a huge population in our past with smoking related issues on a wide scale. The amount of americans that smoked back in the day was much much higher than today. The human body can take a cigarette for life, its already been proven in our history. What it CAN”T take is people smoking toxin laced cigaretts with a dilapted immune systms. This is why some life long smokers die at 40 while others at 60 and still others of just old age with non tobacco related illness.

  34. #34 electronic cigar
    February 2, 2010

    Okay, so the tobacco is organic, but are they still adding the thousands of other chemicals? Probably, seeing as it is owned by RJ.
    Now, if they had a 100% Organic Cigarette…I might go for that, but for now, I’ll still with my electronic cigarette.

  35. #35 Electronic Cigarette
    February 2, 2010

    Sorry for the double post…
    The reason there are more smoking deaths within the last 45 years is the addition of all the chemicals and carcinogens to the cigarette. Some to make it burn slower, faster, more evenly, etc. If the companies took those out, we’d have a completely new cigarette.
    Oh…wait though….then the pharmaceutical companies would probably suffer a major financial drop and we couldn’t let that happen. (Cynicism noted.)

  36. #36 devere
    February 27, 2010

    Hemlock and poppy flower resin are also organic. Think about it.

  37. #37 Andre LeBlanc
    April 29, 2010

    It says 100% Additive free on the pack.

  38. #38 Pro-Organic
    June 4, 2010

    “Okay, so the tobacco is organic, but are they still adding the thousands of other chemicals?” ORGANIC means that there can not be any added chemicals. Natural American Spirit Organics have NO CHEMICALS. Sure, smoke inhalation of any sort (marijuana, incense, Eucalyptus leaves, etc.) is harmful to your lungs, but not toxic in and of itself. The burning causes issues as does the frequency (in order for your lungs to heal themselves, you must have some time; no chain smokers can live as long as those who don’t, for the most part)– BUT, these cigarettes are (hopefully) as ‘pure’ as the original, natural, earth-grown tobacco that our ancestors and indigenous people used to smoke without the added issue of CANCER. Organic items almost NEVER cause cancer because of the absence of toxic chemicals. That is the POINT and why ORGANIC COSTS SO MUCH MORE, unfortunately. Smoking is not good for you, but it isn’t as bad as some other more socially acceptable things (see: fast food, car exhaust inhalation, pharmeceuticals, Tyleno on the liver, alcohol in excess, etc.), so if you’re going to CHOOSE to smoke then SMOKE ORGANIC LEAVES!

  39. #39 CLC
    June 12, 2010

    While I am a smoker, at least I can read. See the big label at the bottom right of this ad? The one that you’re so pithily deconstructing? The one that happens to say, and I quote, “No additives in our tobacco does NOT make for a safer product.”

    And, of course, everyone else has pointed out that the benefit of organic cigarettes lies not in some magical new form of tobacco (which is a stupid assumption on YOUR part, not anyone else’s), but merely distinguishes the product from a cigarette that has ADDITIONAL chemicals infused into the end-product. The real irony is that the vast majority of ‘organic’ food is anything but, whereas all you know-it-all goons come out of the woodwork to poo-poo something that is actually, definitionally organic.

    Boy, the world would be such a worse place without all you deep thinkers providing such deep thoughts.

  40. #40 undefined
    September 13, 2010

    Pro-Organic:
    Organic food doesn’t cost more because it doesn’t have chemicals. Organic food costs more because organic farming is not subsidized by the government, like conventional farming. You pay for your conventional food in taxes, so you don’t see the real price up-front.

    As for these cigarettes, just learn the definition of organic and figure it out for yourself. Grown without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics & hormones.
    Just because one ingredient is 100% organic doesn’t mean the whole product is. Read labels. You’ll see the percentage of organic content if it isn’t 100%.

  41. #41 NTH
    December 5, 2010

    Excellent use of absolutely no research studies or scientific evidence of any kind to back up your empty assertions!

  42. #42 Z
    December 9, 2010

    Clearly those suspicious of the Organic Spirits do not smoke at all or smoke something else. I smoke them (hand-rolled), and I don’t fool myself into thinking it’s “healthier”. I will, however, say from experience I truly trust their purity (as far as tobacco goes). Even second-hand smoke from a conventional cigarette gives me a headache; And I remember the taste from my prefab, non-AS days: like chlorine and coal.

    I’ve grown my own tobacco in the past, and after I shred and dry the leaves it comes out looking/smelling/tasting the same as the tobacco in the pouches of Organic Spirits.

    Again, I’m not suggesting my habit is healthy, but I do trust that there is no rat poison added to make it burn faster.

    Take a conventional, prefab cigarette and break it apart. Do the same to an american spirit (or just a pouch of the tobacco), and examine the contents: it’s as different as a live free-range chicken next to a chicken nugget.

    (Also: to all the non-smoker haters – hope you aren’t factory-farmed red meat….)

  43. #43 Meadow
    December 17, 2010

    If you look at “organic” cigarette packages, they have this huge list of chemicals listed on the side. What I want to know is, what chemicals naturally occur in tobacco, are Northfields organic and do these chemmies occur naturally or is there in fact something added? Does anyone actually know the answer to this question? (I am not interested in rants or opinions, I want facts.)

  44. #44 bsmith
    January 2, 2011

    Interesting discussion and post, although I admit I think the science is lacking, which is where my question comes in. Most of the surveys and research that the FDA, EPA Health Dept and others have put out all look at major commercial cigarettes, Marlboro, Camel, Winston, etc. And so all of the list of 599 chemical additives (ie. http://quitsmoking.about.com/cs/nicotineinhaler/a/cigingredients.htm) seem to apply to commercial chemical cigarettes. But what about hand rolled organic cigarettes with say, rice, flax or hemp papers? It seems to me, that a lot of these studies are probably useless for trying to gauge the impact for a smoker who only smokes organic, hand-rolled tobacco. So, does anyone know of any good studies that have tried to parse out the difference between the two types, and the various carcinogens, etc. I know American Spirit tobacco would still have carcinogens from the tobacco itself, but am skeptical about all of the other carcinogens which are not naturally occurring in tobacco…?

    thanks for any suggestions.

  45. #45 Ian
    January 16, 2011

    …nicotine is sold commercially as a pesticide so “organic tobacco” in cigarettes means you can breathe a pesticide which was grown without pesticides. How crazy is that?!? LOL

  46. #46 stefan
    January 19, 2011

    Revisit the post above about Polonium 210 and you’ll find your answer. Search wide, it’s been known and confirmed for decades. However, I am sure many internal documents have been pulled in the past ten years. If I have still have copies, I will post.

    Organic tobacco does not cause cancer.

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