Could tobacco be good for you?

Mitch’s note: In the interest of fairness and to reveal my own biases, I am an unapologetic tobacco user.

I know this article is going to be completely politically incorrect, but I’ve always had a problem with the demonization of completely legal and in some ways beneficial substances. I’ve always known that if everyone I was exposed to in society and the media was telling me the same thing, they were most likely lying. And ninety nine percent of the time I’ve been right. Amid the growing absurdity and increasingly hysterical pogroms against substances such as tobacco, alcohol, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and many others, modern scientific studies are refuting the ill-informed and ignorant prejudices against many of these substances.

Anyone remember the hubbub about coconut oil a few years back? What happened was a couple of nutritional busybodies from The Center for Science in the Public Interest started a propaganda campaign against coconut oil, blaming it for everything from increased obesity rates to increased risk of heart disease. Thing about it was, coconut oil is what gives movie theatre popcorn its unique aroma and flavor. It’s also a natural preservative; popcorn popped in a large popper like you find in movie theaters will stay fresh all night. The FDA moved to ban the oil but public outcry stopped them in their tracks. So what’s the verdict now? Coconut oil has become the darling of the health food and natural remedies set, a pretty liberal bunch is there ever was one. Well, I think the same thing is about to happen with tobacco.

I just happened to run across this article in Associated Content from Yahoo. From “The Smoker’s Paradox“ by Juniper Russo:

“Thanks to Surgeon General’s Warning labels, public smoking bans, strict regulation of advertising, excise taxes, and public service messages, nearly everyone in America is fully aware of the many health risks associated with cigarette smoking Ongoing research has continuously proven smoking causes lung dysfunction, cancer, SIDS, heart disease, birth defects, preterm birth and other serious health problems. Knowing this, the idea that cigarette smoking may offer health benefits may seem utterly absurd.”

Now why would such an assumption be totally absurd? Tobacco has been used in this country for hundreds of years. Any time I hear a statement like “ongoing research has continuously proven,” I know good and damned well that nothing has been proven.

“However, cigarette smoking has been confirmed to provide numerous benefits to the health of smokers. Surprisingly, the tobacco plant appears to have more to offer our bodies than a guarantee of certain death. Although the health benefits of smoking are far outweighed by the many very dire risks, tobacco may provide alternative relief or prevention for some diseases in certain individuals.”

After this statement, I can tell the tone this article is going to take. Here is a writer who has stumbled across some facts that just don’t fit in with their worldview. The phrase “many very dire risks” is a bit of overkill to counteract the health benefits being reported on.

“The most fascinating and widely recognized health benefit of smoking is its ability to seemingly alleviate symptoms of mental illnesses, including anxiety and schizophrenia. According to an article published in 1995 in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, schizophrenics have much higher smoking rates than people with other mental illnesses, and appear to use it as a method of self-medicating. The article postulates that nicotine found in cigarettes reduces psychiatric, cognitive, sensory, and physical effects of schizophrenia, and also provides relief of common side effects from antipsychotic drugs.”

I’ve seen this personally. When I was much younger I worked for an AC and refrigeration company. One of our customers was an assisted care facility for people with schizophrenia and mental illness. Everyone there smoked, and I mean everyone.

“The treatment of schizophrenia isn’t the only positive effect that nicotine has on the brain. A series of very interesting studies from multiple academic sources confirms that the risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease is surprisingly higher in non-smokers than in smokers. Doctor Laura Fratiglioni of Huddinge University Hospital in Sweden states, ‘Cigarette smokers are 50% less likely to have PD or AD than are age- and gender-matched nonsmokers […] cigarette smoking exerts an undefined biologic neuroprotective influence against the development of PD and AD.’”

The first time I heard this, I think I was listening to Rush Limbaugh (that was a while ago before his being a tool for the neocons got to be more than I could bear). He said something to the effect of, “if it weren’t so politically incorrect, doctors would prescribe cigarettes at age sixty.”

“The University of Melbourne confirmed the claims made by many smokers that tobacco itself is a strong appetite suppressant, and many use it to self-treat compulsive overeating disorders or obesity. Many smokers experience weight loss and decreased appetite after they begin smoking, and the Melbourne study found similar results in lab rats and mice exposed to cigarette smoke. While tobacco-influenced pharmaceuticals may at some point be an available option to treat obesity, smoking as a self-treatment is very ill-advised, since the negative effects of tobacco and obesity tend to compound and create interrelated conditions.”

After my divorce while I wasn’t obese, I was carrying around about fifty extra pounds. I smoked when I was younger and in the service, but I quit when I got out. After the divorce, I really couldn’t think of any good reasons not to so I started smoking again. Whether the change in my diet or the smoking is the reason, I lost those fifty pounds within eight months.

“Cigarette smoking has also been linked to a decrease in risk of certain inflammatory disorders, since nicotine itself appears to be an anti-inflammatory agent. The department of gastroenterology at the University Hospital of Wales conducted a number of in-vitro studies to confirm and explain the decreased risk in ulcerative colitis (a potentially severe digestive disorder) in individuals who smoke cigarettes.”

I was kind of wondering why I never got heartburn again after I started back smoking.

“Perhaps most shockingly, tobacco smoke’s anti-inflammatory effects may actually provide some benefits to children who are exposed to secondhand smoke. While this is certainly not worth at-home experimentation, one astonishing study conducted in Sweden observed two generations of Swedish children and found that the children of smokers had lower rates of allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema, and food allergies. The studied groups included 6909 adults and 4472 children, and the findings remained consistent, even when adjusted to reflect other variables.”

What? Second hand smoke is good for the kiddies? How the hell can that be when we are bombarded with news stories, newspaper and magazine articles and every other media story imaginable that just being in the general vicinity of someone who smokes will lead to an agonizing, completely preventable death?

It occurs to me that we’ve been fed a complete line of bullshit. I’m not going to quote any more from Juniper Russo’s article, it predictably falls into a warning to all of us children that we shouldn’t take the benefits seriously, after all smoking is “vewy, vewy bad“ (my words not hers?, his? What kind of name is Juniper?) and we shouldn’t even think about getting near any tobacco, much less think about consuming some. Before all you cigarette haters out there start piling on, let me recount a little story:

I grew up around smokers. Mother (but not father, he had quit before I was born.), grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles and my parent’s friends. I know for a fact that my mother smoked throughout both mine and my sister’s pregnancies and from what I can tell; (I was ten pounds eight ounces when born, my sister was seven pounds six) there were no ill effects except maybe making me a little more susceptible to smoking when older. The only incidence where anyone had any adverse effects was my maternal grandmother. And, the effects were only incidental. My maternal grandmother smoked two packs a day of Winston’s from the time she was fourteen years old until her death. When she was seventy five years old, my mother talked her into going in for a chest x-ray. The doctors found a spot on her lung about the size of a dime. Again, my mother talked her into having surgery to have the spot removed; two weeks later, she was dead. Not from any lung cancer, not from the smoking, my grandmother had no cardiovascular disease, no coronary heart disease; she died from blood clots the surgery she should have never had released into her bloodstream. The way I figure it, she probably would have lived at least ten more years if she hadn’t listened to my stupid ass mother. Stupid people put their faith in institutionalized medicine, I don’t.

The evidence is starting to accumulate that tobacco consumption is not bad for you, contrary to all the media and governmental hysteria over the last five decades. The link from the first of this paragraph lists twenty three separate scientific studies that present evidence to back up my premise. There’s even a doctor who wrote a book titled The Health Benefits of Tobacco: A Smoker’s Paradox, which I highly recommend.

I know I’m going to get the question, “So Mitch, why did you write this when you know that you’re going to get all kinds of knee-jerk, anti-smoker reaction to your article?” Well, my answer is this. When a nanny society or government starts telling me what’s good for me against my better instincts and then takes it upon itself to force me to change my behavior, it becomes a personal matter to prove them wrong. I just can’t sit back and take it; bring on the anti-smokers, the second hand smoke fearers and anyone else who wants to tell me what I can do with my life…with faulty evidence to back up their positions.

And also, anyone who knows the truth about nutrition and vitamin supplements knows that taken properly, vitamins D3, non-acid C, CoQ10 and resveratrol will nearly completely eliminate the chance that you might get cancer.

Read this study to see what really WILL get you in the end.

24 thoughts on “Could tobacco be good for you?

  1. Personally, I smoked for a few years, from 19 to 22, and about a pack every two days. I don’t really know why I started, it was just something my friends were doing so I did too. Cigarettes felt good, especially with a rocks bourbon. Once I started focusing on running and training for triathlon and mountain bike races, I gave them up more or less without thinking about it, and haven’t gone back since. I don’t miss them. at least consciously. Every now and then, I have dreams I’ve taken up the habit, and wake up with the smell of cigarette smoke in my nose. It’s a bit weird.

    That said, I don’t hate smokers. I don’t really run into them often, but I don’t take great, dramatic pains to display how I’m shielding my kids from the evil smokers standing outside a restaurant or a store. I think the risks of exposure are minimal – consider that we run a wood stove in our house all winter long for heat. Even though most of the smoke is going up the chimney, what level of exposure to smoke are my kids getting all winter? When we light a campfire or the charcoal grill? It can’t be any worse than the occasional whiff of a cigarette.

    People need to calm down about everything. And the PCRM can cram it, they’ve been wrong on everything – trans fats in our diet are their fault, too.

    • Cigarettes are really yummy when combined with a good whiskey. Luckily for us, we know what’s good for us regardless of what the busybodies think is good for us.

  2. my mother talked her into having surgery to have the spot removed; two weeks later, she was dead. Not from any lung cancer, not from the smoking, my grandmother had no cardiovascular disease, no coronary heart disease; she died from blood clots the surgery she should have never had released into her bloodstream.

    On a sat-fat note, my grandmother was told to put my grandfather on a low-fat diet after his first heart attack. No more scrambled eggs and kielbasa for breakfast, no more Taylor ham, pork chops, bacon, fried chicken…all the food he loved was gone. Instead, it was plain baked potatoes, plain rice, grilled chicken…the conventional wisdom of diet that has plagued us for decades. It was the egg whites cooked in margarine that made grandma say “F- it.” She noticed the sludge she was scraping up out of the pan every morning, and commented that butter and bacon grease never did that. She posited (with all of her high-school dropout education) that Grandpa’s heart was worse off for all that crap going into his system. She went back to eggs in butter (with kielbasa) and fried chicken. Grandpa never had another heart attack. He died of throat cancer, possibly induced by a combo of smoking and asbestos exposure, but not heart disease.

    Moral: I don’t f’ing know. But turning back the clock several decades on our stance on diet and smoking and exercise and what constitutes “work” is likely a big part of the lessons we’re supposed to learn from these stories.

    • The one thing that has always bothered me is I’m old enough to remember when nobody died from cancer. Or at least it seemed that way. My entire family has been pretty much long lived. The only exception that I know of is my father (hell, he lived to be 72) but he listened to his doctors and was on probably 6 different prescriptions that I am sure caused his massive stroke that killed him.

      • Supposedly, before a certain point in history, most tobacco was organic. I read once that polonium and other junk was sprayed on the fields after WWII and then there was a spike in illnesses.

  3. As always an excellent post. The way you write is awesome. I haven’t commented yet because I didn’t think I could contribute much but this post made me change my mind.

  4. Perhaps smoking cigarettes in moderation could give you the best of both worlds: reaping the good benefits while minimizing the bad.

  5. “Amid the growing absurdity and increasingly hysterical pogroms against substances such as tobacco, alcohol, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and many others, modern scientific studies are refuting the ill-informed and ignorant prejudices against many of these substances.”

    That’s a fallacy. Just because some things that were demonised were found to actually be good for you doesn’t mean everything that is demonised is good for you.
    If you look around and see all the fat and sick people in modern society kept alive only by pills and expensive healthcare then its obvious something has changed everyone’s health for the worse.
    Paleo is on the right track. High sat fat food (animals and dairy) is the best. I am actually reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by W.A. Price now and he has extensive studies of primitive tribes whose health is destroyed by contact with white men. The culprits seem to be diet changes from primitive high animal (or dairy) and simple starch diets to including white flour, sugar, canned foods etc. Just changing diet was enough to exponentially increase the TB rates alone.
    In fact, Price talks about the primitive Gaelics who live in thatched houses with a continuous fire burning year round and black smoke filling their house and only escaping through the roof. Only after adopting a modern foods into their diet did these people start getting TB, which the authorities then attributed to the black smoke in the houses.
    I would go so far as to say that smoking tobacco may be harmless (not so sure about the rest of the chemicals added to cigarettes) provided your diet is high in sat fat and natural foods and low in foods such as white flour and sugar. Of course, YMMV depending on your own personal health which is why you can find people who can abuse the hell out of their bodies without any noticeable effects.

    • Yeah, I agree that diet has a lot to do with it and paleo is the way to go inasmuch as it is possible. That’s what I do and it works.

  6. Tobacco industry may have pissed off some people which is why the anti-smoke groups are pushing really hard to destroy it. Its just another way for a bunch of self righteous people to obtain more control over others. Hell, here in NY you practically are not allowed to smoke anywhere. Even in some parks smoking is off limits, i even heard that they also want to prohibit smoking inside your own home!! What the F__K! I feel sorry for the smokers now a days they are treated like sub human people. How is tobacco bad if its a natural product whihc comes from the earth. Its not man made what so ever! All you have to do is plant a seed, water it and watch it grow.

    I remember the days being on a 7 hour flight to Europe with my parents and hearing the clicking of lighters when the smoking light came on! AND THE OXYGEN IN THE CABIN WAS RECYCLED and yet no one got sick or anything like that.

    i believe this anti smoker crusade is about control and money. These two things are the only things that can persuade a politician to go for the negative decision.

    great post!

    • Thanks Jose, and I also remember when you could smoke on airline flights. You know, the thing is, the government needs smokers for the tax revenue and the mere fact that most smokers tend to die earlier, saving billions in Social Security and Medicare payments.

  7. Excellent post, Bill. As you know, I’ve done a bit of research on this topic myself….

    …it seems that the real culprit is the calcium phosphate based fertilizer commonly used by the Big Tobacco Corporations has trace amounts of polonium 210. Over a long period of time of repeated exposure (like a pack a day smoker), is what eventually causes lung cancer.

    It’s not the tobacco, it’s the fertilizer!

    “Lives could be saved by simply changing fertilizers, they say… Almost 95% of the Lung Cancer caused by Cigarettes are allegedly the result of using calcium phosphate fertilizer to grow the Tobacco. The resulting Cigarettes bearing a combination of local Radon gasses and radioactive Polonium from the Tobacco leaves deposit a small dose of radioactive isotopes directly into a smoker’s lungs as they smoke (or breath smoke laden air)! For the “pack-a-day” smoker, it has been alleged that this dose would be the same as if you were forced to have between 300 and 8000 Chest X-Rays a year! If this startling fact be true, then it appears that your Lungs could literally be converted into a toxic, irradiated Nuclear Dump by the majority of today’s commercially grown and factory manufactured Cigarettes!

    And we’ve been told that, through a minor change in the way Tobacco is grown, hundreds of thousands of lives might be saved each year in America alone! The elimination of Radioactive Polonium from Tobacco, stops the process altogether, in 98% of the cases, for it appears to be responsible for the vast majority of the toxicity, that increases the likelihood of Cancer in a Smoker because, they say, constant long term exposure to the Polonium 210 dust in Tobacco smoke, causes the Lung Tissue to MUTATE… making other carcinogens 100s of times more likely to trigger Lung Cancer, leading to 180,000 American deaths from the disease.”

    And the Government knows it.

    Yet they still allow Big Tobacco to continue to use the fertilizer….because the “government” is interested in population control – the long, slow culling of the masses of sheeple.

    Cancer is profitable.

    It helps the Big Tobacco corporations enjoy Big Government regulatory oversite aka cartel advantage. In other words, since “Tobacco kills” it requires the Government to regulate it.

    IF they were to stop using the calcium phosphate fertilizer, not only would lung cancer cases decline dramartically, smokers would all live longer (despite the risks of polonium/radon/lead elements, smokers still seem to have longer lives than non-smokers – I attribute that to it’s unique properties of appetite suppression – which may be linked to nicotine’s effects on the body that allow it to access stored fat for energy.

    But, as we know, the Powers That Be certainly don’t want more people living a lot longer. Hence the two pronged approach to deliberately corrupting the crops with radioactive fertilizer, while at the same time employing mass propaganda indicting ALL tobacco as dangerous, cancer causeing poison.

    This keeps the majority of the people away from ALL tobacco products, organic or not….you know, that plant that actually seems to promote longevity when the plant raised without calcium phosphate fertilizers is used regularly – whether you chew it, puff it, snort it or smoke it.

    Anyhow, if I were you, I’d look into finding some organic tobacco sources that are not raised by Big Tobacco and it’s cancerous fertilizer practices. You don’t wanna be toking on some polonium 210!

    • Looks like I’m going to have to start growing my own tobacco. Luckily where my farm is located is perfect for tobacco growing. Thanks for the compliment also.

  8. Even more interesting….check out list item number 10 on this page,

    10. Polonium is the only component of cigarette smoke to produce cancer in laboratory animals. The polonium in tobacco is absorbed from phosphate fertilizers.

  9. Bill I love your article about Tobacco. apparently in the third world
    countries tobbacco smoking is much higher and cigarettes are cheaper but
    the cancer death rates are still higher in the US, huh? how can that be?
    that answers the question. like frost’s stand on obessity as a spiritual
    problem, perhaps cancer is also a spiritual problem , come tothink of it
    stress is th eone that causes most mortality. and I personally agree that
    cigars reduce stress and promotes calmness. we worked in a mental
    institution and patients help in chores and what rewards do they get from
    the nurses? free smoke and cigar time.
    By the way I owuld like to comment your background , isn’t that the
    hubble’s deep field?
    from Dead Wizard-Optimum awareness

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  11. All of the above.

    * Habitually inhaling smoke is bad for your lungs.

    * Nicotine is a proven nootropic, appetite suppressant, and mood stabilizer.

    The solution, in my modest opinion, is snus. I switched from smoking to snus a few years ago and I enjoy nearly all of the benefits of smoking with nearly none of the side effects. The great thing about it is that one can still enjoy a social cigarette or cigar without having to worry about backsliding into the habit.

    Oh, and it’s dramatically cheaper.

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  13. I’m a degenerate smoker, and tried Snus. Liked them, but after a year they were really tearing up my gums.

    E-Cigarettes/”Vaping” is my current kick. It’s better than smoking. All the nicotine you could ask for, but no smokey clothes stench, hacking cough, etc. The nicotine is in liquid form, mixed with the chemical they use for fog machines at concerts. Push a button on the e-cig, and you get a hit of “smoke” which quickly evaporates and has no odor. You can do it in the car, discreetly at a restaurant, mall, or movie theater.

    Better than smoking? Really? Yes, really. A few months ago I ran out of e-cig liquid, and had to go buy regular cigarettes for a few days until my shipment arrived. When the shipment finally came, I loaded up my e-cig an immediately threw out the rest of the cigarettes, and didn’t miss them for a second.

    If you want the health benefits of nicotine without the health downsides of smoking, it is the way to go. Avoid the units they sell at drug stores. You have to purchase on the internet to get the good ones. Joye eGo is a pretty good starter unit, IMHO.

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