Smoking is in France and in the world the main cause of illness and death. Tobacco, traditionally used by American Indians, was introduced in Europe by Christopher Columbus. Its extension has been very fast around the world. At the beginning of the 20th century, smoking was a widespread social event, a pleasure. Smoking was the norm. Two recent elements have totally changed our perception of smoking:
The risks associated with smoking began to be known in the 1950s for lung cancer and a few years later for other complications. It took some time for the medical community to accept this notion and even more so that the policies put in place the elements of the fight against smoking.
The use of cigarettes, which had remained marginal, increased exponentially, from a few million cigarettes a year in 1900 to almost 100 billion in the 1980s. Smoking, especially in the form of “blondes”, allows inhalation deep smoke, intense absorption of nicotine and rapid induction of heavy addiction.
At the same time, the tobacco industry 1 (on the use of this term, see box) did everything, with total cynicism, to develop the cigarette market, while fully knowing their major harmfulness. Even before the health authorities, the tobacco companies, thanks to the work carried out in their powerful research laboratories, knew that the tars were carcinogenic and especially that nicotine made addicts. These facts were jealously hidden and it was not until twenty years before the truth was revealed.
Today’s cigarettes contain a trifle of 600 ingredients, which is more than 4000 chemicals. In addition to the known toxic ingredients found in cigarettes such as tar and nicotine, many people are surprised to learn that cigarettes contain many other highly toxic ingredients, such as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, DDT, butane, acetone, carbon monoxide, and even cadmium.
Did you know that the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that in the United States alone, smoking is responsible for more than 400,000 deaths per year, and that by the 2030s approximately 10 million tobacco in the world?
It is not surprising that this chemical cocktail is responsible for so many deaths resulting from two of the leading causes of death in the United States: cardiovascular disease and cancer. But there are other common health problems that are also related to smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, including joint and spine disorders.
Because smoking decreases the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, the body compensates by increasing heart rate and blood pressure, which ultimately leads to poor circulation. Poor circulation causes a decrease in the ability of blood vessels to transport nutrients to living tissue, including bones and discs in the spine. In the long run, this can compromise bone and joint physiology, the body’s ability to heal wounds and a lack of nutrients for the vertebral discs, which can ultimately lead to chronic pain and loss of mobility.
There is a positive side!
On a positive note, because of the resilience of the human body, the harmful effects of smoking can vanish. When an individual stops smoking, the effects of healing begin instantly. In a few minutes, the blood pressure decreases and the heart rate is normalized. In about a day, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide go down and levels eventually become undetectable.
Inflammation begins to diminish as more oxygen is circulated throughout the body, and even the lungs can heal to some degree depending on the number of years that an individual has been smoking. Statistics show that after a person has quit smoking for ten to fifteen years, the risk of developing lung cancer becomes the same as a person who has never smoked.
Electronic cigarettes, a good substitute for cigarettes?
A recent German study says no but other studies say it would be much less harmful than the conventional cigarette. Despite the fact that they contain less harmful substances, it has been found that five minutes after the use of this alternative cigarette, signs of constriction and inflammation of the airways develop. In addition, even though e-cigarettes produce far less ultra-fine particles than cigarettes, when they are smoked indoors, the emitted particles accumulate and can have an impact on users and passive smokers, a bit like chronic exposure to artificial deodorants.
Although nicotine replacement and pharmaceutical products are realistic options to help you quit smoking, they are not without side effects and without risks. Natural options such as acupuncture, exercise, nutrition (vitamin C and vitamins B – Did you know every cigarette lowers vitamin C 25 mg in the body), meditation, nature walks , and support groups have also been shown to be effective in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
The leading cause of preventable death in France
During the twentieth century, tobacco caused 100 million deaths worldwide and this number may rise to 1 billion for the 21st century if nothing changes. In France, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, with around 66,000 deaths each year. On average, one in two regular smokers dies prematurely from the causes of their smoking, and half of these deaths are between 35 and 69 years old.
The complications begin to appear 20 to 30 years after the start of smoking. Women are currently less affected than men because those who are 70 years old today are few to have smoked. In contrast, the number of female deaths from lung cancer is expected to increase in the coming years. By 2025, it should equal the number of breast cancer deaths 2.
Tobacco is currently responsible in France for more than 1 out of 9 deaths (1 in 5 deaths in men and 1 in 35 deaths among women). In the population aged 35 to 69, 1 in 3 deaths is attributable to tobacco in men and 1 in 16 in women.
Regarding passive smoking, a recent European study estimates mortality in France at just over 1000 per year 4.
1 Can we put “in the same bag” and under the generic term “tobacco industry” all companies? What is revealed by the documents made public during the great trials of the 1990s is that we find an extreme similarity of behavior, and very often an agreement, between the large American and British multinationals. We will therefore use the term “tobacco industry”, but not every time all companies are included. The archives of the French SEITA (bought by Altadis, then Imperial Tobacco) are, for their part, not accessible. See the box on SEITA.
2 Figures published by IN PES.
4 http://www.european-lung-foundation… .
5 «Smoking and carcinoma of the lung; preliminary report», British Medical Journal, 1950 Sep 30;2(4682) :739-48.
6 Voir par exemple: «The Health Consequences Of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction». A report of the Surgeon General, 1988, US Department of Health and Human Services.
7 “The study of clinical data tends to confirm the relationship between heavy and prolonged smoking and the frequency of lung cancer.” Memo from the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, February 2, 1953. …. Gérard Dubois in his book The Curtain of Smoke, Edition du Seuil, 2003 mentions many other concordant studies of the industry in the years that followed (p.54).
8 See pages 48 to 52 of Gérard Dubois, op. cit.
9 “The smoking / health controversy: a view from the other side”, page 31, a B & W document handed to Time in July 1971. This thirty-page text is intended to be a precise and detailed scientific analysis against the “allegations”. scientists “indicating the incidence of tobacco on cancer. …
10 A. Yeman, «Implication of Battelle Hippo I & II and the Griffith filter», document interne de B&W, 1962, en ligne sur Internet … .
11 Questioned in 2001 by 60 million consumers, Philip Morris confirms the use of ammonia compounds, but as “process agents and flavor agents”, denying the intention “to increase the amount of nicotine delivered”. Which is true: the quantity is not targeted, only the efficiency. Quoted by Gérard Dubois, op. cit. page 117.
12 Voir par exemple «Role of mentholated cigarettes in increased nicotine dependence and greater risk of tobacco-attributable disease», S. Garten et V. Falkner, Preventive medicine, 2004, vol.38. … .
13 See for example: ….
14 Research for “safer cigarettes” exposes some of the industry’s paradoxes. On the one hand, we must respond to public concerns and offer alternative products. But at the same time, we must avoid recognizing that “other” cigarettes are dangerous. The operation is very complex: emissions of carcinogenic substances in cigarette pyrolysis processes are almost inevitable. Therefore, the perception of the consumer will prevail, even if the light cigarettes that are proposed prove to be as dangerous, if not more (see below)
15 “Environmental tobacco smoke. The Brown and Williamson documents. The analysis concludes with internal BAT documents published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (1995): “Publicly, the tobacco industry has denied that the dangerousness of passive smoking has been proven. She criticized the published research methodology, even when her own internal consultants recognized the validity of the work. In addition, the industry has funded scientific research with the stated goal of anticipating and refuting facts about passive smoking. ” …
16 Let us add that everything is done to maintain or increase the amount of nicotine absorbed: “for the industry,” light “cigarettes must not reduce the dependence of smokers and become a weaning aid” (Gérard Dubois, op. cit., page 146, with numerous excerpts from internal industry documents). In Europe, regulations (applicable since 2003) prohibit misleading labels such as light (light), ultra light (ultra-light) or mild.
17 Black Devil and Pink Elephant are two brands produced by Heupînk and Bloemen Tabak BV, the Dutch rolling tobacco specialist. They are imported in France since 2005.
18 Gérard Dubois, The Smoke Curtain, page 186.
19 Ibid, page 187. The reaction of a former US health minister is quoted as saying “Even as we urge foreign governments to stop their cocaine exports, the United States is showing the worst hypocrisy in the world. exporting their tobacco “.
20 Ibid. page 186
22 Ibid, page 184.
One of the clauses of this “grand agreement” stipulates that the industry will make publicly available the documents used during the trials. The University of California’s search engine provides access to nearly 10 million documents. This is probably the best entry point for an Internet search. .