Imagine a new, consumable product containing arsenic, formaldehyde and ammonia was introduced intro the market, but law wouldn't let the government do anything about it. Such a product already exists – cigarettes. And under current law, the governments cannot take action to reduce or eliminate the dangerous chemicals additives in cigarettes.
Cigarettes, as defined by the law, are a food product. But Big Tobacco gives no information on the ingredients or the production and expiration dates of their products, and it succeeds in doing this all over the world.
Politicians, or some of them, are the pivot point that the business of Tobacco giants rotates around. They determine the retail prices; they allow the use of chemical additives in cigarettes; they are in a position to crush out the competition. And in the end, the consumer pays more and more, for a product that becomes cheaper and cheaper.
USA: Congress abolishes tobacco inspections
Additives enable to use cheaper tobaccos in the cigarettes: “Philip Morris people often state in public that additives are important to them with regard to controlling smoke chemistry and taste. Indeed, their leaf people have been known to say that the additives are one reason that they can buy some cheaper tobaccos. Casings are an obvious choice of a vehicle for use of such additives.” – BAT, February 1985, The Unique Differences Of Philip Morris Cigarette Brands
Legislation passed by Congress on October 17th 2004 abolished the obligation of the inspections of imported tobacco; these inspections were supposed to keep out of the country products treated with pesticides that are forbidden in the USA but that may be permitted in other countries. “This means that imported tobacco, that is becoming more and more used by American companies, could lead to the production of cigarettes that are even more harmful”, says Tom Glynn, director of the department of Science and Trends for the American Cancer Society.
The Agriculture Department, the Homeland Security Department and the Food and Drug Administration all have authority to inspect other imported agricultural products to ensure they meet U.S. standards. Officials at those agencies said they did not know of another agricultural product that comes into this country without some kind of inspections, and U.S. farmers are unhappy about the end of foreign inspections on tobacco.
Growers had complained for years that the old quota system kept their tobacco prices too high to compete with imported tobacco. But they now say they would like assurances that their foreign competitors will not try to lower production costs by relying on pesticides such as DDT, which is banned in the United States.
These farmers also say foreign growers use chemicals not permitted in the United States, that make tobacco leaves more pliable and easier to harvest. “If they know it's not going to be inspected, they're going to take the cheapest route whatever that might be”, said Rod Kuegel, a tobacco farmer.
Big Tobacco becomes the “Authority”
Both Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest cigarette manufacturer, and leading rival Reynolds American plan to inspect foreign tobacco that they use and test it for outlawed chemicals, company spokesmen said. Philip Morris spokesman Mike Farriss said the costs should be minimal.
Lamar DeLoach, president of the Tobacco Growers Association of Georgia, said he is concerned about relying on manufacturers that pledge to test. “I guess my only problem with that is that other commodities that come into this country have federal inspections, and federal inspections ought to allow the people to know what's coming in”, DeLoach said.
“If I'm bringing in bananas, and I just tell the government --Well don't worry about inspecting these, I'll do it myself-- how comfortable would you as a consumer feel about me doing that?”
USA: Big Tobacco wrongdoing continues
In the USA, if on one hand, Big Tobacco is able to abolish inspections on tobacco, on the other hand tons of horrifying, once top-secret documents have been made public that provide evidence on the crimes committed by the cigarette-manufacturing cartel.
On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued a final opinion in the U.S. government's landmark lawsuit against the major tobacco companies that found the companies have violated civil racketeering laws and defrauded the American people by lying for decades about the health risks of smoking and their marketing to children. Judge Kessler also found that the tobacco companies' wrongdoing continues today.
In 2006, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Healthof Boston have said they have confirmed a study by the state that found nicotine levels in cigarettes increased from 1997 until 2005. The analysis found that increases in smoke nicotine yield per cigarette averaged 1.6 percent each year, for a total of about 11 percent over a seven-year period.
In the USA, the Justice Department is also claiming $280 Billion of tobacco-company profits, saying that, for 50 years, the industry misled the public about the dangers of smoking. In the European Union, Big Tobacco has done exactly the same things, but there has been no information and the picture is entirely different
EU: “Politically correct” consumer protection
“Ammonia is the key to Marlboro's success … Marlboros contain up to twice as much of a cancer-causing chemical as foreign brands .. Philip Morris USA delivers falsehoods about its product .. Philip Morris admits making cigarettes more addictive … Foreign Cigs Healthier”. These aren't provocations of the Black Block, they're headlines from some of the most respectable United States newspapers, like USA Today, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
Big Tobacco commits crimes in the United States, but, at least there, its crimes are punished and the information channels play a key role. That's not the way things go for Philip Morris in the European Union, where the mass media have never drawn attention to some important news, and the concept of Consumer Protection is virtually unknown.
A study conducted in 2003 by the Oregon Health and Science University and published by New Scientists, states that the content of “Free-base nicotine” or “Crack nicotine” in certain cigarettes is 35 times higher than in others. The study was intended to help to draw up a classification of the habit-forming potential of each brand.
Yesmoke, too, in its laboratory equipped with the latest up-to-date equipment has analyzed cigarettes sold on the Italian market, and the differences in the ammonia level from one brand to another are surprising.
But, in spite of the countless publications, today nothing has changed; no inspection body set up for the purpose has gone to the trouble of making appropriate tests. In Italy, all they have checked are the levels of nicotine, tar and CO. But that is not surprising: when Yesmoke’s “100% natural tobacco” cigarettes were produced in Switzerland, no official analyses were conducted on them; the authorities only asked for the manufacturer’s “Self-certification”.
In cigarettes with ammonia added, the nicotine values do not change and are within the prescribed parameters. So, the consumer, convinced he is smoking a “Light” cigarette, in fact is smoking a “Strengthened” cigarette without realizing it.
Italy: “Crack nicotine” censored
It was on the front pages of newspapers all over the world; a film (The Insider) won an Oscar: But “Crack nicotine” remained taboo in Italy, and the A.A.M.S. (Azienda Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato - State Monopolies Company) came out on the field to make sure nobody talked about it.
According to the A.A.M.S., Yesmoke’s declarations on Crack nicotine “Were serious and unsubstantiated statements regarding third party operators”, and they could not be published in the information insert of Yesmoke packs. In America, the most popular television hosts talked about Crack nicotine; why in Italy, does there have to be this mysterious absolute silence?
Public office, Italian style…
«Se vuoi fumare, scegli le sigarette di chi non ha pensato di fottersi il tuo cervello» (If you want to smoke, choose the cigarettes of the maker who has not thought of fucking up your brain). The expression “Fottersi il tuo cervello” used in the information insert sent for approval to the A.A.M.S. “Does not conform to the public duties exercised by this Administration, which cannot authorize the use of such expressions”
However, the real public duty of the A.A.M.S. should be to block the promotional activities of foreign manufacturers; but for foreigners, they close both eyes.
“The inserts must contain exclusively information on the products and must not contain promotional aspects”, the A.A.M.S. pointed out. The end result is that Yesmoke has to give up its information insert because talking about “Ammonia technology” would damage, indirectly, Big Tobacco. Yesmoke cannot inform consumers on its efforts to reduce to a minimum even the natural ammonia present in tobacco, while foreign cigarette manufacturers continue their advertising campaigns, with the blessing of the A.A.M.S.
No testing – What is the A.A.M.S. doing?
The cigarettes we smoke today in Italy and in the world are “packs with surprises”, because no one knows what is in them. With today’s practices, anyone who wants to increase tobacco addiction by adding ammonia to cigarettes can do it, considering the lack of controls.
Today, what are the Marlboros like that we buy in tobacco shops? Are they more addictive? Are they different from in the past? …Does anyone know? The A.A.M.S. must surely have conducted all the required tests on the cigarettes, in Italy. What does it think about the results it obtained? Is everything OK?
- Ammonia Technology
- The A.A.M.S. Censors Yesmoke
- USA: Congress abolishes tobacco inspections – Associated press, 10/12/2004
- Researchers confirm study that nicotine is increasing in cigarettes – Associated press, 1/18/2007