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Saturday, 26 May 2012

The 4000 Club

I remember a game-cum-experiment in one of my classes in school.  The game illustrated how information can be corrupted as it passes from person to person.  One kid (the source) was given a simple sentence or two and she whispered it to the next kid, who in turn whispered to another, and so on.  By the time the information had been passed to the very last kid, it did not even remotely resemble the source's information. It was wildly inaccurate.

The same goes for anti-smoker propaganda.  I will leave the task of defining chemicals, their actual hazards to the body, and debunking any of the information presented below to people like Dave Atherton or Carl Phillips, both of these gentlemen are far better placed to do so than I am.  All I want to do here is show you that few of these groups actually agree on their own figures.  The figures are distorted either accidentally or purposefully by each group to suit their agendas.  And I am reminded of the saying that "if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth."  Except that every cop and prosecutor knows that liars don't always remember all the details correctly each time they tell and retell a story...

So what is the actual truth?  Which of the below quotes are the truth, if any?  Who do you trust?  Granted, different studies produce different results, but even so the results vary wildly in some cases.  Have a look below at a very small sampling and see how the information is distorted or perhaps simply made up from out of the ether as it passes through various groups (emphasis added in all cases):
Cigarette smoke contains more than 3,800 individual chemicals, and more than 40 are carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Cigarette smoke contains 11 chemical compounds that are known to cause cancer.
More than 4,000 toxic or carcinogenic chemicals have been found in tobacco smoke.
Tobacco also contains more than 19 known cancer-causing chemicals (most are collectively known as "tar") and more than 4,000 other chemicals
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins.$File/chemicalconstituentscigarettespriorities.pdf
It has been estimated that there are over 4000 chemical constituents in tobacco smoke (British Columbia Ministry of Health, 1998). Of these, about 400 have been measured or estimated in mainstream and sidestream smoke (Cal/EPA 1997). Of the 400, a significant amount of toxicology data exist for less than 100. In all, 95 chemicals in cigarette smoke were identified. These 95 chemicals include 45 known or suspected carcinogens, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and many other chemicals with non-cancer adverse health effects.
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals, at least 50 are known to be carcinogens (cause cancer in humans) and many are poisonous.
Of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful ... more than 50 have been found to cause cancer.
It is estimated that there are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke and at least 50 of them have been proven to cause cancer.
Tobacco products can contain up to 4000 chemicals, 200 of which are deadly and 60 of which can cause cancer.
More than 4,000 different chemicals have been found in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Among these are more than 60 chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
But when it burns, it releases a dangerous cocktail of about 4,000 chemicals including: more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals; hundreds of other poisons; nicotine, a highly addictive drug, and many additives designed to make cigarettes taste nicer and keep smokers hooked.
Cigarette smoke contains about 4,000 different chemicals which can damage the cells and systems of the human body. These include at least 80 chemicals that can cause cancer...
Retail cigarettes contain 4,300 different chemicals in their smoke, including 43 known to cause cancer. (ed note: This is a site that sells rolling machines... WTF?)
cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.
Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia (1, 4). Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer
Cigarette smoke is toxic and poisonous to the human body. It contains about 7,000 chemical agents, including almost 70 that cause cancer.

So, as you can see for yourself, the figures go from a few hundred fewer than 4000 chemicals to up to stunning 7000 chemicals, and somewhere between 11 and 80 of those gazillion chemicals can or might cause or have been proven to cause cancer.  Again, this is a very small sampling. Do your own searches, and you'll find even more variations on this theme. I didn't even bother to use the reader comments on newspapers and blogs -- those are even better.

As always, I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.