Tobacco Is The Only Product Sold Today That Will Kill You When Used As Intended

The greed and deceit of cigarette manufacturers is hardly breaking news, but Richland County Tobacco Prevention Specialist Jacklyn Damm has recently been enlightening Middle School students with some of those very facts. Why this story now? With the Richland County Youth Risk Behavior Survey showing that 55% of High School students and 26% of Middle School students are currently vaping, it’s time to tell them the real truth behind Big Tobaccos marketing tactics and the ongoing deception that has led to them. Over 1,300 people die every day in the US due to a tobacco related illness and Big Tobacco targets youth as their tobacco replacement users.

In 1980, tobacco company Phillip Morris hired research scientist Dr. Victor DeNoble to find a way to make cigarettes so they wouldn’t cause heart disease because dead people don’t buy cigarettes. During his research, he and his colleagues discovered the rats were addicted to nicotine. The research was set up so the rats could press a lever and self-administer nicotine. They further discovered the tobacco company was adding a product to the cigarettes called acetaldehyde, which the rats were also addicted to. The report Dr. DeNoble presented to Phillip Morris was the rats pushed the lever 120 times a day to receive nicotine, 240 times a day to receive acetaldehyde and when offered nicotine and acetaldehyde together, they pressed the lever 540 times a day.

After reporting these findings in writing to the tobacco company, Dr. DeNoble and his colleagues were ordered to kill their rats, close their lab and were fired from their positions. They had signed a non-disclosure agreement so they couldn’t share their findings with anyone.

In 1994, a whistle blower released the information that reached the press and was soon in the middle of a Congressional Hearing with four of the largest tobacco companies all denying under oath, their products were addictive. After much persuasion, they released Dr. DeNoble from his gag order and the truth finally came out.

In 1998, the Master Settlement Agreement was reached with the four largest cigarette manufacture’s in the United States. In the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, the states and territories scored a victory that resulted in the tobacco companies paying the states and territories billions of dollars in yearly installments forever. The money serves as compensation for taxpayer money that has been spent in connection with tobacco-related diseases, loss to local economies as well as tobacco prevention and many other programs. In 2009, President Obama signed the “Family Smoking & Tobacco Control Act” which gave the FDA the ability to regulate tobacco. It has been 12 years since this went into effect and yet tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in our country.

Switching to current tobacco issues, Damm explains to students the dangers of vaping and its damage to the body, emphasizing the impact on adolescent brain development, and just how do young people find and begin using such products? She discusses Big Tobacco’s marketing plan to target youth, especially with point-of-sale marketing of vapes and many other forms of tobacco, building appeal via candy-flavored products and colorful displays.

Hopefully, with the knowledge of Big Tobacco’s history of telling lies, stretching the truth and finding loop holes in FDA guidelines, our youth will recognize they are being targeted and lied to, especially about electronic cigarettes, better known as vaping. Vaping is just as harmful, if not more so as any other form of tobacco. Youth are attracted to their techy use, colorful packaging, and candy flavors. The long-term effects of vaping are not yet known, which also makes our youth Big Tobaccos guinea pigs. Second hand smoke coming out of a vape is not vapor at all but an aerosol with many cancer causing chemicals.

Isn’t’ it time we started saying no to Big Tobacco and yes to the future good health of our youth. Do the research. Get mad about how vaping is not falling under the same FDA guidelines as other tobacco products. Talk to your kids about not becoming a victim to Big Tobacco and the harms of their products. Call Damm at the Richland County Health Department if you have any questions.

(‘Addiction Incorporated’ is a documentary with Dr. Victor DeNoble about the tobacco companies’ commitment to addicting the human brain and how the world came to know about it. You can find it on YouTube. And it’s free!)


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