It’s not the smoke that causes harm, but the radioactive chemical fertilizers.
The alpha emitters polonium-210 and lead-210 are highly concentrated on tobacco trichomes and insoluble particles in cigarette smoke (1). The major source of the polonium is phosphate fertilizer, which is used in growing tobacco. The trichomes of the leaves concentrate the polonium, which persists when tobacco is dried and processed. … The detrimental effects of tobacco smoke have been considerably underestimated, making it less likely that chemical carcinogens alone are responsible for the observed incidence of tobacco-related carcinoma. Alpha emitters in cigarette smoke result in appreciable radiation exposure to the bronchial epithelium of smokers and probably secondhand smokers. Alpha radiation is a possible etio- logic factor in tobacco-related carcinoma, and it deserves further study (Thomas H. Winters, M.D. and Joseph R. Di Franza, M.D.).
Po210 is the only component in cigarette smoke tar that has produced cancers by itself in laboratory animals as a result of inhalation exposure (Beverly S. Cohen, Ph.D. and Naomi H. Harley, Ph.D.).
The major tobacco manufacturers discovered that polonium was part of tobacco and tobacco smoke more than 40 years ago and attempted, but failed, to remove this radioactive substance from their products. Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the companies suppressed publication of their own internal research to avoid heightening the public’s awareness of radioactivity in cigarettes. Tobacco companies continue to minimize their knowledge about polonium-210 in cigarettes in smoking and health litigation. Cigarette packs should carry a radiation-exposure warning label.
Organic fertilizers only have background levels of radioactivity. The implication of this information is that it the radioactive chemical fertilizer producers – not the tobacco producers, the cannabis producers or the hookah lounge owners or cannabis vapour lounge owners – that the police should be going after, if their concern about protecting the public from harm is to be believed.
For more details on this interesting topic, check out the radioactivity debate in the Cannabis Culture forum.
To determine the tobacco industry’s policy and action with respect to radioactive polonium 210 ((210)Po) in cigarette smoke and to assess the long-term risk of lung cancer caused by alpha particle deposits in the lungs of regular smokers.
Analysis of major tobacco industries’ internal secret documents on cigarette radioactivity made available online by the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998.
The documents show that the industry was well aware of the presence of a radioactive substance in tobacco as early as 1959. Furthermore, the industry was not only cognizant of the potential “cancerous growth” in the lungs of regular smokers but also did quantitative radiobiological calculations to estimate the long-term (25 years) lung radiation absorption dose (rad) of ionizing alpha particles emitted from the cigarette smoke. Our own calculations of lung rad of alpha particles match closely the rad estimated by the industry. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the industry’s and our estimate of long-term lung rad of alpha particles causes 120-138 lung cancer deaths per year per 1,000 regular smokers. Acid wash was discovered in 1980 to be highly effectively in removing (210)Po from the tobacco leaves; however, the industry avoided its use for concerns that acid media would ionize nicotine converting it into a poorly absorbable form into the brain of smokers thus depriving them of the much sought after instant “nicotine kick” sensation.
The evidence of lung cancer risk caused by cigarette smoke radioactivity is compelling enough to warrant its removal.