Is Smoking Vegan?


Despite decades of debate, denial, and dubious
behavior on the part of the tobacco industry regarding the potential dangers of cigarettes,
it’s now generally agreed upon that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking damages nearly
every organ in the body, causing strokes, coronary heart disease, respiratory diseases,
a whole slew of cancers, and other deleterious effects. And while big tobacco has
done its best to feign ignorance since the 40’s, we now know the answer to “Is smoking
bad for you?” is a resounding yes. But a less-hotly debated question remains: is smoking
vegan? Hi it’s Emily from Bite Size Vegan and welcome
to another vegan nugget. While being vegan is often associated with a level of health
fanaticism approaching daily wheatgrass juice enemas and coffee colonics, the truth is,
not everyone goes vegan for their health. There are junk food vegans, vegans who drink
alcohol, and yes, even vegans who smoke. And I mean tobacco, not the other thing everyone
assumes all vegans smoke… But can cigarettes be considered vegan? As
usual, the answer to this question is more complex than it would first appear. I’m
going to touch on the various areas of concern, but please refer to the blog post for this
video for citations and more detailed information. The main areas of concern we’ll be addressing
are: animal ingredients in cigarettes, animals killed in the farming process, animal
testing, the environmental impact, second hand smoke and companion animals child
labor and worker toxicity exposure and of course a nod to health The most basic measure of whether something
is vegan or not is whether it contains animals or their byproducts. When we combine the myriad
of ways we disguise animal byproducts with the close to 600 ingredients found in cigarettes, including arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, ammonia, acetone and other far less-pronounceable elements,
it becomes rather difficult to ascertain if anything is animal-derived. This issue was brought to a very public head
back in 2010 when a press release, light on the facts but big on the sensation, claimed
that cigarettes may contain pig’s blood. This revelation came from artist Christien
Meindertsma’s three-year-long project entitled Pig 05049, which tracked and documented all
of the ways one pig’s body was used post-slaughter, including in cigarette filters. Anti-smoking advocate Professor Simon Chapman
of the University of Sydney saw this as an opportunity to use public outrage, particularly
among Jewish, Muslim, vegetarian and vegan populations, to bring to light “concerns
that ingredients such as additives or processing aids used in tobacco products are virtually
unregulated and non-transparent.” After creating the press release, the story
went viral and built into quite a frenzy, with Iranian officials calling it a Zionist
conspiracy and tobacco companies churning out denials left and right. The truth of the
matter is far less titalating. In 1997 a Greek tobacco company set out to create a healthier
cigarette, using pig’s blood in the filter to mitigate toxins. The resulting BioFilter
led the company to second place in the Greek tobacco industry, though every scientific
study to evaluate these claims found them to be patently false, and in 2002
Greece finally outlawed their “healthier smoking” claims. As far as I can tell, the
filters are still on the market and I have link on the blog post to the company’s website
with more information. There are also at least two other animal-derived
ingredients in cigarettes, which are far more regularly employed: beeswax and castoreum.
Beeswax is rather self-explanatory and you can see my video here on the vegan-ness of
bee products for more information. Castoreum, used in cigarettes to lend a sweet, smoky
flavor, is another matter entirely. I covered the glories of castoruem in one
of my very first vegan nuggets ever on What’s Really In Your Food, back when both my editing
skills and language were a little less polished. “If all of that isn’t enough for you,
have you ever wondered where artificial raspberry, vanilla or strawberry flavors come from? Castoreum!
– An extract made from dried, ground up sacs located by the anal glands of beavers. Yes, we are talking about pouches in the *ss
of a beaver. It can be added to foods such as gums, alcohol, candy and baked goods. Perhaps
tossing a beaver’s salad does give you a nice little vanilla flavor but does that really
make it right?” [I’ve come a long way…] Castoreum is harvested by killing beavers
and cutting out their castor glands, making it a most definitively un-vegan ingredient. So when it comes to animals in your smokes,
bees and beaver butts are more likely than pigs blood, but just as un-vegan. Now I’ll just speak very briefly to the
concern of animals killed during tobacco farming and harvesting. While we should strive for
pesticide-free, sustainable farming, with any crop, field animals are going to
be unintentionally harmed and killed in the farming and harvesting process. We have to
eat but we don’t have to smoke, so the animals killed by tobacco farming are entirely avoidable
deaths. And now, to the heavy-hitter of the vegan
cigarette debate: animal testing. I have a four-part video series on animal testing which
goes into greater detail about the inefficacy of animal tests, why we are still conducting
them, how they endanger and even kill humans, and what viable alternatives exist, which
I’ve linked up here and below if you want to delve deeper into this matter. Perhaps the most insane aspect of animal testing
as a whole is its complete and utter lack of credible results. It’s no secret that
our bodies differ greatly from other species, and so, it follows, would our reactions to
stimuli and toxins. In regards to tobacco specifically, Dr. C
Ray Greek of Americans for Medical Advancement states that “Animal experiments failed notoriously
to demonstrate a smoking-cancer connection for over half a century…If the greatest
killer of our time was promoted by physicians based on animal experiments, there is obviously
something terminally wrong with the system.” A 2015 paper drawing on more than 50 recent
toxicology studies, demonstrated the superiority of widely available modern, non-animal models
over inaccurate animal tests for measuring the toxicity of tobacco products. In 2012,
the U.S. Congress even stated that “there is significant scientific evidence that animals
are poor models for the testing of tobacco products used by humans.” Unlike all medications, tobacco products are
not required to undergo animal testing. The UK, Germany, Belgium and other countries even
banned their usage and Canada requires only in vitro studies, meaning on a cellular level
rather than on whole living animals. Even the tobacco industry’s own studies
have concluded that “in vitro toxicology tests can be successfully used both for better
understanding the biological activity of cigarette smoke … and for guiding the development
of cigarettes with reduced toxicity.” Despite this fact, tobacco companies, government
agencies, the American Cancer Society, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, among other
organization and, yes, even anti-smoking groups continue to test cigarettes on animals. On this video’s blog post I have links to
several articles and studies which catalogue, describe, and demonstrate the myriad of horrifying
animal tobacco tests, but I’m going to just share a few of them
with you. Perhaps the most visually shocking type of
tobacco testing are the direct smoking tests, made famous in 1975 by undercover Sunday People
reporter Mary Beith in her expose known as “The Smoking Beagles.” Beith got a position
in an Imperial Chemical Industries laboratory where 48 beagles were restrained with straightjackets,
placed into what Beith described as “medieval stocks” and fitted with tubed masks which
forcibly pumped cigarette smoke into their lungs day in and day out for up to three years
for some of the dogs. Beith reported that, “when they have finished their smoking stint
the dogs are killed and sent to pathology laboratories to be cut up and examined for
signs of cancer, liver or heart diseases or other possible effects. Some of the dogs have
acquired a smoker’s cough judging from the sounds I heard.” The images Beith captured sparked global outrage,
yet only two of the 48 beagles were rescued in a technically illegal act of liberation
by activist Mike Huskisson and an unnamed partner in the early days of the Animal Liberation
Front. While not garnering the same level of disgust
from the public, direct smoking tests on mice and rats are just as horrifying. Their entire
bodies are crammed into tiny canisters that pump smoke directly into their noses for six
or more hours a day up to two years. Direct smoking tests can also involve tracheotomies.
In a 2001 study at the Oregon National Primate Research Center involving sixty-seven pregnant
Rhesus macaque monkeys, half of the monkeys had tubes surgically implanted in order to
subject them to a continuous flow of nicotine for the last four months of their pregnancies.
Five days before the mothers reached full term, the experimenters cut out, killed and
dissected the fetuses of all 67 mothers. These kind of experiments are still being
carried out on mice, rats, beagles, monkeys, apes, and other sentient beings.They are not required by law, have no scientific validity and they even
endanger humans with the cross-species application of their results, and are all for a product
that is not only completely unnecessary but also deadly to consumers and damaging to the
environment. Speaking to the environmental impact of smoking,
around 5.6 trillion cigarette butts are dumped into the environment every year. When these
butts land in water or on the soil, all of the chemicals and carcinogenic ingredients
we discussed creates leachates, a toxic soup that poisons fish and other wildlife. Of course smoking also affects one’s home
environment as well. A series of studies at Tufts University and Colorado State University
found that second hand smoke is just as harmful to companion animals as it is humans. Cats
living with smokers are twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma, and dogs living
with smokers develop cancers of the nose and sinus area, all of which are terminal within
a year. And then there’s the human cost of tobacco
farming. Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS) is cause by the constant exposure of workers to the
nicotine of the plants, which is absorbed through their skin. This is exacerbated
in the case of child workers and child labor is a major issue within America’s tobacco
farming. While several countries, including major tobacco producers such as Brazil and
India, prohibit children under 18 from working on tobacco farms, in the US children as young
as 12 work in fields for 50 to 60 hours a week in extreme heat and with ongoing exposure
to pesticides and nicotine. And of course, there are the health consequences,
which may or may not even be an inherently vegan issue, and which is thoroughly documented
elsewhere. If you are a smoker and want to stop for any reason, please see the blog post
for this video where I’ve included a list of resources to support you in quitting. I hope that this video has been helpful. I’d
love to hear your thoughts- do you think smoking can be considered vegan? If you were a smoker
who went vegan, did you quit? Are you a non-vegan smoker wanting to go vegan but overwhelmed
that now you have to ditch the cigarettes too? [If so, personally, I’d say focus on
the meat, dairy, eggs and honey first and then tackle big tobacco.]
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and some Fridays! Now go live vegan, just say no, and I’ll see you soon. In a repeated national survey, doctors in all branches of medicine doctors in all parts of the country we asked, “what cigarette do you smoke doctor?” Once again, the brand named most was Camel. Yes, according to this repeated nationwide survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette. Why not change to Camels for the next 30 days and see what a difference it makes in your smoking enjoyment. See how Camels agree with your throat. See how mild and good tasting a cigarette can be. Subtitles by the Amara.org community