Tobacco Growers Switching and You Can Too

The US Dept of Agriculture reported that many Tobacco Growers are making a major crop change!

Ditching the harmful effects of farming tobacco to a more sustainable and healthy choice. Farming Tobacco is a nasty business, and even handling the tobacco plant has is unhealthy effects.

This new crop: Stevia. This choice is refreshing due to its benefits for both the consumer and the farmer.

pic-stevia-cropsStevia has been used for centuries in Asia as a natural herbal sweetener that’s perfect for sweetening beverages and foods. You can find Stevia in health stores and natural markets in a pure green leaf form, which is not processed like the white powder versions you can find on the mainstream grocery store shelf. Currently the most recognized consumer brand is Truvia and is made by CocaCola. Its also the second best selling sugar substitute.

Stevia First

Now on the heels of Cargill/Coca Cola comes Stevia First Corp, who is an early-stage agribusiness based in California’s Central Valley growing region. Stevia First reported:

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates stevia intake could eventually replace 20-30% of all dietary sweeteners. The total global sweetener market was estimated at $58.3 billion in 2010.

Click to view >  Stevia First’s Corporate Video

Its exciting to see this new alternative crop becoming a growing agiriindustry and replacing the toxic tobacco crops.  Stevia First stock may be a good one to keep an eye on. For smokers who are quitting Stevia is an excellent sweetener choice to keep from adding a few extra pounds from eating sweets when cravings kick in.

 

 

Movie Night – The Insider

One of the events we enjoy in our home is a weekly movie night. Its a pleasant way to unwind and relax while spending time together with loved ones.

True stories put to film, when done well with great actors are not that easy to find.

The Insider, a film released back in 1999 should be on everyone’s “Have-to Watch List.”

This intense drama features two of my favorite award winning actors: Russell Crowe and Al Pacino.

Russell Crowe: Dr. Jeffrey Wigand

pic-insider-movieCrowe’s superb acting in The Insider impressively reveals what Dr. Jeffrey Wigand was up against as the central witness is one of the biggest tobacco industry lawsuits in history. It began with a court filing in Mississippi that lead to filings in 49 other states. Wigand was a top scientist who held discriminating inside information and when he choose to go public with what he knew the drama begins.

His disclosure of deeply buried and publicly withheld tobacco industry knowledge in the end lead to a settlement of $246 billion dollars. Crowe’s performance was top notch and the unfolding story keep us on the edge of the couch.

Al Pacino: As Lowell Bergman, Investigative Reporter

Lowell Bergman is a reporter that works with a Mike Wallace character (played by Christopher Plummer) of the “60 Minutes” TV show. The two men taped an interview with Wigand that revealed devastating statements against Big Tobacco and planned to air the show on 60 Minutes. Due to the power, potential threats, and corruption of Big Tabacco they also arranged a legal defense team for Wigand. Then the story gets very dicey just before this show is to air CBS corporate makes a decision to cancel airing the discriminating interview.

This corrupt and courageous story goes on to reveal how Bergman and others fought to reveal the truth and facts Wigand held. These dramatic events fractured loyalties and lead to divisions within 60 Minutes.  As the drama unfolds, Wigand was subject of a smear campaign of national attention and a lawsuit by Big Tobacco where he faced possible incarceration. Along with all the pressures he faced due to his decision to go public his marriage was deeply effected which lead to a divorce.

One would hope that such a dramatic story would be based on fiction, but this was far from fiction. The amazing tenacity of Bergman and Wigand, two men fighting to reveal a devastating truth withheld by the almighty Big Tobacco is an extraordinary document of events. In the end neither character walked away unchanged, and their lives were never the same.

By the time the movie ends you will have experienced so many emotional ups and downs. Its one of the greatest factual stories ever told, and its so well written, directed and acted. Be sure to queue The Insider at the top of your list.

Here’s the trailer to see a peak view of The Insider.

Insider Movie Trailer

5 Ways Cigarette Smoking Damages Your Oral Health

Cigarette smoking is a hard habit to kick. For those that succeed in quitting, whether it’s cold turkey or gradual, it’s important to remind yourself of the reasons why. Physical and emotional motivators can be the most powerful, and therefore most likely to help you abstain.

While there are many known effects of nicotine abuse, such as cancer and shortened life span, some smokers overlook their oral health side effects.Oral health affects your entire body and it’s important to take care of your mouth. For those looking to quit, here are 5 powerful motivators to help you kick that habit!

Unhealthy Gums

White, discolored, and bleeding gums  are very common side effects seen in smokers. Healthy gums are naturally pink in color. Gingivitis, or periodontal disease, is common in smokers and causes tender, bleeding gums. Further, many cigarette smokers see their gums change to an off-white color. All of these are signs of unhealthy gums. The ingredients in tobacco products interfere with the normal function of tissue cells, which causes recession and even bone detachment. White gums can be painful and disrupt daily activities such as eating and drinking.

Halitosis

Bad breath/Halitosis is a side effect of tobacco use. For cigarette smokers, bad breath is caused by both nicotine and a vitamin-C deficiency. After smoking, cigarette and smoke particles are left to linger in the throat and lungs. Further, because smoke dries out your mouth, it leaves a climate that facilitates bacterial growth. Basically, the smoke, the chemicals, and the lasting environment all contribute to chronic bad breath. Yuck!

Oral Cancer

tongueThis is the most well known side effect of cigarette smoking, yet many smokers don’t know the extent of it. Oral cancer refers to cancer of the following areas:

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Cheek lining
  • Gums
  • Palate (roof of mouth)
  • Floor of the mouth

The type of oral cancer most commonly found is “squamous cell carcinomas”. These involve epithelial cells on the surface of the skin and can often spread very quickly. This is why it is imperative to know the warning signs for oral cancer and to act accordingly. The most common symptoms of oral cancer are tenderness, or sore spots. Lymph nodes, which are located at the top of your neck, will also become inflamed and tender. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to go to your dentist or a health professional.

Loss of Taste and Smell

Many smokers experience a dulling of taste and smell because breathing in the hot fumes of smoke is toxic to the senses. It’s normally the loss of smell that comes first, and as a result your palate is unable to detect as many flavors/sensations. While the loss of smell and taste is gradual, many ex-smokers have reported that their senses returned quickly after quitting completely. Yet another powerful motivator for those looking to quit.

Leukoplakia

Presence of Leukoplakia, or white patches, which form on surfaces inside the mouth, tongue, and cheek. The patches themselves are defined as instances of keratosis, or the buildup of keratin on the skin. The causes of leukoplakia are relatively well defined. In broad terms, the keratin patches develop in response to prolonged irritation. The most common source of irritation that leads to leukoplakia is the use of tobacco. Whether smoked or chewed, tobacco is frequently attributed with causing the formation of the patches. While the patches are not generally harmful, they can cause discomfort and can easily be avoided.

These 5 motivators are just the tip to the iceberg when it comes to your health and negative side effects from cigarette smoking. While nicotine is a real addiction, keeping perspective and using motivators, such as your health, can help you achieve your goal to quit smoking.

About the Author: Alexis Goodrich publishes a dental health blog, BestDentistGuide.com, and you can also follow her on Twitter for all things dental @thedentistguide.

Workings Farming Tobacco

The Poverty Trap of Tobacco Farmers in Developing Countries

To keep up with the demand for tobacco, transnational tobacco companies and manufacturers encourage farmers in developing countries to grow the plant.

This crop has been promoted as a solution to the extensive poverty these farmers experience.

Tobacco farmers receive low wages, put in long hours to tend to this intensive crop, and all benefits are had by the tobacco industry.

Intensive Labour Met with Low Wages & Returns

Tobacco is one of the most labour intensive crops. Almost everything, from seeding to harvesting, is done by hand. Farmers in developing countries enlist the help of the entire family to tend to the plants, including young children. As a result, these children miss out on valuable educational experiences that could serve as the key to breaking the poverty cycle.

Workings Farming Tobacco

Hiring extra labour is difficult for the farmers as well, as it is expensive to cover the wages for workers when the work day can last 16 hours or more and the return on investment is very low. Many tobacco farmers are lucky to break even at the end of the year, while others experience very low return for their hard work: for example, one farmer in Vietnam earns $250 US for every $130 US he invests.

Health & Safety Concerns of Tobacco Farming

The potential for tobacco farmers to be diagnosed with Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS) is high. GTS occurs when nicotine is absorbed from handling wet green tobacco leaves. Symptoms of this illness include: nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, cramps, respiratory problems, and blood pressure fluctuations.

These farmers are also exposed to extensive pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which can lead to skin rashes, dehydration, sleeping difficulties, and lung problems.

Environmental Concerns from Tobacco Crops

Farming tobacco plants creates environmental degradation. The pesticides and chemicals that are applied to the plants pollutes the fields and leeches nutrients from the soil. in the curing process, farmers use coal, a major air polluter, and massive amounts of wood. In fact, approximately 200,000 hectares of wood is used annually in the curing process around the world.

Substitute Crops

The governments of many developing countries are promoting to tobacco farmers other crops to diversify. For example, the Malaysian government has since 2005 offered financial incentives for tobacco farmers to substitute their growing operations with more sustainable, less labour intensive crops that yield higher financial returns, such as:

  • corn, rice, barely
  • kenaf and jathropa
  • dragon fruit, pineapple, sweet potato, and banana

To learn more about this poverty cycle, watch this informational short film.

The Tobacco Trap: Cycle of Poverty

Parts includes in a Cigarette

Do You Know What’s in Your Cigarette?

After manufacturing, a cigarette contains 20% expanded tobacco (tobacco puffed with carbon dioxide to be used as a filler), tobacco leaf stems, and reclaimed tobacco.

30% is made of reconstituted tobacco. The remaining 50% is tobacco treated with sugar to help cover up nicotine’s bitter taste, and to help enhance the absorption of the nicotine in the body.

There are also thousands of chemicals used in the cigarette manufacturing process, many of which are known carcinogens.

Tobacco By-Products

Creating a tobacco blend of flue-cured brightleaf, burley tobacco, and oriental tobacco produces a lot of tobacco by-products. As an added economic benefit for cigarette manufacturers, this waste is processed back into forms to be used again later on in the cigarette making process.

Reconstituted tobacco (“recon”) is made from a combination of stripped tobacco leaf stems, tobacco dust swept from the floor of the factory, and expired cigarettes sent back to the processing plant to be reclaimed.

Adding Chemicals to Cigarettes

Parts includes in a CigaretteChemicals are used in the manufacturing process of cigarette because they help with “nicotine manipulation.” Recon is treated with ammonia because it enhances the absorption of nicotine in the smoker’s body when the cigarette is smoked. Chemicals are added to the tobacco blend to also help with the burning process: without them, cigarettes would probably burn out.

Just a few of the chemicals added to cigarettes include:

  • carbon monoxide
  • arsenic
  • hydrogen cyanide
  • acetone
  • butane
  • formaldehyde
  • sulfuric acid
  • freon

Other Cigarette Additives

Cigarette manufacturers use other additives in the tobacco blend to smooth the taste or experience of smoking. If no add-ons were included, the cigarette when smoked would be very harsh to the smoker. Additives also help define the distinct brand of cigarettes.

Some add-ons include:

  • chocolate
  • butter fat
  • glycerol
  • sugar

Want to know more? Watch this History Channel video clip >

Documentary Film The Tobacco Conspiracy

The Tobacco Conspiracy: Investigative Documentary Challenges Industry Lies

Filmmaker Nadia Collot took three years to dig deep into the global tobacco industry and uncover the major lies and fraud for which it’s responsible.

In The Tobacco Conspiracy (Kuiv Productions and National Film Board of Canada), the network of deceit and lies of the Big Tobacco companies is highlighted, as well as the expanse of this manipulation and corruption.

Featuring interviews with experts and thoroughly researched documentation, Collot delivers one of the most powerful looks at the fraudulent tobacco industry.

Investigation Into Big Tobacco

Collot asks, “Why is cigarette smoking so popular and accepted despite all the information we have?” A former smoker of 20 years, Collot spent three years looking for an explanation to this question. Her discoveries are well-documented in this must-see film.

Documentary Film The Tobacco ConspiracyShe examines various aspects of the fraudulent roles of Big Tobacco, including how the tobacco industry distorts scientific research and even uses bribery of scientists and researchers to manipulate data in order to serve its own interests and purposes. Tobacco companies recognized privately in 1953 that smoking is directly related to cancer, yet they banded together to release The Frank Statement that denied this correlation.

While there have been successes in the fight against Big Tobacco—implementation of graphic warning labels, advertising restrictions, even increased taxation—there is still a way to get around rules. And that’s most often done using lots of money. As an example, this documentary looks into how tobacco companies use hidden product placement as a means of evading advertising regulations. Cigarette companies pay heavily for smoking scenes to be included in television and film.

Tobacco and Government

Because cigarettes are heavily taxed, the government is constantly at war with itself. The taxation provides a heavy and consistent flow of revenue. Yet there are severe health implications that result from tobacco use.

The Tobacco Conspiracy also sheds light on the international smuggling role the industry plays. As smugglers infiltrate poor companies, they distribute free cigarettes to young people with the specific goal of getting them addicted. Once they are, the smugglers then charge money for the smokes. The tobacco companies then approach the poor country’s government and explain how much revenue is lost, and offers to distribute the cigarettes in order to provide a consistent flow of money.

Watch This Documentary for Free

The Tobacco Conspiracy shows viewers endless amount of documentation and information that may astound some as to the lengths the tobacco industry will go to in order to gain new customers and make more money. This hour and half film is available for viewing online at no cost.

The Tobacco Conspiracy

Watch the powerful documentary online now …

Money on Fire

Funding Tobacco Control Programs Has Long-Term Payoff

States feel the economic effects of smoking through increased health and medical costs and lost productivity of its citizens.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that states fund tobacco control programs in order to reduce the economic burden of smoking’s effects.

Some states have been cutting back on the funding of these programs as a cost-saving measure. But a study reveals that it is cheaper for states in the long run to fund tobacco control programs than it is to not.

Economic Examination of Tobacco

The study used data collected between 1991 and 2007. During this time, tobacco control programs were financed using:

  • the tobacco tax;
  • money from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement; and
  • state and private funding.

Money on FireThe CDC recommends a dollar amount that states should be spending in order to make their tobacco control programs successful. The study notes that by 2010, states were spending on average merely 17% of the recommended amount by the CDC. Additionally, in recent years, the taxes consumers pay on cigarettes has become relied on more as a consistent stream of revenue for states.

So which is better economically: increasing revenue raised by selling cigarettes or spending millions of dollars on tobacco use prevention?

More Tax or More Spending?

The study concluded that following the CDCs recommendation would result in a savings for state governments of between 14 and 20% of the cost of tobacco control programs in the future.

These tobacco control programs have been shown to have a long-term effect on the demand for cigarettes and tobacco products. This trend only increases over time as the programs’ effectiveness has an impact and more and more people quit smoking. Tobacco control programs lower the economic costs of medical and insurance payouts for tobacco-related health problems, as well as the cost of lost productivity.

What is the Real Cost of Tobacco?

Watch this short video…

Reference: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/238304.php

Cigarettes in a Pile

How Much Tar in That Cigarette?

The yellow stains on a smoker’s fingers and teeth is caused by the tar that results from smoking tobacco.

Tar causes great damage to a person’s lungs as it kills the cilia, affecting breathing ability.

The accumulation of this substance can be difficult to imagine, but a graphic video demonstrates for people the levels of tar that is extracted from approximately 20 packs of cigarettes.

Smoking Video Shows Tar Extraction

The video Still Smoking? Watch This! shows an experiment where almost 400 cigarettes are “smoked” through water using a vacuum. The water turns brown and then eventually black as the tar is extracted from the cigarettes. The more “tarry” the water, the more smoke is trapped as well.

Cigarettes in a PileThe experimenters then boil the tar water. After the water as evaporated, only the thick black tar remains. After letting the substance dry, the result is a sticky, crusty tar crust.

This experiment was done to stimulate what substance settles in a smoker’s lungs.

More Reason to Quit Smoking

The cigarettes used in this experiment contained 18 mg of tar. Cigarette companies manufacture cigarettes in three categories:

  • low tar cigarettes with 7 mg of tar or less
  • medium tar cigarettes with 15 to 21 mg of tar
  • high tar cigarettes with 22 mg of tar or more

Cigarettes contain over 4,00 chemicals, including more than 40 known carcinogens. Tar in cigarettes is the byproduct of smoking tobacco. Tar build up in the lungs causes damage as it prevents proper functioning. The accumulation of tar in a smoker’s body contributes to several health problems, including the following few:

  • emphysema
  • bronchitis
  • lung cancer
  • chronic respiratory disease
  • mouth cancer
  • throat cancer.

Watch the video Still Smoking?

See for yourself the amount of tar that’s produced

Broken Cigarette and Young Woman

Retailers Selling Tobacco Products to Underage Users Receive Warning Letter

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 20% of high school students smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products.

The FDA also reports that 80% of adults who smoke started before they were 18 years old.

As part of the FDAs strategy of protecting the health of youth, compliance checks amongst tobacco retailers are done to determine whether or not vendors are cooperating in the enforcement of tobacco control laws.

Violating Tobacco Laws

Broken Cigarette and Young WomanIn June 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This legislation gives the FDA the authority to ensure smoking laws are enforced by undergoing compliance investigations of retailers. The purpose of this act is to ensure minors are protected from the health-crippling effects of smoking and tobacco use.

If retailers are found to be selling tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, to underage users, the FDA issues a warning letter as part of the violation of tobacco control laws. If a retailer is found to be breaking the law, they may be required to pay a civil financial penalty.

To learn more, please click > FDA’s Warning Letters

Tobacco Control Compliance Investigations

Approximately 30,000 compliance checks have been completed across the country. The FDA has issued over 1,200 warning letters to establishments found violating restrictions of the sale and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The compliance investigations include verifying whether or not the retailer:

  • confirms the customer’s age by asking for photo identification;
  • properly labels and advertises according to law smokeless tobacco products;
  • has for sale single cigarettes;
  • has in place a ban on cigarette products flavored like fruit or candy; and
  • is using vending machines or self-serving cigarette dispensers that have been banned from use.

For more information on the FDAs retailer inspections, please click > Inspection of Retailers

Video Demonstrates How Smoking Destroys Your Lungs

Lung cancer accounts for approximately one third of cancer deaths in the American population.

Over $10 billion is spent annually on the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

The majority of people with this disease are smokers, but former smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke are still at risk.

What Smoking Does to Your Lungs

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke causes the invasion of over 4,000 chemicals into the lungs through the mouth and nose. These chemicals are deposited as tar in the lungs, sticking to the cilia. The function of the “hair-like” cilia is to keep the airways and lungs clean. When covered with tar, the cilia dies off. Germs and dirt do not get cleaned out and there is an accumulation of mucous. “Smoker’s Cough” is attributed to dead cilia. When dirty mucous clogs the airways and blocks the inhalation and exhalation of breath, a person’s reaction is to cough.

Long Term Effects of Smoking on the Lungs

Smoking destroys the body in many ways. A few of the long term consequences to the lungs caused by smoking and continued exposure to secondhand smoke includes:

  • emphysema
  • cancer
  • bronchitis
  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

To see the difference in functioning between healthy lungs and tumor-covered lungs, watch the following video: