31 October 2017

Holes for deception

Cigarette Filters

Technological deception that harms both smokers and the environment

The Conversation, Filters: a cigarette engineering hoax that harms both smokers and the environment Translated by Vyacheslav Golovanov, GeekTimes

For links, see the original translation.

The tobacco industry first introduced cigarette filters in the 1960s with the goal of making cigarettes "safer." But now it is already known that they do not provide safety, do not provide health benefits and are one of the main causes of environmental pollution.

At first, it was stated that filters reduce the amount of tar and other toxic substances, and prevent tobacco flakes from entering the lungs. It was soon discovered that this was not the case, and cigarettes were just as dangerous with filters. But it was only years later that this information reached the public, and even today most smokers believe that cigarettes with a filter are safer – perhaps because their taste is not so sharp.

Most cigarettes in Australia are supplemented with holes in the filters, ostensibly so that more air enters with each puff, which facilitates the effect of smoking on the throat. They were deceptively called "light" and "soft", until the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) banned it, because such a name hinted at a less harmful, tar-containing cigarette.

The ACCC forced tobacco companies to change the name of cigarettes, but not their contents or structure. Now 90% of cigarettes in Australia have ventilated filters. They are easy to determine by unfolding a paper filter and looking at the lumen.

How do filters work?

Larger modern filters with holes let in more air with each puff, and "easier" to do with the throat. Smokers compensate for this effect by trying to get the same dose of nicotine by inhaling deeper and taking more puffs.

This reduces smokers' contact with a small amount of carcinogens, but increases their contact with a large number of harmful smoke components in the gaseous phase, as it passes through filters and into peripheral airways.

This has led to a surge in the number of adenocarcinomas over the past 30 years, as more smoke enters the peripheral areas of the lungs, where this glandular cancer usually appears.

The study of evidence that filters lead to the appearance of cancer revealed that ventilation filters affected the increase in the number of lethal adenocarcinomas, as a result of which a recommendation was made to ban ventilated filters. In addition, the filter fibers break off and penetrate into the lungs, which can also lead to cancer.

Why is this type of cancer important?

A 2012 Japanese study found that patients with adenocarcinoma had slightly more cancer deaths than patients with squamous cell carcinoma. It turns out that the first one is more deadly.

All over the world, women choose to smoke what they consider to be more "light" cigarettes (with a filter). In Australia, more women die from lung cancer than from breast cancer. And although breast cancer is more common, in his case the percentage of survivors is much higher than in the case of lung cancer.

A 2014 report in the surgical journal Surgeon General on tobacco smoking confirmed that a change in the structure of cigarettes has led to an increase in the number of adenocarcinomas since the 1960s, as the design of cigarettes changed in the 1950s.

Australian and international researchers have been urging to ban filters since the early 2000s, as well as introduce rules to regulate the content of cigarettes and their structure.

What about the environment?

Cigarette filters become bullheads. In Australia, bulls are constantly becoming the most frequent type of pollution in national clean-up days. Almost seven billion steers become garbage in Australia every year. Filters harm the environment because they contain plastic and are not decomposed by microorganisms.

Our urban environment, marine life, oceans, rivers, beaches – all this would immensely benefit if cigarettes with a filter stopped selling.

In 2011, the medical journal BMJ Tobacco Control reported that the presence of heavy metals in gobies harms the marine environment. The researchers found that just one goby killed half of the fish exposed to the chemicals it contained in the laboratory.

Why doesn't anyone regulate it?

The Union Government [the official name of the state of Australia is the Australian Union (Commonwealth of Australia) / approx. perev.] in 2009, took measures to change the production of cigarettes to reduce the risk of fires. Some states have banned fruit-flavored cigarettes because they were designed to attract children.

Local governments and the federal government have the opportunity to force tobacco companies to sell less attractive, less lethal, less addictive cigarettes.

Since 2014, the Union has failed to respond to two comprehensive reports on the effective regulation of cigarettes. Cigarettes with a filter should be withdrawn from sale, and the tobacco industry should be forced to pay local administrations for cleaning water and soil from toxic waste.

We should not deceive citizens with "safe" cigarettes. They don't exist. But without filters, the number of fatal cancers can be reduced, more smokers will decide to quit this habit because of a sharper taste, and fewer young people will start smoking.

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