Journalism in the Public Interest

Congressman Who Compared Cigarettes to Smoking Lettuce Becomes Lobbyist for R.J. Reynolds

Indiana Republican Steve Buyer fought tobacco regulation while in the House.

« Return to Story

Sort by: Oldest Newest  <  1 2


Oct. 7, 2012, 12:58 a.m.

ibsteve2u: Swedish-style snus and modern smokeless products like dissolvables are pasteurized rather than flue cured which drastically reduces the levels of nitrosamines to such that they are comparable to pharmaceutical or food products.  Although it has been in use in Sweden for more than 100 years and is well studies, none of those studies have found a measurable increased risk of cancer.  Even outdated smokeless tobacco has lower risk of causing cancer than continued smoking which is lower still than the risk of oral cancer from sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus.  Nothing in existence is completely safe, but modern smokeless products are so much safER than smoking that epidemiological studies have found basically no increased risk of smoking-related diseases, including oral cancer.


Oct. 7, 2012, 1:04 a.m.

ibsteve2u said: “anyone who wanted to convince the reader…of their sincere interest in the health of the user…would tell the reader that nicotine and all other addictive components have been removed.”

Would you apply the same standard to other products containing addictive components like coffee, sodas, and energy drinks? What about prescription medications—are you admitting that pharmaceutical companies that push addictive and dangerous drugs are not sincerely interested in the health of the user?


Oct. 7, 2012, 7:01 p.m.

@Thad/Adam Selk:  We’re not discussing anything except tobacco products; attempting to change the subject - needless to say - reeks of evasion.

Sincerity on the part of the tobacco industry can be judged by their willingness to remove all addictive components from tobacco products.

They have not done so.


Oct. 7, 2012, 7:06 p.m.

@Thad:  This is particularly disingenuous:

are you admitting that pharmaceutical companies that push addictive and dangerous drugs are not sincerely interested in the health of the user?

Are you attempting state that tobacco products are medically equivalent to prescription drugs?  That is, they have a positive, documented medicinal benefit that partially or completely outweighs their potentially addictive or even carcinogenic and mutagenic side effects?


Oct. 7, 2012, 7:10 p.m.

Wait:  Perhaps Swedish snus alleviate the pain of pancreatic cancer, and nobody told me?


Oct. 7, 2012, 7:23 p.m.

Flat-out, I will concede that there is no hard evidence - to date - that steam-cured Swedish snus will kill you.

(lolllll…I thought about pointing to this argument in this direction a long time ago, but I was having too much fun - and the key point, addiction, hadn’t been made yet: )

But - and it is a big “but” - as with anything there is a certain gamble…one called “genetic susceptibility”.  Your genes are a roll of the dice…some people are allergic to things others are not; some people react to some things others do not.

My bottom line is the addictive component…if somebody is pushing something that is addictive, then they’re not doing it with your best interests in mind…quite the contrary. 

They’re trying to hook you, plain and simple.  They’re trying to make you their slave so that they may take money that you might otherwise have used more wisely…for the rest of your life.

Money that you might have otherwise spent on your kids’ education…your health care…vacations…a nice home…heck, donations to me!!


Oct. 7, 2012, 7:33 p.m.

The tobacco industry has no obligation to prove themselves sincere about improving the health of their customers, but the pharmaceutical industry supposedly does.  The tobacco industry however does have MOTIVATION to improve the health of their customers by providing less harmful alternative products that will keep their customers alive and continuing to buy more.  Again, I do not see you applying this same standard to companies that sell products with similarly addictive and dangerous plant alkaloids like caffeine, why is it only the tobacco industry that needs to prove they have Public Health in mind and not any other consumer industry, and especially why not Pharmaceutical companies??

I don’t know if Swedish-style snus alleviates the pain of any cancer, but it certainly can alleviate the pain of nicotine withdrawal that might otherwise cause a dependent person to want to light a cigarette.  Even among the people who want to quit smoking bad enough to take expensive pharmaceutical nicotine products, 98.4% resume smoking within 20 months after they stop taking the nicotine.  Why are you so concerned about “addiction” when it is chronic cigarette smoking that accounts for more than 99% of all diseases, risks, and hazards associated with any product containing tobacco or nicotine (pharmaceutical or otherwise)??

Ongoing research also shows that nicotine can be helpful in treating or preventing the symptoms of Parkinson’s and other diseases including attention deficits and depressive disorders.  Products containing drastically reduced levels of nitrosamines like Swedish-style snus, dissolvables, electronic cigarettes & e-liquid, and pharmaceutical nicotine replacements have NOT been found to cause an appreciable risk of cancer or other diseases associated with smoking cigarettes.


Oct. 7, 2012, 7:50 p.m.

Of course, I would be remiss if I wasn’t…explicit…about the risks entailed should you find out first-hand what “genetic susceptibility” really means:

The addiction component is far and away the most malignant element - the tobacco industry’s (Swedish, or not) intentional inclusion of addictive components when they are so readily eliminated is the most compelling proof of evil intent.

I speak not from some commercial interest or some do-gooder instinct, but from a deep and personal regret.  I wish I’d seen some of the evidence that is now available when I was 14 and picking up my dad’s discarded, still-smoking butts…or when I was hitting those 4-packs of cigarettes in those C-rations or buying those $1.17 cartons of cigs in the PX way back when (which still amuses me to this day - a fifth of Kessler’s whiskey was more expensive at $1.27).

Every time I go to one of Sheldon Adelson’s casino’s, I learn yet again that I really should quit using tobacco; me and gambling…we don’t get along so good.

One of these days I suppose I’ll seven-out.


Oct. 7, 2012, 7:54 p.m.

@Thad, who said:

The tobacco industry has no obligation to prove themselves sincere about improving the health of their customers

Ooops….told the truth by accident.


Oct. 7, 2012, 8:27 p.m.

That wasn’t accidental, but you didn’t complete the quote.  The tobacco industry is not obliged to promote public health, but they have a financial motivation to do so.  The pharmaceutical industry, on the other hand, IS obliged to promote public health, but they have a financial motivation to NOT do so.


Oct. 7, 2012, 8:37 p.m.

Far more people are dependent on caffeine than nicotine, but since you are not railing against the coffee, soda & energy drink industries it is obvious that addiction most certainly is NOT the most malignant element.  The most malignant elements are the toxins and carcinogens and fire hazards and smoke damage created when cigarettes are lit on FIRE and the SMOKE is inhaled 100’s of times per day.  The desirable pharmacologic effects of nicotine and caffeine are the reason that many people continue using products in spite of the negative effects on their health, but the “addictive components” are actually the LEAST damaging elements…

If the addictive potential of nicotine was really the most malignant part, then why are pharmaceutical companies allowed to sell products containing nicotine without any warnings?


Oct. 7, 2012, 9:37 p.m.

@Thad and @Alan:  I’ve had enough, especially when I have had loved ones in my family taken far too soon from using tobacco. Stop your rationalizing and pushing—because, whatever your motivation (I suspect it’s money and lobbying) it’s unethical, and it’s wrong.

“Take a close look at what the tobacco industry won’t show you”:


Oct. 7, 2012, 9:41 p.m.

Smokeless tobacco?  “Take a close look at what the tobacco industry won’t show you”:


Oct. 8, 2012, 12:22 a.m.

All you’re doing, Thad, is admitting that your industry is intentionally addicting people to your product while claiming that you are justified in continuing that behavior by the fact others, albeit unable to exterminate life as efficiently as the tobacco industry, still behave in a manner that resembles your own.


Oct. 8, 2012, 12:41 a.m.

Since some people don’t know when to leave well enough alone, here is an interesting quote from

Nicotine in high doses acts as an effective nerve poison and can have a number of potentially harmful side effects. <i>It is extremely physically addicting, though estimates on the exact degree of addiction range wildly from very low levels to those rivaling that of heroine or cocaine.

If taken in large doses — larger than almost anyone is likely to achieve through smoking — it may induce severe nausea or vomiting. In small doses it may increase blood pressure, which can prove harmful, or in very rare cases, fatal to those with dangerous heart conditions.

A number of recent studies have strongly linked nicotine itself to various cancers. This means that in addition to the cancer risks posed by tar through smoking, nicotine itself increases your chances of developing cancer. It also means that even those on nicotine patches and gums are raising their likelihood of getting cancer.<b> This link is thought to be caused by a property of nicotine which retards your body’s ability to slough off damaged cells, giving cancerous cells more time to develop.

According to Poison/Toxicology by Jay Arena, the lethal dosage of nicotine for a 150 pound (68kg) male is 60mg. This is less than both arsenic and strychnine.  American cigarettes contain approximately 9mg of nicotine each (compare with 19mg in a New Zealand cigarette), but after burning, only about 1mg enters the body over the course of smoking an entire cigarette. While this results in amounts well below the lethal dosage, over time this poison can weaken the immune system and cause fatigue and other minor maladies.

<b>Much more nicotine enters the body through chewing tobacco and many nicotine patches/gums than through smoking cigarettes<b>; nicotine levels should be monitored when using these methods of disbursement. While gums and patches have maximum recommended doses, chewers of tobacco should be aware of how much nicotine they are sending directly to their blood stream. An average pinch of chew held in the cheek for half an hour provides as much nicotine as smoking three or four cigarettes.

Nicotine is also a very potent insecticide, used as a natural alternative to chemical pest control substances. In most marketed forms it contains 40% pure nicotine sulfate, mixed with water and sprayed on to crops. When used in warm weather it provides optimal results, breaking down quickly to non-toxic levels and allowing for wide-spread use on food crops, even very close to harvest.</i>

I would again mention the term “genetic susceptibility”.  Do you feel lucky?  lollll…hate to find out nicotine…bugged you.


Oct. 8, 2012, 12:57 a.m.

Even worse….that nicotine can make your while giving you cancer….

To evaluate the pathobiologic effects of long-term treatment with nicotine of A/J mice susceptible to tobacco-induced lung carcinogenesis.

Main methods
Experimental group of mice received subcutaneous injections of the LD50 dose of (−)nicotine hydrogen tartrate of 3 mg/kg/day, 5 days per week for 24 months, and control group received the vehicle phosphate-buffered saline.

Key findings
Nicotine treated mice, 78.6%, but none of control of mice, developed neoplasms originating from the uterus or skeletal muscle. Examination of the uterine neoplasms revealed leiomyosarcomas, composed of whorled bundles of smooth-muscle like cells with large and hyperchromatic nuclei. Sections of the thigh neoplasms revealed densely cellular tumors composed of plump spindle cells, with occasional formation of ‘strap’ cells, containing distorted striations. Both neoplasms were positive for desmin staining. A solitary pulmonary adenoma with papillary architecture also occurred in one nicotine treated mouse. Experimental mice also developed transient balding starting as small patches of alopecia that progressed to distinct circumscribed areas of complete hair loss or large areas of diffuse hair loss.

We demonstrate for the first time that chronic nicotine treatment can induce the development of muscle sarcomas as well as transient hair loss. These findings may help explain the association of childhood rhabdomyosarcoma with parental smoking and earlier onset of balding in smokers. It remains to be determined whether the pathobiologic effects of nicotine result from its receptor-mediated action and/or its tissue metabolites cotinine and N′-nitrosonornicotine, or toxic effects of reactive oxygen species activated due to possible intracellular accumulation of nicotine.

What did I just do?  I just guaranteed that a bunch of underemployed research scientists will get a whole bunch of grants from “interested parties” to generate obfuscating evidence.

Do I feel bad about that?  Not necessarily…even in the process of generating bad science for money, good science (that isn’t revealed to the “sponsors”; they’re cheats, so there isn’t any moral jeopardy associated with cheating them) is produced.


Oct. 8, 2012, 1:36 a.m.

The tobacco industry is not mine, but officials in the industry have acknowledged that nicotine is addictive for years.  The tobacco industry is not alone however.  Caffeine is also known to be addictive and has similar effects on the heart, and many companies sell other products that are known to be habit-forming.  You are trying to imply that just because a product may contain addictive components that it must be deadly, but you have not shown any evidence that modern smoke-free products can cause any deadly diseases.

The study you mention injected rats with a lethal dose of nicotine every day for two years—hardly a reasonable comparison to any exposure any human would have under any conceivable circumstances so I don’t understand what you are trying to prove with this.  Why do you think that your mention of this study will convince anyone to do further reserach?  I honestly don’t see how that study is at all informative.


Oct. 8, 2012, 2:46 a.m.

Sheesh.  “LD50” means lethal dose for 50% of the test subjects - and the test subjects happen to be mice, whose body weight happens to be on an order of magnitudes smaller than humans, which means the amount of nicotine consumed is several orders of magnitude less than an LD50 dose for a human - and so is a commonly accepted way of gaining accelerated results. 

The alternative is to test humans for 30 years as will happen in “the real world” under “real conditions” with commercially packaged tobacco - which will happen, especially because of the enhanced addictiveness of tobacco consumed orally.

And those real world experiments are are, of course, ongoing…just you people in the tobacco industry haven’t told your customers that they are the test subjects.


Oct. 8, 2012, 2:55 a.m.

By the way:  A rudimentary literature search will reveal that caffeine is linked to a lower skin cancer risk, while nicotine is linked to a higher cancer risk.

(I suddenly have a juvenile urge to stick my tongue out, which tells me that I should stop this a go back to more productive work.  I think I will.)


Oct. 8, 2012, 3:38 a.m.

ibsteve2u, I am not in the tobacco industry, and no matter how you try to spin the results of a study on lethal dosages of nicotine on mice the fact remains that “no epidemiological evidence supports that nicotine alone acts as a carcinogen in the formation of human cancer”.  Dig up all the labwork you want to show that it “might” cause cancer, it doesn’t change the fact that there is no evidence that it DOES cause cancer.  Smoking, however, has been shown in epidemiological studies to be associated with a drastically increased risk of cancer.

More people are killed each year by lightning strikes than oral cancer, and smokeless tobacco is not first, second, or even third leading cause of oral cancer, and Swedish-style snus has not been linked to any increased risk.  Switching from smoking to even the old-fashioned smokeless tobacco reduces the risk of oral cancer by more than half and oral cancer is only a tiny fraction of the deadly and chronic diseases caused by smoking that are obviously not caused by smoke-free products.

At the very worst, using smokeless tobacco for a lifetime might reduce ones expected lifespan by less than a week.  Why are you so desperate to justify your continued smoking that you won’t even consider switching to something that is so obviously far, far, FAR less dangerous??


Oct. 8, 2012, 3:41 a.m.

Once again I ask, why do you not apply this same standard to pharmaceutical products?  If nicotine and addiction is the most malignant component, why are you not lambasting the pharmaceutical industry for selling products containing nicotine?


Oct. 8, 2012, 1:14 p.m.

My primary motivation, Steve, is my daughter.  After trying to quit smoking for all of the 15 years I smoked about a pack a day I finally found a satisfying smoke-free alternative in “electronic cigarettes” and have not smoked a cigarette in over 2 years and 10 months, but I discovered that the FDA and Pharmaceutical companies you refuse to discuss were attempting to ban them and other smoke-free alternatives like Swedish-style snus and dissolvables.  You see it is the pharmaceutical companies (NOT the tobacco companies) who make a profit when people get chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders or cancers or other diseases that are caused by smoking.  My motivation is a desire to help people who have been otherwise unwilling or unable to quit smoking to drastically reduce or eliminate the risks and hazards of lighting something on fire and directly inhaling the smoke 100’s of times per day. 

Steve Buyer was speaking an obvious TRUTH when he said that lighting lettuce on fire and smoking it would be similarly dangerous as smoking because it is NOT the nicotine or the tobacco that causes people to get heart and lung disease from smoking, to paraphrase Carville, “It’s the SMOKE, stupid!”

Commenting is not available in this section entry.

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories