More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

A warrior (Bruno) and a small dragon (Fiona) team up for fun and plunder in this fantasy comic strip.

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More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby skelebug on Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:18 pm

I just heard that they've banned ALL flavored tobbaco including shisha, electric cigarettes, and cloves in the whole United States 'for the children's sake.' I have not actual awareness of any true declaration of this, I have not seen in the news any mention but perhaps maybe I am just out of the loop. I am not a heavy smoker, although i do indulge in hookah bars once in a while. But even if I never liked them, I cannot see how banning things completely will stop people just making it themself illegally for a profit, or even worse keep kids from turning to much worse things I dunno, like crack and heroin as they've been doing here now, out of boredome lately. I agree to keeping certain areas smoker free like parks and bars out of respect for others who want to not be exposed like asthmatics or pregnant women. But having an establishment specifically MADE for only adults who have a license and want to smoke be banned when they can't let kids in and the customer already knows smoking is bad is outright ridiculous. I don't wanna sound like a redneck nut but seriously keep in mind all the tests being done to show it being unhealthier than normal ciggarettes are run by the Johnson and Johnson corporation who by the way make Nicotine craver's patches. Something interesting, no?
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby Counterclockwise on Fri Oct 23, 2009 5:03 am

Some of the studies against chewing tobacco have merit, if not evidence; nicotine is easily absorbed through dermal contact and 50mg is enough to kill a human adult. (50mg is the equivalent of 1 cigar or 5 cigarettes).

When smoked, nicotine is not readily absorbed by the throat or lungs, and is in fact, impossible to overdose on.


I know this because we worked with nicotine in biochem and were told that it was an extremely dangerous substance, and to wear full coat and gloves at all times because if we even spilled a drop on ourselves it could be deadly.

Similarly, nicotine poisoning is the main concern against electronic cigarettes, where the current applied is varied as the batteries die and thus produces differing amounts of nicotine. Pure nicotine in the air. Condensation around or in the mouth would allow overdosing.


That being said, I argue with you that the law is unnecessarily restricting of Citizen's rights and freedoms. Do they think that flavoured tobacco is made for children?
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby mouse on Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:44 pm

well, as someone who works in tobacco control, i can tell you that the tobacco industry thinks so. marketing for flavored cigarettes is directed to "young adults" - which really means adolescents. trust me on this - the tobacco industry does a huge amount of research on what sorts of cigarettes appeal to what sorts of people, and how best to get them to start using the stuff. the vast majority of cigarette smokers start before the age of 18. that's changing a little, as more people start in their college years because it has genuinely gotten harder for kids to get cigarettes, and the education against them is getting more persuasive. the younger you are when you start, the harder it is to quit - your brain forms additional receptors for nicotine (and other drugs) if it is exposed to it during development, which for the human brain continues until about the age of 18. and candy-flavored cigarettes do entice kids to start smoking.

this, despite the fact that anti-smoking education is getting better, and everyone knows how harmful smoking is - still, kids do start to smoke. in part, this is because of that long time it takes the brain to develop. they really don't get that the stuff can be hazardous to _them_, and that it's a whole lot harder to stop than to start, because their brains are simply not mature enough to make those long-term projections and assessments of risk. if you ask them, they will almost all tell you that smoking is harmful and addictive - but then they say "if i started to smoke, i could quit whenever i wanted". they don't find out that this is not true until they've already become addicted.

cigarettes are _the_ gateway drug. very few people even smoke marijuana without having tried a cigarette or two first, so the chances that kids will just skip cigarettes entirely if cherry-vanilla flavored ones aren't available, and go straight to heroin, is pretty low.

here's a link to a story on the new laws - right now, the ban is just on flavored cigarettes, so hookah, cigars and loose tobacco is still legal (as are electronic on other smokefree cigarettes).
"Studies show that 17-year-old smokers are three times as likely to use flavored cigarettes as smokers over the age of 25," Deyton said.
- so yeah, it is, pretty much, for kids.

by the way, it is possible, although rare, to OD on nicotine - every year or so it happens to some guy who takes a dare on how many cigarettes he can smoke at once manages to cram three packs worth or so into his mouth, takes a few puffs and then keels over from nicotine poisoning. although nicotine may be related to things like heart attacks (i believe it is a vasoconstrictor, and it is quite toxic) the real harm in tobacco, both cigarettes and chewing tobacco (and even hookah smoke), is all the other chemicals that are in the things. the tars and the like are the carcinogens, and can get you whether you ingest them by smoking them, or holding them next to your gum tissue. there are, in fact, very good studies linking chewing tobacco to cancers of the mouth, tongue and throat. there are also very good studies linking second-hand smoke to cancer in non-smokers (as well as things like asthma in children). i don't know about your "rights and freedoms" here. you don't have the right to spray pesticides randomly around the place, or punch out anyone you happen not to like the look of, or do any number of other things that are harmful to others - how are those, really, different from subjecting everyone to your smoke? (other than it's taking longer to get people to understand the danger of the smoke than of, say, spraying the area with bullets.)
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby Counterclockwise on Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:52 pm

I maintain that it is chemically impossible to overdose on nicotine in smoked cigarettes or cigars without other chemical contact to nicotine.
With, say,a nicotine patch, or nicotine gum in addition to the cigarette, it is entirely common and possible.

Shoving 3 packs of cigarettes, 36 cigarettes, or about 370 mg of nicotine, is not nearly enough to overdose on, (although 1 piece of gum, 1 dermal patch, and 1 cigarette certainly van be), because only about 15 mg of that can possibly reach your bloodstream, if the cigarettes are properly produced and the nicotine is not leached to/by the filter or paper of the cigarette during the manufacturing process or otherwise.

You can work out the process and equilibriums yourself. What percent of nicotine is lost to the environment? What percent of it will be lost to reactions in the cigarette, in the combustion, in the saliva, on the skin, or on the inside of the respiratory tract?

Suffice it to say that the overdosing is impossible for normal cigarettes alone, and entirely possible for other methods of tabacco intake.

Next: freedoms.
I never said smoking should be allowed in public. People are allowed to do many other self-destructive things as long as the damage does not go beyond themselves and willing individuals of proper ages, who have given clear consent, so why not smoking?

I should also clarify my earlier position: Are kids the only ones who enjoy or purchase flavoured tabacco?
Further, should we expect tabacco to ever stop? Alcohol certainly hasn't. Heroin and cocaine, after a century of being illegal, have not.
I don't believe the gov't should make peoples decisions for them, wherever possible. People are being educated about tabacco, they know the dangers associated with it, they choose to use it. What's the problem?

At the age of 16, people can choose to make a mistake which may kill them within the year, dictate the rest of their lives,(depending on where they live and the social circumstances) or potentially do nothing.

Smoking is potentially killing or crippling themselves . . . 40 years from now. Statistically speaking, promiscuous sex is more likely to give you a bad outcome than smoking nearly 80 times over if you live in a really good part of a really good country.

With that being said, why would we prohibit private smoking, and why would we put the age of consent of sex lover than that of ingesting tabacco?
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby mouse on Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:11 pm

Counterclockwise wrote:I maintain that it is chemically impossible to overdose on nicotine in smoked cigarettes or cigars without other chemical contact to nicotine.
With, say,a nicotine patch, or nicotine gum in addition to the cigarette, it is entirely common and possible.

maintain whatever you like - it's possible
Overdose

Although rare, it is possible to overdose on the nicotine in tobacco.

Very large doses of nicotine can result in an increase in the unpleasant effects, including feelings of faintness and confusion, and a rapid decrease in blood pressure and breathing rate.

In some cases, it can lead to convulsions and death from respiratory failure. Sixty milligrams of nicotine taken orally can be fatal for an adult.


Counterclockwise wrote:Next: freedoms.
I never said smoking should be allowed in public. People are allowed to do many other self-destructive things as long as the damage does not go beyond themselves and willing individuals of proper ages, who have given clear consent, so why not smoking?

smoking is entirely legal (despite the fact that second-hand smoke is damaging to others). cigarettes are entirely legal - as long as they don't taste like candy.

Counterclockwise wrote:I should also clarify my earlier position: Are kids the only ones who enjoy or purchase flavoured tabacco?

well, the tobacco industry doesn't like to release data on things like that, but the thing i quoted before said that smokers < 18 were much more likely to use flavored cigarettes than young adults (18-24). the first flavored cigarettes were released by rj reynolds in 1999 (camel exotic blends). people with well-established smoking habits tend to stick with the same product (for all that the industry says they are advertising to get people to switch brands, their own internal research documents that people very rarely switch). those two bits of information together tell you that there is likely a strong trend to reduced use of flavored cigarettes by older smokers.
and again - the data indicates that kids who would not otherwise try cigarettes will try the flavored ones. we talking about banning something that is not widely used by established smokers, but is a tempting first step, to encourage people to start.

Counterclockwise wrote:Further, should we expect tabacco to ever stop? Alcohol certainly hasn't. Heroin and cocaine, after a century of being illegal, have not.

alcohol, in moderation, is fine. heroin and cocaine use have been combated in stunningly inefficient ways. cigarette smoking may never entirely stop, but cigarette use in dropping, at least in the u.s. - and it drops faster in places that have anti-tobacco programs in place. just because things will never be perfect, doesn't mean you stop trying to make them better. things like rape, robbery and murder are unlikely ever to cease entirely - should we therefore just give up fighting them?

by the way - i don't think tobacco should be made illegal; there are still enough smokers who are now addicted to a legal substance that such a thing would be cruel, and probably counter-productive. i don't think we need to allow new products with a demonstrated capacity for creating more addicts to be legal.


Counterclockwise wrote:I don't believe the gov't should make peoples decisions for them, wherever possible. People are being educated about tabacco, they know the dangers associated with it, they choose to use it. What's the problem?

At the age of 16, people can choose to make a mistake which may kill them within the year, dictate the rest of their lives,(depending on where they live and the social circumstances) or potentially do nothing.

so.....we should actively encourage them to make the wrong choice? is this what you are saying?


Counterclockwise wrote:Smoking is potentially killing or crippling themselves . . . 40 years from now. Statistically speaking, promiscuous sex is more likely to give you a bad outcome than smoking nearly 80 times over if you live in a really good part of a really good country.

actually, the statistics are that 1/2 of people who start smoking smoke for at least 20 years. and 1/2 of people who smoke for 20+ years die of a tobacco-related disease. so if you start smoking, your odds are 1 in 4 that you will die as a direct result of that. about 20% of american adults smoke - that's millions and millions of people, just in the u.s. tobacco-related diseases were the leading cause of death in the u.s. in 2000 - 435,000. "sexual behaviors" caused only 20,000 - so your chances of a bad outcome from cigarettes are in fact much higher than for promiscuous sex. (plus, it is apparently much more common). and dying in 40 years as opposed to instantly makes it ok, somehow? does it occur to you that in 40 years, you can acquire a family, children - a whole slew of people who love you and depend on you, and who are hurt by your death? where do you get off deriding _any_ death - especially since you are clearly in favor of allowing teens to choose that death in ignorance? the only people i have heard of with such callous indifference to death from tobacco-related diseases work for the tobacco industry. they at least make money for their shilling

Counterclockwise wrote:With that being said, why would we prohibit private smoking, and why would we put the age of consent of sex lover than that of ingesting tabacco?

well, again, private smoking is not prohibited. the age of consent is generally a function of cultural values (not that long ago, girls as young as 12 could legally marry in some u.s. states); it may also be a function of legal concerns in the event that such sex results in pregnancy - someone has to be financially responsible for the child, and most teens can provide neither financial nor emotional stability for an infant. and there is the point i made earlier that humans are really not mentally mature until ~18 (if at all); many jurisdictions are concerned about protected younger individuals from manipulation and victimization by older ones. and of course, your entire premise that sex is more certainly fatal than smoking is entirely wrong, so there is no reason to relate the age of consent to health risks.
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby Counterclockwise on Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:55 pm

Well, we're certainly on the same side of the fence in the big issue. Normally, I'm anti-smoking.
But, I hate to base any of my judgements on possible fallacies, and I intend to put the common data into doubt as being unsubstantiated anti-smoking propaganda; I believe the corrected data will be a much less convincing argument for your case. Nevertheless, it should still be against smoking. It is clear to see the health benefits from quitting, so we should expect a higher death rate, but the figures quoted are entirely unreasonable and fall at the very maximum end of the scale of taking bad assumptions.

I dislike medicine because of the strong political spin on it. Many scientists, who I would trust absolutely if they were in other fields, make silly mistakes in not checking their assumptions or trying to understand what they mean. Including the assumptions of the papers they build on. They simply, create a model and plug the numbers in. Since the analysis of the data is governed by the papers they put out, if they are wrong in their premises and assumptions, there is no point at which they are corrected.


So, to correct a few errors in your judgement and analysis;

I'm not saying we should actively encourage people to make a bad choice, I'm not unhappy with the current anti-smoking campaigns.
I am against banning products because they may proselytise people, and statistically do, to smoking.
That's the weaker logical equivalent statement of banning cigarettes because they encourage people to smoke, by their existence.

Should we ban cigarettes because people may be enticed to buy them and smoke due to their existence?
Should we ban flavoured cigarettes because people may be enticed to buy them and smoke due to their existence?

It is the same logic, and the same argument, on a smaller scale, and I cannot accept that, because some people, knowing the risks, choose to smoke and smoke in private. They are not hurting me, why should I restrict their freedom to damage themselves?

actually, the statistics are that 1/2 of people who start smoking smoke for at least 20 years. and 1/2 of people who smoke for 20+ years die of a tobacco-related disease. so if you start smoking, your odds are 1 in 4 that you will die as a direct result of that. about 20% of american adults smoke - that's millions and millions of people, just in the u.s. tobacco-related diseases were the leading cause of death in the u.s. in 2000 - 435,000. "sexual behaviors" caused only 20,000 - so your chances of a bad outcome from cigarettes are in fact much higher than for promiscuous sex.


Let's examine this in greater detail, because I'm a bit of a mathematician, as you may have heard.
First, let us consider that death is not the only consequence of both sex and smoking. Indeed, I would refer to unplanned pregnancies moreso than health problems as major issues with sex.
Fun fact: recent studies have estimated that nearly 49% of pregnancies in the states are unplanned, and only about half of those are aborted or avoided in some manner or form. Which comes to about 2 million unplanned pregnancies. Fun.
500,000 babies born, unplanned, to teenage moms in the states every year.
3 million teenagers with new sexual diseases.

Okay, okay.
Now, let's examine smoking: What is considered a tabacco related disease? Particularly ones that relate to death.
I'm finding cancer as the main one, supposedly relating to 425,000 deaths per year, of smokers, through cancer considered related to smoking, including throat, larynx, lung, mouth, nasal, etc. etc.
First, I'm going to look up incidences of these types of cancer in non-smokers; I'm finding that "87% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking", in a report by the surgeon general; This obviously is not correct.

Ah. Right in the report, he notes that anti-smoking groups, such as Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists have less instances of lung cancer. The numbers he give work out to about 86%, so I assume that's where he got the numbers from.
Well, no. That doesn't work. Yeah, everyone else is probably exposed to 2nd-hand smoke, I agree. But, those religious groups has less recorded cases of lung cancer. Do you see the difference here? They refuse diagnosis on a religious basis; Of course they will have less recorded cases of cancer if they choose, under normal circumstances, not to be tested for it.
Of course, that's not the only study that quotes near 90% . .. Let me check a few others and see what tactics they use to isolate non-smoking populations.

I'm going to look for a less political report and find another number for lung cancer incidence among non-smokers.

Oh, fun, I just found the original paper behind the 90%. Guess what? It counts all deaths of lung cancer and the such as smoking deaths. That's no good. I'm going to see if I can find a paper closer to my means that quotes 90%; That is to say, one that separates lung cancer due to smoking, and lung cancer not due to smoking. I doubt it though, I've found a few quoting 40-50% with that condition imposed, and they seem to be reasonable in their assumptions.
Annoyingly enough, I found a few quoting the original paper as saying that 90% of lung cancer is due to smoking; That is NOT the statistic it derives. It derives that amoung the smoking population, 90% of cancer deaths are related to the respiratory system.
As smoke of any kind can be clearly shown to weaken the lungs, deaths are expected from it, but this does not give us any linkage to incidences of cancer, merely WHICH CANCER kills smokers. Not which ones they get. (They have a much lower rate of skin cancer death, for example, than the normal population, and a only slightly increased, (<10%), chance of dying from cancer than the normal person. The type of cancer that they die from is different, that's all. That doesn't even tell us they get that cancer more often, just that they die from a type of cancer more often)


Okay, found a paper that tells me the incidence of smoking deaths. 24/122 expressed as a fraction (I'm not sure why?) over a period of 10 years. The assumptions in this paper detailing these deaths are:

Death, in a person who has previously smoked at anytime in their life, caused by any disease or disorder that has been possibly linked to smoking, is counted as a smoking death


Given that assumption, unsurprisingly, the amount of smokers to the normal population is . . . 18.5% (For all calcs, I'll be picking numbers relevant to Canada, btw. We have better statistics here to base judgement on)
24/122 is about 19.6%.
So, 18.5% of the population is responsible for about 19.6% of deaths. For a time period of sampling 10 years. Same 10 years for both papers.
And then, we're really pushing those deaths. They are only connected; those people might've died of the same causes or similar causes regardless of their smoking habits. Indeed, looking at the difference in cancer, I feel quite safe in saying that the above statement is true for a statistically significant portion of the population.

Some other papers quote the smoking deaths, on the same assumption, as high as 24%, others as low as 17%. I'm going to trust statistics canada on the percent of smokers though, stats canada is pretty amazing.



Okay, that's all very interesting, but I haven't found what I wanted to find. I want to find the incidence of respiratory cancers in smokers and non-smokers. Not the death rate, the incidence.
Then, using that, I want to find the amount of smokers who would've contacted lung cancer anyway, and reduce the death statistic to the corrected form. I have clearly shown already that it cannot be the 90% quoted from other sources. That value does not even come from considering which people get lung cancer, and it is definitely not what what studies say it is. Which is horrible.

Then, having the death statistic for cancers in particular, I want to extend that to find the same statistics for other major deaths amoung smokers and correct each of those, preferably even with age profiling. The number of "17.6 years taken off your life" deals with the uncorrected statistics, and therefore deals with the idiotic assumption that people would not have otherwise contacted a disease linked to tobacco. This is the kind of assumption I reference at the very top of my post. It's a pity, because I like the organisations putting out these studies.

Oh, fun fact: list of diseases/disorders linked to tobacco? If we subtract the bacterial and viral from the full list of recognised and well-defined physiological disorders/diseases, etc., and then consider any linkage, no matter how small, we find that "tobacco related" covers over 3/4 of the list. Most of the papers I'm wading through make no note of how strongly linked a disease has to be to be considered "tobacco related", and it is abundantly clear that many of them are using the maximum statistic.
Let's assume a rather stronger case, where there is desired at least a "strong correlation", (it's hard to find exact values of correlation, but I do trust these scientists, so where they say they have a strong correlation, I shall trust them), to link tobacco and the disease, and then we only have a scant few diseases to consider.

(afternote: never did find any study which only considered strong correlations that actually considered strong correlations,. Found a lot that said they did, but no, no, they did not. Looking at the lists of "strongly correlated" conditions they list. Influenza? Really? Related to smoking by strong correlation?)


Oh, look at this gem of idiocy!

Lung cancer is the leading cause of
cancer death in Ontario for both men and
women. In 2002, there will be
approximately 6,100 deaths from lung
cancer in Ontario: 2,700 women and
3,400 men.

(Canadian Cancer Society 2002 Statistics)

• In 2002, there will be more than 18,000
deaths from lung cancer in Ontario related
to smoking


Can anyone tell me what's wrong with that?


Also in the same article, I find that the instances of lung cancer death in women has raised to 4 times the amount from 1972 to 2002. Now that's funny, because, having still the number sheets open from before, I can confirm whether that is true. It is true. The funny part? The amount of women smokers has been decreasing by percent, (same numbers sheets), since 1950-ish. Not the most steady of declines, but the moving average is constantly decreasing. More lung cancer deaths. Less smoking. Make of that what you will. Maybe cigarettes have become tons more dangerous in the last 50 years. (actually, that'd be where my bets lie. That smoking and smoking habits have become more dangerous. Alternatively, if I had a regionated statistic, I bet I'd find that near smog centres, (large cities, pollution producing factories), the lung cancer rate raises enormously, and I hypothesise that these statistics would show a much higher connection to smog than to cigarettes).

(afternote: i forgot to say. the deaths were absolute, while the smokers was percentage. But check the population of canada between 1972 and 2002 . . .
22,219,560 and 31,940,700 respectively. Population climbed, yes, and the population of smokers as an absolute rose, yes, but it did not nearly quadruple!)

The same article notes that lung cancer directly links to lung cancer deaths, with a lag of twenty years. If you'll note the stats in the paragraph above, that is not true. Obviously. Let's stop reading this heavily erroneous article.


Still have not find papers relating to incidence of lung cancer in healthy and smoking populations. I find plenty related to deaths, but as I explained above, that does not correlate to getting more lung cancer; simply that the lungs are more heavily effected by it in smoking populations. Which should be obvious.


(afternote: another 30 minutes . . . )

I'm going to give up searching at this point.


Conclusion:

When the statistics are thoroughly examined, and the studies with erroneous assumptions are discarded, I find much less convincing data in favour of anti-smoking. Still none in favour of smoking.
The conclusion is that smokers are weaker against, and die more often, from diseases and conditions that effect the lungs and respiratory system.
I could not find papers detailing the incidence of said diseases and conditions, only papers detailing the cases of deaths. So the study is incomplete.

When the data was examined, it was discovered that ~20% of people, (smokers) are responsible for ~20% of deaths. (smoking related deaths). The percentage of smokers dying from non smoking related deaths is next to negligible because of the large number of conditions that are related to smoking.
Nevertheless, that 20% does not include, for example, car crashes, so yes, there are significantly more deaths due to smokers, but it is not huge. Considering the data, I would raise the number of smokers dying to no more than 25%, or 1/4 of the deaths. That is also an exaggeration. I can guarantee it is not that high.

Actually, given this, let us take your statistics, that 1/2 of people smoking die over a 20 year period, and that half again die over the next 20 years.
Let's, uh, let's take the chances of you dying in twenty years: oh look, it's up around the high 30%'s
Averaged around the total of your lifetime of course; you'll have less risk when you're young than old, etc. etc. But your smoking study ALSO averages it throughout the life. Funny, that. It'd be more convincing if it considered a younger population picking it up. We expect old people to die.
Let's take the chances of you dying in 40 years. Well, we already have a 20 year stat, lets approx and say 30% + 30% * (100% - 30%) on the low and 40% + 40% * (100% - 40%) on the high. 51%-64%. It's somewhere in the high 30%'s, so bets are it's above 60% over 40 years.
Does that 75% look a bit less compelling put into context? 75% over 60% doesn't seem that much larger. Nor does 50% over ~37.5%ish

Yeah, smoking is damaging, and I never disagreed that it is, but your statistics are propaganda. Not science.

Sex is indeed, a larger contributor to death, disease, and unplanned lifetime complications than smoking. This is due, yes, to the larger number of people having sex. But even compensating for that, (dividing by 5 We can agree that 100% of the population having sex is not that far off of an assumption? Even so, it will overcompensate, which is only bad if it shows that what I am saying is not true) it is still a larger contributor to disease and unplanned lifetime complications. (and if I wasn't overcompensating, the numbers would be higher.)

Now, with smoking in the proper context and framework, do you understand, why, even being against the tobacco industry, I would advocate for peoples freedoms? Spend extras on educating people about tobacco, (properly, please, give them less room to doubt your research. When there are more holes in the 'research' presented than a sieve, it presents a weaker picture, not a stronger one. Despite the fact that the numbers may be stronger when lied about).


I'm going to go to bed, I spent two hours digging up and examining research, rejecting it all, (All of it, I only accepted the statistics from some sources, ie: all of that from statistics canada because I have math crush on them, but statistics =/= research, and the statistics were not as through as I was hoping for), in an attempt to form a proper rebuttal to your argument.

Which consisted of ad hominem, glitter numbers taken out of context to seem amazing, taking my arguments out of context, etc. etc.
Really, I said it was impossible to overdose on nicotine through smoking, (admitting that is is possible and common through other means), and you send me to a link that says that nicotine overdose is possible through chemical means, but not purely through cigarettes. Good job.

Here the references used in coming to the conclusion:
Statistics Canada, current data, back to 10 years.
Canadian Cancer Society
American Anti-cancer Association, data release March 2003. (so you see that the bias from my sources is against cigarette smoking, one would hope.)


Have a good night, and I hope you learned something about putting statistics in context, and trying to understand what they are really implying through their assumptions.
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby mouse on Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:37 pm

fyi - i'm a scientist, and a statistician, and i have actual published papers in tobacco control research. your assumption that i and my coworkers just make stuff up and publish it blindly without checking our assumptions, so long as it fits our political viewpoint is both wrong and deeply, deeply insulting. and if you think we can actually get stuff published, with "no point at which they are corrected"....man. you have absolutely no experience with the process by which papers are reviewed and accepted for publication, do you? you are the one pulling things out of your ideology.

as for all the rest of it - glad you managed to find all these papers that you have been able to twist to support your ideas. unfortunately, you have failed to provide even one citation - so i have no way of judging the validity of your sources. i couldn't be bothered to read your whole rant, but you start with some serious, serious errors, both in your data and in your assumptions. and since you are so clearly convinced that you are right, and everyone else (particularly those idiot scientists who delude themselves that they are doing "medical research", because they obviously don't get that it's all just politics) - well, there isn't a whole lot of point in my wasting my time with it, is there?

face it - you are the one running the numbers to support your position. i honestly haven't put a whole lot of thought into what sales of what things should be limited - i do know that taking candy-flavored cigarettes off the market will save a whole lot of lives, in the long run.


oh and thanks so much for the lesson on 'putting statistics in context'. can't imagine how i've failed to learn that, in over 20 years as a working scientist. don't know where i'd be if some officious, self-satisfied idiot on the internet hadn't shown me the light.
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby mouse on Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:45 pm

Counterclockwise wrote:Really, I said it was impossible to overdose on nicotine through smoking, (admitting that is is possible and common through other means), and you send me to a link that says that nicotine overdose is possible through chemical means, but not purely through cigarettes. Good job.


check the first result you get from a google search on "death from nicotine poisoning" + cigarettes. unfortunately the newspaper reports i've read of such events don't turn up in a google search....not that any actually proof would shake you from your fallacy, of course.
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby Counterclockwise on Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:46 pm

Let's take a test subject, submit him to one cigarette, and see how much of the nicotine remains in his lungs.

You can do this at home. There is approximately 50 mL of mucus over 2m^2 of surface area for the nicotine to seep into in the lungs. Setup a tube and net with approximately 2 square meters of area, and spread a thin layer of mucus over it, (where you get that from is your own concern; we have a relatively 'clean' and plentiful source in the bio labs), and then pipe the smoke from a cigarette through the pipe and out through the net. Make sure the apparatus from the cigarette to the net-end of the pipe is air-tight. We want to test the absorption of nicotine by mucus here, not how much gets to the lungs, which is harder to model.
Getting the nicotine out of the mucus is easy; it has a lower boiling point than anything else in there that is in more than trace abundance.


Oh, look! After an intake of 15mg nicotine, we can get nearly 15 mg of nicotine out of the mucus! (I used an electronic cigarette for this, because it was easy to set and measure the dosage of nicotine from the cigarette, with virtually no impurities)
But, wait, wait, let's put more mucus, (it has proven to be a good nicotine sponge), beneath the first layer, with a semi-permeable layer between them.
The first layer nevertheless holds all of the nicotine. It has no mechanic by which to propel through the viscous fluid, and brownian motion does not allow any traceable amount to seep through in a few weeks of study. Only if the mucus itself were allowed to propagate, would we find a spread of the nicotine within the mucus. The nicotine is not fluid within the mucus.

So, how much of it gets to the bloodstream? Well, not any that is absorbed by the mucal layer! Which leaves very little.

This is why smokers lungs become black. This is why their breath stinks for days afterwards. This is why, when they cough up mucus, it is a sick, blackish-red colour.

Let's repeat this experiment with an added amount of nicotine, and we find that as the first layer of mucus reaches it's saturation point, it begins to 'dry', and the nicotine begins to seep through at a much greater, and now measurable rate to the second layer. We are talking about a saturation point of about 3.5:1, (quite amazing for two fluids), or if you will, about 175mg of nicotine. So you'd need roughly 150 mg in total before you got any reasonable amount into the bloodstream. And then questionably; we still haven't established that everything that gets through the mucal layer gets into the bloodstream.

In addition, once nicotine begins to effect the brain, mucal production is stopped in most parts of the body. This is actually the source of the symptoms of nausea, headache, dizziness, confusion, hearing and vision problems, and potentially one of the causes of the seizures that can occur from nicotine OD.
So the mucal layer in the lungs will diminish and the ability to absorb nicotine into the bloodstream will spike.

And wait! I've already mentioned how much nicotine is lost to the environment when smoking! (anywhere from 50% to 90%. Tests are erratic)

It is impossible to overdose on nicotine purely through cigarette use because you would have to smoke several thousand cigarettes. Within roughly an hours timespan.

Your side of the issue, (i'm sorry, that's a logical fallacy I shouldn't be using, but the comparision is useful), makes the estimate at a usual heavy chain smoker, (multiple packs a day), having to smoke ~75 cigs within a quarter hour time line to feel the symptoms, or > 100 within the same time to die. This is an estimate, because we have no medical records of anyone dying purely through cigarette use and nicotine poisoning.
Recall that even if we take the low estimate, cigarettes have 1mg each, and the death amount is about 52 mg, for a guy my size, (200 pounds), if I recall from my biochem correctly. (google says I am in the correct range, at least).
Feeling the effects of nicotine poisoning occurs at about 10-15 mg of nicotine. (Have I accidental typed mL instead of mg in other places? Sorry. I often deal with nicotine in liquid form, and even though I have always used the mg measurement for it, I still get confused.)
So, we can take this as a reliable low estimate, and say that 75 cigarettes, (75 mg of nicotine), is required to get 15mg of nicotine through the body. At which point, the next 35-40 mg gets through at nearly 100%. Which matches what I'm saying, save for the dosage level.
The anti-cigarette literature I found this in, (which I particularly like because the numbers are actually pretty reasonable in many respects, and the effort is put through sincerely and reasonably, instead of overstated and obvious bullshit), says that they base it on a high-quality brand of cigarettes, "Tareyton Herbert", which an index I found online places at 1.7 mg each.
So, according to them, of the first 127.5 mg of nicotine, roughly 15mg gets through. Of the next 59.5-68 mg of nicotine, approximately half of it gets through. That's even closer to that I was saying! I love these guys! Their numbers don't need bullshit to back them up! These results are arguably correct!

If you're smoking light cigarettes, btw, you might be getting as little as .1mg per cigarette, and then, even according to these guys, you'd need 1275 cigarettes to even give you light nicotine poisoning.
The average light cigarette, according to a google search, (whee! Look at my super accurate method of research! No, I usually use the uni library, but this is a minor point and I only need the same magnitude of order), the average light cigarette has <.4 mg of nicotine.
Breaking it down further, the average "normal" cigarette has about .7-.9 mg, and "strong" or "high quality" cigarettes, (like lucky strikes or premium buys), have about 1.6-1.9 mg of nicotine. That puts the average at around 1mg, so google shouldn't be far off the mark, but it is possible that it is.


But then, how do people get high off of nicotine? They certainly get addicted to it.
Well, most of the modern addiction is actually due to other ingredients in the cigarette, or, within the person's mind as a mental addiction.
But even trace amounts of nicotine can effect a previously unintroduced biochemistry.
Now, I'm sure you're aware of the chemical cocktail in cigarettes, and of the effects of multiple chemicals on the brain at once.
The biggest protection against drug effects in the body is a weakening of the chemical balances and equilibriums in the brain. After those equilibria and buffer solutions are rid of, trace components of additional chemicals are sufficient to have a huge effect on a biochemistry.

This is why, to give the same rush as a cigarette, patches and gums require anywhere from 4x-10x the amount of nicotine. They don't contain the chemical cocktail. And then recall that these products get a much, much greater percent of the active ingredient to the bloodstream.

Now, previously, I said 15mg of nicotine for one cigarette. I'm a bit of a liar on the cautious side; if I overstate things in the direction against myself, and they still work out, I have a stronger case. Turns out most US cigarette brands carry a little over 1mg of nicotine per cigarette. Or, 15mg per case.
So, even if cigarettes carried 100% of their nicotine to the bloodstream, you would required to smoke (150) to saturate the mucal layers, and then smoke an additional 30-40 in quick succession. I am unsure of the purge rate of nicotine in the mucal layers; it does stick around a while.
On the other hand, health benefits are clearly shown within the first week of quitting smoking, so it should be a good assumption to assume the purge rate is relatively high. As well, nicotine is volatile, so the purging would mostly be done through evaporation to the environment. (smokers breath does smell of nicotine all the time . . .)
However, an extremely small amount from cigarette use, may result in sufficient drying of the mucal layer, while said layer contains nicotine, to allow nicotine from that layer to be re-breathed and absorbed through a weakened mucal layer.
I don't think this is very possible, but, IF IT IS, in addition to having roughly 150mg of nicotine already in your mucus, (which, because you will be re-breathing it, much will be lost to the atmosphere), you would need to be smoking around 75mg of nicotine, (750 light cigarettes, (hah!), or 3 packs of heavy cigarettes, (Reasonable), in order to receive a sufficient overdose to feel nicotine poisoning. Very light poisoning. You may not notice it.
Coincidentally, that's about the numbers that the anti-smoking article above that I liked quote, isn't it? I like the people who wrote and distributed that article. They make me have faith in medicine again.



As for your anecdotal evidence, because no, there is no medical evidence for purely smoking nicotine overdose, there are several possibilities.

1) The victims were taking other sources of nicotine. Patches or gums are most likely. This is also the most likely possibility

2) The victims were on other medications, for entertainment purposes or otherwise, that wore down their brains defences and allowed a very small amount of nicotine, ()that which can be gained from a number of cigarettes), to have a much greater effect that it would otherwise. Such as painkillers on the level of morphine, (and related drugs, like heroin or poppyseed pods). With only pot, it should be impossible, but pot isn't always just pot. Crystal meth, a common additive to pot, has the potential, when made incorrectly, to effect the brain in such a manner as required.

3) The victims were taking medication that caused the mucal layers in the lungs to diminish, thus allowing a lot more nicotine to be absorbed. Such as a serious overdose of cough medicine, sleeping pills, caffeine, (we're talking 50% death dosage here), or severe sickness, (the kind of stuff you shouldn't get if you've taken all your vaccinations), can also cause such a large drain on the mucal layer as would be required.

4)The victims were mistaking other sicknesses for nicotine poisoning. Quite popular actually, particularly with the late term pregnant ladies. Sorry, ladies, but your hormones would've made any changes that made nicotine made potent obvious much earlier in the pregnancy. As it happens, the symptoms you relate are much closer to 'morning sickness', and treatment for nicotine poisoning often leads to more complications regardless of cause. Treatment of the symptoms, instead, is recommended; antihistamines should help reduce the acetylcholine action, and thus treat your symptoms. But I'm no doctor, consult your physician before anyone else on the matter, especially the internet.

5) The victims were overstating the normal effects of nicotine on the body. Like people who go to the doctor when they have a headache, insisting they have migraines. (Not talking about real migraines here, those have clear symptoms which differ greatly from a normal headache. I'm talking about people with normal headaches who are unaware of the symptom difference and convince themselves they have a worse malady), This seems quite common in the anecdotal evidence as well. The usage of extreme hyperbole is certainly not lacking, but that's not the measurement I'm using.

6) The victim was distracted from existing pains by craving for a smoke, and was reminded of the other symptoms when the craving was satisfied. This is also very popular. It becomes clear when the victim reports symptoms completely unrelated to smoking, (not just to nicotine, but smoking altogether, (and in my last post, I noted how hard it is to get something unrelated to smoking!)), appearing after smoking the cigarette. Many times, the match on the symptoms is only one or two out of the list of about 14-15 that doctors may consider to result from nicotine poisoning.
(Different doctors have different lists; I make my judgements off of the union of all lists that I have found, which has 17 (distinct) components.)
My suspicion of this case is further cemented by most people saying they began to experience symptoms after no more than "9 or 10 cigarettes". Even according to anti-smoker doctors, that's impossible.
A dozen cigarettes, even the very strong cigarettes, are most definitely insufficient to cause poisoning, and average cigarettes don't even contain enough to cause poisoning if 100% of the nicotine got through.


There should be other possibilities as well, but I believe I have covered the main bases.


And finally, I shall quote from an edu link that popped up when I googled something to the tune of "cigarette smoking nicotine poisoning".

We've all heard that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and death, but can smoking also lead to a nicotine overdose? No, but it is possible to overdose on nicotine by using combinations of nicotine patches or nicotine gum and cigarettes at the same time. This combination puts much more nicotine into the body than smoking alone. Sometimes, nicotine can reach levels high enough to paralyze the muscles that control breathing or cause a heart attack.

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/ ... rdose.html

Are you as eager to argue with the university of Utah's biochem faculty as you are to argue with me?

So, Mouse, have I convinced you that I stand squarely on the shoulders of science in this order? I'm both enjoying this argument, (because I'm learning quite a bit more about the subject's particulars than I did before), and being slightly ashamed, (because your arguments have forced me to take a viewpoint counter to my beliefs on smoking, (well, not that much counter, I'm just arguing that the case isn't as extreme as you put it, not that you are wrong), in order to stand with my belief in correct statistics and scientifically backed rationalities).
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby skelebug on Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:29 am

...Wow. O.o...

Erm, I'm just a dumb college student who smokes only and only legally hookah every once in a while who was blowing some steam aimlessly and unmotivated/uneducated alike at the time. Just came by to check out the forums, sorry I have not been here for ages. (school and life, the usual business.) and I never figured what was a rather plain dull post to me ages ago would have led to so much fervent quoting and deep research on both parties parts plus a graduate thesis and a hot (but thankfully rather civil) intellectual PBS debate. Nice. I feel sort of like a smug jerk now, for being such a weak catalyst that set off this whole mess, like I ought to pay you guys for all the hard work you did, and for all the wasted time you spent.

Uhm...I guess...here's an invisible pizza... or something? :S
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Re: More relevant a topic now in your comic than you think Ian.

Postby mouse on Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:55 am

yeah, don't take that 'graduate thesis' stuff to seriously - anyone who dismisses an entire group of scientist a priori, because of their own assumptions about other people's motives...well, i'm getting off on a tangent. it's true that it is extremely difficult to OD on cigarettes, but there sure are a whole lot of other, slower but more certain ways they can kill you. hookah, unfortunately, can get you addicted just as well as cigarettes, even though both are legal.
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