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We’ve been told for decades that smoking could damage our health and that it can kill.

Over the past 20 years or so, the message is even more pervasive — and questionable: SMOKING KILLS.

Naturally, when the novel (new) coronavirus reared its ugly head, the WHO told us that smokers were among the first who could become infected.

In reality, the opposite seems to have happened, such that a group of French researchers studied nicotine and coronavirus.

On April 23, the Telegraph recapped the early COVID-19 warnings to deadly, filthy smokers — of whom I am one. I never believed this for a second, because, according to our betters in health organisations worldwide, smokers are susceptible to everything (emphases mine):

A study from China prompted Public Health England and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States to put smoking on the list of ‘risk factors’ for coronavirus earlier in the crisis.

Public Health England said: “Smoking tobacco is known to damage the lungs and airways causing a range of severe respiratory problems. The evidence clearly shows Covid-19 virus attacks the respiratory system, which explains why smokers are at greater risk. A small but highly impactful survey from China finds that smokers with Covid-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe disease.”

Quick, panic stations!

Once coronavirus patients entered hospital, the opposite happened. On April 22, the Daily Mail reported:

One study in China, where the pandemic began, showed only 6.5 per cent of COVID-19 patients were smokers, compared to 26.6 per cent of the population.

Another study, by the Centers for Disease Control in the US, found just 1.3 per cent of hospitalised patients were smokerscompared to 14 per cent of America.

And research by hospitals in Paris found that smokers were under-represented in both inpatients and outpatients, suggesting that any protective effect could affect anyone, not just those hospitalised by their illness.

The Mail credited veteran smoker, English artist David Hockney, with this prediction:

It comes after world-famous artist David Hockney last week said he believes smoking could protect people against the deadly coronavirus.

I did not read exactly what David Hockney said, but my own take is that smoke and tar in the lungs will put paid to coronavirus — in many cases.

France was the only nation with enough bottle (audacity) to study this in detail after finding a low number of smokers in Parisian hospitals. On April 23, RFI reported:

Researchers from several institutions saw that of the 11,000 or so patients hospitalised in Paris public hospitals for Covid-19 at the start of April, only 8.5 percent were smokers, compared to 25.4 percent of the general public.

They then looked more closely at 482 patients at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris who tested positive for Covid-19 and found a similar phenomeon: the 343 hospitalised for serious complications had  a smoking rate of 4.4 percent, and 5.3 percent of the 139 who were sent home with less serious symptoms smoked.

Upon further investigation, accounting for age and sex, the researchers found that the small number of smokers appeared to have had some kind of protection against the virus.

The findings were in line with a study on Covid-19 in China, published at the end of March in the New England Journal of Medicine, that found 12.6 percent of 1,099 people studied, who tested positive for Covid-19 were smokers, while the smoking rate in China is around 28 percent.

Researchers from the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), INSERM (National Institute for Health and Medical Research), l’Assistance Publique — Hôpitaux de Paris (public hospitals in Paris), the Sorbonne, the Collège de France and the famous Pasteur Institute jointly published an article summarised here in French.

Qeios has a scientific summary in English. The French researchers are now treating some patients with nicotine patches, believing that nicotine may be repelling the coronavirus.

Their preliminary conclusions are the following:

Nicotine may be suggested as a potential preventive agent against Covid-19 infection. Both the epidemiological/clinical evidence and the in silico findings may suggest that Covid-19 infection is a nAChR disease that could be prevented and may be controlled by nicotine. Nicotine would then sterically or allosterically compete with the SARS-CoV-2 binding to the nAChR. This legitimates the use of nicotine as a protective agent against SARS-CoV-2 infection and the subsequent deficits it causes in the CNS. Thus, in order to prevent the infection and the retro-propagation of the virus through the CNS, we plan a therapeutic assay against Covid-19 with nicotine (and other nicotinic agents) patches or other delivery methods (like sniffing/chewing) in hospitalized patients and in the general population.

In conclusion, we propose, and try to justify, the hypothesis that nAChRs play a critical role in the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection and as a consequence propose nicotine and nicotinic orthosteric and/or allosteric agents as a possible therapy for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Interestingly, ivermectin, which has been recently shown to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in cells in vitro [53], is a positive allosteric modulator of a7 nAChR [54]. The nicotinic hypothesis might be further challenged by additional clinical studies and by experimental observations determining whether SARS-CoV-2 physically interacts with the nAChR in vitro, for instance by electrophysiological recordings, high resolution EM and by animal model studies. Further work should also specify the still enigmatic relationships between ACE2 and nAChRs in the nervous system.

One should not forget that nicotine is a drug of abuse [55] responsible for smoking addiction. Smoking has severe pathological consequences and remains a serious danger for health. Yet under controlled settings, Nicotinic agents could provide an efficient treatment for an acute infection such as Covid-19.

The Guardian has more on how the studies were and are being carried out. The renowned Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris was also involved in the report and is taking part in further research:

The renowned French neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux, who reviewed the study, suggested the nicotine might stop the virus from reaching cells in the body preventing its spread. Nicotine may also lessen the overreaction of the body’s immune system that has been found in the most severe cases of Covid-19 infection.

The findings are to be verified in a clinical study in which frontline health workers, hospital patients with the Covid-19 virus and those in intensive care will be given nicotine patches

“Our cross-sectional study strongly suggests that those who smoke every day are much less likely to develop a symptomatic or severe infection with Sars-CoV-2 compared with the general population,” the Pitié-Salpêtrière report authors wrote.

“The effect is significant. It divides the risk by five for ambulatory patients and by four for those admitted to hospital. We rarely see this in medicine,” it added.

The Telegraph looked at what the Pasteur Institute has been doing:

It may sound counterintuitive that people who puff on Gauloises are less likely to catch a virus that can cause deadly attacks on the lungs. However, that was the statistical outcome of an in-depth study conducted by the Pasteur Institute, a leading French research centre into the disease.

The institute tested almost 700 teachers and pupils of a school in Crépy-en-Valois in one of the hardest-hit areas in France, as well as their families. The “highly accurate” tests found that only 7.2 per cent of smokers from among the adults tested were infected while four times as many non-smokers, some 28 per cent, were infected.

Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist at the institute, warned that they were not encouraging people to take up smoking, remarking that those smokers who do catch the virus “risk suffering more complications” than others. Scientists suggested it could be the nicotine in cigarettes that was behind the surprising results regarding infection, although more research is needed

Even a tobacco control researcher agrees that, during the coronavirus crisis, nicotine may benefit those who use it. Also see Thread Reader:

She had a bit more:

I look forward to a future update from the French.

Meanwhile, it’s good news for smokers during the pandemic.

Two years ago, possibly unintentionally, a Tobacco Control person admitted what smokers and vapers have suspected all along.

The following pithy paragraph appeared in a Daily Mail article ‘Nicotine is good for you …’ dated December 15, 2013. I’ve highlighted it to show the bogus science surrounding nicotine and tobacco/tobacco-derivative use:

A spokeswoman for Cancer Research added: ‘We don’t fully understand the long-term effects of nicotine use.’

No kidding.

For every study showing positive benefits from nicotine, another shows a negative. And, for those positive benefits, such as the ones mentioned in the Mail, there is always the caveat to stop smoking (emphases mine below):

Professor John Britton, chairman of the Royal College of Physicians tobacco advisory group and professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said one hit of nicotine can have positive effects on the brain.

But he warned the drug is highly addictive

I wrote about this last October, recapping earlier research showing that nicotine is for the thinking man:

Nicotine benefits the brain in several ways

Those who are fearful because of Tobacco Control’s propaganda can rest more easily after reading these posts:

The truth behind the smoker’s lung pictures — they’re fake

Medical data show smoking does NOT cause lung cancer (known since 1985)

Medical benefits of nicotine and a few thoughts on Tobacco Control

‘Biased’ findings

Every time a positive study on nicotine appears, Tobacco Control and the media say it was funded by tobacco companies. A post on the io9 site states that the University of California San Francisco — probably Stanton Glantz‘s* department — has looked at financing behind studies showing nicotine helps to prevent Alzheimer’s:

In 2010, a group from UCSF compared 43 studies on smoking and Alzheimer’s disease and found one-quarter of them were funded by tobacco groups.

Therefore, this means 75% of studies concluding that nicotine use may ward off Alzheimer’s were financed by groups with no conflict of interest.

*Note for non-smokers: Stanton Glantz is the father of the Tobacco Control movement.

More benefits from nicotine

Below is a summary of more benefits from nicotine, which can be delivered via e-cigarettes as well as tobacco. Hard as it is for most of the world to believe, some people smoke or vape for health reasons.

Mental health

An article in the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post discusses the need for e-cigarettes in psychiatric hospitals. Until recently, cigarettes have been made available to patients to calm their nerves:

Those devices might help alleviate some of the deficits associated with schizophrenia …


E-cigarette Direct’s Ashtray Blog has an article on the benefits of nicotine, many of which are covered in this post from other sources.

That said, the article mentions nicotine’s beneficial effect on depression:

Smoking to improve one’s mood has been a controversial subject, but one study conducted in 2006 confirmed that nicotine led to a significant decline in depression and an improvement in symptoms of depression (source).

This is thought to be due to nicotine stimulating areas of the brain, resulting in the release of serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals lacking in people who have depression.

Observations have shown that those prone to depression are twice as likely to be smokers and are less likely to succeed in quitting, possibly due to these therapeutic effects of nicotine.


The same article says that ADHD patients benefit from nicotine:

Studies have shown that nicotine can alleviate the symptoms of ADHD by increasing an individual’s alertness, reducing muscle activity (and thus restlessness/impulsiveness), calming the patient and elevating their mood (source, source).

Of course, no one is suggesting children take up smoking or vaping, but some studies are hoping to develop better treatments which have similar benefits to nicotine (source).

Parkinson’s disease

Research summarised in Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience says that nicotine may help to lessen the negative aspects of Parkinson’s disease (PD):

Nicotine, the more studied alkaloid derived from tobacco, is considered to be responsible for the beneficial behavioral and neurological effects of tobacco use in PD. However, several metabolites of nicotine, such as cotinine, also increase in the brain after nicotine administration. The effect of nicotine and some of its derivatives on dopaminergic neurons viability, neuroinflammation, and motor and memory functions, have been investigated using cellular and rodent models of PD. Current evidence shows that nicotine, and some of its derivatives diminish oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in the brain and improve synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival of dopaminergic neurons. In vivo these effects resulted in improvements in mood, motor skills and memory in subjects suffering from PD pathology.

Ulcerative colitis, sepsis, obesity

The Journal of Translational Medicine has reproduced the full text of a study of nicotine’s benefits on alleviating gut inflammation, particularly in the case of ulcerative colitis. The paper also states that nicotine may benefit patients with sepsis. In brief, nicotine helps counter cytokines, about which I wrote last year.

This is a highly technical paper, therefore, only brief excerpts follow:

Nicotine has been proven effective in reducing obesity-related inflammation and insulin resistance [7] and attenuating inflammation and improving gut function in patients with active colitis [8]. In fact, ulcerative colitis patients with a history of smoking usually acquire their disease after they have stopped smoking [911]. Patients who smoke intermittently often experience an improvement in their colitis symptoms during the periods when they smoke [9,12]. Therefore the development of drugs designed to suppress the aberrant inflammatory response in obesity and ulcerative colitis may be of significant help in giving relief to patients.

nicotine exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in many systems [15,16,21,22] …

ACh and nicotine also reduce the concentration of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein production by macrophages in sepsis patients [31]. HMGB1, a nucleosome protein that acts as a pro-inflammatory cytokine, stimulates other pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-8) and promotes epithelial cell permeability [31]. Treatment with nicotine attenuated serum HMGB1 levels, decreased the clinical signs of sepsis, provided significant protection against death and improved survival in “established” sepsis [31]. Additionally, nicotine treatment was not started until 24 h after the induction of lethal peritonitis in mice indicating that the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway can modulate the inflammatory response even in established sepsis [26].

This effect of nicotine on suppressing cytokine storms might also partly explain why nicotine suppresses appetite. As with all findings, more research must be done:

Nicotine, the principal addictive constituent of tobacco, has been shown to suppress appetite and attenuates obesity in many studies, but the underlying mechanism is not clear. Nicotine receptors are highly expressed in the hypothalamus and medulla, in nuclei that play a significant role in appetite regulation … these findings indicate that nicotine has a number of actions on hypothalamic neurons that could contribute to the reduced food intake and weight loss associated with smoking.

With regard to obesity, the paper goes on to say that there are obese people who are also heavy smokers. Nicotine does not appear to help them. Furthermore, nicotine can make type 2 diabetes patients more insulin-resistant (implying unregulated insulin production) rather than insulin-sensitive:

Moreover, smoking appears to aggravate insulin resistance in persons with type 2 diabetes and to impair glycemic control [70]. Other factors such as low physical activity and poor diet could counterbalance and even overtake the slimming effect of smoking. Clearly, the pathophysiological factors involved in the association among smoking and obesity are little explored, and remain to be elucidated.


My own prediction is that within the next ten to 20 years, the following two things will happen.

One is that people will slowly begin to see nicotine as being beneficial to the human body. The reason this hasn’t happened yet is that, as the Ashtray Blog states:

Maryka Quik who has conducted numerous notable studies on the effect of nicotine on the brain, made a valid point:

“The whole problem with nicotine is that it happens to be found in cigarettes” she said, “people can’t disassociate the two in their mind, nicotine and smoking.”

The second is that Big Tobacco will drop smokers for the most part and begin collaborating with Big Pharma on nicotine-based medicine. (Some tobacco fields in the US have already been sold to Big Pharma for big bucks.)

That’s where the future lies.

Many will say, once again, that nicotine is good for you.

The end of Britain’s anti-tobacco campaign, Stoptober, comes as a relief.

Its counterpart is #Octabber. Whilst most of my posts this month have not focussed on smoking, they do point to a possible endgame of drug-taking replacing the clear thinking which nicotine provides.

I remember the sensible days when smoking was allowed nearly everywhere: aircraft, offices and public buildings. Ashtrays — large or small — were ubiquitous until the late 1980s. In the 1990s, separate smoking rooms became common. Shortly after the Millennium — at least in Britain — these were done away with and the great outdoors became the smoking lounge. Our near-universal smoking bans were in place a few years later.

The effect has been devastating on pubs, productivity and property rights.

Adults can no longer go out to meet their friends for a drink and a cigarette in some areas; there is no pub anymore, never mind one with a smoking area in back.

Office workers need to walk outside — sometimes a few minutes away — for a quiet smoke. Often, because of the weather, there is no longer the ability to take work to do during a five-minute cigarette break.

Private companies can no longer allow an employee to smoke in a company car or other vehicle. The government has dictated to them, just as it has to those in the hospitality industry, what can and cannot be done within the confines of their own property. Along with this is the constant threat of new legislation which would prohibit smoking in the family car if children were present.

We in the West read that our health services are on overload or at breakdown point. Nonetheless, Tobacco Control rolls on with Alcohol Control not far behind. If I were in charge of any of our governments, the first thing I would do would be to remove the funding from these people. We all know the risks; we learn about them at home and in school. We know we can go to our pharmacists and doctors if we want help to stop smoking or drinking. That’s quite enough.

Agree or disagree with smoking (or drinking), no government should be dictating what can be done on or in private property other than where it concerns trespass, crime, unreasonable burdens on neighbours or domestic abuse.

In closing, here are a few more medical benefits from nicotine.

First, health writer Art Ayers’s research has revealed that studies from 2007 and 2009 have shown nicotine may benefit compromised immune systems with:

beneficial effects on inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases and perhaps, H1N1 [swine flu].

He says that the studies show that nicotine produces these benefits by acting on the vagus nerve, which runs from the base of our brains (medulla oblongata) through to the abdomen. The vagus nerve has a significant effect on various physical functions, from those in the brain all the way to the digestive tract.

Nicotine may also help to prevent or diminish the devastation of what are known as cytokine storms. In cases of infection or a compromised immune system:

cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection. In addition, cytokines activate those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines.[2] Normally, this feedback loop is kept in check by the body. However, in some instances, the reaction becomes uncontrolled, and too many immune cells are activated in a single place. The precise reason for this is not entirely understood but may be caused by an exaggerated response when the immune system encounters a new and highly pathogenic invader. Cytokine storms have potential to do significant damage to body tissues and organs. If a cytokine storm occurs in the lungs, for example, fluids and immune cells such as macrophages may accumulate and eventually block off the airways, potentially resulting in death.

Ayers writes that nicotine is being studied to see if its anti-inflammatory properties can be used to block cytokine storms, particularly in the case of influenza.

Therefore, smokers, he says, are protecting themselves from infection and disease. However, when they stop smoking, they open themselves up to inflammatory disorders, as nicotine is no longer present.

More surprisingly, perhaps, are the studies which indicate that smoking may actually prevent some types of cancer. Second Opinions, cited yesterday, found two studies which discuss stomach and breast cancer (emphases mine in the body of the text):

Stomach cancer

There is other evidence that smoking might actually protect against cancer. Nitrates and nitrites, commonly found in vegetables and cured meats turn to carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach. Smoking inhibits the uptake of circulating nitrate into the saliva, especially at higher levels of dietary nitrate intake. (11)

Breast cancer

One out of every 250 women has one of the inherited mutated genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, whose normal function is not yet fully understood. And 80 percent of women with one of the mutated genes will get breast cancer before the age of 70. This means that 3200 women per million will get breast cancer. Dr Paul Kleihues, M.D., Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO reported a study which found that smoking cuts the risk of developing breast cancer by 50 percent in these women. “The protection associated with smoking increased with the amount smoked. . . The risk reduction associated with up to four pack-years (one pack-year equals one pack per day for one year) of smoking was 35 percent, and for greater than four pack-years of smoking was 54 percent.” (12)

So, it’s not all bad for smokers or for nicotine.

Yet, in their war on smoking, the medical community and social policy makers over the past 30 years have encouraged non-smokers to blame smokers for their every ill. Going to the doctor’s surgery (office) or Accident & Emergency results in being asked, ‘Do you smoke?’ prior to any consultation or treatment. Smokers, who pay tax with every tobacco purchase (in the UK, around 75% of the cost of a pack of 20), are being denied NHS operations unless they stop smoking. Many employers condemn smoking, which extends to well-qualified, energetic interview candidates. Even when going away on holiday, the smoker is met with accommodation sites saying ‘100% non-smoking property’. The list goes on.

The end result is that non-smokers view smokers as being morally derelict.

Therefore, it’s high time Tobacco Control were put out to pasture. It’s time, instead, that we find out the truth about the causes of lung cancer — vehicle emissions being a good starting point.

Although not naturally optimistic, I remain hopeful that, just as a number of headlines in 2014 have been hailing the benefits of animal fat on the human body (a swipe at Ancel Keys’s falsehoods which have persisted since the 1950s), that smoking ceases to be demonised in the near future.

Fortunately, certain towns and counties in the US have been repealing their smoking bans. In some cases they have been declared unconstitutional. In others, restaurant and bar owners said the bans were bad for business.

Smoking is hardly the world’s greatest evil.

In fact, it pales in comparison to bullying of all ages, child molestation, child suicide, rising crime, domestic violence, abortion as birth control and the very real rise of tuberculosis (among other diseases) in the West.  Those really are public health concerns.

Many cigarette and e-cigarette smokers attest that they think more clearly than non-smokers.

Whilst this might appear a subjective comment to most of the population, smokers also point out the social advances helped along by nicotine.

In short, nicotine helps to improve cognitive abilities and thinking.

Before continuing, I feel obliged to say the following. First, no one is encouraging anyone to start smoking. Secondly, the news about nicotine is not all bad. Thirdly, the content below helps to explain why some smokers and e-cigarette users do not wish to give up.

ELI5, an e-cigarette smoker (and probably someone for whom English is a second language), began an interesting discussion on Reddit. Part of his premise follows (emphases mine):

I wonder often why nicotine is so universally despised on reddit. If we look at the effects of culture after tobacco was brought from America to Europe in the 1500s there is an immediate effect of: The renaissance, scientific revolution, explosion of democracy, literature, arts. Most of the famous scientists and inventors of the twentieth century smoked, including Einstein, Hubble, Tesla, Edison, Oppenheimer and more. The most famous american writer ever: Mark Twain was an avid smoker.

If you look at country wide smoking, it is clear th[at] the countries with the fastest growth have the most smokers. Germany, for example, regularly the top exporter in the world, ha[s] about 50% more smokers than America.

Smoking helps with weight loss. It’s been argued that obesity related illnesses make up the largest percentage of America’s health care expenditures. Obesity is also correlated with marked cognitive decline.

It just boggles my mind why something that has so many society wide benefits is so universally despised on Reddit …

Because it seems like there is an agenda to kill nicotine consumption in America. I suppose that health care has a lot to benefit from this as cigarette consumption generally is a much more efficient killer than obesity related illnesses. There’s more money to get from it. Please someone who knows something, try to explain why it does seem like there is a battle to ban nicotine, and not necessarily smoking.

One of my favourite smoking writers is England’s Frank Davis. All his posts are excellent. Some discuss thinking and nicotine, such as this one from 2011, ‘Nicotine Improves Brain Performance’:

People simply work better – up to 30% better – when they’re smoking than when they’re not. And they maintain concentration for longer. Nicotine is a performance-enhancing drug. It’s a ‘work-drug’.

It’s certainly true in my experience. I concentrate better when I’m smoking. Whenever I think hard about anything, I reach for the tobacco. And when I’m not thinking about anything, I don’t.

Tobacco seems to be unusual among drugs in that it doesn’t have strong psychotropic effects. This isn’t true of alcohol or cannabis or opium, all of which have quite strong psychotropic effects, which increase with the amount consumed. But there isn’t anything that can really be called a tobacco ‘high’, in my experience. Perhaps just a slight lift ...

Yet the war on smoking always proceeds on the assumption that there are no benefits from smoking, but only costs. Antismokers dismiss all benefits, and exaggerate the costs. And this is likely to backfire on them in the end, when the people eventually find out that they’ve been lied to

Frank helped to edit a well-researched article on smoking, nicotine and the brain by two Danes, Niels Ipsen, an environmental biologist and Klaus Kjellerup, a researcher.

The two men present their findings in ‘Science is conclusive: Tobacco increases work capacity’. Excerpts follow, but, whatever side of the nicotine debate you find yourself on, it is an informative and well researched article, well worth reading.

Emphases in the original, purple highlights mine.

A recent and thorough study of nicotine and cognition is revealing:

– In 2010 the U.S. government published a groundbreaking meta-analysis, which summarizes the last 40 years of knowledge about tobacco and nicotine effects on the brain. The analysis was conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, headed by researcher Stephen Heishman: Meta-analysis of the acute effects of nicotine and smoking on human performance. Abstract: (3) – full text (4).

The results in Heishman’s analysis gives the clear impression that it could turn out to be a very bad idea to try to “eradicate” tobacco. For nicotine has positive impacts in the areas of motor skills, attention, focus, speed and memory – and the effect is significant, the researchers say: The results are not due to statistical chance

Heishman’s team examined all 256 published non-medicinal nicotine tests carried out since 1994 when they conducted a similar study. The tests measured both the effect of cigarettes on smokers – and the effect of non-smoking nicotine on non-smokers. 

– 48 of the best quality trials were selected for the meta-analysis following strict scientific criteria: They had to be placebo controlled – with nicotine-free patches and nicotine-free cigarettes – and double blinded, so no subjects knew whether they had received nicotine or not

Furthermore only trials in which none of the smokers were craving tobacco were used. Thus Heishman excluded the risk that smokers may have performed unusually well because of their relief from the withdrawal effect. 

Furthermore, many people today are surprised to find that famous personalities from various walks of life were — and are — smokers:

– The positive effect on the brain may explain why many of history’s greatest scientists have been avid smokers – for example Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein, both of whom praised the effect of tobacco on their scientific thinking.

Furthermore, it is known that many athletes, creative people, stage performers, writers, musicians and artists through time have been smokers. The nicotine in cigarettes appears to have been particularly important for people who need to produce something unique or competitive in their work.

Top footballers, in particular, have often surprised the media when it emerged that they were avid smokers, while they were at the peak of their careers. For example, the puritanical British media people couldn’t imagine that a top player like Wayne Rooney would be able to deliver top performances for his team, when they revealed it as a scandal, that Rooney is a smoker (5). 

– The truth is however, that some of the world’s most creative stars – like Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldo, Dimitar Berbatov and many other players from the highest levels of football – were avid smokers while they were at the top of their careers – including the Danish 80’s hero, Preben Elkjaer …

The effects also suggest an answer to the puzzle of why people start smoking and continue on a permanent basis – and the proof comes paradoxically from the results of the effect of nicotine on non-smokers, who also perform better when they get nicotine gum. Heishman writes: 

“… [The fact that] the results are also found among non-smokers is an indirect evidence that nicotine performance enhancing effects may be the reason why people start smoking.”

The two Danes discuss more studies from past and present which demonstrate that nicotine helps drivers, pilots and workers in general.

Speaking of the last — workers — the article tells us that higher rates of smoking increase labour productivity. This could help to at least partly explain the surprising rise of the BRICS countries’ economic performance to that of those in the West:

In a somewhat unscientific way, it is probably safe to say that if non-nicotine users perform 1.0, then nicotine users will perform up to 1.25 – with smokers as the absolute top performers. At the same time nicotine users – especially smokers – who fail to maintain nicotine levels will perform down to 0.75. 

– This fact raises the question: Can nicotine have had a beneficial effect on innovation & growth in the economy in the last century? If this is true, it may help to explain why the productivity of labor in the western world has decreased slightly each year since  the 1970s, when the official health campaigns began to reduce the number of smokers.

One can also raise questions about whether the numerous smoking bans in workplaces could have contributed to the recent large productivity decline. In Denmark an unexpected and inexplicable collapse in labor productivity was apparent in 2007 and 2008 – right after the state banned smoking in all Danish workplaces. (1920)

Moving on to other sources, a study published in the June 1995 issue of Psychopharmacology about the effect nicotine has on inspection time (IT) reveals (emphases mine):

IT was significantly shorter in the smoking condition as compared to both the no-smoking or sham-smoking conditions, suggesting that nicotine enhances early information processing. This result is of particular interest because of the correlation between IT and IQ reported in previous experiments. The nicotine related decrease in IT raises the possibility that nicotine enhances at least a subset of the physiological processes underlying intellectual performance.

Even older non-smokers could benefit from clinically-managed nicotine intake via patches or other pharmaceutical delivery methods. This study comes from the American Academy of Neurology and was published in January 2012:

This study looked at nicotine in people with mild cognitive impairment, which is the stage between normal aging and dementia when people have mild memory or thinking problems but no significant disability …

After six months of treatment, the nicotine-treated group regained 46 percent of normal performance for age on long-term memory, whereas the placebo group worsened by 26 percent over the same time period …

Nicotine stimulates receptors in the brain that are important for thinking and memory skills.

These are a few of the benefits of nicotine. Many great social, artistic and technological advances came about thanks to smoking, which stimulates thinking.

Scientists are finally waking up to the benefits of nicotine. Yes, it is useful. Its benefits are one reason that the remaining smoking population does not wish to quit.

The following is likely to happen with less tobacco or nicotine use. This observation comes from someone who knows the reality of today’s San Francisco scene:

People are very “doped up” in SF and I see them daily, hear them talking about it, lauding one anti-depressant over the other and many of them ex-smokers. They have simply substituted the use and words like Wellbutrin, Chantrix, Paxil or countless others, the way 30 years ago they’d have spoken about and used the words Marlboro, Winston or Lucky Strikes. The one has substituted for the others, but their eyes are truly glassy, “doped up” and should someone spot a smoker, even at a distance, quite a rile has to be made over it, by someone in the crowd, so that feeling of anti-smoking comaraderie becomes manifested and “all is well”, “normal”, the way it’s been packaged and presented, in the propaganda, which is inescapable. I am just relaying some facts, very common daily real life situations, as I have observed them.

The rest of Anonymous’s comments on that thread from Frank Davis’s archives detail what life in California is like. In closing, this is what everyone’s reality could be like in future:

SF was also where they signed the UN treaty after WWII, the same UN which gave birth to the WHO and the international tobacco treaty, the international global warming based treaties and soon international gun banning treaties, which has led to the global state of things currently, which are very top down, a command economy and political system. There are historical roots in that city …

I feel frightened to think what will happen when some of what I see currently, in SF, is called “a great success” by the social engineers, then pushed onto unsuspecting populations across the US and thousands of miles away across the seas. They may not even see it coming, but it should be felt physically to those who will be affected by each piece of pre-tested evil social and political structure when it hits their shores, out of the blue, everyone blind to the source from where it has been first tested and honed to a fine art.

Cleansing the world the San Francisco globalist way will not be a good thing. In fact, far from it. But I digress.

In 2011, Jacob Sullum, who writes for the libertarian site Reason, explored the unofficial ban on hiring smokers in the United States.

It’s peculiar that employers choose non-mind-altering nicotine as a target. Tobacco Control refer to smokers as helpless addicts who must be punished, first by ever-escalating taxes (75% to 80% of the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes) then by unemployment or protracted job searches.

Sullum notes the disconnect of Tobacco Control’s arguments:

Anyone who has paid any attention to anti-smoking propaganda over the years could tell you that smokers are the enemy whenever it’s convenient. They are portrayed as victims in product liability suits and pleas for limits on tobacco advertising but villains in campaigns for higher cigarette taxes and ever-more-comprehensive smoking bans. If anti-smoking activists truly believed that smokers are helpless nicotine slaves, why would they support policies that “punish an addiction” through punitive, regressive taxes and restrictions that make it increasingly difficult for these addicts to get their fix (for example, by banning separate smoking rooms in workplaces and smoking near the entrances of office buildings)?

As far as employing smokers is concerned, Sullum says it should be the employer’s right to choose, although this would apply equally to non-smokers.

It is a mystery that, if this is such an overwhelming issue, why more employers just don’t say at the outset that a smoker might have to contribute to his own company-provided health insurance above the premium the employer pays for a non-smoker. If Company XYZ pays $100 per non-smoker and a smoker’s premium were $125, then, the employer could ask that the excess amount be deducted each month from the smoker’s pay, take it or leave it.

As for the oft-mentioned ‘smokers take more sick days’, I have noticed over my working years that most people taking sick days had never touched tobacco in their lives. Smokers showed up nearly every day, many of them starting early. They also seemed to have much more energy throughout the day and applied greater concentration to the work at hand. In the days of smoking lounges, many smokers held work-based discussions or took a report to read.

Unlike non-smokers, my smoking colleagues weren’t running off to the tea room every 20 minutes or sitting down to gossip with a colleague. How much do non-smokers lose a company in productive time?

Sullum’s main complaint is where this prohibition of employment and ‘public health’ campaigns are taking Western society and government:

The real slippery slope threat comes not from increasingly nosy employers but from an increasingly intrusive government that considers promoting “public health” part of its mission and interprets that concept broadly enough to encompass everything people do that might increase their own risk of disease or injury. That totalitarian tendency is reinforced by the government’s ever-expanding role in health care, which transforms a moralistic, pseudo-medical argument into a fiscal imperative by giving every taxpayer a stake in his neighbor’s lifestyle. A smoker or fat guy turned away by one employer can always look for work elsewhere, but citizens subject to the state’s coercive health-oriented interventions cannot easily pick a different government.

He has a point, although that still doesn’t cover the basic problem, which is that smokers — no matter how clean they are or few cigarettes they have — face increasing discrimination in the workplace.

The most egregious aspect of hiring policy is the complete prohibition of tobacco for employees, not just at work but at home, too. Even worse, there have also been reports of non-smoking employees’ spouses being targeted by a wife or husband’s employer! One example is Weyco Inc., located in Michigan (emphases mine below):

Weyco Inc., now part of health-benefits manager Meritain Health, had not only a no-smoking policy that included mandatory tobacco testing of workers, but a no-smoking policy for spouses as well. No Michigan statute prohibits that kind of action, [attorney Lewis] Maltby says.

Talk about an employer owning family life. It’s lifestyle slavery.

Ex-smokers on nicotine substitutes also face problems. In 2012, USA Today carried an article on the subject stating that even someone who wants to kick the habit might find getting a job difficult:

More job-seekers are facing an added requirement: no smoking — at work or anytime.

As bans on smoking sweep the USA, an increasing number of employers — primarily hospitals — are also imposing bans on smokers. They won’t hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use, whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches.

Such tobacco-free hiring policies, designed to promote health and reduce insurance premiums, took effect this month at the Baylor Health Care System in Texas and will apply at the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, when it opens this year.

Fascism at work.

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