How Smokers Support Slavery

75% of commercially grown tobacco is now sourced in the third world. A canny move by the Tobacco Barons since it provides incredibly cheap labour and a distinct lack of the annoying bureaucracy that tends to look after things like Health & Safety. One third of tobacco is grown in China. Zimbabwe, Turkey, India & Brazil are also major producers though some tobacco is still grown in the US and Europe.

With tobacco cultivation there’s all the normal stuff that you get with any crop, ploughing, sowing, weeding… but growing tobacco from this point on takes on a slightly sinister appearance compared with most other crops.

Just as tobacco is a health hazard to those who smoke it, it is also a health hazard to those who grow the stuff. The most common problem experienced by tobacco farmers and their children is acute nicotine poisoning – otherwise known as Green Tobacco Sickness (GTS). Doesn’t Green Tobacco Sickness sound so much nicer than acute nicotine poisoning? GTS is an occupational hazard for tobacco growers and its symptoms are nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle weakness, and dizziness. This is because of the nicotine absorbed through the skin from the contact that field workers have with tobacco leaves – in much the same way as it is absorbed from the nicotine patches smokers use when they are trying to quit. And these field workers don’t have much choice about contact because tobacco plants need a lot of physical intervention – like the removal of side shoots and flowers – in order to force the leaves to reach the required sizes. The nicotine transfer from leaf to bloodstream is much more rapid when the leaves are wet.

Statistics on the prevalence of GTS are unreliable simply because most doctors – even in tobacco farming areas – do not recognise the symptoms for what they are. The only other area of agriculture where the crop itself is a serious biohazard is in the cultivation of illicit substances like coca and opium.

One researcher wrung the sweat from the shirts of tobacco field workers and found it contained almost 0.1mg of nicotine per millilitre. Rain or dew on the leaves of tobacco plants has been measured with a concentration of up to 9mg nicotine per 100mL of dew. The average field worker is exposed, through contact with moisture on the leaves, to 72mg of nicotine – about the same as a 40 a day smoker. So if you want the nicotine without the tar and additives go and get a job as a tobacco worker and get paid for giving up smoking. For the production of flue cured tobacco, leaves are harvested individually by hand – thus maximising contact with the toxin in the leaves.

Nicotine tolerance builds over long periods of exposure. Children don’t have this and tobacco farming makes use of large quantities of child labour so children are at much higher risk of developing GTS.

Be aware also that tobacco is one of the agricultural products most commonly farmed with child labour (Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) or forced labour (Malawi & Kazakhstan). On the cigarette manufacturing side of the process, forced and child labour is used in India where (according to WHO) 325,000 children work rolling tobacco and about half of those are bonded labourers (effectively slavery).

As an example 50,000 bonded labourers are engaged in cigarette production in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. Only 5,000 of these are registered (and, therefore, protected by labour laws) the rest receive the equivalent of 50cents (US) per 1000 cigarettes they make. Employers make deductions from this at their own discretion. Among these employees a 9 year old boy and a 10 year old girl were found bound by iron chains because of their repeated escape attempts.

In Malawi children as young as three are being employed to produce tobacco. Here the going rate is $1.28 (US) for a day’s work for a family of four sorting tobacco leaves. One day, by the way, is dawn to dusk. A family of seven (in bonded labour) earn $29 a year as tobacco farmers. Here tobacco farms send recruiters to villagers for child labourers. The children report having food withheld and being beaten. Pay is promised to the parents at the end of the season.

Malawi obtains 65% of its foreign income from tobacco (probably the only country in the world economically dependent on tobacco – I have heard it said that the tobacco companies would like you to believe they are the saviours of the Third World, and without tobacco many countries would become bankrupt). Malawi’s produce is purchased by British American Tobacco  (Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall) Imperial Tobacco (Lambert & Butler, John Player Special, Sonoma, USA Gold and Gauloise), and Philip Morris (Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Benson & Hedges, Chesterfield & Merit). Interestingly British American Tobacco founded the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation.

Forced labour in Malawi takes place under the guise of tenant farming where an agreement is made with the landlord. The tenant is promised a share in the profit when the crop is sold. The tenant has to purchase seed, and anything else that is needed, from the landlord, but has no control over the sale of the crop and usually the landlord arranges things so there is no profit. Consequently the tenant sinks deeper and deeper into debt – often forcing young children into the fields because family is the only free labour available.

A life of slavery is the only possible outcome.

Ultimately the smoker is responsible.

Purchasing tobacco is in effect condoning every aspect of tobacco production.

So if you smoke, think about children being chained; children being poisoned; and families spending their entire lives getting deeper and deeper into debt.

Think about it every time you hand over your hard-earned cash for your next pack of twenty.

…and if you need a little help giving up then check out my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis, or my download page.




Smoke Yourself to Death – We Don’t Care

Fact Meets Fiction

A couple of months ago a book was recommended to me – The Racketeer by John Grisham. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d never read any of his work before so it was a pleasant surprise to encounter a new author with several books on the shelves of the local library.

John Grisham, if you aren’t familiar with his work, writes legal thrillers about courtroom dramas, lawyers, and the corruption in the US legal system.

I’m halfway through The Runaway Jury at the moment. I’ll briefly tell you the story but, no, this isn’t a book review. The story is very relevant to a piece of health news I came across this morning. The Runaway Jury is a story about a widow’s fight for compensation from a tobacco company for the death of her husband – caused by lung cancer. The fascinating part of the story is all the dirty tricks going on in the background – from eliminating jury members who are almost certainly going to vote against you, to blackmailing family members in order to coerce a jury member to vote the right way.

The suggestion is that the huge wealth of the tobacco companies is sufficient to ensure a favourable verdict because they have absolutely no scruples – as long as they don’t get caught.

Legislation Weakened

Then, while checking through my health news updates this morning I came across a piece regarding new tobacco legislation in the US.

“White House changes to proposed rules for tobacco products significantly weakened language detailing health risks from cigars and deleted restrictions that might have prevented online sales of e-cigarettes, published documents show.” – Reuters

The White House also “deleted an FDA analysis showing that exempting premium cigars from a proposal to require large warning labels would save manufacturers $1 million to $3 million but incur costs to public health of $32.6 million to $34.2 million.”

A lot of the White House’s interference seems to relate to the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) attempts to regulate sales of e-cigarettes, with the consequence that they will still be readily available to under-18’s.


The tobacco lobby is powerful and determined to resist any legislation that will negatively impact the industry’s profits – regardless of the consequences to its customers’ health and well-being.

Douglas H. Luke PhD. St Louis University, examined pro-tobacco political campaign contributions between 1993 and 2000. He found that 220 Republicans and 140 Democrat legislators accepted more than $6.8 million in contributions.  So it’s hardly surprising that anti-tobacco legislation is easily influenced.

From a research paper on how the tobacco industry influences US law.

Protect Profits

This goal of preserving the tobacco market was repeated many times, such as in this 1995 Philip Morris internal document, which stated:

“Our goal is to help shape regulatory environments that enable our businesses to achieve their objectives in all locations where we do business. “Our overall approach to the issues is to fight aggressively with all available resources, against any attempt, from any quarter, to diminish our ability to manufacture our products efficiently, and market them effectively. “We are also becoming more and more proactive in launching programs and hope that we can control the regulation which results from a public sense of inaction. “We also know that in a world where our business interests have enemies—sometimes the best offense is to aim right at the heart of the problem [health consequences of tobacco use] our critics raise. “By solving the problem, we take away their ammunition to harm us. “In short, we are very clear about our objective—an unyielding and aggressive defense of our rights to make and sell our products and our consumers’ rights to have a free marketplace so that they can choose and use those products.”

The tobacco industry’s public rhetoric never mentions its primary objective: to ensure a large customer base, stable markets, and higher profits.


Philip Morris is the manufacturer of Marlboro, L&M, Bond Street, Parliament, Chesterfield as well as other cigarette brands. It makes an annual profit of around $2,000,000,000.


That Healthy Nicotine Buzz

In my experience of both helping people to stop smoking and talking to friends who smoke, e-cigarettes are a great way to get the nicotine buzz without all the carcinogens contained in the smoke. But everyone I know who switched to e-cigarettes and praised them eventually started smoking real cigarettes again. It seems it’s easy to stop smoking real cigarettes for a while, but the safer electronic versions soon pall and so the cigarette manufacturers can rest assured that their products still have a profitable demand.

It seems e-ciggies, despite all the fancy flavours, aren’t able to help people quit.

But apart from that I have serious doubts about their safety. Nicotine is a highly toxic poison. There is no way around that. Still it keeps the tobacco growing industry in business and the tobacco industry is a multi-billion dollar one.

The Money is all that Matters

The tobacco industry is very like Big Pharma. Billions and billions of dollars are available and any threat to that massive income is dealt with in whatever way is necessary. I can’t help thinking about corruption in high places, when legislation designed to make it more difficult to get hooked on cigarettes, or even just nicotine, is either scuppered or watered down.

It’s all about profit.

You don’t matter.


Inspired by:

Further reading:


You Don’t Have To Gain Weight When You Quit Smoking

A recent study, based on 62 other pieces of research, found evidence that one of the fears of smokers is true. The fear is that of gaining weight when they quit smoking. The average weight gain was around 10lbs after 12 months of abstinence from smoking.

But that’s just the averages. The initial gain was about 2lbs a month slowly dropping to the 10lbs at twelve months. But there was actually huge variation within the study. Some smokers lost weight. About 1 in 4 gained under 2lbs over the twelve month study period, and 1 in 5 had lost weight at the end of the twelve months.

Worth noting is that people who sign up for clinical trials are not necessarily representative – they may not be an ‘average’ smoker, and so the findings of clinical trials like these may not relate well to real life.

“Quitting smoking at age 40 increases life expectancy by nine years, even taking into account the possible post-cessation weight gain.”

Henri-Jean Aubin, professor of psychiatry

Methods of quitting included in the trial were: nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin, Voxra, Budeprion, Aplenzin), varenicline (Chantix, Champix), and exercise. As usual, hypnotherapy was not one of the tested stop-smoking therapies. Hypnotherapy tends not to get tested because there’s no money in it for the Pharmaceutical companies who make $ millons by convincing smokers that giving up is really difficult and they need help. The truth is that the vast majority of smokers who successfully stop smoking do so without any help and without any drugs.

The next most effective method is hypnosis.

Bupropion was originally tested and marketed as an anti-depressant, but it wasn’t very good so they’re now passing it off as if it were the bee’s knees in smoking cessation drugs.

Varenicline has had suicidal ideation and occasional suicidal behavior, erratic behavior, and drowsiness reported as side-effects. The manufacturer, Pfizer, have added “some patients have reported changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions” to the drug’s safety information.

The majority of clients, coming to see me for help to stop smoking, do not express any concerns about putting on weight. But after reading this research it could well be that the smokers who are concerned about weight gain do not seek help to quit.

Still, in my quit smoking treatment, I talk about weight gain and how it isn’t going to happen. In the hypnosis I reinforce this and weight gain just doesn’t seem to be a problem with clients that I help to stop smoking.



The Study:

Stop Smoking

Nicotine, Addiction & Stopping Smoking

Nicotine is an interesting substance. It is an alkaloid – this is a bitter tasting poison manufactured by plants and stored in their leaves and stems to stop them being eaten by animals. It is a friendly warning from the plant world to the animal world saying ‘don’t eat this it will make you ill’.

Humans are well known for living out of harmony with their natural environment.

I’ve yet to treat a smoker who isn’t surprised when I tell them that nicotine is a highly toxic poison. They don’t know that they are smoking something that is three times as toxic as arsenic and more lethal than strychnine. They are also surprised that nicotine is used as a pesticide and is so toxic that a few drops of the pure substance on the skin can be fatal. This is quite important. Nicotine does not have to be ingested to kill you.

A lethal dose can be quite easily absorbed via the skin.

But of course it is obvious that nicotine can be absorbed through the skin because otherwise nicotine patches would be a waste of time – wouldn’t they?

And of course there is that other favourite – the nicotine gum; so you can spend hours exercising your jaw muscles and get your poison absorbed through the lining of your mouth, throat and stomach.

The real problem is that smokers are treated like addicts who are so addicted that it is a complete waste of time even bothering to even attempt to wean them off the substance they are ‘addicted’ to. All that modern medical science can do for these poor addicts is to separate out the toxin from all the other nasty stuff in the tobacco leaf and give it to them in a pure form.

In its pure form it takes just 60mg of nicotine to turn a 150lb adult into a corpse.

And it does it very rapidly. So it seems like a really good idea to chew this stuff and stick it in close contact with your skin – doesn’t it?

I get smokers coming to see me for help in quitting. A significant number have tried patches or gum. Quite often they tell me they ended up using the gum, or the patches, and smoking as well. That was when they realised they needed some real help if they were to succeed in stopping.

About 600 years ago the very best minds on this planet had no doubts at all that what we know as planet Earth was as flat as a pancake. They were mistaken. Those minds were just as intelligent as the minds we use today. We just have greater knowledge and more recorded history. About 500 years ago the very best minds on this planet thought the sun revolved around the Earth. They were mistaken too.

Some of the very best minds on the planet today believe that nicotine is addictive in the same way that heroine is addictive.

They are mistaken.

Most cigarettes are smoked in response to environmental stimuli e,g, a glass of beer, a cup of coffee, food (afterwards, not during), driving, getting off an aeroplane, telephone calls, sex (afterwards, not during), commercial breaks…

This is not an addiction it is training.

Hypnosis interferes with the automatic (i.e. without thought) responses that trigger lighting up.

Hypnosis makes giving up easier than it can be otherwise.

Stop Smoking at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home
Stop Smoking at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home

Michael Hadfield D.Hyp., MBSCH