In what can only be called a bizarre leap of pseudoscience, U.S. Surgeon General Dr Regina M. Benjamin recently announced that smoking one cigarette can kill you.
In fact, she says, just breathing in the smoke from someone else’s cigarette can kill you, she claims. It’s all part of a just-released report entitled A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease.
“The chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale, causing damage immediately,” Dr Benjamin says. “Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer.”
Lying by omission
What’s so wrong with this statement? While there’s no question that smoking factory-made cigarettes is harmful to your health, this statement is being made by a US Surgeon General who utterly fails to offer similar warnings for all the other toxic products made by powerful corporations — products that can kill you far more easily.
For example, if smoking one cigarette can kill you, so can taking one pharmaceutical pill. Numerous pharmaceuticals cause DNA mutations , meaning that they, too, can “damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer,” to use the Surgeon General’s own words.
At the same time, there are countless personal care products such as perfumes, shampoos, skin lotions, antibacterial soaps, sunscreens and cosmetics that are also loaded with DNA-mutating synthetic chemicals. The average perfume or cologne product contains over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, all of which contribute to an increased risk of cancer. So where is the Surgeon General’s warning about the risk of death from using all these products?
On these issues, the office of the Surgeon General is strangely silent. Perhaps that’s because much of what the Surgeon General actually says is really just (tobacco) smoke and mirrors.