Sunday, April 10, 2005

Planned incandescence

When you think about it, it's very strange that cigarettes keep burning.

Cigars & pipe tobacco stop burning when you stop smoking. Hand-rolled cigs, and damn-cheap cigs, have to be re-lit all the time. Cigarette smokers don't want cigs to burn continuously ... it makes them disappear more quickly. This story, about Reduced Ignition Propensity (RIP) cigarettes, led me to a Canadian historical overview. Apparently cigarettes are designed to burn continuously, and to burn faster. As a result, they set things on fire:

Considerable controversy has surrounded the tobacco industry's use of burn additives to enhance the burn rate of cigarette paper. It would appear logical that the removal or reduction of burn additives would reduce ignition potential. Further, all three of the experimental cigarettes with the lowest ignition potential in the TSG study had no burn additives in their papers.

The obvious reason for the design, is profit. The product burns itself, raising sales.

It also kills 900 people, and starts 30,000 fires, every year, just in the US.

It's crazy that even the operation of the cigarette is the result of a sales plan. And of course, the industry refuses to remove the burn additives. Until corporations are forced to be transparent and under the control of the population, pervasive perversions like this will increasingly penetrate our lives.

We can start with a repository of engineering data, so that any mass-produced product that enters the market is analyzed, every ingredient explained, all sourcing traced, all manufacturing monitored. My feeling is that very few of today's mass-market products would survive the public's scrutiny.


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