Meta Smoking - who needs a filter!
June 15, 2005 8:50 PM   Subscribe

What's China Smoking?
posted by daksya (36 comments total)
Here's the US's chance to totally get the Chinese hooked on American products for a change.
posted by Balisong at 9:17 PM on June 15, 2005

This is all you need to know: a pack of Camels cost 6 yuan. That's right, less than one U.S. dollar. At that price why not smoke?!

I just got back from China and I swear to god I've never seen so many people smoke. Also, for the record, the majority of folks I met over there know smoking is bad for you. Don't believe the hype.
posted by photoslob at 9:36 PM on June 15, 2005

I've heard the Parkinson's thing before - if not actually reducing the risk, maybe easing symptoms. Of course, it's one of those things you hear through somebody who says they talked to some foreign doctor about it.

Some links to some of the ridiculous marketing the article discusses would be nice.
posted by blendor at 9:43 PM on June 15, 2005

There's been plenty of talk about the beneficial cognitive effects of nicotine; though I'm not sure that the research is super-definitive. It's been suggested that it can improve memory and concentration, and that it might relieve the effects or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Like I said though, nothing definitive yet, as far as I know.

The lung cancer thing is pretty definitive.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:53 PM on June 15, 2005

Posted by blendor:
"Some links to some of the ridiculous marketing the article discusses would be nice."

A couple of not very over-the-top online Chinese tobacco company sites:

Chengdu Tobacco - Pride Cigarettes

Qujing Cigarette Factory

BTW, Flash...coming to you electron-by-electron from, a bit slow.
posted by Dunvegan at 10:59 PM on June 15, 2005

Of course, the cancerous effects of cigarettes have less to do with nicotine (although it is a mild carcinogen) than with the byproducts of plant combustion, taken internally. The lung tissue is especially susceptible to direct contact with carcinogens.

This is a great example though of how legislators have an all-or-nothing attitude towards things. All these drugs which people take by smoking could be administered in exactly amounts--the feeling would be the same--via aerosol inhalers. However, while you can get inhalers for nicotine in the US, with a prescription, it's not as easy as buying a pack of cigarettes. I think they should have them right next to the cigarettes, wherever cigarettes are sold, so people can take that option as easily as possible.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:06 PM on June 15, 2005

Well, screw this. I'm moving to China. I've avoided cancer so far by only smoking from packs with the low birth weight warning, but it's better to be safe then sorry...

(BTW, fritz, I heartily agree. Plus it's so much neater...)
posted by Samizdata at 11:16 PM on June 15, 2005

And you could "smoke" on a plane, in a theater, or anywhere.

I can't play a decent game of chess without a strong cuppa joe in one hand and a smoke in the other. Certainly not empirical evidence, but there you go.
posted by loquacious at 11:44 PM on June 15, 2005

If this culls their numbers to the point we could prolong oil depletion, that's good, right?

If this culls their numbers to the point we suffer from an unavailability of cheap consumer goods, that's bad, right?

If this culls their numbers to the point where the transmission of Avian Flu is disrupted, that's good, right?

If this culls their numbers to the point where they are no longer a market for American goods, that's bad, right?

Fuck it. Perhaps it's time I started thinking of the Chinese as people.
posted by sourwookie at 11:58 PM on June 15, 2005

Make that Everquest (but chess works, too or Go) a strong whiskey-coke (bottomless), and a pack of Camels, and that's my night.

I wouldn't mind quitting so much if it didn't mean that I'd have to live without it. It probably takes these Chinese a year or less to be totally hooked. With full encouragement from the government, this might be their way to control their population through voulintary poisoning. At least the US govt. puts up a flimsy screen between condemning it for health reasons and subsidising/relying on it for taxes. Not to mention the lazy enforcement of court rulings posted earlier.
I guess you might loose voters if the official line is encouragement to consume.

But doesn't China have a national healthcare system? Maybe I'm just blowing smoke..
posted by Balisong at 12:02 AM on June 16, 2005

They are definitely in flavor country.
posted by tweak at 12:21 AM on June 16, 2005

Add me to the chorus of people claming to have heard that smokes are good for the brain. If you live long enough to get the point it matters, which is unlikely.

It is weird that nicotine inhalers aren't allowed to be sold like cigarettes.

Oh wait, that would require the government to be rational. Far outside their purview.
posted by delmoi at 12:30 AM on June 16, 2005

Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter, implicated in memory and other aspects of cognition. The prototypical ligand for ionotropic acetylcholine receptors is nicotine.
posted by Gyan at 12:37 AM on June 16, 2005

I don't much like the references to 'China' or 'Chinas government' that always are being used in these types of articles (or anywhere for that matter). It is one thing for the state-owned company to claim that its products are good and healthy, yet another thing for the political elite to say the same. I recall (can't remember where admittedly) a mention of 'the chinese government' being very concerned with the widespread smoking among the chinese. It only goes to show that China is a country like any other were divergent forces with differing goals all compete against each other, and although China to a degree is a totalitarian regime, it still doesn't mean that all references to 'the government' actually refer to the same people.
posted by Catfry at 2:17 AM on June 16, 2005

The uncle of a friend of mine from Denmark went into a shop a few years ago and noticed that the new containers of tobacco had a warning label on them. He bought a container, and when the owner handed him one of the newer batches, he said, "No, I want the older ones in back. This tobacco is harmful to your health!"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:14 AM on June 16, 2005

While the negative effects of smoking are well known - it should be noted that the positive effects presented in the article DO OCCUR. Those native americans weren't smoking crack - they were smoking tobacco.....
posted by jaded at 4:36 AM on June 16, 2005

posted by Gyan at 12:37 AM PST on June 16 [!]: Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter, implicated in memory and other aspects of cognition. The prototypical ligand for ionotropic acetylcholine receptors is nicotine.

Unh Huh, that puts it all into perspective! If the point is that nicotine is good for you then it might be a good idea to look for an alternate delivery system than cigs. But then you're still dealing with that awful little monkey on your back.
posted by philmas at 4:39 AM on June 16, 2005

I wonder if we'll get the benefit of gorgor_balabala's insight into this particular medical matter as well...
posted by juiceCake at 5:01 AM on June 16, 2005

Would you like to pet my monkey?
posted by Goofyy at 5:04 AM on June 16, 2005

Fuck it. Perhaps it's time I started thinking of the Chinese as people.
posted by sourwookie

Hahahah . . . .wait , WHAAA?
posted by nola at 5:19 AM on June 16, 2005

It is weird that nicotine inhalers aren't allowed to be sold like cigarettes.

Back in 1986, somebody (one of the tobacco companies, presumably) test-marketed a smokeless cigarette. My housemate (this was in Austin; I don't know where else it might've been tested) tried one and said it gave a decent nicotine rush but was oddly unsatisfying -- apparently just sucking on a plastic tube that didn't burn or anything was sufficiently different that it wasn't as enjoyable. That's just one data point, but since then I haven't heard of any more attempts to mass-market a smokeless alternative.
posted by alumshubby at 6:05 AM on June 16, 2005

I think you can get those plastic-ciggy nicotine inhaler things in Australia. A mate of mine was using them a year or two ago.
posted by pompomtom at 6:42 AM on June 16, 2005

With this news and the recent Justice Department political decision to lower their damage request by $120 billion in the tobacco suit perhaps now is a good time to get into tobacco stocks?
posted by caddis at 6:57 AM on June 16, 2005

There has been some research into the correlation between smoking and schizophrenia, although nothing definitive. A lot of schizophrenics smoke, but then schizophrenia, especially when treated in hospital or with major tranqs can be a pretty boring disease. A lot of bored people smoke.

[Too lazy to look up links.]
posted by OmieWise at 7:04 AM on June 16, 2005

Ok, here's a quick link to Schizophrenia Research Blog. The post talks about new drugs being developed to target the 'nicotinic receptor.'

As usual, the unexamined biological determinism implicit in the research makes it seem largely worthless.
posted by OmieWise at 7:08 AM on June 16, 2005

From the article's photo caption:

Two thirds of Chinese men are smokers, and surveys show that as many as 90 per cent believe their habit has little effect on their health, or is good for them.

Do a lot more Chinese men then women smoke?

If so, maybe the Chinese are encouraging widespread use of a known health threat to head off a demographic time bomb that's ticking away: roughly 20% more boys than girls in one segment of their population, according to a statistic in this article.

Yes, that is a nutty idea, but it's more tongue-in-cheek and no less far-fetched than the idea, also in that article, that the Chinese might try military adventurism to thin out the population of excess males.
posted by alumshubby at 7:12 AM on June 16, 2005

in China smoking is patriotic

in reality it is population control
posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard at 7:28 AM on June 16, 2005

I don't know if there's been much health research on a tobacco "inhaler", but combustion is not the only source of carcinogens in tabacco. Chewing tabacco, for instance, has a lot of health risks.

There've been a lot of patents for various alternative delivery systems, but, in the US, the FDA has claimed jurisdiction over alternative delivery systems, and has taken at least two off the market (probably including the one alumshubby remembers... although the website says '85, not '86)
posted by carmen at 8:08 AM on June 16, 2005

carmen, it seems smokeless tobacco is (quite) safer than smoked tobacco, if not safe.
posted by Gyan at 8:19 AM on June 16, 2005

Often cigarette or three would make me feel calmer, smarter, etc., but most often it just temporarily took away the constant craving for a cigarette -- so I took it to mean that my withdrawal symptoms included anxiety and mental slowness (except for the "want cigarette, WANT CIGARETTE" part). But then I realized this in the last few years of a 25 year long smoking career; probably the beneficial effects of nicotine were what got me hooked in the first place.

Nicotine patches, my quitting method, actually did make me feel better (once the initial craving specifically for a cigarette went down), but that was just too damn expensive to keep doing forever. One good thing about that was the longer slower dose curve: 20 minutes later I didn't crave another patch. If you're going to have a nicotine habit patches sound ideal, while an inhaler would probably work best in people who aren't regular habitu├ęs as a booster before a job interview or math test or whatever (or maybe just to get high on).

On the other hand since I was 14 they've had me on a few different antipsychotics for several months at a time (once for over a year), and I don't think those things really improve a damn thing -- they're mainly heavy sedatives. Plus they cause annoying side-effects, including big ugly holes in one's brain. I'd really rather not do that again.

Those sedatives' side-effects, coupled with the stuff on nicotine's benefits, makes me think I'll treat my next flare-up with nicotine patches instead of whatever "miraculous advance" the drug company reps have been pushing on the shrinks that year.

By the way, old-time Native Americans didn't smoke all day every day; it was more of a ceremonial thing, or at least for special occasions. In effect it's something like the difference between having a couple of shots of bourbon after work and sipping the stuff from the bottle constantly. You should also consider that people just didn't live that long then: an arrow, a bear or a communicable disease would likely have got 'em long before lung cancer did. Think of an another advertising gimmick.

(By the way, "antipsychotic" is not in Metafilter's spell-checker dictionary, but "antipyretic" is; it also doesn't like that accented-E thing.)
posted by davy at 8:41 AM on June 16, 2005

It might've been '85; I knew the guy then, too, but we weren't renting a house yet.

Pipe smoking's unhealthy too; after over 25 years, I've cut waaay back and am contemplating giving it up entirely.
posted by alumshubby at 8:43 AM on June 16, 2005

Come on guys, we all know correlation does not mean causation!
posted by vodkadin at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2005

I'm surprised noone has pointed out that this type of marketing isn't exclusive to just China or any other nation.

Old American ads express the same ideas. It's cheap in China because they make very little (in comparison to us). The problems and thinking in China I feel is very similar to early US.

So in about 50 years, they'll be on their own Metafilter bitchin' about their own version of Bush. :)
posted by pez_LPhiE at 11:22 AM on June 16, 2005

It wouldn't surprise me if it's population control.
posted by deborah at 1:06 PM on June 16, 2005

This is all you need to know: a pack of Camels cost 6 yuan.

Usually fake Camels for that price.
posted by geekyguy at 10:08 PM on June 16, 2005

No; the real thing is RMB 6 or 7 a pack anywhere you go, be it a Watson's store in Wangfujing or a closet-sized convenience store next to a public toilet in Ha'erbin.
posted by bokane at 11:07 PM on June 16, 2005

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