Sometimes the claims of the anti-tobacco camp become ridiculous propaganda. Yes, smoking is dangerous, but sometimes the propaganda has nothing to do with the real dangers of tobacco. The anti-tobacco camp seems to accept any claim as long as it makes tobacco seem dangerous. Here are some of the more ridiculous claims.
“Tobacco smoke contains so-and-so many different dangerous chemical compounds.” The number is usually many hundreds. But it is not the number of different dangerous chemicals that kills. It is the quantity. Even one dangerous chemical kills, if taken in sufficient quantities, and any number is harmless, if the quantities are small enough. Hence, the number of different dangerous chemicals is completely irrelevant to the dangerousness of tobacco.
“Tobacco smoke contains so-and-so many different chemical compounds.” This is even more ridiculous than the previous one. Why should I care about the number of chemical compounds if you are not even telling me whether they are dangerous? All organic matter contains a huge number of different chemical compounds, but no-one thinks that for example food is dangerous because of that.
“Tobacco smoke contains <a list of scientific names of chemical compounds.>” I have actually seen this as a warning label in a box of cigarettes. An average reader, such as myself, has no way of knowing if the listed compounds are dangerous. The warning label seems to rely solely on the association between dangerousness and having a scientific name. But, guess what, all chemical compounds have scientific names, whether or not they are dangerous, so the informative value of this warning to an average reader is zero. It seems to rely solely on the shock value of scientific names.