Insurance Companies Profit Twice from Smokers

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that life and health insurance companies in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain invest heavily in tobacco companies. Tobacco use is a major cause of fatal lung diseases and cancer, and is known to elevate the risk for heart attack and stroke. The study found that the American insurance company Prudential Financial, Inc. has $264.3 million invested in U.S. cigarette makers, including Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. The Canadian company Sun Life Financial, Inc., which sells life, health and disability insurance, owns over $1 billion worth of stock in tobacco interests, including $890 million in Philip Morris. Prudential Plc, which sells health and disability coverage, has $1.38 billion invested in two tobacco companies, including British American Tobacco. Wesley Boyd, the study's lead author and a faculty member of Harvard Medical School, says that while it may seem self-defeating for companies to sell insurance while also owning tobacco stocks, insurers have found ways to profit from both. "Insurers exclude smokers from coverage or, more commonly, charge them higher premiums. Insurers profit -- and smokers lose -- twice over." Study co-author David Himmelstien explains, "It's the combined taxidermist-and-veterinarian approach: either way, you get your dog back." Boyd adds that the main objective for insurance companies is not to safeguard customers' well-being, but to generate profits. The authors also point to this study as a reason why health insurance coverage should not be left in the hands of private insurers.


The New England Journal of Medicine exposure of health insurers investing billions of dollars in cigarette manufacturing is a great scandal, one with the potential to prompt public, and perhaps government, calls to remove such insurers from our public health care system...but the reporting of the story has some unfortunate, distracting, unnecessary, and serious problems.

To call the cigarette industry "tobacco companies" or their products "tobacco", is to accept easily the biggest marketing deceit of our times.
It is to accept the word of easily the most non-credible industry in modern if they just provide tobacco as has been used for about ten thousand the Americas, at least.
To refer to those firms as being just about tobacco is to serve their marketing and liability-dodging interests, and it is to imply blame for global epidemics of so-called "smoking related" disease and death on a natural plant...and on those who think and are still told that they are just smoking tobacco.
This is to utterly corrupt science and medicine...and law. It is to contribute to global- scale social disruption on top of that. And it is to greatly assist some of the worst of the worst health-damaging industries evade civil and criminal penalties, and termination of their deadly businesses.

It is to ignore what typical cigarettes Really Are...namely, smoking products contaminated with any of 450 U.S. registered tobacco pesticide residues, dioxin-producing chlorine pesticides, dioxin-producing chlorine-bleached paper, carcinogenic levels of radiation from certain phosphate tobacco fertilizers, fire-starting burn accelerants, kid-attracting sweeteners and flavors and aromas, artificially-low nicotine levels to prompt more smoking, addiction-enhancing substances, any of about 1400 untested-often-toxic-or-carcinogenic non-tobacco additives, and even fake tobacco made from pesticide-chlorine-contaminated industrial waste cellulose.

We need to persuade the Good Guys, like Physicians for a National Health Program, to eschew the common, colloquial cigarette industry term "tobacco" to refer to likely the most complex, multi-ingredient, pesticide-contaminated consumer product on the that delivers the industrial chlorine byproduct, dioxin, to humans in the absolutely worst possible way, through inhalation. The lungs are very efficient organs---unfortunately, in this case.

Call cigarette makers the "Pesticide Peg Industry", or "Big Dioxin Dowels", or "Manufacturers of Radiation Rods". Leave Mother Nature, or The Great Spirit, out of it.
Call them "Contaminated-Cigarette Makers" if that seems less abrasive on the poor dears.
And show a little compassion for the deceived, secretly-poisoned, unprotected, insufficiently-warned, utterly uncompensated, scapegoated, demonized, unjustly legally burdened, often dying, and innocent smokers. Think about relatives or friends who might have died from so-called "smoking related" causes. How many of them may be dismissed as dirty, reckless, rude, or suicidal nicotine addicts?
This is about more important things than "smelly hair", "disgusting smoke-filled bars" or "beach litter", as vital as those issues are to some.

Coffee is also inherently (and surprisingly) addictive because of its caffeine content. If Nabob were loading its coffees with toxic chemicals, would we blame the resulting deaths of coffee drinkers on the chemicals, or the coffee?

Coffee is not nearly as addictive as tobacco; with coffee you're not putting toxins into your stomach as you are into your lungs with tobacco smoke.

Jonik's points, amidst all the superfluous verbiage, seem to be: (1) inhaling tobacco smoke without all the added chemicals wouldn't be harmful, (2) Companies that make cigarettes, because they add so many chemicals to the tobacco, shouldn't be called "tobacco" companies.

Any sensible person who decently values his own health would do well to be very, very skeptical of the first point. As for the second, the companies that make cigarettes add all those chemicals for no other reason than to aid in growing, processing, and selling TOBACCO in the form of cigarettes. That should make them "tobacco companies" to any reasonable mind.

when you have so many additional contributing factors to one's health (putting genetics aside).

If you are interested in the effects of one of the most addictive and harmful substances currently consumed in mass quantities by society, you might want to take a look at what sugar does to the body:

At least tobacco is known to have therapeutic properties, I'm not so sure the same can be said sugar...

How do you even know the effects of cigarettes when you have so many additional contributing factors to one's health (putting genetics aside).

Huh? You're calling cigarettes a "contributing factor to one's health"? Oh right, it must be those "known therapeutic properties" of tobacco.

I note your Dr. Nancy explicitly ascribes all those nasty effects of sugar to EXCESS sugar. FYI, you couldn't live without sugar; that's why your digestive system breaks down whatever carbohydrates you eat into simple sugars to fuel your metabolism. Nobody dies for lack of nicotine, though.

Sounds to me like you're just trying to rationalize a tobacco addiction.

Non-human animals naturally don't smoke or want to -- except in labs.
They never get a choice.

They don't have a death wish to start smoking, drinking, overeating, or taking drugs. Like humans. And making themselves sick. Like humans.

Their lives and dignity are devalued by the "superior" humans,
both inside the labs and at the cigarette counters, and -- of course -- everywhere else.

Humans CHOOSE to wallow in the quicksand of SELF-INDULGENCE whenever they can. Ads or no ads.

Someone said that I said, or implied, that smoking would be safe without the industrial adulterants etc. I never said that...not do I believe that anything is or can be entirely safe.
Overdosing on the finest purest spring water can kill you.

The idea is to minimize the risk of smoking, and the way to do that is by eliminating, by law, any and all un-tested non-tobacco ingredients...and certainly the ones (pesticides, chlorine, burn accelerants, etc) that are off-the-charts deadly.
Then it would be nice if state and Federal attorneys, and private liability lawyers and so forth, went after those responsible for maximizing the risks of tobacco use to the point that health damage was virtually inevitable.

Others ought know, or remember, that a typical cigarette does not necessarily contain tobacco. It may well be Fake Tobacco, concocted out of all sorts of waste cellulose materials...none of it likely organic---pesticide-free or chlorine-free.

Therefore, to call the manufacturers of those ersatz concoctions by the name of the plant products they pretend to be selling is...well...a display of profound lack of knowledge about the topic, or a display of complicity with the perpetrators of this mass human experimentation and mass poisoning.

A lot of this is explained, with references galore, at and at Bill Drake's