BREAKING: Cigarettes are Good!

well sorta.

Now hold on, I know what you’re thinking. A vaping advocate can’t possibly be siding with cigarettes? Right? I mean, that’s nuts. It’s confusing. A punishable offense. It’s industry treason for crying out loud.

You could classify this blasphemous rhetoric as industry treason if I were actually siding with cigarettes, but I assure you I’m not. Scouts honor and I say that with the three-finger salute held high.

Now, back to this “cigarettes are good” argument.

According to a study published in Avian Biology by Monserrat Suárez-Rodríguez and Constantino Macías Garcia of The National Autonomous University of Mexico, some seed-eating songbirds; finches, deliberately collect discarded cigarettes to weave into their nest to ward off bloodsucking parasites.

“I want to suck your blood,” spoken in Dracula drawl.

According to The Economist, the idea that certain species of birds weave cigarettes buds into their nest strictly for parasite-repelling properties has been around since 2012, though never proven, until Dr. Suárez-Rodríguez showed that nests which had butts woven into them were less likely to contain bloodsucking parasites than were nest that did not.

Garcia and his colleagues have spent several years studying the intriguing cigarette habit in finches. While initial evidence hinted to nicotine and other chemicals being the element in the butts that deterred insect pests from moving into the nest, further studies ruled this evidence to be inconclusive.

Putting good science to this conclusion, Garcia and his team conducted an experiment with 32 house finch nests. After allowing the nest to hatch, the researchers removed the natural lining and replaced it with artificial felt. According to New Scientist, this is done to remove any parasites that might have moved in during brooding. The researchers then added live ticks to 10 of the nest, dead ticks to another 10 and left 12 free of ticks.

What they found was quite interesting. Turns out, adult finches, by natural design, were more likely to add cigarette butt fibers to their nests if it contained ticks.  More interestingly, the weight of cigarette butt material added to nests containing live ticks was said to be on average, 40 percent greater than the weight of cigarette butt material added to nest containing dead ticks.

Wow! Perhaps there are some benefits to cigarettes after all.

“Not so fast,” says Garcia. There’s a downside to this practice. Earlier studies conducted by Garcia and his team suggest that this habit of collecting discarded cigarette butts is just as harmful as it is useful.

“The butts cause genetic damages to finches by interfering with cell division, which we assessed by looking at their red blood cells. The genotoxic effects take longer to manifest and the adult birds aren’t aware of any problem,” says Garcia.

Just when we thought cigarettes could possibly be beneficial in some extremely odd and strange way; turns out they are what we always thought they were… not good!

Aww well.

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Andrew Figgs

Photography Major from Western Washington University . I joined MBV back in December 2014 and am happy to be working in an industry focused on helping others.

  • Kristin says:

    Nice article.

  • evan says:

    interesting article. Cigarettes will always be not good!

  • Very well written and interesting.

    Question, though- as a constant advocate of vaping to other parents as a smoking cessation or alternative for their teens who are already smoking, I have some concerns here- Is it the nicotine that’s causing the genetic issues, or other carcinogens in the filters?

    Because if it’s the nicotine, that’s a strike against vaping. My argument has long been that yes, nic is addictive and has some bad properties, obviously, but I’d rather have my kid vape neutrals like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine with nicotine than the carcinogens in ciggs. Does th is new study put a hole in that argument?

    A note, my son has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder- he vapes because the nicotine helps with his anxiety. So going 0 nic isn’t really a viable option for him.

    • Michael Ade` Craig says:

      According to data backed by good science, it is the carcinogens that are repelling the deadly ticks as well as causing the genetic disorders. There is actually a blog where we talk about nicotine and the many areas it is used.

  • Andre Gulbis says:

    Maybe this article is the ammo I need to get my wife to swap over from cigs to juice? Step 1: Make her feel all warm and fuzzy about birds using her butts (lol) to ward off parasites. Step 2: Get in Photoshop and create a hideous, malformed, three-headed, beak-distrorted, veiny and toothed house-finch monster. Step 3: Print out in glossy, full-color A3 and back with sturdy cardboard. Step 4: Approach wife and start casually saying “..yeah that’s something you are doing for those little winged critters, but did you also know that it leads to THIS!?!?!” (Also,time dramatic display of horrific genetically deformed finch picture with loud scream .wav file from PC). Step 5: Continue then to question her ethics and pro-environmental resolve until she cracks and starts sobbing and berating herself. Step 6: Grab her current packet of cigs and run under the kitchen tap in front of her shaking your head with disappointment and distain. Step 7: Start to hug and coo her, then give her the awesome vape kit (bought from Mount Baker of course!) saying firmly but calmly.. “This is the solution my love. Join me as we chase fat clouds together with the only nicotine delivery system that has any real credibility or appeal…. By the way. I love you, and always will…”.
    So what cha think?

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