Natural(?) American Spirit

For as long as people understood that smoking tobacco was harmful, there has been an interest in a safe (or safer) cigarette. Interestingly, in the winter of 1886 Vincent Van Gogh painted “Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette.” So maybe he already knew smoking was dangerous.

While studying in Antwerp, Vincent Van Gogh painted this lesser known work.

As awareness of health risks of tobacco use rises, more people move towards tobacco that they perceive to be safe or safer. Natural American Spirit wrote the book on creating the appearance of the safe or safer cigarette.

America’s second largest tobacco company (R J Reynolds) purchased the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, but may not want smokers to know that.

According to, “American Spirit, the only U.S. brand made of “100% certified organic tobacco,” clearly states on its homepage: “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.” But that doesn’t keep people from assuming they’re safer (or maybe even trying to fool themselves.) Here’s an interesting article that talks about how misleading the labels on tobacco can be and why American Spirits maybe be particularly dangerous.

Natural American Spirit cigarettes are not safer than other cigarettes (no matter what their ads lead you to believe.

Crack Nicotine?

“Free-base” nicotine is a particularly potent form of the naturally-occurring tobacco drug because it is in an extremely volatile, uncombined form. This means it can be much more rapidly absorbed by the lungs and brain than nicotine derivatives such as nornicotine or its salts.
Read more:

NAS were found to contain approximately 3.5 times as much “crack nicotine” as Marlboros and some NAS cigarettes had the highest levels of the brands studied.

Anecdotally, I had a friend many years ago who said a guy at the natural food store recommended NAS cigarettes. He said that when he switched to NAS he felt “satisfied” after smoking 12 cigs/day rather than the 20/day he had previously smoked. His health food buddy came to the conclusion that his reduced desire for cigarettes was because he was now free from “all those nasty additives.” While that is not an unreasonable assumption, the rest of the data about free-base nicotine levels leads me (and others) to suppose that he was getting enough nicotine to satisfy his dependence from fewer cigarettes because of the free-base nicotine.

Why the Chieftain?

In a more personal vein, I also object to the use of Native American symbology for commercial purposes. And in this particular case, since the company isn’t owned by Native Americans, I find it offensive and misleading. Is that a reason to quit smoking or to quit smoking that brand? I don’t know, but it just feels wrong to me. (Thanks for letting me rant!)

The Truth Can Set You Free

The truth will set us free. That’s what truth always does. But even the truth; the information alone, may not have a fully transforming effect on a smoker. I’ve developed some resources and gained over 20 years of experience that I am glad to share. My teaching techniques assist willing tobacco users through understanding the five specific aspects of their complicated relationship with tobacco. (Read about the 5-Headed Dragon.) Understanding and then addressing these five distinct areas can help permanently free us from tobacco’s grip (as well as other substances.)

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