back to article Aussie smoko-proofing drug prevents ill effects of cigs

Australian boffins have developed a treatment which allows mice to smoke cigarettes without the usual negative health consequences. The method could potentially allow gasper-loving humans to sidestep some of the self-destructive results of their habit. The key to the business, according to lead cig-boffin Ross Vlahos, is …


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  1. Chris Collins


    Actually there's always the risk of cancer whatever you do - smoking increases the likelihood of this happening but plenty of people manage to die of cancer without the fun of smoking. Arse cancer you get from not eating your greens, for example.

    1. Paul Hates Handles

      What Chris

      You're just as likely to get lung cancer from passive smoking as from not being near smoke at all, so if this works then all the anti-smoking arguments kinda fall over :D

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Now there's one less reason not to do something you know damn well is bad for you.

    Anyone stupid enough to smoke given the years of research, publicity and deaths deserves whatever they get, and should do the decent thing and remove themselves from society sooner rather than later.

    Plus, I'm sure whatever the amount of money spent on this research was it could have been put to better use elsewhere.

    1. Jez Burns

      "should do the decent thing and remove themselves from society sooner rather than later"

      Nice to see people like you hiding under a cloak of anonymity whilst spouting vapid, mean and generally twatty groupthink bullshit like this. You really are a coward.

    2. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

      I assume...

      * That you don't smoke, and never have.

      * That you don't drink alcohol past the government-recommended limit this week, and have never drunk more, nor less, than any of the other government / BMA-recommended amounts that seem to vary from one week to the next.

      * That you have never imbibed any substance that ever has been, is, or ever will be deemed harmful to health. Like aspirin.

      * That you have never had unprotected sex.

      * That you have always partaken in the officially-recommended amount of daily excercise. Every day.

      * That you look stop, look, listen, looking left, right, and left again before crossing the road. Every time.

      * That you have never used a mobile phone that gives you brain tumours.

      * That you have never eaten red meat (colon cancer)

      * That you have never eaten shellfish (mercury).

      No? But you know damn well that all of the above have had years of research, publicity and deaths - you obviously deserve whatever you get. Best remove yourself from society sooner rather than later then, methinks.

      1. Captain Thyratron

        Mostly sound examples.

        Except for that bit about brain tumors, which actually has years of research to establish that it probably doesn't happen (excepting a few papers that pull aside a bunch of people with brain cancer and wring falsehoods out of them with confirmation bias). If microwave radiation is hurting you, you will know it because it will be cooking your eyeballs in their sockets.

        1. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

          @ Captain T, Yeh I know...

          I worked at a mobile telecom during the 90's and early 00's, so saw a lot of the "evidence" that was being chucked about, and how it wouldn't satisfy a GCSE physics course, never mind anything else. But it's a populist belief, so I included it anyway. In retrospect, I wouldn't have.

          Find & Replace:

          * That you have never used a mobile phone that gives you brain tumours.


          * That you have never used a mobile phone, eaten, had a drink, had a conversation, or conducted any activity aside from concentrating on the road, whilst driving.

    3. Xerxes

      Useful research, even for non-smokers

      Imagine how this could be used to help people who are exposed to other kinds of smoke, such as fire fighters, who may not always have the right breathing equipment handy... or if the dose could be given after exposure to smoke (such as in a regular home fire). Just because the research used cigarette smoke, doesn't necessarily mean it wouldn't apply to other kinds of smoke related injuries / professions, thus it's not money put to bad use, just your lack of imagination... please remove yourself from society sooner rather than later.

      Go, because I'm done with you...

  3. jackharrer

    Smoking kills!!!

    "At the end of the test every single mouse was dead. However, this was simply because the boffins had killed them in order to examine their lungs"

    We always knew it! SMOKING KILLS!

  4. jon 77


    yeah, healthy smoking.... NOT!!! good that it will stop the biological effects, BUT its never that simple...

    A lot of tar come out of smoking as well, just look at the **once white** ceiling of many pubs, before the ban... and tooth color, finger color, etc....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is just another way to make money off of your addiction. If you really want to stop damaging your body, stop smoking.

    Don't tell me you can't or it isn't that easy, read the book linked below and do it.

    I'm on week 5 after going cold turkey from 40 a day for 13 years... I've never felt so good.


    1. Plasma
      Thumb Up

      Quite right

      I went from 40 a day for 16 year to 'cold turkey' and found it freeing, uplifting and generally a lot easier than actually smoking!

      It's really easy to stop smoking: Just don't put a cig in your mouth!

      Your body won't miss it like you've convinced yourself it will (mainly to justify your appallingly expensive habit to yourself).

      Nicotine patch manufacturers are all about the money too. Would you get a heroin addict off heroin by giving him heroin as a substitute for heroin? No.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I Smell Bullshit

        40 a day for 16 years and off them just like that? No bad effects whatsoever?

        I smoke far less than that, about 10 a day and yet when I try and quit my wife hates it as I am worse than a bear with a sore head. Every little thing irritates me. It gets to the point that I just buy some cigs so I stop taking everybody's head off for no reason at all as I really don't like the person I become. I will quit one day, when I can get to a remote spot for a month with no-one around me. I don't see the point in patches etc as you are just replacing one nicotine source with another.

        PS: No they don't give them heroin and they don't make them go cold turkey, they give them methodone instead. Regardless of what you think it is a physical addiction, not a psychological one as has been proven in many independent tests.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: I Smell Bullshit

          I didn't say no bad effects, but if you read the book, you know what the bad effects are, why they are happening. You also realise that physical withdrawal only lasts for around 72 hours, any withdrawal after that is (sub)conscious, of which you have control over.

          What most people do, who don't understand how it works, is get a craving, and pine over it for hours, rather than just say "no, I don't want a cigarette."

          Most don't realise that a craving episode can seem like up to 15 minutes, but only last 3, due to time distortion.

          Seriously... read the book and give it a go. The hardest part about quitting, is deciding to do it, and actually meaning it. Above all:


          3 days of bad withdrawal, and you're well on your way to freedom.

          1. Karlvin08

            I agree

            Though I am currently a smoker now, I have stopped in the past once for about a year. That time I quit cold turkey after smoking 20 a day for ~15 years. I was able to do it then because i really wanted to. After I pulled an idiot move and started again a year later I have since tried to quit, but my heart wasn't in it and was unable to do so. I haven't read the book posted above, but am a true believer that the physical cravings go away in about 3-4 days and after that it is all in your head.

        2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          You just need the chemical life!

          You know the drill: Viagra before, nicotine patch after and you'll be fine.

          What's more, once you're off the patches you can spend all the money on booze!

          What? Did I say anything wrong? Which bit in particular? All of it?!

          Mine's the one with the undertaking license, thanks.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Not Just Cigarettes

    I could see this being useful for folks who work in environments with a lot of endemic atmospheric irritants, such as welders, firemen and political columnists.

  7. blackworx


    What, a piece by Mr. Page where the first word is a nationality and the second word is "boffins"?

    Surely not.

    Off to go read the article now.

  8. Ru

    Mmm, toxic carcinogens *and* immune suppressors!

    Oh those crazy immune system mechanisms. They're clearly only there to cause us misery; lets turn them off one by one til we feel better!

    1. Ammaross Danan


      Disabling an immune response and declaring that 4 days of "smoking" showed significant reduction in lung inflammation? Well, it's nice they've proven the drug works as designed (an anti-lung inflammatory). However, the immune response was triggered for a reason. When these smokers have their small airways in their lungs fill with tar even faster because their lungs don't constrict in attempt to prevent deep penetration of the smoke/crap, then who will be responsible? Frankly, they should have left the mice smoking their regime until the first few died. My money is on the ones that have been injected with the drug.

  9. sandman

    Early Termination

    Surely, with the looming pension crisis, it's in the Govt's interest to encourage smoking, drinking and the consumption of really unhealthy food. Most people will pay more in tax than their NHS treatment costs and they'll hopefully die before they can collect their pensions. Oh, and ban seat belts and airbags and encourage the use of motorcycles amongst the middle-aged.

  10. DJV Silver badge


    "Australian boffins have developed a treatment which allows mice to smoke cigarettes without the usual negative health consequences."

    That almost sounds like the mice had a choice, doesn't it! Of course, as we all know, what the mice were REALLY doing was experimenting on us instead (and the playing dead bit at the end was just because they'd gone back to their own dimension to consult Deep Thought).

    Mine's the one with "Don't Panic" written in large friendly letters on the back.

  11. Lloyd

    All very well and good

    but what about the effects on the mouse next door? Why should he have to take a pill because of your selfishness? Why don't you smoking mice show some consideration for others? Eh? It's because of you and your sort that Roy Castlemouse is dead.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    So, basically...

    ...smoking is bad, but being around scientists is 100% fatal.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    If any smokers

    were that interested int he harmful effects of what they do, they wouldn't smoke at all

  14. Seanmon
    Thumb Down

    "Anti GM-CSF ??"

    Poor naming show. Is Leonard of Quirm involved in any way?

  15. Beelzeebub

    Oh dear

    I feel sorry for the poor mice :-(

  16. irish donkey

    studies in mexico....

    have shown the addition of cannabis will significantly reduce the likelihood of getting lung cancer.

    On the other hand you are a fat *ucker from stuffing yourself with sweets in front of the telly.

    Win Win situation I think

  17. Dennis O'Connor
    Thumb Up


    Now we know what the next set of additives to cigarettes will contain - and I imagine the accompanying advertisements will espouse the health benefits therein.

  18. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Remember you also get heart disease

    And you may have your leg cut off. Either or both. Both diseases and both legs...

    And if your researcher isn't funded by a tobacco company, smoking brings on Alzheimer's disease. If your researcher is funded by a tobacco company, smoking prevents Alzheimer's disease.

    So buy your cigarettes from the nearest university hospital and you'll be all right, I think.

  19. Apocalypse Later

    I remember reading...

    ...years ago, that living in a city had an equivalent effect on your lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Of course you won't see any government advertisements saying that, or trying to persuade you to give up urban living.

    Never forget, when someone tells you what to do for your own good, they have their own good in mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      so smoking 20 a day

      & living in a city = smoking 40 a day. When someone sells you something and says it is harmless, they have their own good in mind too. Let me know where you want to be buried, and we'll have your smart arse comments carved on your tombstone

  20. h 6


    "At the end of the test every single mouse was dead. However, this was simply because the boffins had killed them in order to examine their lungs. "

    Sure brilliance.

  21. marschw
    Thumb Up

    Bravo, Mr. Page

    'Then all the mice were given "the equivalent of nine cigarettes of smoke each day for four days".

    At the end of the test every single mouse was dead. However, this was simply because the boffins had killed them in order to examine their lungs.'

    Some of the writing that makes me read the Reg.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Half work

    They really should really abuse another two sets of mice, one with the drug and the other without, and then not give them anything to smoke. Compare.

    Yes, I'm serious, and yes, it seems futile. We know what mouse lung looks like, don't we? Well, I don't, and I hope to never find out, but too much research, including biology related research, forgets to make sure the effect you're looking for is actually being controlled with your research parameters. The late Richard Feynmann made this very clear in his excellent _Cargo Cult Science_ write up.

  23. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Thanks Lewis..

    "At the end of the test every single mouse was dead. However, this was simply because the boffins had killed them"

    Quality writing :-).

  24. raving angry loony


    Will the drug prevent me from stuffing their burning stick of stink down their throat followed by a fire extinguisher? I've got no problems with people smoking - it's when they force me to partake of their burning chemicals that I tend to try to defend myself from the assault and battery.

    As for what they're smoking, it's barely tobacco. I've got no problems with burning tobacco (certain good quality pipe tobacco don't cause severe nausea), but the shit that goes into cigarettes shouldn't be called tobacco. Sweepings and rat shit with added chemicals maybe, but not tobacco.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I notice this too

      Cigarettes definately smell worse than pipes, rollups or cigars. And I have see the addiction happen with a friend, started with a certain resin, then had a joint, now he is on the packets of fags a tobacco addict, let this this be a warning that cannabis can lead to harder drugs.

      Fire extinguisher, yes heard of this, a bunch of non smoking mechanics declared their workshop a non smoking area. Cigarettes were put out with a small squirt of an extinguisher.

  25. Alan 37


    It may stop you getting lung problems, but you, your hair and clothes will still STINK!

  26. Tim 59
    Black Helicopters

    watch out, boffins

    I can see the brake lines on their cars mysteriously "deteriorating"

  27. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Might have a use other than saving people too dumb to stop smoking...

    I knew someone that was born with a hereditary disease affecting lung function (CF), she had a lung transplant, but was still very sensitive to airborne pollutants. She very carefully avoided smokers, but died from lung failure triggered by smoke from someone smoking in a no-smoking office.

    Perhaps this drug would help others in a similar situation.

  28. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Hooray, a cure for COPD... No, wait...

    So, on the one hand, they have developed a drug that may help prevent the onset of COPD, which is caused by chronic lung inflammation.

    HOWEVER, it is not a cure for COPD. COPD is the result of physical damage to the lungs which your body cannot repair. Once you have it, that's it - your lung function is never going to improve barring a transplant from an unlucky motorcyclist.

    How many smokers do you think are going to take a pill every day with unknown possible side effects, in the hope that it will prevent them developing a disease that they don't believe they will get in the first place?

    And I can make an educated guess at what some side effects may be. The process that this drug blocks - lung inflammation and mucus production - is there for a reason. It is part of your body's defences against foreign material entering the lungs. This response is there to protect your lungs in the short term, it is the longer term overactivation of the inflammation that causes COPD. Without it, the harmful compounds in cigarette smoke (tar, nicotine, etc.) as well as other environmental pollutants (think particulates from diesel exhaust, pollen, oxides of nitrogen from cars, bonfire smoke, etc.) would be more able to enter the body through the lungs. These would most likley lead to an increased risk of other disorders, such as lung, throat and mouth cancer from the increased uptake of toxins into the tissues normally protected by mucus secretions, increased risk of heart disease from the increased amount of nasty chemicals in the blood such as free radicals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and increased allergic responses to things like tree pollen - think hay fever squared...

    So yes, the research may be interesting and shows that preventing the over-activation of the body's response that eventually leads to COPD, reduces the incidence of COPD like effects, but I wouldn't say that effetively turning off one of your body's important defence mechanisms is a sensible thing to do...

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Looking for motives

    Wait a sec: apparently cigarette companies are/were(??) very profitable. Apparently their products are inelastic on price/demand as evidenced by the huge taxes and government income.

    Said government income is largely non-sustaining in a National Health insurance scheme due to the offset costs of artificial respirators, mortuary fumigation etc. Costs can/will be managed by these new drugs. These drugs could then also become a profit/tax centre with some fore-thought.

    With the attendant overpricing I can't wait to see people down the pub scrounging for spare(??) tablets so they can run to the hospital and profess their love, without wheezing, for their Nan dying of lung giganticism!?

    Maybe I'm just a conspiracy theorist but 4 lives sounds like a reasonable price to enable our future musculine dominance of the human race...So what we gonna do tonight then Brain....Same thing we do every night, Pinky, take over Phillip Morris.

    HaHa let them smokers pay twice and live longer to keep paying.

    No activity is risk free, even inactivity; but I do like rewards for my risks...Stuart

    P.S. Sam Bee, I love you; will you please come over tonight in your strict moderatrix outfit?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    "I'm dying for a smoke"


  31. Simon 6

    Me thinks...

    Smokers are a dying breed...literally :P

  32. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Thanks for the book tip, I'll read it. Terrible cover though, as one thing that has stymied my previous attempts at quitting is the far worse hayfever I suffer. Coating the inside of my nasal passages with tar isn't sensible, but it beats Piriton. It's bad enough quitting in winter but grumpy, sweaty, tearful and snotty is less than life-enhancing. Are there any IT jobs going in Antartica that I can apply for?

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