Did you know that for decades, jolly old St. Nick was a heavy, couple-packs-a-day smoker? According to prominent advertising of the twentieth century, at least. How to be a Retronaut has an…

This is an article from 2006 that I found while trying to research the actual ingredients in cigarettes. Robert N. Proctor writes in the New York Times:
Nuclear Pack

When the former KGB agent Alexander V. Litvinenko was found to have been poisoned by radioactive polonium 210, there was one group that must have been particularly horrified: the tobacco industry.

The industry has been aware at least since the 1960s that cigarettes contain significant levels of polonium. Exactly how it gets into tobacco is not entirely understood, but uranium “daughter products” naturally present in soils seem to be selectively absorbed by the tobacco plant, where they decay into radioactive polonium.

High-phosphate fertilizers may worsen the problem, since uranium tends to associate with phosphates. In 1975, Philip Morris scientists wondered whether the secret to tobacco growers’ longevity in the Caucasus might be that farmers there avoided phosphate fertilizers.

How much polonium is in tobacco? In 1968, the American Tobacco Company began a secret research effort to find out. Using precision analytic techniques, the researchers found that smokers inhale an average of about .04 picocuries of polonium 210 per cigarette. The company also found, no doubt to its dismay, that the filters being considered to help trap the isotope were not terribly effective. (Disclosure: I’ve served as a witness in litigation against the tobacco industry.)

Pigs Smoking?The Daily Telegraph reports:

Cigarettes may contain traces of pig’s blood, an Australian academic says with a warning that religious groups could find its undisclosed presence “very offensive”.

University of Sydney Professor Simon Chapman points to recent Dutch research which identified 185 different industrial uses of a pig — including the use of its hemoglobin in cigarette filters.

Prof Chapman said the research offered an insight into the otherwise secretive world of cigarette manufacture, and it was likely to raise concerns for devout Muslims and Jews. Religious texts at the core of both of these faiths specifically ban the consumption of pork.

“I think that there would be some particularly devout groups who would find the idea that there were pig products in cigarettes to be very offensive,” Prof Chapman said.

Janet Raloff writes in Science News: The tobacco in cigarettes hosts a bacterial bonanza — literally hundreds of different germs, including those responsible for many human illnesses, a new study finds. “Nearly…