FSC – What Your Government Didn’t Tell You

Up in Smoke album cover
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Fire Safe Cigarettes

My concentration levels have become shallower – I can’t follow a subject now for more than a couple of hours before I am actually confused! Some of you may not know me well enough to know that that state of mind is not one used to describe me very often. But there it is. I can’t make decisions easily anymore. I can’t type this message without having to hit the backspace key and correct my typing, not because of simple errors but because I am momentarily forgetting how to spell things. I find myself sitting for several minutes, who knows how many, trying to remember what it was I was just doing. I’ve been worrying about the possibility that I was forgetting everything again, like I did when I hit my head.

But I think I’ve found what might be the culprit. And it has nothing to do with that image on the right.


I noticed that my 100% Additive free Winston Ultra Lights weren’t burning correctly about 3 weeks ago. They would just go out in my hand. So to keep them lit, I had to smoke them faster… which increased my cigarettes intake by about 40%. Then Brad told me2 that my state, North Carolina, has required cigarettes to have a fire retardant included. I looked at the pack of cigarettes here on my desk. Where it used to say ‘100% Additive Free”, there is nothing now. I looked all over the pack. And I did find something new, FSC stamped on the bottom of the pack.

Apparently, there is now a government mandated chemical added to my cigarettes. I looked around, and found that sodium silicate is the culprit. Sodium Silicate. Where have I heard that recently?

Johnny Law

Oh yes. The recent so-called ‘Cash For Clunkers’ program from the federal govt required that all those trade-ins be permanently disabled by pouring sodium silicate into the crankcase. It renders the engine completely and permanently unusable. (It won’t even turn over.)

North Carolina signed this into law August 24, 2007. It will become effective January 1, 2010. Nearly all states and the District of Columbia have passed a similar law. Look at your cigarettes if you are a smoker. Do you see the initials ‘FSC’ stamped on the pack somewhere? The you’re huffing sodium silicate, my friend. Inhaling the stuff described in this MSDS (emphasis mine):


Hazards Identification
Emergency Overview

J.T. Baker SAF-T-DATA(tm) Ratings (Provided here for your convenience)

Health Rating: 1 – Slight
Flammability Rating: 0 – None
Reactivity Rating: 0 – None
Contact Rating: 2 – Moderate
Lab Protective Equip: GOGGLES; LAB COAT
Storage Color Code: Orange (General Storage)

Potential Health Effects

Diluted solutions of sodium silicate are strong alkaline irritants. The solid
sodium silicate is corrosive. Exposure to alkaline corrosives may result in
severe burns depending on the concentration and duration of exposure. Sodium
silicate is a type of amorphous silica and does not cause pulmonary silicosis.

A strong alkaline irritant. Inhalation can cause severe irritation of mucous
membranes and upper respiratory tract. Symptoms may include burning sensation,
coughing, wheezing, laryngitis, shortness of breath, headache, nausea and
vomiting. High concentrations may cause lung damage.

A strong alkaline irritant. Causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Solid sodium silicate:
Alkaline corrosive ingestion may produce burns to the lips, tongue, oral
mucosa, upper airway, esophagus and occasionally stomach.
Skin Contact:
A strong alkaline irritant. Causes severe irritation. Symptoms include
redness, itching and pain. Dries to form a glass film which can cut skin.
Solid sodium silicate: Dermal contact with alkaline corrosives may produce
pain, redness, severe irritation or full thickness burns.
Eye Contact:
A strong alkaline irritant. Alkaline eye exposures produce severe irritation
with effects similar to those of dilute caustics. Inflammation or burns with
possible damage to the eye tissues can occur together with tearing and
considerable pain.

Chronic Exposure:
No information found.
Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:
Persons with pre-existing skin disorders or impaired respiratory function may
be more susceptible to the effects of the substance.

4. First Aid Measures
Remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If
breathing is difficult, give oxygen. Get medical attention.

Asses – We All Have Them

I just want to add one thing more before I go. To those of humanity who say things like, “Well, geez. You’re a smoker and you’re worried about what’s in your cigarettes? You’re a dumbass for smoking anyway!” all I can say is “Pull your head out of your ass.” This isn’t about smoking. This is about legislation that affects millions of Americans, who now are required by law to breathe chemicals which are known to be dangerous when inhaled. Addicts to cigarettes are no less addicted than addicts to alcohol. Personally, I don’t take that poison. But I would not agree that our government has the right to require a damaging chemical to be added to your beer or your whiskey.

Wouldn’t it be better to just make the damned things illegal and be done with it?

The estimates in lives saved is less than 600 nationwide. At the risk of sounding callous to many of you, I will state here: That is not a big enough benefit for the risk – the risk to literally millions. Do you hate smoking so much that you would risk millions of lives? Do you hate smokers that much?

If so, don’t tell me who you are. Look in the mirror and tell yourself.

7 Replies to “FSC – What Your Government Didn’t Tell You”

  1. This new chemical has caused me to lose my voice and dry’s out my throat. I am being forced to quit or continue to smoke and not be able to talk. My job requires me to talk to customers therefore in order to keep my job I have to quit. This is just another loss of our freedom and I don’t believe many fires even start by cigarettes.

  2. Thanks, Jon. I feel like I understand this better now. Your comments are far more respectful and restrained than many yahoos out there talking about this,as well as being more intelligent. I have had a SERIOUS itching problem for months now that may be due to this additive. I had a light bulb moment the other night after EIGHT months of constant itching, sleepless nights, irritation, depression and cognitive problems. The itching has been the worst so I was trying to think of anything in my life that had changed for the umpteenth thousandth time…and BAM…I thought about the FSC additive I had been hearing about recently. I went to my local corner store and found some American Spirits (only one type of theirs didn’t have it) and bought those. I am already feeling much better. Shocking really that they can add something like this in such a stealthy way and not tell any of us, especially something this harmful. I see a large law suit in somebody’s future. I agree with you 100% on everything you said. Thanks again for posting this. P.S. – I was already planning to quit, but this has moved my time line up. The irony? The itching has made me so miserable, I couldn’t even contemplate adding the stress of quitting. Guess I’ll have no choice as I’m guessing I got “leftover” packs (pre-FSC)when I bought those the other day. Sigh.

  3. Sorry – one more thing, Jon. I’ve been concerned about how long this stuff takes to get out of your system once you stop inhaling it. Any knowledge on that? thanks….

  4. This stuff becomes slightly aqueous when exposed to heat like a cigarette, and it’s this moisture that’s getting into your lungs. Supposedly, it’s exhaled right away but as we both know, not 100%.

    I’m guessing that it should only take a short while to get it out of your system, but I don’t have any hard facts to back that up. Good luck with quitting – it looks like we have no choice.

  5. Yeah. That “science” doesn’t make any sense. If that were true then all the chemicals and tar we inhale with each puff would go right back out on exhale. Ok – maybe not the tar. Thanks for the info. Guess I’ll just wait it out. Sooner or later it’s got to leave my system. I have ordered a rolling machine to roll my own and then plan to switch to the e-cigarette option and THEN ramp down on my nicotine levels and quit. Seems like a good plan right now. Thanks again, Jon.

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