Sunday 26 June 2011

Tobacco-Powered Electricity

Excerpt from the UKBA response to a real, but perhaps mischievous - not by me, I hasten to add - recent FOIA request.

Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I have listed your request for reference.

‘What happens to tobacco products once seized by border control. I want to find out if these products are being burnt thus releasing vast quantities of the 'second hand smoke' that we are told is extremely dangerous to human life. If these products are being burnt, I would like to know exactly who is burning them, where they are being burnt and what steps are being taken to prevent the exposure to people of the residue 'second hand smoke'.’

I am able to disclose the following information.

The UK Border Agency is committed to finding innovative and sustainable means of disposal of revenue goods. Tobacco products are shredded and the pulp is taken to a power station and used as an alternative fuel source for power generation.

We do not hold any information on the power station that burns this alternative fuel source or the measures the power station takes to prevent the exposure to people of “second hand smoke”.
Now, while the response is entirely functional, wouldn't it have been great if the reply had pointed out that such power stations emit millions of tonnes of chemicals into the air, and that the 'risk-terrified enquirer' really shouldn't be worrying about such things?

But then, It's even better to imagine that some public sector flunkey really might have performed a risk assessment and issued guidelines on the safe disposal of tobacco amongst an overwhelming mountain of coal.

An absurd idea? Not while there is a smoking ban in the Arctic Circle, it's not.

I understand that a follow-up request has been lodged to ascertain exactly which power station is tasked with emitting these highly toxic chemicals.

With an effect on house prices and cancer incidence dependant on the response, the Daily Mail will of course be informed immediately once it is received.


Anonymous said...

They'll probably be shredding the tobacco packets and cellophane as well. Most rolling baccy is packed in plastic pouches. I believe that toxins produced by burning plastic are particularly nasty.

Anonymous said...

How about all the filter tips ?? I thought that they were indestructible.

Do we think that maybe the UK Customs may be lying and that they sell them at weekends in their little white vans ??

Anonymous said...

I thought it was against the law to be in possession of 'lit tobacco' so does that mean they are going to arrest the building they are burning it in?

If they are burning tobacco and using it for energy does that mean second-hand smoke will be coming through our plug holes! I certainly hope not otherwise my hoover will be on twenty a day!!

Leg-iron said...

Anon raises a good point. The furnaces burning the tobacco are indoors and in a workplace, so it's illegal to burn it in there.

Interesting though - so when I charge my Electrofag, I might be using tobacco to do it? Makes it all a bit pointless, really.

My bet is that all those unopened packets are simply flogged back the the tobacco companies who then ship them back to the shop it was bought from.

Oh, but electricity produced from tobacco - I wonder how many 'hands' of smoke to make that one for my next antismoker encounter. Cancer-infused tea because of electric kettles...

WV - flabiate. I have to find a use for that word. This year's challenge, get 'flabiate' into the Oxford English Dictionary.

Xopher said...

I've tried and I've tried to find out where the contraband is burnt.
I'm a smoker that doesn't smoke now but gain great pleasure from being down wind of smokers. SHS keeps me sane. Where are the pipe and cigar smokers?
What a blast to get downwind of that power station!

subrosa said...

What tripe that response was. You should ask how many people are employed for the shredding process and are they provided with nicotine averse clothing?

Good to see Chris. You're all sooo young. :)

Xopher said...

I just made a discrete enquiry with ASH - They tell me all the tobacco products are given to the pharmaceutical companies for conversion into NRT products.
My findings have been peer reviewed by some pals so it must be true.

Grandad said...

I think what we are witnessing here is the birth of fourth hand smoke. Soon they will have proved [beyond all doubt] that the electricity produced by this process is a hundred times more deadly than normal electricity. Especially to children........

Xopher said...

"Good to see Chris. You're all sooo young. :)"
Some of us are so old that we may be nearlydone but won't let the bastards grind us down.
When I was a child I was treated like a child and now I'm older I've had enough.

Anonymous said...

Man itd sure be nice to work in the property room prior to transport of all that bootleg tobaccy!

Anonymous said...

Just think if they had a program of redistribution of bootleg tobacco to inmates,itd help keep the peace and possibly save a guards life. Let alone it would keep bribery of guards down for bringing in bootleg cigs!

Then theres the psycho hospitals where that same tobacco could be used as a therapy aid for mental patients......

Then there is also the ability of the government to resale the cigs for a profit on the open market to retailers......

The taxes lost would then be recouped......


Anonymous said...


Chinese turn cigarettes into medicine
March 19 2006

"Beijing - A city in China, a country that's home to the world's most enthusiastic smokers, is crushing fake cigarettes to make medicine, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

The northwestern city of Xian is using the counterfeit cigarettes to extract solanesol, a compound found in tobacco which is used to treat cardiovascular disease, it said.

"We used to incinerate the fake cigarettes, which is wasteful and causes air pollution," Xinhua quoted Zhou Yaqing, vice director of the provincial tobacco monopoly, as saying.

A kilo of solanesol is worth about $200 (about R1 200), and 30 tons of tobacco leaf can produce up to 120kg, Xinhua added."
IOL News

CTRI wins patent for using tobacco as medicine
Sunday, February 17, 2008

"New Delhi: Tobacco will now be used for manufacturing cancer and cardiac drugs with the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) bagging the patent for solanesol - a medicinal substance extracted from tobacco.

Solanesol, a white crystalline powder derived from tobacco's green leaf, has curative effects against cardiac insufficiency, muscular dystrophy, anaemia, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and liver injury

"Many pharmaceutical companies have approached us for carrying out clinical trials for the usage of solanesol as anti-cancer and anti-diabetic drugs," CTRI Director V Krishna Murthy told reporters. Solanesol is rich in Coenzyme Q10 - a physiologically active substance with high pharmaceutical value"
The Hindu

If you can't find a tobacco burning power station, try Holland and Barrett.


View from the Solent said...

"a real, but perhaps mischievous .... recent FOIA request."

I reckon that the "perhaps" is superfluous. The careful wording of that FOIA request was done by a master of the art.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed how professional and sophisticated the website Nothing to Declare now is. How about hiding a tracking device in a pouch of Golden Virginia and deliberately getting it confiscated. I think such small gizmos are available from The Spy Shop and similar retailers. My bet is that it will find its way to a corner shop somewhere in Kent.

The witch from Essex said...

Thank you for the compliment View from the Solent.

Ian R Thorpe said...

Anyobdy who watched the recent TV drama Shadowline might have a few other ideas about what happens to llicit substances seized by the authorities.

Anonymous said...

What a graceful and attractive gathering that seems to have been, compared with vinegar-visaged Puritans

Dick Puddlecote said...

LI: Good point about the burning in a workplace. I don't remember reading that exemption in the Health Act 2006.

Xopher: "When I was a child I was treated like a child and now I'm older I've had enough"

Could be a motto for this blog, that. ;)

Anon @ 12:18: it would be an interesting experiment, no doubt. I've never understood the destruction ethos of UKBA, it benefits precisely no-one.

Ian R Thorpe: Have you a link for that?

Lleweton: Indeed it was. The health lot conduct their gatherings in sterile fun-free zones. But then, they're miserable wankbadgers so it's to be expected. ;)