Asbestos in Popular Culture

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We all know that both asbestos and smoking can cause cancer, but did you know that in the early 1950’s Kent cigarettes doubled down and manufactured a cigarette that combined the two carcinogens by adding blue asbestos (crocidolite) to the filters? As if adding a carcinogen to something that already causes cancer wasn’t bad enough, the cigarettes were touted as offering “the greatest health protection in cigarette history.” We also now know that exposure to both asbestos and tobacco smoke together greatly increases the chances of developing lung cancer (a synergistic effect). The effect is much higher than adding the risk of getting cancer by smoking and asbestos exposure together.
The cigarettes were sold in America for about 4 years and it has been estimated that someone smoking a pack a day for a year would have likely inhaled hundreds of millions of respirable blue asbestos fibres. Inhalation of crocidolite fibres can cause a deadly cancer called mesothelioma and many smokers and manufacturers of the cigarettes sadly succumbed to this illness.