I know that generally, old claims need to still be notable today to be allowable here. This makes a whole lot of sense in that it isn't worth debunking obsolete scientific theories that haven't been believed by anyone worth mentioning in ages (e.g. the luminiferous ether or the four humours theory of disease).

I recently encountered a different sort of "old" claim. I found a newspaper column from the early 20th century warning readers that a certain manufacturer of cigarettes operating in the newspaper's city was lacing their products with opium and thus their smokes should be avoided by smart consumers, but without specifying how this product adulteration was discovered (e.g. laboratory analysis by a specific cited scientist).

So many changes have been made to both the manufacturing and regulatory side of tobacco products in the past hundred years that asking people today if they believe that cigarettes laced with opium are made in the city today is pretty much meaningless with respect to the original claim.

The claim to be analyzed, then, would be whether such adulterated cigarettes were manufactured and sold then and not whether they are being manufactured and sold today. Is it, then, sufficient to show that the claim was believed by people then, or do I still have to show that this historical claim (opium-laced cigarettes were manufactured and sold by Company X in City Y in 191x) is accepted today as a historical fact by a significant number of people?

1 Answer 1


For these types of meta-questions, I generally recommend we go back to the goals of our notability requirements, so we are enforcing rules for a purpose and know when to bend them, and not just enforcing them for the sake of enforcing them.

One of our goals is to make sure that the claim is being accurately conveyed, and isn't just a missed joke, a piece of fiction, a misunderstanding of what was intended, etc. A reference to an old newspaper column would satisfy that.

One of our goals is to understand the context - especially to work out what definitions the author might be using in their claim. A reference to an old newspaper column would satisfy that [and make it clear the claim is about what was happening a century ago, but not today.]

One of our goals is to make sure it is worth the effort. The time taken by our community to read/edit/assess the questions and answers and especially the time taken by the answerers to research the evidence likely averages several hours per answered question [citation-needed]. We don't want the site filled with idle conjectures made up in bars; we want to address claims people believe to warrant the effort.

This is where it gets a bit subjective.

I will be honest. You have intrigued me. I do not know whether there was opium-laced cigarettes, and I personally want to know. If enough people are like me, then the question warrants the effort!

But if no-one cares because we can't find anyone who might believe the claim... well, then it isn't worth the effort.

So, I haven't got a simple yes/no answer for you.

[I did a bit of a search, and found a 2023 YouTube video, titled "Japan's Weaponized WW2 Opium Cigarettes". I didn't listen to much of it, because my goal here isn't to answer the question, but just find some notability to make the question addressable here. But if your newspaper's claim is about Japan allegedly deliberately lacing cigarettes in China during World War II, then we can definitely call it a notable claim, because 2.5 million people watched a video about it this year!]

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