Without a doubt the smoke ring is a cured meat and that part is safer from those pesky bacteria. As far as just the smoke inhibiting bacterial growth, perhaps so. There are a lot of various gases in smoke, some of which may inhibit bacterial growth. Also, ash is generally present in small quantities in wood smoke, and that ash is alkaline, which is on the other end of the pH scale from what bacteria like as you pointed out to us yesterday. I don't have any facts to back it up, but I am thinking bacteria would have a harder time growing in a smoky environment. That's my story and I'm sticking with it until someone shows me otherwise. Then I'll simply change my mind and say that's what I believed ALL ALONG!