The Antismoking Epidemic

Tobacco Control often refers to smoking as an ‘epidemic’. But it seems to me that there’s more of an antismoking epidemic going on.

Sixty years ago there weren’t any antismokers. Or very few. None that I knew of.

The first antismoker I came across was Dr W, in whose house I lived for a while back in 1965. His eldest son was a bit of a delinquent, and was always getting into trouble. I seem to vaguely remember that he got expelled from school. One evening, not long after I’d arrived in the house, I could hear Dr W’s raised voice coming from another room, as he berated his eldest son again. Everyone could hear. And it was soon perfectly clear that his latest delinquency had been to be caught smoking. Wishing to escape the awful tirade, I set off for my room, only to come upon Dr W, standing in an empty room, shouting “Filthy! Filthy! Filthy!” His son had presumably left the room, and his father was shouting upstairs after him. I slipped upstairs too, as Dr W continued to rant in his strange, deep, dead voice.

And I immediately concluded that Dr W had a bit of a screw loose. He was a very strange man in various other ways. For example, he seemed incapable of laughter. I never once saw a genuine smile on his face. I always kept away from him if I could. I was rather terrified of him.

When I started smoking a couple of years later, the recollection of Dr W’s mad tirade was what clinched any debate I might have had. If mad Dr W hated smoking with such intensity, I figured that it was probably pretty harmless.

The next antismoker I came across a couple of years later also seemed to have a bit of screw loose. He was a fellow student at university, and was not only antismoking, but also a Welsh Nationalist. He seemed to be permanently angry about one thing or other. I also avoided him if I could.

The next raft of antismokers to appear were the pot-smoking hippies whose company I joined. They believed that illegal pot (cannabis) was not only utterly harmless, but in fact extremely beneficial. And they contrasted illegal yet harmless pot with legal yet lethal tobacco. They believed nothing that they were authoritatively told about pot, but everything they were authoritatively told about tobacco. And 50 years on from then, most of them still do.

And then there were the ex-smokers. A friend here or a friend there would announce that he/she had given up smoking. This was usually as a result of health fears rather than peer pressure.

In fact, over the next few years, quite a few of the people I knew started worrying about health, and taking vitamins, and giving up some foods – and even cooking utensils (aluminium was supposed to be a killer) -.

And then, as the numbers of ex-smokers or never-smokers continued rising, people started banning smoking in their houses or flats. One here, another there.

I was present on one of the occasions when one of these home bans was brought into force. Around 1990, my landlady (who also happened to be a good friend of mine, for whom I had rolled countless numbers of cigarettes) had invited a bunch of people round for a dinner party, and before serving up any food, she announced – to everyone’s astonishment – that smoking was banned. More or less everyone protested, but she would not relent. The dinner party did not proceed very happily, because as soon as everyone had finished one course, they’d all head out of her flat onto the stairs for a between-course smoke. After that, dinner invitations from her became few and far between. And she entertained her growing numbers of non-smoking, and increasingly vegetarian friends instead.

A few years later a similar smoking ban came into force in the household of a couple I knew. He was a smoker, and she was a never-smoker. And she now insisted that he no longer smoke in their home. So whenever I visited, he and I would stand rather sheepishly outside the back door. A few years later they got divorced, and I think that smoking was one contributory factor.

The darkest event, which filled me with foreboding, was a 50th birthday party thrown by a friend in a hired country house in 2005 (i.e. before the UK smoking ban). I discovered on arrival that smoking was banned everywhere inside the house, and a little summerhouse in the garden about 100 yards from the house was the only designated smoking area. I spent very little time inside the house. I spent most of the time sitting out by the summer house, in the silent company of the rock band that had been playing, grimly aware of the 100 yard divide between the smokers and the non-smokers.

A couple of years later of course – in 2007 – utter darkness fell as the UK smoking ban came into force, and all smokers were expelled from more or less everywhere.

But most of the events I have described took place before that, and in many cases long before it. And to me it looks like an epidemic of antismokers. It started with few doctors, like crazy Dr W (who was very active in the BMA), and it gradually spread. And it claimed most of my friends, most of whom had started out as hard-smoking, hard-drinking, delinquents and who metamorphosed, slowly, and one by one, into something else – while I remained unchanged, and utterly indifferent to every health scare.

How did it happen? I suppose that much of it was simply the result of incessant media campaigns, which ramped up very strongly in the years leading up to the UK smoking ban. Most of these people had TVs, and I guess they absorbed a lot of the antismoking propaganda from there, drip by drip. The same people, no doubt, are as convinced of the reality of global warming as they are of the awful menace of tobacco. They were people who believed authorities. They trusted doctors and scientists and experts. And they largely trusted them because they had little or no scientific expertise themselves. For the people I knew were writers and artists and journalists and architects and lawyers.

And I didn’t trust doctors. I had been permanently inoculated against trusting antismoking doctors by Dr W. I needed no booster jabs. Neither did I much trust ‘scientists’, because I’d been a research assistant at university, and had moved for a while in scientific research circles, and knew that ‘scientists’ were as human and as fallible as anyone else.

The people I knew trusted authorities of one sort or other, and they also trusted each other. So when one of them gave up smoking, the others also felt slightly impelled to give up smoking too. They hadn’t absorbed all their antismoking ideology from the media, but also from each other.

I no longer know most of those people. I think they’re all very gullible, and that they have been gulled, and that one day they’re likely to find out that they’ve been gulled. And my distrust of doctors and scientists and experts has grown deeper. I don’t trust the media either. And I don’t trust the politicians.

I’m no longer 100 yards away from the house: I’m 100 miles away, and getting further away every day.

But maybe people are beginning to realise that they’re being gulled. One thing that is emerging from the ISIS study on whose data I’m currently working is a widespread collapse of trust in experts and the media. It’s true even among the small group of non-smokers in the study. Trust in authorities is evaporating. And I don’t know why. All I know is that it’s long overdue.

So what next for the antismoking epidemic? What happens when trust in authorities collapses? What do all these trusting people do?

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58 Responses to The Antismoking Epidemic

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Beg forgiveness and a handout! Their names will be mud, noted only for their flagrant abuse of their title and their profession. A time of liberty abounds where no politician is trusted nor any doctor. They will bury their hatred and try to regain a socialable atmosphere again. Once the head is cut off and the propaganda mill is silenced the public perception quickly dies out.
    The problem is large vast and in every corner of the culture,the damage done by these prohibitionists. The social disheavel is vast,but will heal itself in due course.

    To understand the healing process of an entire generation one only needs to look back at the last failed movement……..

    1900 smoking bans in 43 states
    1917 repeals going on in states,cities and towns
    1927 last smoking ban repealed in utah
    Smoking came into vogue in the 1920s big time. The bans and alcohol prohibition left a bad taste in everyones mouth. There were more smokers and cigarette production climbed and climbed which is what we are seeing today pretty much everywhere. Its always the same as human nature doesnt change,it years freedom,liberty and a reason to go against social taboos.
    Its the renegade Rebel in us all. Many of the so called former smokers will likely come back to smoking again,having given up a habit they truly enjoyed. Even Mayor blooming idiot may start back again if he isnt shot down by a crazed mob in the streets.

    The movements back in the early past century give us not only a timeline for ban repeals but vast reasons why it failed. This time the nazis thought a world wide treaty with financial strings attached would make it work. Not at all,they cant hold the blackmale of international loans over their heads forever. The IMF,WORLD BANK etc are busted and only able to do sparce repair in bankrupt countries. The EU cant nor the Fed can keep printing forever to keep the game going. They can call it a recovery all they want,its simply government printing and pumping the stock markets up with that printed money thats keeping the game going. Values are based upon stock values and real estate values. Both have been manipulated by the governments beyond compare to anything in the past. Foreclosed houses kept off the markets to artificially keep prices up or at least from falling further. Stock values have been pumped up with over a 100 trillion dollars by the Fed since 2007. They pick the winners and losers. Bernake has a cash window where he dumps billions at a time and tells wall st what to buy with it and hold. Then what to dump so short sellers make a ton. then buy it back up again within a week. Its been going and going and going and its how they re-liquidate the losers in a bankrupt world! It hits the crisis point in the long run and its fast approaching as inflation of to much currency either printed or mouse click created has its immortal effect. The Fed caused the great depression in 1933 as they freely admit when they had printed so much money inflation was taking over. They recalled 2/3rds of the cash and banks failed,with uncounted millions losing all their wealth and cash. The point is comming and that type of mismanagement of the economies of the world will come crashing down in time. Its that comming catastrophe that will end this latest round of nanny statism faster than any cultural civilwar against it…………….It happened before and its gonna happen again.

  2. wobbler2012 says:

    Talking about anti-smokers this story will make you sad, around about 2003 I used to work a catering assistant for a temping company in Cheltenham. Basically it was a glorified dish washer/spiv/occasional sandwich maker. Anyway they wanted me to work out at the C&G building (large UK building society headquarters) in Gloucester, so I travelled over there at some expense as I had no car. Anyway I started work about 8 am and come the 10.30 break (or around that time) I just informed the head chef that I was just nipping out for a smoke, his reply was “no you can’t.”
    That’s right, this guy told me I couldn’t smoke at all during my 8 to 4.30pm shift. Bear in mind this was at least 4 years before the smoking ban. Needless to say I quit on the spot.

  3. waltc says:

    I recall being in Italy in,,,1997 or 8 and it had already begun there (of all places, I thought at the time), You could still, by law, smoke in most restaurants and bars but many were self-designating themselves as No-no places and others had introduced the concept of “sections.” I vaguely recall or maybe misrecall that it was supposedly already banned in cabs. Our small hotel off the Via Veneto had no smoking in the breakfast room and the owner of an inn near Florence said that the only reason she still allowed smoking in one of the two…don’t know what you call them, but living rooms is what they were…was that she had two of them. I also noted, not w/o a gloat, that the interesting people gathered in the smoking room and eventually half the nonsmokers came in because they were boring each other too much in their confinement.

    I also recall that some of the first anti’s I ever knew were heavy pot heads. You could get a contact high from walking into their apartments but they’d open every window or banish you over a Marlboro.

    • nisakiman says:

      The last time I drove down through Italy the coffee bars at the autostrada stops were ostensibly non-smoking. However, at the bar (under the big “No Smoking” signs”) there were those large floor standing ashtray / rubbish bins dotted along the bar front, and all the Italians in there were leaning on the bar smoking and drinking their coffees or whatever. From what I understand, they’ve become more heavy-handed policing it now, but bars are still regularly getting fined for allowing smoking inside. Despite the protestations to the contrary from ASH et al, the smoking bans are deeply unpopular everywhere.

      • Jonathan Bagley says:

        In Sicily the smoking ban is ignored. In Catania, after 10pm. In Syracusa, all the time.

        • BrianB says:

          Well I suppose in Sicily they do have a different kind of – ahem – policing, don’t they?

          My last year’s holiday was on the Ligurian coast – just south of Genoa. I had specifically asked the hotel for a room with a balcony, as their web site made very clear that all rooms were “non-smoking”.

          On checking in, and finding that my room had no balcony, I went to complain to the manager. His reply? “It’s OK. All of our rooms are smoking rooms – you just need an ash-tray”!

          Funny what a difference a tiny word like “non” can make, isn’t it?

  4. RdM says:

    <i< I think they’re all very gullible, and that they have been gulled, and that one day they’re likely to find out that they’ve been gulled.

    Thank you for the wonderful gloss on “gull”;- all true, and in 2013 I think now…

    It’s time the stalling leading edge corner of Tobacco Control’s castle of cards was caved in and the whole lot crashed and crushed.

    As the lies misrepresentations and political deceptions are revealed to those who matter…

    ~
    Summer here: sea-gulls … the sea … the sky … the stars!
    A rich resource of gulled politicians, too…
    Not to mention media and the brainwashed bloggers who hardly notice except by Party Line.
    ~

    The information needs to be collected collated crunched and conveyed… & sent strategically!
    Project a victory;- what did it, what would it, what does it take?
    A lot more yet perhaps. There have been starts. There is ongoing.

    They may have might & money – but they abandoned honesty.
    And the scientifc method.
    And compassion, etc.

    Hippocratic thought of consequences outrageously abandoned.

    Perhaps a groundswell from others as well could occur too; all decent professions!
    Inform, counter-inform, Christians as well as all those other honest folk! ;=})

    OK, to all the folk, honest or dishonest, religion aside… :)

    What is to be told and to be written? And to whom??
    How to counter-act, instead of just expressing anger.

    I mean to and through politicians, the media, bloggers, the medical and related professions, – obviously this, Frank’s blog is part of the process, counteracting and certainly not just dumb anger – but we congregate in blog comments and contribute much insight and info, and some have collated much in other web sites;- yet it’s all so disparate;- it needs so much experience and ? research to pull all the counter-arguments together into a very comprehensive whole.

    So it seems to me.

    But let’s try!

    And keep trying them!

    ~ R ~

  5. Rose says:

    Childhood asthma ‘admissions down’ after smoking ban

    “”We increasingly think it’s because people are adopting smoke-free homes when these smoke-free laws are introduced and this is because they see the benefits of smoke-free laws in public places such as restaurants and they increasingly want to adopt them in their home.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21067532

    Comments coming in thick and fast.

  6. beobrigitte says:

    The anti-smoking epidemic continues. This morning the BBC is in full flow about the miracle happening in the first year after the introduction of the smoking ban in England:
    “A study showed that there was a 12.5% drop of children being admitted to hospital with a severe asthma attack”
    followed by:
    “this is due to the increasing number of people also banning smoking from their homes”

    On chasing this up on the internet:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21067532

    According to this it is 12% and not 12.5%.
    Presenting their findings in the journal Paediatrics, they said the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma attacks was rising by more than 2% a year before the restrictions were introduced in July 2007.

    Taking that into account, they calculated the fall in admissions in the next 12 months was 12%, and a further 3% in each of the following two years. They say over the three-year period, this was equivalent of about 6,800 admissions.

    The fall was seen among boys and girls of all ages, across wealthy and deprived neighbourhoods, in cities and in rural areas.

    In short, this “study” tells us – as expected – nothing. Miraculously, houses/flats were cured from black mold? How? Miraculously, car exhaust fumes (in particular diesel!) are now harmless?
    Who, apart from the anti-smokers, believes it is only smoking which causes/exacerbates asthma?

    The “fall” in hospital admissions according to this article occurred in 2008 yet is has taken 5 years to make a news story out of it.
    As already said above; this BBC article is utter tosh; just extrapolation of assumed data. There was NO asthma epidemic in the 50s, 60s, 70s when people smoked almost everywhere. This fact could be taken for an article on smoking preventing asthma attacks in children.

    • BrianB says:

      Oh dear! Another ‘miracle’ happens due to the smoking ban! But it is junk science, of course, just like the others (note that the BBC quotes Pell & Gilmore as ‘success’ stories – as usual).

      Since this ‘study’ emanates from my own alma mater, much to my disgust, I have tried to follow up and see just what it did actually find.

      Sadly, the BBC’s link to the “Pediatrics Digest” (note the US spelling – why do these ‘studies’ always end up in American journals?) shows the latest edition (January 2013) – but with no reference at all to this study in its index. Google throws up various other news outlets reporting this ‘study’, all with word-for-word identical text. Conclusion: it’s a press release innit? Standard template so far, then.

      A search on the ‘lead researcher’ – Prof. Christopher Millett – shows that he is just another rabid anti-tobacco advocate, abusing his academic position to push his own personal aganda. One example the ‘quality’ of his previous work is this one: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001077. Given that this is co-authored with Glantz, it is about as close to the bottom of the junk barrel as can be.

      So, we now know that the ‘study’ is massively biased from the word go. So no surprises when they conclude “We increasingly think it’s because people are adopting smoke-free homes when these smoke-free laws are introduced and this is because they see the benefits of smoke-free laws in public places such as restaurants and they increasingly want to adopt them in their home”. Are we to take this as a serious, analytical, scientific investigation? “We … think”! Is that what passes for science nowadays? We think? Never mind the obvious logical fallacy given that we know that there is more smoking – not less – at home since the ban in places of hospitality, it is just not acceptable to conclude a study with “We think …”. That is pure, unadulterated and arrogant conjecture, and has no place in a professional journal.

      Of course, the “we think” conclusion is the only possible way they can explain any (alleged) shift in admission rates over the time period in question. There is just no possible way of proving that this has anything to do with tobacco smoking – active or ‘passive’ – without analysing the detailed smoking experience of people throughout that time period – which they didn’t , of course. Coincidence is the more obvious explanation.

      But even coincidence is only a valid conclusion if they have really demonstrated what they say regarding falls in hospital admissions for children with “severe asthma”. I’m not convinced that they have:

      Having accessed the publicly available data at http://www.hesonline.nhs.uk, I located the stats for hospital admissions for under 15 year-olds with a diagnosis of “Status Asthmaticus” (this is defined as “Severe” – even life-threatening – asthma attack), and the numbers don’t bear out this study’s alleged findings: First of all, the numbers are quite erratic, with year–on-year changes of between –28% and +14% over the past 10 years or so, so the changes quoted by the BBC are at best pretty unremarkable.

      The Status Asthmaticus admissions for under 15s did fall in 2007/8 (April 2007 to March 2008, so not absolutely coterminous with the smoking ban of 1 July – but you have to work with available material) by about 9% (3103 in 2007/08 vs 3380 in 2006/07). So this sort of bears out a part of their claim (the purported “12%” drop). However, the 2006/07 figure of 3380 was itself an increase of 27.9% on the 2643 in 2005/06!

      Furthermore, the 2008/09 figure went back up again, to 3564, an increase of 14.9%! From then the numbers declined, although the 2010/11 figure of 2635 compares well with 2661 in 2003/04.

      In other words, there is no significant trend in either direction. All that is certain is that there were large spikes in 2006/07 and 2008/09, but no real change overall between 2002 and 2011.

      Now, I am not suggesting that this destroys this study’s statistical analysis. At best, it casts serious doubt over what they have been doing to torture the data, but until I can actually get hands on a copy, I can’t tell what specific indicator of “severe asthma” they are using. Indeed, their suggestion that the 3-year fall of 15% (compound) is equivalent to “6800 admissions” implies that they counted all asthma admissions (>20,000 per year), not just those classified as “serious”. They may also have used a different age range to denote “children”, and should properly have used years defined as July to June not April to March. They wouldn’t, like me, have been limited to the data that can be downloaded from the HES site.

      My worst fear, though, is that they took the Jill Pell approach, ie to conjure up some completely obscure definition of “severe asthma” that would allow them to create the numbers to demonstrate exactly the trend that they wanted. Or, to give this kind of research its proper title, they “Cherry-Picked”. All will no doubt be revealed at some time in the future – when this piece of junk has moved from press release to publication, and by when the BBC report will have been archived into the standard lexicon of anti-smoking propaganda.

      In the meantime, given everything I have seen to date, I call this a complete and utter lie – for that is undoubtedly what it will be proven to be.

      So sad that Imperial College – once known as the best university in the UK for Maths, Science and Technology, should so prostitute itself by opening a “School of Public Health”. They regularly write to me, and other alumni, with the proverbial begging-bowl for financial help. Next time I will tell the bastards where they can stick it! And why!

      • BrianB says:

        OK, well while I was taking time to compile my maraathon comment (above) it seems that one or two of my qestions about this study were answered through misakiman’s link above.

        Firstly, there are discrepancies between the abstract and what the BBC says (eg BBC says 12% drop in first year abstract says 9%. Coincidentally, my analysis showed a 9% drop too!)

        BBC referred (see my comment) to “serious asthma”. The abstract refers to all admissions “with a principle diagnosis of asthma”. So where did the “serious” bit come from, BBC?

        BBC say that there was a reduction of “a further 3% in each of the following two years”. The abstract explicitly says that there was a “change in time trend of −3.4% per year”. The latter is clearly an average change, which can (and probably does) mask wild flcutuations. The BBC statement suggests that there were exact, measured changes of -3% in each year, which is something different altogether. Poor stuff, BBC!

        The fluctuations in the “all asthma admissions” are quite similar, in percentage terms, to those for severe asthma, so my analysis stands. In fact the only notable change has been a steady and steep decline, starting after 2004/05, in the numbers of admissions where the diagnosis is “Predominantly allergic asthma”. I’d be intereseted to know the reason for this, but one thing is clear: it has nothing to do with smoking (passive or otherwise) since there are no allergens in cigarette smoke, so it is biologically implausible.

        But the absolute doozy is that Glantz is involved in the study too.This knowledge would have saved me all of my research time, since anything involving that bloated fraud is just patently obviously going to be junk (or, to quote Stan’s own epithet, “baloney”).

        Would you like a chart of the real trend numbers, Frank?

        • Frank Davis says:

          Would you like a chart of the real trend numbers, Frank?

          Yes. Maybe you’d like to write something about them, as a guest post?

          If you haven’t got my email, it’s cfrankdavis at googlemail dot com.

        • BrianB says:

          This is a reply to Frank – not to myself!

          Frank, I note that Chris (Snowdon) is onto this and has a blog post going up tomorrow about the study itself. I will see what he comes up with and then take a view as to whether I can add anything. If so, I would be happy to have a go at a guest post.

      • Rose says:

        Remember this?

        Malta smoking ban fails to stub out heart disease
        November 27, 2011

        “The smoking ban may have led to a decrease in the heart disease death rate and hospital admissions in every country where it was introduced, but it has had absolutely no impact in Malta, a medical study has revealed.”

        “We were shocked and disappointed with Malta’s results, especially since the island was the second country in Europe to introduce the smoking ban,”cardiologist Robert Xuereb told The Sunday Times.

        “Seeing that international studies all showed a reduction in heart attacks and smoking-related deaths, we assumed we’d find a drop in Malta too – to our surprise there was absolutely no change in the figures,” he added.”

        http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20111127/local/Malta-smoking-ban-fails-to-stub-out-heart-disease.395743

        Having got it wrong with the required heart attack miracle, perhaps someone should have a word with them before the new round of asthma miracles begins.

    • margo says:

      Any fall there may have been in hospital admissions for asthma will be entirely due to improvements in management of the condition.

      • BrianB says:

        Over a long period, yes you are right. But the short-term fall in one year (only) after the smoking ban was merely down to random fluctuations – just as was the similar-sized increase one year later.

  7. George Speller says:

    They learn to think for themselves.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Brian Monteith: Smoke-free Scotland benefits only bureaucrats

    By BRIAN MONTEITH
    Published on Monday 21 January 2013 00:00

    The evidence is that all smoking control funding could be cut and smoking rates would still fall, writes Brian Monteith

    THIS March, it will be seven years since the ban on smoking in public places was introduced in Scotland. Many meaningless claims have been made about its popularity, the miracle of falling heart attack rates, improving asthmatic diagnosis and the consequent need to go further in reducing smoking rates.

    Since 2006 we have had further restrictions designed, without a shred of reliable, provable evidence that they will work, to further stigmatise smokers as too stupid to know what’s good for them and too stubborn to change.

    Displaying cigarettes will be illegal, while displaying pornography will be OK if, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, it is put on the top shelf. Campaigners are looking for a ban on cigarette packaging – and a ban on smoking in your own car is around the corner, even if you are the only one in it at the time.

    In December, Sheila Duffy, the chief executive of the government-funded anti-tobacco campaign group Ash Scotland, heralded her objective of Scotland becoming a smoke-free nation within a generation. She defined “smoke free” as an adult smoking rate of less than 5 per cent, compared to the current level of 23.3 per cent. Soon, probably around the smoking ban anniversary, the Tobacco Control Plan will appear, and I would not be surprised to hear health secretary Alex Neil champion a smoke-free Scotland like he champions a UK-free Scotland.

    There will be a gaggle of health professionals agreeing, charities announcing their support and the BMA will squeal with delight. They will all be talking to themselves, for if there’s anything that will make little difference to reducing smoking rates it is creating more laws, victimising smokers more and especially throwing taxpayers’ money at the problem.

    Far more productive would be to treat people as adults and not an underclass by stopping the funding of the campaigners and smoke police. This might sound incredible, for it confounds the claims of an anti-smoking lobby that has grown obese on public funding, but the evidence supports axing these millions we squander.

    The bald truth is that smoking rates have been coming down gradually for years – but all the efforts of the tobacco haters of this world have made no perceptible impact. They might well have not bothered.

    Before I continue, let me explain that I write not as a smoker in the traditional sense, as my parents’ smoking put me off cigarettes for life. I do, however, enjoy a good cigar once a week and even find, rather strangely, that I smoke possibly more now than I did before the ban. So I write, not out of any personal agenda for 20-a-day smokers, but simply because I believe that those who seek to control our lifestyles not only have no right but, even if they did, are in fact going about it the wrong way.

    I should also say that my father, a genuine smoker, died from secondary cancer following the lung cancer that he had recovered from. So I know all about the risks, realities and pain – but he, like me, would never have thought he had the right to tell people what personal lifestyle choices they should make.

    I fully appreciate that smoking tobacco carries health risks, but I also recognise that if some 70 per cent of smokers say they would like to give up then some 30 per cent of smokers don’t. Even if all of those who want to quit were to do so, it would still leave at least 7 per cent of adults smoking.

    But that’s not going to happen, because the large numbers of those who want to quit, possibly the majority, have shown an amazing resistance to doing as they’re told.

    Following some freedom of information requests by Freedom to Choose Scotland, an entirely voluntary body with no funding from big tobacco, big pharmaceutical companies or big government, we can now see that spending on tobacco control in Scotland has increased an amazing 15-fold since 1999 from £1.45 million to £22m – to little or no effect.

    Since devolution in 1999 the smoking rate among adults in Scotland has declined every year but one, by around half a percentage point each year. There is no evidence, no spike in the statistics, that shows the advertising ban, the smoking in public places ban or the general stigmatising of smokers has had any significant effect on a trend of falling smoking rates that began way back in the 1960s.

    Counter to all the wild claims following the smoking ban, the smoking rate actually went up in 2007 and compared to the significant falls in smoking previously achieved, the fall in the smoking rate between 1999-2011 has slowed.

    This suggests that we have now reached a statistical region of a hard core of smokers who are far more resistant to what politicians or society might think and are far more likely to thumb their noses at the well-meaning Sheila Duffys of this world.

    Ban smoking in pubs: they’ll stand outside the pubs, no matter how cold. Ban cigarettes on display: so what, they’ll just ask for their usual. No fancy packaging to attract teenagers? Its absence never stopped youngsters buying dope, cocaine or heroin.

    The evidence suggests we could cut back on all the smoking control funding and still see smoking rates fall.

    Far better, we could encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes – a system of nicotine delivery that has been shown to reduce tobacco dependency. That pharmaceutical companies and Ash Scotland wish to have e-cigs banned tells us everything – their desire is not to reduce smoking but to control smoking to the benefit of pharma that sells cures and bureaucrats who benefit from policing the rules.

    When the tobacco control plan is published it will call for more restrictions and more spending to police them, for those people behind these plans know no other way. Such a demand is nothing but blatant rent-seeking from a class of professionals that depend on ever-increasing budgets to keep them in the salaries, pensions and lifestyles that they are accustomed to.

    If there’s one addiction Scotland must break, it’s from big government as the cure-all. I won’t hold my breath – in fact I’ll just comfort myself with a Cohiba.

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/brian-monteith-smoke-free-scotland-benefits-only-bureaucrats-1-2748673

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    This one wins the darwin award
    JaceF
    9 Minutes ago

    They should have banned it outright years ago, along with all the other nasty stuff in the smoke it contains polonium-210 (the radioactive element suspected in Arafat’s death) but also two well-known isotopes of uranium best associated with nuclear reactors (uranium-235 and uranium-238).
    It’s past time we stopped pretending this is a personal choice issue.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    I actually feel sorry for the Nazis after the gang starts spanking them,besides the insanity that comes from their mouths.Its like todays BBC story is their last Hoorah and then its over if it doesnt sell! Its not selling……………

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    70 coffee shops shut down

    More than 70 coffee shops have been closed down by Jeddah municipalities for violating the ban on smoking in public places that was issued three months ago, said spokesman for Jeddah mayor’s office Abdulaziz Al-Nahari.
    He said the city is enforcing the ban and will not tolerate those who break the law. He rejected allegations officials have been lenient with violators.
    He said 200 inspectors have been carrying out daily inspections in the city’s 14 municipalities. Several coffee shops and cafeterias were officially warned and fined SR 600. The warning is final and if an establishment does not comply within a week, it will be closed.
    He said there are 350 coffee shops and cafeterias licensed to serve shisha and allow smoking. “Coffee shops and cafeterias are spread all over the city and the mayor’s office cannot assign an inspector to each one. Unfortunately many places have not complied (with the ban).”
    Al-Nahari called on the public to cooperate with municipalities and report violations. All whistleblowers shall remain anonymous, he added.
    Many places have obtained licenses to allow smoking in open spaces attached to their properties, he said.

    http://arabnews.com/70-coffee-shops-shut-down

  12. Brenda says:

    “It would appear that one of the authors of this new ‘research’ was none other that that paragon of impartiality, Stanton A Glantz phD.”
    What a surprise !!

    http://cleanairquality.blogspot.co.uk/2008/01/stanton-glantzs-400000-funding-from.html

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    The English asthma miracle.
    The BBC has reported the latest heart-warming news about the English smoking ban…

    There was a sharp fall in the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma after smoke-free legislation was introduced in England, say researchers.

    A study showed a 12% drop in the first year after the law to stop smoking in enclosed public places came into force.

    The implication is that this is the result of reduced secondhand smoke exposure. Of course, the smoking ban mainly affected places where children don’t go, ie. workplaces, pubs and clubs, so the authors suggest that the smoking ban inspired people to make their own homes “smokefree” of their own volition.

    The lead researcher, Prof Christopher Millett, said the legislation has prompted unexpected, but very welcome, changes in behaviour.

    “We increasingly think it’s because people are adopting smoke-free homes when these smoke-free laws are introduced and this is because they see the benefits of smoke-free laws in public places such as restaurants and they increasingly want to adopt them in their home.

    “This benefits children because they’re less likely to be exposed to second hand smoke.”

    Regular readers will know that studies of this sort have a tendency to be refuted by publicly available hospital admissions data. Actually, that’s an understatement. In every single instance when the hospital admissions data are available, studies of this sort have not stood up. I’ll discuss the mind-boggling methodology of this study (of which Stanton Glantz is an author) tomorrow, but for now here’s the data from England’s Hospital Episode Statistics which do not appear to support the claims being made.

    http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-english-asthma-miracle.html

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    From Stantonitis Glandz blog

    Hospital Admissions for Childhood Asthma Drop After Smoke-Free Legislation in England
    Submitted by sglantz on Mon, 2013-01-21 08:04

    Chris Millett and other colleagues at Imperial College London and I just published a paper in Pediatrics, “Hospital Admissions for Childhood Asthma After Smoke-Free Legislation in England,” that shows that childhood asthma admissions, which had been rising 2% a year before England put a strong smokefree law in place, dropped by 8.9% immediately after the law and continued to fall after that.

    This is a particularly important paper because during the long debate before the law tobacco industry allies (including the Minister of Health for some of the time) claimed that if workplaces, including pubs, were made smokefree smokers would smoke more at home, thereby harming their children. (The same claim pops up from time to time around the world.) Earlier work by my group showed in the US that smokefree laws are associated with more voluntary smokefree home policies, especially when there are smokers in the house. This new paper shows there are substantial health benefits for kids.

    This paper also builds the case that strong tobacco control policies produce substantial and immediate reductions in health care costs. Tobacco control should be considered a central element of medical cost containment in the short as well as long run.

    The BBC did a nice story on the paper, which is here.

    Here is the abstract for the paper:
    OBJECTIVE: To assess whether the implementation of English smoke-free legislation in July 2007 was associated with a reduction in hospital admissions for childhood asthma.

    METHODS: Interrupted time series study using Hospital Episodes Statistics data from April 2002 to November 2010. Sample consisted of all children (aged ≤14 years) having an emergency hospital admission with a principle diagnosis of asthma.

    RESULTS: Before the implementation of the legislation, the admission rate for childhood asthma was increasing by 2.2% per year (adjusted rate ratio 1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02–1.03). After implementation of the legislation, there was a significant immediate change in the admission rate of −8.9% (adjusted rate ratio 0.91; 95% CI: 0.89–0.93) and change in time trend of −3.4% per year (adjusted rate ratio 0.97; 95% CI: 0.96–0.98). This change was equivalent to 6802 fewer hospital admissions in the first 3 years after implementation. There were similar reductions in asthma admission rates among children from different age, gender, and socioeconomic status groups and among those residing in urban and rural locations.

    CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm those from a small number of previous studies suggesting that the well-documented population health benefits of comprehensive smoke-free legislation appear to extend to reducing hospital admissions for childhood asthma.

    The full paper is here.

    http://tobacco.ucsf.edu/hospital-admissions-childhood-asthma-drop-after-smoke-free-legislation-england

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    (adjusted rate ratio 0.97; 95% CI: 0.96–0.98). This change was equivalent to 6802 fewer hospital admissions in the first 3 years after implementation.

    Can someone say NO EFFECT! and how the hell did they beat 6000 out of nothing……….

    • garyk30 says:

      Seems to me that you need at least a 50% reduction before you can make an assumption about cause and effect.

      A 12% reduction is not significant.

      • garyk30 says:

        A 12% reduction would be an RR of 0.88, which is much greater than 0.5!!!

        http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/RR.htm

        For these reasons most scientists (which includes scientifically inclined epidemiologists) take a fairly rigorous view of RR values. In observational studies, they will not normally accept an RR of less than 3 as significant and never an RR of less than 2.

        Likewise, for a putative beneficial effect, they never accept an RR of greater than 0.5

  16. garyk30 says:

    The media does have a unique way of using words.
    Reduced asthma rate is called a ‘miracle’ and they then proceed to show why that ‘miracle’ happened.

    A ‘miracle’ is an event for which there is NO LOGICAL cause.
    If there is a cause; then, there can be no ‘miracle’!!!!

    Anti-smoking has spread so rapidly; because, your never see stories like these and thus there is no miracle in the growth.

    The Daily News(either print or tv)

    ASH has released a statement that claims that smokers are about 25 times as likely as never-smokers to die from lung cancer or COPD.

    In the interests of objectivity, our reporters have researched the matter and found that this claim is true; but, it is also true that smokers and never-smokers are equally likely to not die from lung cancer/COPD in any given year.

    This strange duality is caused by the fact that there are few deaths from these diseases per year and the vast majority of people do not die from them in any given year.

    The 25 times is a measure of the about 1/2th of 1 percent that die and the equality is about the 99.5% that do not die from these diseases.

    It is the editorial opinion of this media outlet that the statement about the 99.5% that do not die has the most importance.

    Your chances of dying because of surgery are 3 times as high as a smoker’s chances of dying from lung cancer.

    Comparative death statistics are:
    Current smoking and lung cancer death= 7/10,000 per year.
    Surgery related deaths = 22/10,000 per year.

    There are about 46 million smokers and they have about 32,814 lung cancer deaths.
    That is a rate of 7/10,000 per year.

    Every year more than 15 million people in the U.S. have surgery and there are 32,000 surgery related deaths.
    That is a rate of 22/10,000 per year.

    The Daily News

  17. garyk30 says:

    What are the chances of seeing this in the media?

    Antis claim that smoking ‘Kills’ and smokers should quit so as to improve their chances of ‘NOT DYING’ from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking.

    Actually, heavy smokers and never-smokers have almost precisely the same chances of NOT dying from those diseases.

    There is very, very little room for improvement.

    Doll’s doctor mortality report.

    http://www.bmj.com/highwire/filestream/400720/field_highwire_article_pdf/0/bmj.38142.554479.AE

    The table on page 3 shows this:
    Lung cancer deaths per year.
    heavy smokers(25+/day) = 4.17/1,000 = 995.83 did not die.

    never-smokers = 0.17/1,000 = 999.83 did not die.

    999.83 divided by 995.83 = 1.004.

    Never-smokers are only 1.004 times more likey than heavy smokers, to not die from lung cancer!!!

    When you have to go to 3 decimal places to find a difference, that difference is, for all practicality, non-existent.

    Other results:
    mouth/throat cancers = 1.001 times more likely to not die.

    all other cancers = 1.002 times.

    COPD = 1.002 times.

    other respiratory = 1.002 times.

    heart attack = 1.005 times.

    stroke = 1.002 times.

    other vascular = 1.003 times..

    • ZAla says:

      While I sympathize with you general view (I believe it is entirely a matter of choice what we decide to do to ourselves) the data you refer to aren’t quite as rosy as you indicate. The overall mortality rate for heavy smokers for all causes is 45 per 1000 men per year. That means that over the course of ten years 45% will have snuffed it. For never smokers it’s about 20%. That’s a big difference in anyone’s books.

      My problem is that the powerful evidence of the affect of heavy smoking on well-being has been transported to areas where behaviours have a negligible effect on well-being – obesity, secondary tobacco smoke, drinking – and the dishonestly it is claimed that (a) the effect is large and (b) there need to be prohibitions and control put in place just as was done with smoking.

      • garyk30 says:

        “The overall mortality rate for heavy smokers for all causes is 45 per 1000 men per year. That means that over the course of ten years 45% will have snuffed it.”

        Ah well, not quite.

        It means that over 10 years, the 1,000 will have 450 different new smokers than the original 1,000.

        45/550 is almost double the rate of 45/1,000.

        For the rate to stay the same, you must replace the losses with new people.

        Eventually, you will run out of people quicker; but, the fact remains that the percentage of deaths from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking is the same.
        In this case, it is 84%.

      • Frank Davis says:

        The overall mortality rate for heavy smokers for all causes is 45 per 1000 men per year. That means that over the course of ten years 45% will have snuffed it.

        If 45/1000 die every year, that means 0.955 of them survive. So if you take an initial population of 1000 heavy smokers, there will be 955 after 1 year, 912 (955 x 0.955) after 2 years, and then 870, 831, 794, 758, 724, 691, 660, and 631 left after 10 years. (1000 – 631)/1000 is 36.9%, not 45%, according to my reckoning.

        Furthermore, back when I took up smoking, at age 20, I knew lots of smokers. But I don’t remember 37% of them, let alone 45% of them, having snuffed it 10 years later. In fact, I don’t remember any of them at all snuffing it. But maybe I’m not very observant, and used to just step over the bodies without noticing them.

        • nisakiman says:

          But maybe I’m not very observant, and used to just step over the bodies without noticing them.

          You and me both, Frank. I must have been tripping over them blindly for years…

          Of course, this is where they stumble. The figures sound ever so scary, but the reality is somewhat different. I doubt that I have known 1000 people over the last ten years, if fact I doubt I have known more than 100 or so (I don’t keep count), but statistically, I should have known about 4.5 people who died of a “smoking related” disease over the last decade.

          Except I haven’t. Not one, in truth. Ever. In 45 or so years of adult life. Not even one “smoking related” death.

          The only place I hear about these things is in obviously biased medical articles and the comments that follow, where there is invariably at least one comment from someone who lost several members of his / her family and half a dozen friends to some terrible suffering brought on by their tobacco addiction.

        • ZAla says:

          Frank, you are right and I’m wrong in the basic calculation but:
          1. The relative difference between smokers and non-smokers in mortality remains very large
          2. The absolute numbers of heavy smokers dying over a ten year period is large at 37% (and just 18% of non-smokers).

          Since the data are age adjusted, it’s little wonder that in the 10 years between 20 and 30, you did not witness 1/3rd of smoking friends dying.

          An important caveat is these data only apply to heavy smokers, of which there are relatively few nowadays.

  18. garyk30 says:

    You will never see this data either!!!

    NEWS FLASH

    American govt data shows that smoking bans will have no effect on a never-smoker’s chances of not dying from lung cancer.

    Never-smokers exposed to SHS have a lung cancer death rate of 5/20,000 per year.

    Never-smokers not exposed to SHS have a lung cancer death rate of 4/20,000 per year.

    Never-smokers not exposed to SHS are only 1.00005 times as likely to not die from lung cancer.

    19,996 not dying divided by 19,995 not dying = 1.00005

    Also; if an SHS exposed never-smoker dies from lung cancer, there is a 4 out of 5 chance(80%) that cancer was caused by something other than SHS exposure.

  19. garyk30 says:

    Just another thought.

    Guess what information is being presented and taught in schools as the ‘Real’ science about smoking.

  20. garyk30 says:

    How about this.
    NEWSFLASH

    Smoking bans will not cause an immediate huge drop in the lung cancer or heart attack deaths of the non-smoking hospitality workers.

    That will not happen for 40-50 years.

    The average age of lung cancer death is about 73 and the average age of heart attack death is about 78.

    The average hospitality worker is aged 24.

    http://joboutlook.gov.au/Documents/Employment%20Outlook%20for%20Hospitality%20Workers.pdf

    Page 10

    About 76% of hospitality workers are aged between 15 – 34 years of age.

    The average(mean) age of hospitality workers is about 24 years of age.

  21. harleyrider1978 says:

    This mornings asthma miracle will likely be the deathnell of the tobacco control movements last hoorah! Funding is being dried up everywhere especially in the states. More and more media storys are surfacing everyday against the bans and their miraculous claims in the junk science produced. Indeed we can say TOBACCO CONTROL is on its way out.

    What we have left is mop up actions as the Prohibition movement dies a fast and unnatural death at the hands of internet freedom fighters everywhere.

  22. waltc says:

    I’m never sure, esp. once a thread is long, whether to post a “reply” under the replied-to thing or at the tail of the thread in terms of whether the replied-to will see it, but…

    Brian–
    No matter what, I’d hope you’d write a withering Letter to the Editor of any paper that reports on this asthma “study” and eventually to the Journal that publishes it. We can’t just talk to ourselves about how crappy this “science” is; we have to get it out to the same people who read (and publish ) this crap in the original media, and not just to those who search for it in alt. media.

    • BrianB says:

      Hi Waltc – and if I am right in assuming that you are ‘walt’ at Siegel’s place, then double-Hi, and hail fellow well met!

      You are right, of course, I should do what you suggest. I may well do, but I’ve become quite tired of shouting into the wind over the years, and my posting is now limited to short bursts when i can get enthused over the subject matter.

      Sometimes I just wish I had a gun – at least then I’d be able to have the pleasure of …..

      well, you can guess the rest!

      ;o)

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        I can undestand your anquish since the Journals are run by other Tobacco Control radicals its not likely to get anything published. Youd literally have to create your own Journal much like what the TC folks have done around the Globe at least the ones they couldnt take over. They came straight and said they would not accept any tobacco funded studies at all,no matter what the content. Its like always though with a Bully,silence your enemy anyway you can! Theyve even had Tobacco research thrown out of court where there judges had the cases. Its never about content but about who says it. But heck you already know all this anyway……………..

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          I wasnt saying your tobacco funded,Im saying they wont accept anything that counters their claims no matter what. Theres no room for debate or opposing opinions. If they say its real all the press prints it as holy scripture. But it does seem some papers these days are printing opposing views and not just letters to the editors but editorial staff storys either against the bans or stating its gone to far.

      • RdM says:

        “I’ve become quite tired of shouting into the wind over the years, and my posting is now limited to short bursts when i can get enthused over the subject matter.”

        Ah, Bacchanalia! ;=})

        But I think you should post on the points indicated…
        Please do ~ whenever ;-)

        Regards;~ Ross M_

        • RdM says:

          I should have noted that this was in reply to:
          BrianB says:
          January 21, 2013 at 11:05 pm

          (Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, 1969)

        • RdM says:

          “Does Anybody Know What Time It Really Is?”

          (reminder to self: Don’t try to use diagonal brackets decoratively! )
          (or allude unnecessarily to time differences! ;=}))

  23. harleyrider1978 says:

    Theres always that final piece of junk science that tips the scales and all credibility is then lost. Im kinda thinking this ASTHMA piece is it.

  24. harleyrider1978 says:

    Fuel for thought

    Asthma Death Rates Are Lower in States With Higher Rates of Smoking. The states of Utah and California, which have the lowest rates of smoking at 13.0 and 17.1 percent of adults respectively, are also among the states with the highest death rates from asthma. (Asthma Deaths, 2000; and: Smoking Among Adolescents, 2001, and Smoking Among Adults, 2001. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003 State Health Profiles, Atlanta, GA: US Deparment of Health and Human Services, 2003.

    http://www.smokershistory.com/SmokAst

    The EPA’s Sorry Status Report on Children and Asthma
    “America’s Children and the Environment. Measures of Contaminants, Body Burdens, and Illnesses,” Second Edition, US EPA, Feb. 2003. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman boasts that “This report marks the progress we have made as a nation to reduce environmental risks faced by childen,” including “Implementing the Smoke-Free Home Pledge campaign, designed to protect millions of children from the risks of tobacco smoke at home.” On pdf p. 75, “Between 1980 and 1995, the percentage of children with asthma doubled, from 3.6 percent in 1980 to 7.5 percent in 1995.” The graph on pdf page 67 boasts of declines in cotinine levels during this same period.

    http://www.epa.gov/opeedweb/children/

  25. Pingback: A Secret Asthma Miracle | Frank Davis

  26. melinoerealm says:

    Τhere should be a proper scientific study on antismokers. A medical, not a statistical one, which would examine the neurophysiology and brain structure of positive antismokers and check for brain impairment, hormonal problems or other deformities.

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