White Lies

“Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 50 years you are very aware that smoking is not only bad for you, it could very likely kill you. All smokers know this for sure but it doesn’t deter them."

 

I read this today somewhere, and I wondered about it. Are smokers ‘aware’ that smoking is bad for them? Do they really ‘know’ this?

Of course, smokers have been being told for 50 years or more that smoking is bad for them. But does that mean that they are ‘aware’ that it’s bad for them, or that they ‘know’ that it’s bad for them? Well, no, it doesn’t mean that at all. Just because people read things, or are told things, doesn’t mean that they believe them.

For example, I’m being told all day every day that there’s something called Global Warming happening, and humans are causing it. But do I believe it? Or do I ‘know’ it? Well, no, I don’t believe it. Just because some climate scientists say that it’s happening, doesn’t mean that I have to believe them. Just like when some politician comes on TV and makes some promise about what his party will do when they get into government, I don’t have to believe them either.

And the same goes for health warnings about smoking. Yes, I hear what’s being said. Do I take it on board and adopt it as an article of faith? No, I don’t.

All that I’ve heard, my entire life, has been that smoking causes lung cancer, repeated over and over again. I’ve read it in newspapers. I’ve seen it on television. I’ve heard it in conversation. For all I know I may well have seen it delivered with the morning milk. It’s been relentless bombardment for 50 years. But, as a result, do I ‘know’ that smoking causes lung cancer? No.

It’s only been over the past few years that I’ve begun to think about smoking, and begun to realise that I don’t actually ‘know’ very much about it at all, primarily because I’ve never seen an in-depth discussion of the research that proved that smoking causes lung cancer. And there’s a funny thing: there are no discussions of smoking. There’s no debate. The debate, if there ever was one, is over. And there’s no dissent. Dissent is not permitted.

And that’s surprising. If the debate really is over, you’d think that those who engaged in it would be more than happy to open the dusty old files, and let people read about it, hear for themselves the decisive arguments that clinched the case, and draw their own conclusions. But this doesn’t happen. The debate is buried. All that’s left are the conclusions. Smoking causes lung cancer, sonny, and that’s really all you need to know.

I probably wouldn’t have started digging into it all if the people who’d been telling me that smoking causes lung cancer hadn’t started telling me that passive smoking causes lung cancer too. The idea that smoking causes lung cancer hadn’t seemed at all implausible. But the idea that passive smoking did so too stretched credulity too far. I didn’t believe it. It seemed to me to suggest that smoking was about a thousand times more dangerous than it used to be said to be, back in the days when smoking just caused cancer in smokers. 

And it wasn’t particularly difficult to find out that a number of large studies had failed to show any significant threat from passive smoking. Here’s the WHO report of 1998. And the Enstrom and Kabat study of 2003. It turned out that most studies – something like 6 out of 7 of them – had failed to show any risk either. The supposed danger of passive smoking is a complete invention.

It’s a lie. But public health campaigners would probably say that it’s a ‘whie lie’ , or an exaggeration, that does no real harm because it’s being done in a good cause: that of getting smokers to give up smoking. And that’s a good cause because we know that smoking causes lung cancer, and so it’s OK to use any means at our disposal to get people to stop smoking, even if that includes a bit of exaggeration now and then.

But once it emerges that antismoking campaigners have been lying about the dangers of passive smoking, then one has to ask: What else they’ve been lying about? Is that the only lie they’ve told? For if they’re prepared to advance their cause with this one lie, then why not with lots of lies?

And what if the biggest lie of all was the claim that smoking causes lung cancer?

When that thought first occurred to me, it seemed almost unthinkable. No, it couldn’t be a lie. It would be crazy to think that was a lie. But  it soon became clear that antismokers were not only lying about passive smoking, but had since moved on to tell new lies – e.g. ‘third hand smoking’ -. These days, antismokers just tell ever bigger and bigger lies. And the bigger the lies I found them telling, the more I found myself wondering how far back those lies went, and exactly when the lying started.
 

About Frank Davis

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10 Responses to White Lies

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh, the claims that “smoking causes lung cancer” have always been dubious, to say the least. I’m old enough to remember the original pronouncements, way back in the 1970’s, that “smoking causes lung cancer” and I’m old enough to remember, too, the sometimes heated debate which followed such statements (it was allowed in those days), because although sufficient laboratory animals forced to smoke did develop lung cancer for them to announce a possible link, that one final, elusive step which is vital for any agent to be stated to be the “cause” of any particular disease – i.e. introduction of that agent into a host and subsequent development of the disease – stubbornly refused to evidence itself. Hundreds upon hundreds of animals had smoke pumped into them, but – very inconsiderately – the majority of them did not develop lung cancer. Eventually, I understand, in desperation (and probably under considerable pressure from their sponsors) scientists resorted to analysis of all the most likely chemicals in cigarette smoke which might cause cancer and they were able to isolate one (can’t remember which one, sorry) which – hey presto – when introduced undiluted into a host animal, resulted in lung cancer in the necessary frequency to them to feel able to declare smoking as a cause (a cause, you’ll note, not a causative factor) of lung cancer. Not a particularly ethical or objective way of conducting research or indeed an entirely accurate report of the results. And of course, once they’d got away with that one, first “white lie,” the door was open to all kinds of other dubious claims. The whole anti-smoking movement has relied on manipulation, exaggeration, propaganda, spin, scary-sounding guesstimates and sometimes downright lies – all presented as “facts” – from the outset. The scientists involved in this one fundamentally dishonest exercise should, in my view, hang their heads in shame.

  2. Frank Davis says:

    I’m old enough to remember the original pronouncements, way back in the 1970’s,
    I’m even older. I can remember the even more original pronouncements of the 1960s (and even a little of the 1950s.)
    because although sufficient laboratory animals forced to smoke did develop lung cancer
    My understanding is that those forced-smoking rabbits never developed lung cancer. The only way they could produce cancers was to paint the carcinogens onto their shaved skin.
    scientists resorted to analysis of all the most likely chemicals in cigarette smoke which might cause cancer and they were able to isolate one (can’t remember which one, sorry) which – hey presto – when introduced undiluted into a host animal, resulted in lung cancer
    Tar? Benzapyrene?
    The whole anti-smoking movement has relied on manipulation, exaggeration, propaganda, spin, scary-sounding guesstimates and sometimes downright lies – all presented as “facts” – from the outset.
    And when was that outset? In an impending post of mine, I intend to go back and look at the very first of the Doll and Hill studies – the 1950 London Hospitals study.
    The scientists involved in this one fundamentally dishonest exercise should, in my view, hang their heads in shame.
    You’re too kind. I think they should just hang.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Many thanks for the update on that, Frank. I didn’t realise the whole scientific side went back so long. Neither did I realise than NONE of the original animals developed lung cancer – which makes the scenario even more scandalous. Just goes to show that the brainwashing has even infiltrated me, and I’m usually a fairly “resistant” case!
    It’s also good to know that there’s someone out there who has a longer memory than me, as I am 217 years old (well, it feels like it sometimes!) But just think, I’d be 225 if I didn’t smoke!!
    It was Benzapyrine, I think. I say that only because I know it had a very long name, so it definitely wasn’t Tar!
    Looking forward to your comments on Doll & Hill.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Doll, under oath in the McTear vs ITL courtcase:
    [5.302] Finally, Sir Richard was asked about benzo[a]pyrene. He agreed that this substance was produced by everything that was burnt and was present in the air that was breathed. As he had previously said, smoking thirty cigarettes a day was not equivalent to exposure to a strong carcinogen. He had also said that whether cigarette smoke acted even as a weak carcinogen was more difficult to determine, though it was necessary to be careful in the use of these terms, because the quantity of a carcinogen was a factor as well as its strength or weakness: “The poison is in the dose.”
    Another anon – TonyW

  5. Frank Davis says:

    Neither did I realise than NONE of the original animals developed lung cancer – which makes the scenario even more scandalous.
    It seems they would only develop cancers if their skin was painted. There’s more in the the transcript of the cross-examination of Sir Richard Doll in the case of McTear v. Imperial Tobacco, 31 May 2005
    [5.267] Rigdon continued:
    “To summarize my views, may I say that, first, I believe that there is no satisfactory experimental evidence to establish a connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Cancer of the lung has not been produced experimentally in any animal by the inhalation of cigarette smoke. The fact that tobacco tars will produce a tumor on the skin of a specific strain of mouse does not, in my opinion, lead to the conclusion that cigarette smoke will produce cancer in the lungs of man. As I continue my work in the field of experimental carcinogenesis, I find puzzling variations in the responses observed from one species of animal to another with respect to the development of cancer. This is why I say that data concerning cancer in animals should not be considered proof of a similar effect in man.”
    Sir Richard said that he agreed with Rigdon in this passage.

    So even Sir Richard Doll agreed that no animal inhalation studies had produced lung cancer! The linkage between smoking and lung cancer has only been demonstrated statistically.

  6. Anonymous says:

    propaganda
    It seems Frank, that you have gone through the same thought processes as I have – almost to the letter. I was a ‘believer’ of the dangers of smoking until the SHS myth appeared and I heard rumours that the science behind the claims were suspect. I looked into it, found the rumours to be correct, and then began to wonder about the historic claims on primary smoking and health.
    If you look at most government polls, questionnaires etc on smoking you find copious, bonny coloured, graphs etc showing, for instance, the percentage of the population who are ‘aware’ of the harm caused by smoking, by SHS, to children etc. and these seem to be used as outright proof of smoking dangers – All they really prove is how well the propaganda, indoctrination or brainwashing has worked – nothing more!
    Steve.

  7. Frank Davis says:

    Re: propaganda
    Yes, that’s about right. SHS stretched my credulity too far. My common sense said it was BS. A red light flipped on.
    The strange thing about SHS is that most of the SHS research says there’s little or no danger. There’s no real science foundation for the claims made by antismoking organisations about the dangers of SHS. I think they’ve found that nobody checks up on their claims, but just believes whatever they say, because they’re ‘authorities’, so they can say whatever they like.
    This bluff has now been taken to new levels with ‘third hand smoke’, where there isn’t any research at all, but just an idea planted in the public mind.
    Such levels of deception do of course bring into question the long-standing research studies of first hand smoke. For if they’re lying about second hand smoke and third hand smoke, then the chances are they were lying about first hand smoke too.
    Personally I think that the perceived dangers of SHS are simply an extension of the supposedly long-established and unquestionable dangers of first hand smoke. If smoking causes lung cancer, then in a certain sense it stands to reason that secondhand smoking will also cause lung cancer, and third hand smoke the same. I don’t believe that the threat of second and third hand smoke will go away until the perceived threat of first hand smoke is removed (if such a thing is possible).

  8. Anonymous says:

    Re: propaganda
    If you can find it (it’s on the net somewhere, but I’ve lost the link – sorry!), have a read of “The Smoking Scare De-bunked” by Dr William T Whitby. Written some years ago, and primarily therefore about active smoking rather than SHS, but with some pretty heavy-duty and influential critics of the mania for blaming cigarettes as the cause of lung cancer and heart disease (they were the main targets, then, of course – all the other illnesses were linked much later). It also gives a very interesting perspective on the possible reason WHY it was so important for the authorities to blame smoking for these illnesses. Read and enjoy!

  9. Frank Davis says:

    Re: propaganda
    The link you want is

    Click to access Sisf14d00.pdf


    It’s Whitby’s book, in image format. I read it a few years ago. It’s well worth reading.

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