Everybody Knows

I used to believe more or less more or less everything I was told about tobacco. That it caused lung cancer. And that it was addictive. And that Big Tobacco had been lying about both of these for half a century or more.

Why did I believe it? Because there wasn’t any reason not to believe it. Researchers had shown it repeatedly, and senior doctors backed them up. And the researchers and doctors wouldn’t lie, would they?

Why didn’t I stop smoking, then? Simple. Because tobacco is one of life’s pleasures, much like alcohol, and meat, and cars, and so much else. If I stopped doing anything that carried any risk, I’d stop doing everything. Because there’s risk attached to everything.

Also, I didn’t know any smokers who’d died of lung cancer. Nor even showed any signs of ill health. The only people I knew (all two of them) who’d died of lung cancer were, oddly enough, both non-smokers. They weren’t even ex-smokers.

And also, back in the 1960s, I’d met Dr W.  He was the first antismoker I ever encountered. He used to inveigh against smoking like a fundamentalist preacher. He didn’t produce any studies or figures (although I’m sure he knew about them) to show how 99.9% of lung cancer patients in the 1950 Doll and Hill study had been smokers. No, his hatred of tobacco was visceral. And he was also a profoundly inhibited man. Not only did he not smoke, but he didn’t drink either (except for a thimbleful of wine at Christmas). In fact, I never saw him enjoy anything. He didn’t watch television or listen to the radio or read newspapers or books or anything. He never played any games of any sort. When he got home from work, he’d head straight out into the garden to tend his vegetables, or repair things round the house. Above all, he was incapable of smiling. When, during conversations, he felt he maybe should be smiling or laughing, he’d hitch up the corners of his mouth into a mirthless rictus. And I decided that he was a bit insane. Not insane in any certifiable sense, because he held down a medical job, and owned a house, and raised a family. Nor was he in any sense ‘evil’ or unkind. There was just something profoundly missing from his psychological makeup. I wondered if, as a boy, he’d been savagely beaten every single day for the slightest infraction. For me, he became not just the first of the antismokers, but the godfather of all of them. And I discounted everything he had to say about tobacco – or anything else for that matter.

I didn’t see much of Dr W after the 1960s, and he dropped out of mind until 40 years later, when the UK smoking ban was first mooted, on the grounds that secondhand smoke posed a health threat. Which seemed crazy to me, and wrong, and was the sort of thing Dr W might have said. In fact, I wasn’t sure that even Dr W was ever so bat-shit crazy to have suggested such a thing. The researchers who were peddling this notion, and the senior doctors who were repeating it, were either mistaken or they were lying. For the first time in my life I began to wonder whether doctors might tell lies.

Furthermore, when the ban came into force, and wrecked lots of people’s social lives (including mine), and destroyed little pub communities, and bankrupted thousands of pubs, and made pariahs of smokers, it was the smoking ban rather than smoking itself that seemed to me to be truly evil. Could anything justify doing so much harm to so many people? Particularly something which was quite manifestly an untruth from the outset.

And if they were lying about secondhand smoke, then had they also been lying about firsthand, active smoking? Maybe smoking didn’t cause lung cancer? And maybe when senior tobacco executives all said that they didn’t believe smoking caused cancer, they weren’t lying either? Maybe the reputation for sheer mendacity that the tobacco companies had acquired was wholly unjustified?

Today I’ve been wondering what Big Tobacco’s lies were supposed to be, and so started reading a few antismoking websites to find out. Like this one.

And what they said was that tobacco killed ‘nearly half a million Americans’ every year, and that the tobacco companies knew this perfectly well, but set out anyway to get the youth of America to become addicted, to cynically make up for the numbers killed by smoking. The tobacco companies were barefaced liars:

Congressman Harry Waxman held a famous series of Congressional hearings in 1994 in which the CEOs of the four major tobacco companies were subpoenaed to testify before Waxman’s committee about the cover-up and lies of Big Tobacco. All four CEOs — from RJ Reynolds, Phillip Morris, Brown & Williamson and Lollilard — steadfastly refused to budge an inch under withering questioning from Waxman and other congressmen that they knew cigarettes were addictive and were killing people. They all four claimed they did not believe this.

The public was outraged. It was a major public relations debacle for Big Tobacco. Within months, a perjury investigation was initiated by the Department of Justice. All four CEOs were eventually fired. Ultimately, the Department of Justice claimed it didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute for perjury because the four CEOs testified under oath they believed tobacco did not addict people nor cause cancer. They had crafted their answers very carefully, obviously with help from attorneys. Because they had used the word believe, they could not be prosecuted for perjury.

I remember this episode, and how at the time people asked, ‘How could they say that? Everybody knows that smoking causes lung cancer!’

I also found a YouTube video from March 2011 in which it was said (1 minute in):

A federal court is requiring tobacco companies to tell the truth about cigarette smoking. Here’s the truth: Smoking kills 1,200 Americans every day.

That ‘true’ figure is actually the 440,000 (1200 x 365) Americans supposedly killed by tobacco every year. It’s also the ‘nearly half a million’. You’d think that this was a body count, but in fact it’s an imaginary number of deaths, produced by multiplying a few numbers together:

The figures we see (i.e.: the 440,000 “tobacco-related deaths”) are a sheer speculation, and the worst possible scenario of that speculation. Here is an example: if in country A there are 10,000 lung cancer deaths a year and 9,000 deaths are amongst smokers, the “causality” of the 9,000 deaths is “attributed” to smoking by basically ignoring all the nearly 40 other known factors or the thousands of possible combinations of factors that could have caused the lung cancer in smokers. That is because those other factors are also present in non smokers – yet this is something that is impossible to verify and especially to measure. In other words, since all people (smokers or not) are exposed to all other factors except smoking and there is more of disease X amongst smokers, then smoking must be the cause of disease X. Thus, by arbitrary exclusion, smoking becomes some sort of monofactorial disease.

Nobody really has any idea how many smokers are killed by their smoking. The 440,000 figure has been plucked from the air. There’s nothing ‘true’ about it at all.  It’s a speculative figure of how many smokers might have been killed by their smoking, assuming that smoking really is as bad as some people say it is. And yet it’s presented as “the truth”.

Never mind whether Big Tobacco has told lies in the past: If Big Tobacco is being asked to publicly state that 440,000 Americans are dying every year as a consequence of smoking, then they’re being asked to tell a lie.

As best I’ve been able to make out today, Big Tobacco’s principal past ‘lie’ was to disagree that smoking caused lung cancer. But is it a lie to disagree with what ‘everybody knows’? And is it a lie to disagree with that other truth that ‘everybody knows’ – that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming?

We had a debate here back in December, in which Chris Snowdon and Rich White and several others took part, over whether smoking causes lung cancer. Chris was quite sure that it did. And Rich doubted it. And so did I. In my view, the jury’s still out on that question. Just because everybody else believes it, that doesn’t mean I have to believe it as well. In fact, I believe it less and less.

These days, I’m more and more inclined to think that what’s driving the antismoking campaign is a profound and largely irrational conviction that Smoking Is Wrong (and also that similar sorts of activities – for example, drinking alcohol – are also Wrong). It’s got nothing to do with science or epidemiology. They’d made up their minds against tobacco long before they started doing any studies. It’s a moral prohibition. The antismokers simply hate smoking in the way that Dr W used to hate it: Because it’s a pleasure, and they can’t stand pleasure. And Dr W simply and indelibly expressed that primal, visceral hatred.

About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to Everybody Knows

  1. Tony says:

    I often used to wonder what anti-smokers were referring to when they said tobacco companies had been lying to the public for decades. I had never heard any statement from tobacco companies in my entire life. Was I the only member of the public that had somehow missed these proclamations?

    Nonetheless I had assumed all was well with the medical profession and that where I could see obvious exaggeration, such as black lungs, then these were scare tactics for a noble cause. Objectionable perhaps but nothing to be too concerned about.

    Then came the ‘second hand smoke’ scare. That seemed an exaggeration too but I thought there might be some truth in it.

    However once the demands for smoking bans came in I started to sit up and take notice. These were clearly bans that violated liberty. If a danger existed then it was obviously small and sign-age would have been quite sufficient to ‘protect the public’.

    Over the last few years I have waded through hundreds of the ‘smoking related diseased studies’ (to coin a phrase). My conclusion is the same as yours. Danger from SHS is a fraud and even the strongest claims of the anti-smokers, such as active smoking being a cause of lung cancer, are very dubious and probably wrong.

    By the way, I’m glad to see you’ve imported your old blog posts onto wordpress. There was writing in there that was far too good to lose.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m glad to see you’ve imported your old blog posts onto wordpress.

      They’re not perfect. Sometimes images go missing. And in some posts the comments exist in triplicate. Which is better than not having them at all, I suppose.

      The old Livejournal blog still exists anyway.

  2. Fredrik Eich says:

    Frank, I have added a chart of LC deaths in the US vs the numbers of smokers that Gary K was talking about on one of your posts this week, here.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I see that you’re plotting cigarettes consumed against lung cancer mortality. Mortality seems to have peaked in about 1990, and cigarettes consumed peaked about 20 years earlier (according to some sources). So there is a 20 year latency.

      But are those the right things to plot? A few days back I was comparing smoking prevalence with lung cancer incidence, and from 1930 to 2000, prevalence was falling, and lung cancer incidence was rising. There’s no latency period at all.

      If smoking any number of cigarettes carries a high risk of lung cancer, then it’s the number of people who smoke that matters, not cigarettes consumed. Equally, lung cancer incidence gives the number of people who contract the disease. Mortality gives the rate at which they die, which may be less than incidence as treatments improve. It seems to me that it’s the incidence that matters, not the mortality.

      Plotting cigarettes consumed against lung cancer mortality seems to me to be what antismokers do because it provides them with two peaks, 20 years apart. And this is what they want. They go through the data, trawling for something that will link smoking and lung cancer, even with a 20 or 40 year delay. Plot something different (and arguably more relevant), and the association vanishes.

      • Gary K. says:

        Pretty little chart shows male lung cancer deaths as such:
        1950= 60/100,000
        1960 = 75
        1970 = 115
        1980 = 135
        1990 = 135

        However, US goct data here: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00022160.htm

        TABLE 1. Age-adjusted death rates * for selected smoking-related cancers, by sex and
        race + — United States, selected years, 1950-1990

        Male(total)

        1950 = 21.6/ 100,000

        1960 = 38.2

        1970 = 58.2

        1980 = 71.9

        1990 = 75.6
        tells a much different story.
        As you say, male smoking rates can be far different from the per capita consumption.
        Here, we find the male smoking rates from 1935 to 1955 do not deviate much.
        Cigarette smoking in the USA
        http://www.pnlee.co.uk/ISS.htm

        Web Edition
        Countries S-Y

        United States(pdf)

        Table 4M Prevalence of smoking, males: selected surveys by age, 1935-2005 ……………….page 18

        1935 = 53%

        1947 = 64%

        1955 = 52%
        1965 rate was also about 50% and then started declining.
        This bears no relation to the male lung cancer death rate which has been continuously rising since 1920.

        Also; prior to the advent of mass smoking of commercial cigarettes about 1920, there was a great deal of smoking in the form of cigars/pipes of one type or another.

        Antis claim that cigars are smoked in a different manner; but, I defy them to prove that there was not a lot of cigar inhalation going on 80+ years ago.

      • Junican says:

        30 000 people per an die from colon cancer each year in Eng & Wales. Of these, 23 000 are over 65. Thus there is clearly a delay factor at work which is similar to lung cancer. In fact, almost all cancers have ‘a delay factor’ – unless it is true that cancer is a disease of old age, as my doctor once told me.

        The delay factor is a ‘circular’ argument. There is no evidence of a delay factor other that the fact that lung cancer appears predominantly in old age and many people who have not smoked for decades get it.

        It would be interesting to know whether any research has been done, via autopsies on accident victims or on deaths from other causes at an earlyish age, into the prevalence of latent cancers. I would be surprised if it has not. I wonder where such research might be?

  3. Junican says:

    Let us assume that a person, male or female, at the age of 15, for example, decides to live a perfectly healthy life. Let us assume that this person is, at the time, perfectly healthy. Let us assume that this person is not exposed to any modern health risks – ie. no tobacco, no alcohol, no fattening foods, etc. And let us suppose that this person is a member of an Inuit Tribe, with little connection to ‘civilisation’.

    Question: At what age is this person likely to die? My guess is, other things being equal, that he will live into his 70s or 80s – and then die.

    But the same is true for all of us who are subjected to ‘the carcinogious effects’ of everything. We breath ‘dust’ everyday from the day that we are born. My opinion is that our ‘genes’ decide at what age we will die, but I also believe that we can ‘burn out’ our ‘genes’ by the way in which we live. Thus, pop stars often succumb to an early death because they overstretch the ‘repair/replace mechanism’ in their bodies. Isn’t it odd how many old soldiers, who survived the wars, live to extreme old age?

    Average age at death in the UK is about 80 years. It is almost certainly true that these people enjoyed tobacco since they are of the generation where tobacco smoking was 90% prevalent. How is that possible? it can only be true if smoking does not kill people – unless one makes an assumption (unjustified) that smokers would have lived longer.

    I was amazed at the ignorance of Australians who commented on the newspaper articles which the Philip Morris blog highlighted (assuming that the comments
    were not ASH trolls). But then, that is what Tobacco Control rely upon – the ignorance of the masses. We are seeing a witch hunt. Is that a nice idea for you to think about, Frank? Witch Hunts? I haven’t the energy.

    The Witch Hunt has to terminate somehow and sometime. It falls within your ideas about Idle Time – given the Ideal Time, people will invent things to amuse themselves. What is amazing is that politicians have yet to wake up to the fact that they are being used by certain Idle people.

    • Frank Davis says:

      We are seeing a witch hunt.

      Yes, it is a witch hunt. It’s quite extraordinary. But then, perhaps it isn’t so extraordinary. Us moderns are pretty mediaeval really, in lots of ways.

  4. Gary K. says:

    The increase in lung cancer seems to go up as the average life expectancy goes up.

    In the USA,at present time the average age of lung cancer death is about 73 years.

    In 1920 the average US male died at age 53.6 and not until about 1995 did that average age of male death reach 73.

    http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/

    SEER Incidence
    From 2003-2007, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the lung and bronchus was 71 years of age.
    Table I-11 (http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/ 1975_2007/results_single/ sect_01_table.11_2pgs.pdf). Approximately 0.0% were diagnosed under age 20; 0.2% between 20 and 34; 1.7% between 35 and 44; 8.8% between 45 and 54; 20.9% between 55 and 64; 31.3% between 65 and 74; 29.1% between 75 and 84; and 8.0% 85+ years of age.

    (NOTE: About 70% of lung cancers occur over the age of 65 and the pretty little chart only studied people 69 and younger-GK)

  5. Gary K. says:

    “And what they said was that tobacco killed ‘nearly half a million Americans’ every year,”

    Well; in the grand scheme of things,just how many smokers would you expect to die from ‘smoking related’ diseases just by pure chance.

    The smokers(current + ex-smokers) make up abput 41% of the US adult population.
    The CDC says there are about 1,300,000 deaths from ‘smoking related’ diseases.

    41% of 1.3 million is about 533,000.

    CDC says about 393,000 smokers die from smoking related diseases and that is rather less than you would expect from just pure chance.

  6. David says:

    Hello Mr. Davis. Thank you so much for your blog. I regularly quote you in forums I participate in. I am fully involved in the fight against totalitarianism in the country I now live in and I use your blog as a source, dully aknowledging your authorship, I assure you. I think I can confidently relay to you positive news from Spain. Not only the figth rages on, on all fronts, but also, the speaker for the opposition party (Popular Party, or PP, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria), has unmistakably stated that her party was all for allowing bars and restaurants to decide their smoking policy before the current law and will allow such tolerance after (should they become the ruling party). There is no question that Spain will reverse its current unconstitutional law next year. It is also my dearest hope that this reversal will resonate so loudly in Europe, that you will finally be free in you own country. Your have been an inspiration for me and I draw from you example and experience. I can only hope that you and yor compatriots, will benefit justly…

    • Frank Davis says:

      There is no question that Spain will reverse its current unconstitutional law next year.

      I sincerely hope this is true. And that it resounds throughout Europe.

  7. Jax says:

    Smoking does not cause cancer. If it did, then everybody who smoked would develop cancer, and that is patently not true. Nobody knows what triggers cancer off, and there has been a woeful lack of research into this, due in no small part to the one-eyed preoccupation with smoking to the exclusion of all and any other possible causes. But one thing is for sure – if a person is subject to this mysterious “trigger” (or combination of them, which seems most likely), then they will develop the disease.

    All that smoking does is creates a constant, low-level irritation which over time weakens one particular part of the body and thus makes it most likely that the cancer will manifest itself there, rather than somewhere else. Ditto for alcohol, or a poor diet, or excessive sunbathing.

    A person who doesn’t smoke but who is subject to the same “trigger/s” will simply develop their cancer somewhere else, almost certainly in a part of their own anatomy where, knowingly or otherwise, they have set up a constant low-level irritation or weakness. Hence the reason why drinkers tend to develop cancer of the throat and mouth, poor diet-eaters tend to develop cancer of the colon, and excessive sunbathers tend to develop melanoma. None of these things are causes – they are just activities which people undertake that put one part of the body under just that little bit more stress than the rest of it, leaving it vulnerable to disease, in the same way as an gash or cut will be vulnerable to infection, whereas the healthy areas won’t get infected. It’s exactly the same theory.

    So the phrase “smoking causes lung cancer” should, more correctly, read; “smoking causes a cancer which you would have developed anyway to manifest in the lungs.” Not quite so catchy, though, is it?

  8. Walt says:

    Pasadena, CA to ban smoking in private apartments, including condos and townhouses.

    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_17776763

    Hard to know what’s the best line in here. The one about “marijuana smokers will not be affected”; the one about how, even though smoking will now be banned in both indoor and outdoor “public places” and well as in homes, it doesn’t mean smoking is banned in Pasadena because “people can still smoke while they’re walking down the street,” or the one about how enforcement won’t really be tricky because “people always want to comply with the law.”

  9. Junican says:

    @ Gary K.

    There are some funny statistics knocking around. Some studies have assumed that a person who has smoked one cigarette EVER is defined as a smoker. In that case, any person who has smoked one cigarette and is a lung cancer patient is a smoker. It follows therefore that almost all lung cancer patients have been smokers (on the grounds that they have, at some time in their lives, had one cigarette). Thus we can see how the figures can be distorted – on the grounds that the smoking of one cigarette in one’s lifetime has ’caused’ the lung cancer. Thus ‘smoking’ becomes the ’cause’ of lung cancer.

    I think that I have evidence of such studies on my computer, but I am not sure – I will have to check. But I am not sure that finding these studies is productive for our purpose. I have this idea in my mind that NOBODY REALLY WANTS TO KNOW.

    I will rephrase that: I will say that NOBODY NOTICES that such is the case. If the number of people who notice that such is the case is very, very small and those people are denied a voice, then it is easy to see how such distortions of the facts can be ignored, and that special interest groups can quote ‘facts’ which are distorted, and that politicians can be persuaded to take action on the basis of these ‘facts’. Thus we see that the Surgeon General of the USA can get away with saying that, for a person with a heart problem, the merest whiff of tobacco smoke can cause him to drop dead in the street.

    “Everyone knows” – but everyone knows only what they have been told to know – and there is the problem.

    • Gary K. says:

      ” NOBODY NOTICES” and “NOBODY REALLY WANTS TO KNOW”

      Indeed, Politicians only care about what conforms to the most money or their own beliefs and the antis feel that, since it is for a good cause, any lie or distortion is OK.
      ……………………………………..
      “Everyone knows” – but everyone knows only what they have been told to know – and there is the problem.

      I do wish that I was clever enough to figure out how to raise enough money to buy the necessary media time to present the ‘other side’.

      And, for your amusement:

      Compared to 1920 – 1960, the 1960 -2000 saw a 50% decline in the male smoking rate and a 50% decline in the rate of the growth in the male life expectancy.

      Male cigarette smoking rates were about 50-60% from 1920 thru 1960 and then declined by about 50% by 2000.

      Male life expectancy increased by 24.3% between 1920 and 1960 and only by 11.6% between 1960 and 2000.

      Life expectancy males 1900-2005 (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services)

      1900 – 46.3
      1910 – 48.4 = + 4.5%
      1920 – 53.6 = + 10.7%
      1930 – 58.1 = + 8.4%
      1940 – 60.8 = + 4.7%
      1950 – 65.6 = + 7.9%
      1960 – 66.6 = + 1.5%
      1970 – 67.1 = + 0.8%
      1980 – 70.0 = +4.3%
      1990 – 71.8 = +2.6%
      2000 – 74.3 = +3.5%
      2005 – 75.2 = +1.2%

      1920 – 1960 = +24.3%

      1960 – 2000 = +11.6%

      Cigarette smoking in the USA
      http://www.pnlee.co.uk/ISS.htm
      Web Edition
      Countries S-Y

      United States(pdf)

      Additional information (not presented in tables) page 57

      Howe (1984) and US Surgeon General (1980) quoting the Milwaukee Journal presented data from an annual survey in the Greater Milwaukee area, of adult (age 18+) men from 1923 and also of women from 1934. In 1923, 87% of men smoked some form of tobacco, and 60% of male cigarette smokers also smoked pipe or cigars.

      The prevalence of cigarette smoking was as follows (selected years, mostly read from graph):
      Males………. Females
      1923… 51.8…not reported
      Table 4M Prevalence of smoking, males: selected surveys by age, 1935-2005 ……………….page 18

      1935 = 53%
      1947 = 64%
      1955 = 52%

      Click to access Tobacco-Trend-Report.pdf

      Table 4

      1965 = 51.9%
      2000 = 25.7%
      2005 = 23.9%

      • Gary K. says:

        Here is another take on that.

        The World Almanac and Book of Facts-2009
        Page 598
        Elderly U.S. Population,1900-2050

        65 and over
        1920 = 4.7%

        1960 = 9.2%
        That is a 96% increase over a period of time when the adultsmoking rates(M+F) were increasing !!

        2000 = 12.4%
        That is a 35% increase from 1960.
        That is a 64% decrease from the previous 40 years 96% increase!!

        A 50% decrease in the adult smoking rate from 1960 to 2000 led to a 64% decline in the rate of increase of adults over 65.

        • smokervoter says:

          Gary,

          I always find your percentage based math easy to digest. I may have to read the sentence twice over, but I usually wind up ‘getting it’.

          I’m still plugging away at finding a simple answer to my question of whether there is an upward spike in 50 year-olds dying of the big three (heart disease, cancer and emphysema) causes due to ubiquitous exposure to both firsthand and secondhand smoke in the period between 1960-1990.

          I chose 50 year-olds first because it was an easy-to-remember round number. I could have chosen 45, as prevalence technically peaked in 1966, but it didn’t quite fit with the 45-year ‘incubation’ period associated with smoking-related disease. Fifty years ended up working pretty well.

          Could you point me in the right direction of where I might find deaths by all cause broken down by singular age, and not by group age. For instance, x-amount of 49 year-olds died in 2010 and x-amount of 50 year-olds died in 2010 and x-amount of 51 year-olds died in 2010 and so on.

          If the danger of SHS is to be believed, there would have to be an anomaly in the data that stands out. And fifty year-olds would be a good place to look.

  10. Gary K. says:

    Dear Smokervoter
    I wish there were a one-size-fits-all answer.
    Several problems with your question.
    1) Have never seen such a break down by year of age.
    2) As for SHS, ’caused’, deaths, the numbers get to be rather small.
    For instance, lung cancer deaths(LCD’s) due to SHS, are 3,400.
    As posted above, only 8.8% of the LCD’s occur between the ages of 45-54 and that is 299 LCD’s for the 10 year period.
    Age 50 deaths would be(maybe) 10% of 299 or about 30 LCD’s and small numbers like that are difficult to use for trend making.

    3) Deaths have little to do with the incidence of diseases, a more important measure of what is happening.
    4) You are going to have a problem with the ex-smokers and the length of time since they quit smoking. Since they have the same risk of death,after 15 years of having quit, as never-smokers.

    5) Is there actually a similiar time lag for all of the smoking related diseases?
    There average of death for diseases varies greatly, lung cancer = about 73, heart attack = about 78, and emphysema(I think) = somewhere in the 80’s.

    All of that gets toooo complicated for any compiling of stuff that I can do. :(

    • smokervoter says:

      Thanks, Gary. I almost added “Is this going to be a mathematical blind alley?” to the original comment.

      Do you get the underlying drift of my hypothesis? I’m hearing that both firsthand and secondhand smoke is so deadly that all bars and workplaces must ban it. So I go back to when it was both prevalent and ubiquitous and find out what happened to all of the ‘victims’. I take in account the ‘incubation’ period. Even adjusting for improved treatment there should be some kind of spike showing up in mortality stats right about now by my reckoning, even in just gross death numbers. You’re right, it all sounds simple – on paper.

      I think I’ll just stick with political calculus what-if’s.

      If the typical 55% turnout of 46 million potential voters that smoke show up, and just 60% of them go Republican, that amounts to 15,180,000 or 23% of the magic number of 66 million required to elect a new President (using the 2008 General Election as a proxy). Imagine that, one-quarter of the winning total. We’re the new Latino vote. The same holds true with state-level seats, where a lot of the damage takes place.

  11. Junican says:

    I do not know how to put this, but it seems to me that so many of these studies are complex extractions of tortured data that only if one can see the actual questionnaires which were actually used in an original study, can one really get to grips with the reality at the time of the study.

    Is this an impractical idea? I think not. The thing is that one only needs to see a ‘sample’ of the questionnaires – say, 5% – in order to determine whether or not the questions were reasonable and the answers reasonable. It is a well-known fact that Michael Faraday (the greatest experimental physicist of all time) would not accept the conclusions of another person’s experiments unless he could reproduce them (ie. That the description of the experiments had to be sufficient for them to be reproduced). Thus, there is no reason whatsoever to accept the conclusions of any study unless the original data is provided.

    In my opinion, this is a fatal flaw in all the ‘studies’ to which we are subjected – hundreds of them. Where are the original, factual data sheets and evidence, and why can interested parties not see it? If such info is used to influence government policy, then voters should have access to it. How otherwise can voters decide?

    I have had this interesting little idea.

    Would it not be interesting to compile a list of anti-smoking zealots (not the silly stinkers) in the UK? This thought crossed my mind because different people keep popping up in the MSM with the objective of re-enforcing the anti-smoking objective. What are their links? Who is paying them? How did the ‘cross-party parliamentary committee’ come to be formed? Who are the members of this non-constitutional body? What are their links with Big Pharm? Etc.

    An interesting thought.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Where are the original, factual data sheets and evidence, and why can interested parties not see it?

      I’ve wondered about this too. The Doll and Hill London Hospitals study and British Doctors study should have hundreds of completed questionnaires stashed in cupboards somewhere. And if not them, the raw data ought to be available in one form or other.

      Perhaps a Freedom of Information request might be made. But to whom? It’s over 60 years since these studies were carried out.

  12. Dimi Kar says:

    Nice article Frank and I really like your argumentation. All the characteristics of Dr W matches with antismokers I have encountered ( I believe Michale J McFadden on his book explains the categories of the antismoking zealots,not quite sure)

    But whilst I will agree that TC is being exaggerating nowadays in order to achieve their purpose , there are some issues that make me sceptical as to what to accept or not,from both tobacco-control and pro-tobacco control movement

    Especially when it comes to smoking and lung cancer:

    – The health community has long declared that smoking causes lung cancer
    – The tobacco industry through its confidential documents that became public has declared that smoking causes lung cancer
    – The pro-tobacco movement is equally divided on the issue
    – Common Sense and everyday people will tell you at least that smoking is bad

    That doesn’t necessary mean that just because the majority accepts it,that’s the truth as well.But after checking all the information available someone would be more inclined to agree with them. I believe the tricky part though is that the science behind all of this,epidemiology, is based effectively on statistics and statistics can be easily interpreted in the way that someone wants to perceive them

    Tobacco industry was the ‘perfect guiney pig’ in the ‘health war’ .I would like to know why the war began with them and not with their colleagues in the alcohol industry or any other ‘sinful’ industry whilst in the past it was vice versa. You don’t just wake up one day ,blame and want to destroy a whole industry.
    ( By the way it is the only industry that was forced to disclose confidential information to the public,I cannot imagine what we will find if Big Pharma was disclosing its confidential information as well!!).

    I am also sure that cultural and socioeconomic factors did play a role on the mentality of the ‘health zealots’ and those need to be investigated furthermore.

    Unfortunately the tobacco industry instead of trying to cooperate sincerely with the authorities in order to mitigate the damage done by the health zealots,they tried to manipulate the authorities,presumably underestimating the harm it can do at their industry.Now smoking has been de facto prohibited in the western world and Big Pharma tries to take over…

    There is no industry in the world though that does not have its own ‘sinful’ secrets…

    • Frank Davis says:

      – The health community has long declared that smoking causes lung cancer
      – The tobacco industry through its confidential documents that became public has declared that smoking causes lung cancer
      – The pro-tobacco movement is equally divided on the issue
      – Common Sense and everyday people will tell you at least that smoking is bad

      Just because a lot of people agree on something, it does not mean it is true. And I have not been persuaded by what I’ve seen so far. As I’ve pointed out about the London Hospitals study of 1950, while it’s true that 99% of lung cancer patients were smokers, they were drawn from a sample in which fully 98% of patients of every sort were smokers. When more or less everybody smokes, more or less everyone who has lung cancer is bound to be a smoker. Much the same criticism applies to the subsequent 1954 British Doctors study, where 87% of the doctors were smokers.

      As for smoking being ‘bad’, I’ll consent that smoking to excess is probably bad for people. But the same goes of absolutely anything else. In moderation, I’m not sure it does any harm at all. Quite what is ‘moderate’ and what is ‘excessive’, I would not care to venture.

    • Dimi Kar says:

      I believe we both agree Frank that just because the majority accepts it,that does not mean it’s true as well

      I will also agree that the health community did (and continues to do) studies
      with flaws

      I have found this study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8077891 ,which although is referring only to stroke and ischaemic heart disease, still remains a ‘smoking paradox’ .Maybe the western diet affects the increased risk of lung cancer as well?

      But on the other hand what about the tobacco industry itself? Their published confidential documents from the 60’s-70’s were referring to the causality between lung cancer and smoking and it would be nice to see a review on those as well .I don’t know if there is any ( I don’t consider Stanton Glantz’s reviews to be reviews at all :)

      P.S. The word ‘bad’ was used in an inappropriate way due to an error .

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