The Black Lung Mystery

I’m puzzled. Most of the stuff I write on this blog gets a few hundred direct hits on the first day it appears, and this trails off rapidly over the next few days to zero or near zero. Some of them carry on getting a thin stream of visitors over subsequent months, and so the hit counts on these keep on rising. With some, this raises the count to 2000, 3000, and even 4000. Of these Pall Mall Blue (the cigarettes Lan Del Rey smokes) is the highest with about 4400 hits.

But, a country mile ahead of all of them, is The Black Lung Lie. Since August it has received over 16,500 direct hits. On a good day, Pall Mall Blue will get 30 hits. But on a good day, The Black Lung Lie will get 300 hits. And, furthermore, the numbers of hits per day is climbing.

What’s going on? It seems to have gone a bit viral.

When I wrote it back in August, it was in response to a few comments. That day, I did a bit of online searching for more information, and turned up quite a few interesting things, and put them into the piece I wrote and published later on the same day. It was just another post of mine, and I didn’t think it was particularly interesting. So why is there such strong interest in it?

There doesn’t seem to be any particular sites that these hits are coming from. But yesterday, when it received nearly 300 hits, I noticed that there were 110 search engine inquiries for “black lungs” and “smokers’ lungs” and similar sets of terms. So it looks like all these hits are coming from searches. And it suggests that it’s spreading by word of mouth. People are hearing about it and going looking for it. And they’re not the usual suspects.

That doesn’t explain the depth of interest in this subject. Or at least it didn’t until I remembered that the very first antismoking message I ever encountered was, well, …The Black Lung Lie.

I was at school in the early 1960s, and the whole school was made to watch a couple of films, one of which described how smokers’ lungs turned black, and was complete with extremely graphic images from inside lungs, with bubbling black liquids. I remember wondering at the time how they’d managed to shoot such dramatic footage inside people’s lungs. It was only in the late 1960s, at the height of the psychedelic craze, when coloured oils were squeezed between sheets of glass or plastic to accompany music, that I realised that it was the same thing that I’d seen at school 5 or 10 years earlier.

And probably all children everywhere were being shown that 15 minute antismoking movie. And no doubt many of them were strongly affected, and determined that they would never, ever smoke a single cigarette, lest their lungs turned black inside.

The Black Lung Lie was perhaps the first lie. And it’s the first lie that all schoolchildren (in the UK, at least) were told about smoking. I would imagine that lots of American schoolkids saw the same movie. And lots of European and Australian and Canadian kids as well. I’d be interested to hear from any of my readers around the world, to hear if they saw it too, in Brisbane, in Dusseldorf, in Madrid, or in Baton Rouge. Who knows, maybe all children everywhere have seen that insidious little movie at one time or other in their lives.

It’s not a lie that Tobacco Control seems to openly push very much these days. I’ve not heard any of the principal antismoking zealots ever say that smokers’ lungs are black inside. But perhaps they don’t need to, if more or less everybody has seen the movie, and had it indelibly impressed in their memory.

I wonder what the movie was called? And when it was made? And who made it?

The Black Lung Lie is probably one of the foundational antismoking lies, and has turned millions of people against smoking (exactly as intended). And this would explain the depth of interest in it.

If so, it’s a lie that Tobacco Control will want to keep hidden. Which may explain another curious feature of the hit count on my Black Lung piece, which is that about a month after it was published, the hits abruptly dropped to near zero for about two weeks, before returning to their former levels. At the time, I assumed that some link to the piece had become invisible. But I’m now wondering whether search engines simply stopped referencing my piece for two weeks, before allowing it again.

Anyway, given the traffic I’m getting on the Black Lung Lie, I’d like to suggest to other (like-minded) bloggers that they write about it as well (or replicate my piece), because it rather looks like it’s something that non-smokers and antismokers are reading with shock and dismay.

It’s also set me wondering what other antismoking Big Lies could do with debunking.







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40 Responses to The Black Lung Mystery

  1. Greg Burrows says:

    I think the lies on SHS (ETS) Frank is the main lie that needs debunking, how the anti-smokers managed to con the MP’S that the smoking Ban would save 17000 lives (Patricia Howitt said this), must be the biggest con ever to descriminate against nearly a quarter of the UK population, without even the HSE having any evidence that SHS is significantly harmful, still I find it hard to believe they managed to do this, even though it is six years ago.

  2. Two points on the BLL:

    (1) Just for new readers who didn’t see your earlier blog, the ref from “Brains” where I talked about it:

    To be sure, positive emotions are not the only ones that can be appealed to. Fear and disgust work just as well in the hands of a skilled manipulator. One Crusader, a feeder at the public trough of Delaware National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force, likes to scare impressionable children by holding up a blackened, bloody, and diseased looking lung in classrooms while explaining that the cancerous thing came from a man who had smoked for just 15 years.
    In reality, it is simply a pig’s lung shot full of carcinogens and prepared carefully to look disgusting, gruesome, and scary… not a human lung at all. The National Guard Captain explained to the reporter covering the story that his lesson was made stronger “by not passing along that tidbit of truth” (James Merriweather. Delaware News Journal. 04/05/01).

    (2) I was VERY upset a few years ago at seeing its use in an otherwise AMAZING display: the Body World exhibition. That exhibit pays such excruciating attention to the reality of the innards of the human body that it seems almost unimaginable that they would distort their models simply to play pingpong with the Antis, but that is indeed what they seem to have done. Of the hundreds of preserved and plasticized human viscera that are displayed for both adults and schoolchildren, the VERY FIRST that you see upon entrance is the skeletal “Smoker” with a cigarette clamped between his bony teeth and with lungs, not just darkened, but absolutely black as pitch and coal tar. I guess it’s **POSSIBLE** that somehow they found someone who’d worked in the depths of coal mines for 50 years straight who happened also to be a smoker, but even then it’s hard to believe that the external surfaces of the lung would look like they were dipped in flat coal-black paint.

    I’ve asked several doctors over the years about their autopsy experiences (obviously doctors who I trusted to be honest about it) and uniformly they said that in most cases there was little evidence of smoking to be seen aside from some occasional MILD discoloration.

    Now it’s possible my doctor sampling was too limited, or that some of them were a bit too sympathetic to our cause, but I don’t think so. Perhaps in the wake of your ISIS survey, there’s another survey you could ask your readers to undertake:

    *IF* you have a doctor who you trust, one who may tut tut over your smoking a bit and advise you to stop for your health, but who hasn’t bought into the nutso-extremism on the subject, ASK THEM about the autopsies they’ve seen: Do they EVER see “black lungs” from people who did not live through the London Smog and/or coal mine work for a half century? Is Body Worlds, an exhibit pushed upon literally millions of impressionable schoolchildren, departing from its fanatical devotion to detailed accuracy and truth in JUST this one area? And, if so…. why? Is the artist himself so fanatical on the subject that he’s thrown his standards out the window for this? Was he pressured in some way to do it? Is it a total fake, or is it the “germ of truth” sort of thing where they *did* actually find a fifty year coal miner who happened to also be a smoker?


    • XX *IF* you have a doctor who you trust, one who may tut tut over your smoking a bit and advise you to stop for your health, XX

      Now that is something!

      They ask, here. But in 25 – 20 years, not ONE has attempted to make me “give up”.

      Different “cultures” within the medical proffessions in both countries….?

      Have German doctors access to different “findings” to British doctors??

      Or, do German doctors see the “results” as insignificant, whereas British doctors are so gulible,or “Government” propoganda department money dependant, that they DARE not “waver from the party line”?

      WHY is that….?

    • margo says:

      Do GPs actually see many autopsies at any point in their training and career?

  3. junican says:

    Greg – we are talking here about ‘the black lung lie’. I understand your concerns, but, at this moment, it is the ‘black lung lie’ which concerns us.
    Such references have disappeared. Presumably because they have served their propaganda purpose. The situation is much like the Nazis starting off by blaiming Jews for economic stagnation and then moving on to accusations of stealing arian babies and drinking their blood. THE METHOD IS THE SAME!
    Since ‘black lung’ was always non-existent, why did not scientists shout out loud about the the corruption of their discipline? The shouting should have started with the Royal Society right away. But it seems that even the Royal Society has been corrupted beyond recognition. At the moment, I think that the Office of National Statistics is still holding on to objectivity. But I am not sure. I think so.
    Once the ONS becomes corrupted, God Help Us. Any Government Dept found to have forced the ONS to become corrupt should be condemned and the architects of the corruption jailed for ten years minimum.
    But it will never happen.
    Would it not be wonderful if all blogs decided to pick on one subject (such as the Smoking Ban) and ignore everything else? Stadardised Packs is silly, but, if that was enacted, it would make no difference at all. The Display Ban makes no differerence at all to smokers. The dispenser ban, as a means to stop kids buying fags, is laughable.

    The question which comes into my mind, as concerns the Australian packet design, is whether or not the obscene pictures are actually ‘smoking related’. For some reason that I do not understand, Australian tobacco companies have accepted the dictats of one person, and only one person, who is Simon Chapman.
    I do not understand………………..

    • XX then moving on to accusations of stealing arian babies and drinking their blood. XX

      Evidence? Links?

      MIDDLE ages that was an accusation, but the nazi shites?

      I don’t believe it.

    • Frank Davis says:

      why did not scientists shout out loud about the the corruption of their discipline?

      Indeed. It’s a question I often ask myself.

      And the answer is probably that most scientists are not independent: they’re employees, and they don’t want to lose their jobs. It’s more trouble than it’s worth to kick up a fuss, so they keep quiet.

      The same qustion could be asked about the corruption of statistics. Why don’t mathematicians speak out? Same reson, probably.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Why not speak up earlier?

        As a civil servant, dean of the largest medical faculty in France, I was held to confidentiality. If I had deviated from official positions, I would have had to pay the consequences. Today, I am a free man.

        Le Parisien

        Prof Evin of Paris we remember his answer quite well.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          So it appears under threat of official dismissal Scientists are being told to keep it to themselves the truth and to go along with the current witch hunt…………

  4. Never saw the film, either in Britain or here.

    But I have “Facefucked” the article/link…..lets see what happens. :-)

  5. GAinNY says:

    I showed that post, and some of the links, to two nonsmoker friends, one of whom had accompanied me to the “Bodies” exhibition in New York and, with concern in her face, pointed out the blackened smoker’s lungs. Both these people had discounted what I had said about the lying antismoker liars as special pleading from a smoker. When they read your post, they immediately understood that they had been propagandized.

    The heart of your post: “… when it is shown that they’re fraudulent, the people who publish them will be accused of fraud, of twisting logic and manufacturing evidence. And when that happens, people will cease to believe not just the fraudulent evidence they have produced, but everything else that they assert too. They will lose all their credibility. Nobody will believe a word they say….

    “Nor does it seem to have occurred to the medical profession which allows these lies to be propagated unchallenged that people will cease to believe them too.”

    That’s exactly what happened to my friends. The coup de grace was harleyrider1978’s contribution: “SMOKERS LUNGS USED IN TRANSPLANTS.” Now they don’t believe anything the authorities say.

    • Frank Davis says:

      This is what I expect. Presented with evidence, people realise they have been duped.

      I think the Black Lung Lie is in many ways a post for non-smokers, ex-smokers, and antismokers, rather than most of the people (i.e. smokers) who read my blog. When I wrote it, it seemed a bit old hat, and the sort of thing that everyone here knew anyway. But it’s something that most other people don’t know.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        I told a store manager about the plain packs and cigarette display ban shit going on and then told her why……….So the kids wouldnt see it and want to start smoking! She thought I was NUTZ! Didnt believe a word of what I said and dismissed it as total insanity. I then told her about outdoor smoking bans in parks and other outdoor locations that the same reasoning was given yet again”Its for the kids”.

  6. waltc says:

    Two things come to me off your Aug article. I’ll try them one at a time since I’m having trouble staying connected to the web tonite and the connection may conk again w/o warning.

    First, there’s this–quote from a university study (Sorry, no link available):

    “Perhaps one of the more surprising aspects of emphysema is that it is
    rare to find adult lungs completely free of the affliction. Scientists
    estimate that roughly 2/3 of adult males and 1/4 of adult females (most
    without recognized dysfunction) will have well-defined emphysema…Thus
    the majority of those with emphysema will not have had disability or
    even symptoms associated with it.” Apart from active smoking, “air
    pollution, occupational hazards and infection” are considered to be the
    major causal factors. The same article notes that “Mild degrees of this
    in the upper tips of the lungs are common after age 50.”

    Source: “Emphysema Research at Brandeis,” Dennis Nealon, Brandeis Alumni
    Magazine, 1994

    • Frank Davis says:

      That’s interesting. Most people have a touch of emphysema?

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Adenoviruses Cause COPD

        Meanwhile, the central investigator in many studies of adenoviruses and COPD, James C. Hogg, MD, of St. Paul’s Hospital and professor of pathology at the … – Cached – SimilarAcute and latent adenovirus in COPD – Elsevierby TE McManus – 2007 – Cited by 2 – Related articles
        Nucleic acid extraction was performed on sputum specimens from patients with COPD. Copy numbers for GAPDH, and adenovirus 5 E1A DNA and mRNA were determined …* Latent Adenovirus Infection in COPDby S Hayashi – 2002 – Cited by 24 – Related articles
        Key words: adenovirus; COPD; latent infection; viral DNA. Abbreviations: …. from patients with COPD carries more group C adenoviral …

  7. Jonathan Bagley says:

    I, too, went to the Body World exhibition (in Istanbul, so avoided the crowds) and I was struck by the black lung. The person responsible made it clear he is very anti smoking, but I didn’t think he would attempt to perpetrate such a public fraud. I’d like to know where the lung came from. Perhaps it was a very heavy smoker. I remember trying to reconcile it with what I had read about smokers’ lungs not being black: not just in Frank’s blog.

  8. Jonathan Bagley says:

    I read that in the UK, about 40% of transplanted lungs are from smokers, so black or not, they are used. This fact came to light when a cancerous lung was transplanted and the recipient or his relatives complained. At first sight, this figure seems very high, but if you need healthy lungs, you don’t want older people’s (see emphysema discussion above) and the vast majority of younger lungs are the result of car crashes – young men with a cavalier attitude to risk and a tendency to both drink and smoke. Straying a little off the point: when the question of presumed consent was recently raised, the high number of transplants carried out in Spain was used as evidence in its favour. Remembering that driving in Spain is notoriously dangerous, I plotted road deaths against transplants (per capita) for EU countries and got an almost perfect straight line. The startling outlier was Poland. Huge number of road deaths, but not many transplants. I’m guessing that both the organs and the transplant surgeons were too pickled to function.

    • Fredrik Eich says:

      I believe that doners of the lungs have to be under the age of 50 or there abouts.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      The Black Pig Lung Hoax

      It was an outright bald-faced lie.

      “Pankiw described the centerpiece of his anti-smoking display as the diseased lung of a 150-pound man who smoked for 15 years. Actually, it was a pig’s lung shot full of various carcinogens on purpose, but, Pankiw said later, his lesson was made stronger by not passing along that tidbit of truth.”

      The Black Pig Lung Hoax

      Here is an “oldie but goodie”. This is the article everyone always talks about, but is so difficult to find: April 5, 2001. It was an outright bald-faced lie.

      “Pankiw described the centerpiece of his anti-smoking display as the diseased lung of a 150-pound man who smoked for 15 years. Actually, it was a pig’s lung shot full of various carcinogens on purpose, but, Pankiw said later, his lesson was made stronger by not passing along that tidbit of truth.”


      Chris Watson, vice president of the British Transplantation Society, told CNN that 49 percent of last year’s lung donors in the UK were smokers.

      “We’re not in the luxurious position in transplantation to turn down organs because they’re not absolutely perfect — there are very few perfect organs,” he said.

      • Frank Davis says:

        Harley, that link at the bottom is no good. Have you got a better one? It’s quite an important find, someone admitting he was duping people.


        • harleyrider1978 says:

          How organs are selected for transplant

          LONDON, England (CNN) — News that a British soldier died after he received the cancerous lungs of a heavy smoker has sparked intense debate as to whether organs from people with unhealthy lifestyles should be used in transplants.

          Corporal Matthew Millington, 31, died in 2008, less than a year after receiving a transplant at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, England.

          However a transplant surgeon has told CNN that smokers organs will continue to be used as long as medical services face a severe shortage of organs.

          Chris Watson, vice president of the British Transplantation Society, told CNN that 49 percent of last year’s lung donors in the UK were smokers.

          “We’re not in the luxurious position in transplantation to turn down organs because they’re not absolutely perfect — there are very few perfect organs,” he said.

          What should be done to encourage organ donation?

          “In the case of Corporal Millington the donor had a chest X-ray, broncoscopy and a careful inspection of the lungs once they were removed,” he said.

          “When they found the tumor in Corporal Millington it was seven millimeters across and it was likely to have been two or three millimeters when it was transplanted. To find something that small you’d need to chop the lungs up into fine pieces, and then you can’t transplant.”

          The UK National Health Service National Reporting and Learning Service (NRLS) recently released an alert saying it had found 11 reported incidents “relating to the condition of an organ for transplant or other errors.”

          One incident reported to the NRLS read: “Kidney arrived completely surrounded by fat and muscle — nothing was recognizable. After dissection, a fatty tumor appeared on the upper pole, decision was taken to transplant anyway.

          “After unclamping, there was a massive bleed from the tumor leading to urgent transplantectomy — kidney sent to the path lab — renal cell carcinoma… not fit for purpose.”

          Watson told CNN that organs are thoroughly tested for suitability before they are transplanted.

          He said that once a patient has been diagnosed as brain dead and donation is a possibility, a donor coordinator will approach their family to learn more about the patient’s history.

          Medics ask about the donor’s medical history and lifestyle. They also take a blood test and may contact the donor’s doctor for more information.

          But Watson stresses that medics only have a few hours between diagnosis of brain death and organ removal.

          When the organs are removed the donor’s body is examined for evidence of infection, cancer, or anything else that might affect decision to use an organ.

          In the case of lung transplants, the donor will have a chest x-ray and broncoscopy, where an endoscope is used to examine lungs from the inside.

          “The main thing is how well lungs work,” Watson told CNN.

          “We would check blood gases, taking a blood sample and seeing how much oxygen is dissolved in the blood to see how well lungs are working.

          “If they work well and there’s no evidence of any problems then we would use them, regardless of if they came from a smoker.”

          Watson says a biopsy is carried out on donated livers to check for any damage. He says fatty livers are common, not because the donor is overweight, but as a result of the donor having been starved in intensive care.

          Different organs have different tolerances to being without a blood supply. Watson says a heart doesn’t respond well to being out of the body for more than three or four hours. Livers can remain viable for around 12 hours and kidneys for about 24 hours.

          Those time constraints mean medics have to make quick judgments about the suitability of donated organs, even if it that means using imperfect organs.

          “We’re happy to use the organs available knowing they’re not ideal and we’ll make the best use of them and keep them functioning as well as we can,” said Watson.

          “The alternative for recipients is to die, so there’s really not much choice for them.”

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          The stories actually preserved over at the Smokerclub in the newsletter forum……I need to add the link you just posted to my documents. Thanks Frank

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    kBack to morality
    Wednesday December 5, 2012
    Have today’s anti-smoking activists abandoned science in favour of prejudice? Rich White traces the history of tobacco bans – and the snobbery that went with them – back to Columbus

    Fresh out by Simon Clark we might all like to read!

    The only thing Simon forgot to really harp on was all the ”Junk Linked To Studies being produced in mountains by the Nazis”!

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Im not sure but the below would explain how the mountain of JUNK SCIENCE on shs/ets has been made,especially on the cheap!

    Home » 1a – Epidemiology.The design, applications, strengths and weaknesses of descriptive studies and ecological studies
    Descriptive studies, sometimes known as geographical or ecological studies, can be used to demonstrate patterns of disease and associated factors in a population. The units of study are populations or groups

    Reasons for the ecological fallacy include:

    •It is not possible to link exposure with disease in individuals – those with disease may not be the same people in the population who are exposed
    •Data used in descriptive studies were usually collected for other purposes originally
    •Use of average exposure levels may mask more complicated relationships with the disease
    •Inability to control for confounding
    Strengths of ecological studies

    ◦Cheap and simple to conduct.
    ◦Utilize routinely collected health statistics.
    ◦Exposure data often only available at area level.
    ◦Differences in exposure between areas may be bigger than at the individual level.
    ◦Utilize geographical information systems to examine spatial framework of disease and exposure.
    ◦Generate hypotheses to examine at the individual level.
    Weaknesses of ecological studies

    ◦Measures of exposure are only a proxy based on the average in the population. Caution needed when applying grouped results to the individual level (ecological fallacy).
    ◦Potential for systematic differences between areas in recording disease frequency. For example there may be differences in disease coding and classification, diagnosis and completeness of reporting.
    ◦Potential for systematic differences between areas in the measurement of exposures.
    ◦Lack of available data on confounding factors.

  11. Reinhold says:

    Didn’t see such a film in school myself (maybe I was playing hooky that day anyway), but my wife remembers one titled “Der Tod gibt eine Party” (“Death is giving a party”).

    Gunther von Hagens, BTW, the inventor of “Körperwelten” (Body Worlds) – and a, say, rather weird person in my view – suffers from Parkinson (, in German).
    (Sorry, can’t resist: Isn’t it said that smoking would have prevented this disease?)

  12. garyk30 says:

    Black lungs = lung cancer

    Lung cancer death numbers are rather funny.

    The numbers make no sense.

    One can show that having ex-smokers resume smoking will prevent thousands of lung cancer deaths and having smokers quit will increase the number of lung cancer deaths.

    There are about equal numbers of adult smokers and ex-smokers in America.
    (smokers=46 million and ex’s =48 million)

    There are about 160,000 lung cancer deaths, of which 20% or 32,000 happen to smokers and 60% or 96,000 happen to ex’s.

    Ex’s are 3 times as likely to die from lung cancer as are smokers.

    If the ex’s went back to smoking, they would reduce their lung cancer deaths from 96,000 to about 32,000.

    That is an immediate reduction in lung cancer deaths of 64,000 deaths per year!!!!!!

    If the smokers all quit, there would be an increase in their lung cancer deaths of 64,000 deaths, from 32,000 to 96,000, per year!!!!

    Smokers are about 20% of the adult population and in a normal distribution you would expect them to have that 20% of the lung cancer deaths.

    The normal distribution rather proves that active smoking does NOT cause lung cancer.

    • garyk30 says:

      “If the smokers all quit, there would be an increase in the lung cancer deaths of 64,000 deaths, from 32,000 to 96,000, per year!!!!”

      Darn! Should read –an increase in THEIR– lung cancer deaths

      Total lung cancer deaths would increase to 224,000 per year.


  13. mikef317 says:

    Other lies that could do with debunking….

    First of two comments, poorly written, since I don’t have much time.

    Not exactly lies, but like “magnetic’s” comments in the original post, more propaganda than science.

    Say what you will about the ill effects of tobacco, LUNG CANCER WAS NEVER THE REAL PROBLEM.

    The link below is to the 1964 Surgeon General’s report.

    Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee of the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service (Pick the first blue box at the left for the PDF version; it’s a 25 MB file.)

    Look at table 19, page 102 (page 109 in the Adobe file).

    The SG took 7 studies (British doctors, etc.) and “age adjusted” the data. (Legitimate; you can’t compare 20 year olds to 80 year olds.) The data only applies to males. (Legitimate because females have different disease patterns.) Perhaps a problem, the data mostly applies to white males of European decent; Asians seem to have a lower lung cancer rate, and Blacks higher, but I don’t know enough to argue this as a fact. Most definitely a problem, the data only applies to CIGARETTE smoking; cigar and pipe smokers (SG page 112) exhibit a different disease pattern. Look at the 450,000 (or whatever) yearly U.S. deaths attributed to smoking (Centers for Disease Control website) and you’ll find a footnote that the data only applies to cigarette smoking. At a guess, 95% + of all the bad things you hear about tobacco pertain to cigarettes. But pipes and cigars are also tobacco….

    But I’m digressing….

    The Expected column is a calculation. If smokers died at the same rate as non-smokers you should find X number of deaths in each disease category. The Observed column is the actual number of smokers who died of those diseases. In effect, smokers die earlier than non-smokers, and from many ailments. (Non-smokers also die, eventually, of something.)

    The first thing that strikes my eye is the 11,177 coronary deaths; it is by far (43% of all “premature, smoking related” deaths) the largest number in the table, dwarfing the 1,833 deaths attributed to lung cancer. (There are also other categories of heart related deaths.) It actually took the anti-tobacco zealots a few SG report to proclaim that smoking (cigarette smoking) causes heart disease. Today, smoking bans (reducing secondhand smoke) lead to dramatic (miraculous!) drops in heart related deaths.

    Also note the LC deaths (category 162,3). 163 includes metastasized LC that the SG lumps together with “primary” (162) deaths where doctors stated that the cancer originated in the lungs. Given this plus diagnostic bias (doctors LOOK for LC in smokers) and failure to even consider confounding variables (other causes of LC) the 1,833 LC deaths attributed to cigarette smoking has to be overstated by some unknown (but substantial?) amount.

    There are two ways to look at these numbers – relative risk (smokers compared to non-smokers) and actual risk – how many smokers actually die of a particular disease.

    Lung cancer does have the highest relative risk, but it only accounts for about 7% of all “smoking related” deaths. Emphysema doesn’t rate an independent line; it’s linked with bronchitis and other lung diseases, and all combined account for 2% of “smoking related” deaths.

    Note the line “Accidents, Suicides, Violence.” I dislike lumping things together but as far as I can determine cigarette smokers (but not cigar or pipe smokers) are more likely to die in an accident, to commit suicide, or to be murdered. (Which chemical in tobacco I wonder would cause a person to be murdered? Or to commit suicide? Or to have an accident?)

    Except for the last two items in the table, compared to non-smokers, CIGARETTE smokers are more likely to die from ANY disease you might think of, including influenza and pneumonia (“caused” by a virus and a bacteria respectively).

    Other than relative risk (a poor way to measure disease) if you look at LC and emphysema combined, you IGNOR 90% of the deaths that APPEAR to be associated with smoking. For me, heart disease is obviously the biggest killer. But beyond that, the real question is: why is cigarette smoking (but not cigar / pipe smoking) associated with almost all fatal diseases (and many more that are not fatal)?

    Why lung cancer? Cancer is scary. Ditto emphysema (which is now officially lumped together with bronchitis and a number of other lung diseases.) Smokers inhale “known carcinogens” and “toxins” into their lungs. But which of these “causes” LC or any other “smoking related” disease? Given 60 years of “research” no one has identified even one chemical that can be shown to “cause” one “smoking related” disease. Equally, exposing animals to all the chemicals in smoke has failed to produce much of anything.

    Science or propaganda?

    From 1960, four years before the first SG report:


    Frank, a suggestion. Since your earlier post gets so many hits, might you add an update linking to this post?

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