The 50% Claim Debunked

Junican may have found the source of the “50% of smokers are killed by their habit” claim. From the final report of the British Doctors study (anyone got a link to the 2004 report?):

For those born in 1900-1909, annual mortality among non-smokers was, both in middle and in old age, about half that among cigarette smokers. (These twofold death rate ratios are calculated from the logarithms of the probabilities of surviving from 35-70, 70-80, and 80-90 in figure 2 (top graph).) Taking, as before, the excess overall mortality among these smokers as an approximate measure of the excess mortality actually caused by smoking, this twofold ratio indicates that about half of the persistent cigarette smokers born in 1900-1909 would eventually be killed by their habit.

So the 50% claim only applied to people born between 1900 and 1909. It’s quite explicit. If Sir Richard Doll intended it to be a general claim applying to all smokers, he wouldn’t have restricted it to “smokers born in 1900-1909″.

And there can’t be very many of them left alive. So the 50% claim no longer applies to anybody. It’s past its, er,… dead-by date.

So the next time you find yourself in a studio with Dr Vivienne Nathanson, and she screeches that, “We know that half of all smokers are killed by their habit,” all you have to do is airily brush the claim aside with a languid wave of a hand, and remind her that, “That figure only applied to people born between 1900 and 1909 – as well you know, you poisonous little reptile.” And watch as the bilious little toad starts hissing and croaking and inflating herself to twice her usual size, and the studio has to be evacuated, and the bomb disposal squad called in to puncture her distended hide, and let out all the hot air.

I’m also reminded that the British Doctors study was a prospective study that had to wait for the doctors to die to get the coroners’ recorded cause of death. This meant that everyone has had to wait 50 years for the final, definitive results from it. By which time, 50% of them had probably died waiting, in ‘waiting-related deaths’. And all the prior intermediate reports, published at roughly 10 year intervals, were a bit like getting the count at a by-election before all the votes had been completely counted – i.e. fairly meaningless.

About Frank Davis

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28 Responses to The 50% Claim Debunked

  1. junican says:

    Has Legiron sent you a bottle of his super-strength malt whiskey, Frank?

    The whole point of my post was to illustrate, as best I can, that the Final Report was mainly propaganda, of which the ‘50%’ claim was a part. Just propaganda, and it is a piece of propaganda which has stuck, and been repeated again and again – with no justification whatsoever. That is, the data in the Doctors Study were not capable of indicating any proportions of ‘death by tobacco’, especially by using some mathematical artefact which involved non-smokers. Non-smokers, by definition, have no influence on smokers or smoking, To compare smokers with non-smokers, and, from that comparison, to claim that 50% of smokers are killed by tobacco is mumbo-jumbo of the highest order.
    Given 1000 smokers (and ignoring non-smokers), if 500 die before the age of 70, and the other 500 die after the age of 70, then it is possible to reason that the first 500 ‘were killed by tobacco’. But such reasoning is nonsense, since it implies that, in a group which drinks milk, the first 50% who die were killed by milk.
    And yet this hopelessly unscientific conjecture is quoted again and again.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Has Legiron sent you a bottle of his super-strength malt whiskey, Frank?

      I wish he had.

      And I know the final report is propaganda. In his final remarks about the study, Doll actually said (I have the BMA link somewhere) that the entire study was intended to “advertise the link between smoking and cancer”. Which is what it did brilliantly.

      • Rose says:

        Richard Doll 2004

        “In 1948, when I began to work with Professor Bradford Hill at the Medical Research Council’s Statistical Research Unit, ideas about the causes for cancer were still dominated by those of the great German pathologists of the 19th century.”

        “What I now find surprising, now that the concept of multiple mutations is so widely accepted, is that so many people fail to see that it accounts for the fact that only a relatively small proportion of people (<20%) are commonly victims of a particular type of cancer even if heavily exposed to known chemical carcinogenic agents."

        "What it does mean is that whether an exposed subject does or does not develop a cancer is largely a matter of luck: bad luck if the several necessary changes all occur in the same stem cell when there are several thousand such cells at risk, and good luck if they do not.

        Personally, I find that makes good sense, but many people apparently do not."
        http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/6/1183.full?ijkey=dcef952f79d9ff067eeaa7ab5722e25a404e1e09&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

  2. Nightlight says:

    “Taking, as before, the excess overall mortality among these smokers as an approximate measure of the excess mortality actually caused by smoking

    This is the real problem with their “conclusion” — it is an assumption that the particular difference between the groups they chose to look at, the smoking status, is the entire difference (that mattered) between the two groups.

    One can make such assumption if scientist had randomly assigned each person in childhood to become smoker or non-smoker (and enforced the assignment). Then one could assume that smokers are a fair sample of the entire observed group and that any differences not measured or taken a note of are equally distributed among the two sub-groups, thus any potential causality from those other variables on mortality would equally affect both groups.

    Hence the difference in mortality could be statistically attributed to the two systematic differences between subgroups: a) smoking status assignment and b) enforcement procedure which was also different between subgroups.

    With smoking it is impossible to do even a half-blind trial (where at least the subjects don’t know the assignment but researchers do), hence one would still need to make additional assumptions to partition the causal roles to the two systematic differences, (a) and (b), before one could draw the conclusion like they did above.

    Of course the did nothing of the sort, there no randomization in assignments of subjects to smoke or not to smoke. With their kind of “logic” one could choose to observe people visiting heart surgeon and those not visiting heart surgeon, then study the difference in mortality over years between the two groups. Imagine now if upon collecting data, they drew the conclusion like the above:

    “Taking, as before, the excess overall mortality among these who were with a heart surgeon as an approximate measure of the excess mortality actually caused by the heart surgeon

    It is obviously absurd. One could similarly “choose” any other such association e.g. taking of blood pressure medications and mortality (e.g. from strokes & heart attacks) in order to blame the blood pressure meds for causing those strokes and heart attacks, then demanding that people taking those meds be hyper-taxed (on meds they paid for market price from their own pocket already, anyway, as is the case with cigarettes) and badgered on every turn to quit taking the blood pressure meds because they kill.

    Way back in 1950s, famous British mathematician and a founder of modern scientific statistics R.A. Fisher in fact compared antismoking scientists badgering people to quit smoking with taking away a walking stick from a blind man (based on exactly the lack of randomization argument above, via the mechanism of self-medication as explained in earlier post which also links to the Fisher’s paper).

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    “Taking, as before, the excess overall mortality among these smokers as an approximate measure of the excess mortality actually caused by smoking, …”

    So, correct me if I’m wrong (it’s a bit of a convoluted sentence and isn’t all that clear and obviously I haven’t read the rest of the report), but isn’t this sentence effectively saying that Doll was automatically assuming that all the early-dying smokers died solely because of their smoking? So that, effectively, even if each and every one of them had died by falling under a bus (or something equally unconnected), he’d still assume that this was due to smoking?

    Presumably, also, the “double” number didn’t apply equally to each of the age ranges he mentions, but is spread like a sort of “average” over all of them. So that quite a lot of smokers survived perfectly well in the 35-70 age range, but a higher proportion of them died in the 80-90 one, being as one’s chances of dying from anything increases with age.

    Also, quite apart from the points you mention about the dates, Frank, as it is such an old study and modern medicine is now so much more effective than it was then, it’s quite likely that a lot of the “smoking related” illnesses (just like many of the non-“smoking related” ones) which swept people away at the turn of the last century are now either curable, treatable, or manageable, so the 50% is highly likely to have diminished a great deal since then.

    Either way, it makes the 50% claim totally invalid in today’s world. It’s like saying that because, 200 years ago, childbirth was the single biggest cause of death for the majority of women that it still is – which clearly isn’t the case at all.

  4. Nightlight says:

    “So that, effectively, even if each and every one of them had died by falling under a bus (or something equally unconnected), he’d still assume that this was due to smoking?”

    There is actually assumption that “falling under the bus” and such that clearly could have not been caused by smoking would be equally distributed among the smokers and non-smokers, hence such contributions would cancel out and not show up in the difference in mortality.

    The problem with that assumption is that smokers and non-smokers are clearly distinct in many other ways, just as in my earlier post above, the people visiting heart surgeons are different in other ways than merely a visit, from those not-visiting heart surgeon. It is precisely that kind of assumptions that makes Doll’s and other antismoking “science” a Mjunk science — the wishful attribution of causal role to variables that are not randomized among the two groups.

  5. Marie says:

    This 50% claim has just been used for justifying the new smoking ban on train platforms in Denmark. Is this the only study claiming that?

  6. junican says:

    Interesting comments, chaps, but they fall into the trap of taking the ‘50%’ thing seriously. You could try to find out what were the ‘logarithms of probability’ which were used to assert the ‘50%’ assertion, but you would almost certainly be further bogged down by statistical interpretations of one sort or or another.
    It seems to me, at the end of the day (I hate that phrase, but it has its uses), that one must say:
    “It is a matter of fact that one half of smokers must die before the other half. That also must apply to non-smokers. Thus, according to that argument, ‘non-smoking’ kills half of non-smokers”.
    But even that is not simple enough to be a counter slogan. Perhaps a counter slogan could be:
    “One half of people who drink milk die before the other half. Therefore, drinking milk causes the death of half of people who drink milk”

    But there is more to this than immediately meets the eye. Even Irish MPs suffer from this ignorance. Vis a post that I have recently made:

    http://boltonsmokersclub.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/why-do-no-libertarians-admit-to-enjoying-tobacco/

    The question is, are these Irish MPs ignorant or are they deluded? I do not know which is more apposite. The really important thing is that it seems that either ignorance or delusion drives Irish law.
    Our political systems stink.

    • Marie says:

      I do not take it serious, but all the nonsmokers I am discussing with do. I want to tell them WHY this is untrue.
      Thats why I am asking, if this study is where this claim only comes from, or are there others too?

      • margo says:

        Don’t know, Marie, but if there are other studies they will be equally crap and illogical. Even if it were true that half of smokers die earlier than non-smokers, how would you prove that smoking was the cause? You’d have to find a way to cut out all other possible causes (genetic inheritance? poverty? stress? diet? alcohol? harmful substances from the environment? viruses?) so that your experimental subjects were equal in all ways except for the smoking. Certainly, nobody’s ever managed to do that. And what about the 50 per cent of smokers who don’t die earlier? What’s different about them?

  7. Barry Homan says:

    To be honest, I wonder about the sense of all this. Smoker quote their science, antis quote gawd knows what, endless discussions, nobody on either side can begin to absorb and comprehend all of it. It’s just reading, arguing, and hair-splitting – never ends, so what’s the point. Give me back my rights.

  8. waltc says:

    This is a game with numbers. Even if you want to play the game, it seems to presume that they knew to a decimal point the exact number of smokers in any given year between 1900 and 2000. I doubt they did. I also doubt they accounted for the length of time smokers smoked or the amount that they smoked since raw statistics, even if reliable, wouldn’t contain that information. Does it matter that for much of the 20th c, especially 1940-60,. smokers outnumbered nons (about 60/40 i believe)? What happens when you break it down by sex? Does it matter than men born in that decade were likely to have fought in one, if not two, wars– been exposed to mustard gas, Spanish flu, battlefield smoke– and that both war generations had a range of war-related injuries with lingering and life-shortening consequences– and., crucially that soldiers were even more likely to smoke than civilians?

    Next, i’d have to wonder, not having read the report, how they dealt with “cause of death” which is usually listed in annual mortality rates. Were they dealing with death from all causes and assuming that smokers simply succombed at a greater rate to all things lethal? Or did they only count the over-broad, eternally widening spectrum of what they consider smoking-related deaths, and treat them, again, with an arbitary set of percentages? Did they also arbitrarily assume that all smokers’ heart attacks were caused by smoking or arbitrarily decide that only half, 1/3 or 3/4 were? You can get any answer you want if you plug in the right numbers.

  9. XX half of the persistent cigarette smokers born in 1900-1909 would eventually be killed by their habit.XX

    They mean the same generation that spent five years sitting in trenches, up to their arses in muck, bullets, and mud, not to mention Chlorine and mustard gas, all of which casue symptoms which can only so easily put down to “smoking?”

    (Trench foot, hair loss, etc (Hej why not? They blame everything ELSE on smoking!))

    • Rose says:

      1957

      “Soon after World War 1 when mustard gas had been used extensively for war purposes on both sides,the claim was advanced by some investigators that the corrosive trauma to the respiratory system resulting from a single exposure to mustard gas might have causal relation to this subsequent development of cancer of the larynx and of the lung among veterans of the various armies”.

      “During recent years somewhat more valid evidence has been advanced.

      Japanese investigators observed and reported during recent years that employees of war gas factories in Japan, exposed to mustard gas, died from chronic respiratory diseases which, for a number of years, had been clinically diagnosed as tuberculosis of the lung.

      When subsequently on some of these death cases autopsies were performed, it was found that every one of these workers …….dying from tuberculosis of the lung had a cancer of the lung and in more recent years the Japanese observer also clinically confirmed the diagnosis, confirmed by biopsies, of cancer of the larynx among those workers.”

      There is; moreover, a large scale English study on the relative frequency of cancer of the lung among English veterans of World War I on record in which the relative frequency of cancer of the lung among this population group in relation to the standard values was determined.

      “It was found that English veterans who had been exposed to mustard gas poisoning during World War I had an excessive frequency of cancer of the lung,”
      http://tobaccodocuments.org/rjr/503243231-3367.html?zoom=750&ocr_position=above_foramatted&start_page=21

      Mustard Gas Poisoning, Chronic Bronchitis, and Lung Cancer – 1955

      Click to access Case%20RAM%20and%20Lea%20AJ%201955%20mustard%20gas%20poisoning,%20chronic%20bronchitis.pdf


      Interestingly the conclusions don’t seem to fit the findings which may have something to do with the co-author working for the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance.
      Doctors too.

      RAMC of which Doll was a member during WW2

      “Mustard gas, first used in 1917, delayed any effect for up to 12 hours, and then began to rot the body from both within and without and a very painful death took from four to five weeks. Lachrimatory gasses caused blindness. Gas hung around in sunken roads for weeks, and it was possible to be overcome merely by removing a patient’s clothing, so it was not only during an attack that one could become gassed”
      http: //www.ramc-ww1.com/chain_of_evacuation.php

      “Mustard gas caused genetic damage in all systems in which it was tested..”
      “When administered by inhalation or intravenous injection, mustard gas caused lung tumours…”
      http: //ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/twelfth/profiles/mustardgas.pdf

      • Thanks Rose. That kind of proves my point, I think??? (HEJ! It is before coffee! :-D )

        Even to day, foresters in the areas where thes gasses were used, are trained not to sit on the stumps of the tree they have just cut down, because they STILL contain remnents of mustard and Chlorine gas, and STILL can cause severe burns of the skin from the residue in the sap that bleeds out after cutting.

        WHAT effect that has on the lungs, due to vapours, is something best left to real scientists, like Leggy. :-D

  10. magnetic01 says:

    We need to comprehend that antismoking doesn’t begin with the Nazis. The primary root of the antismoking that we see today (and was seen in Nazism) is America. The US of A has a long history of anti-tobacco (part of “clean living” hysteria) that goes back to the mid-1800s. Anti-tobacco was latched onto by Temperance (religious) groups and assorted physicians. All manner of [baseless] claims were made about the “harms” of tobacco. Within the hysterical fervor to “save” the “slaves to tobacco”, it produced a pressure to quit (or not start) not unlike we currently see.

    Below are some of the snake oil “cures” offered in America. They’re all from the mid-1800s to early-1900s.

    This is a quality reproduction of William H. Bradley’s Art Nouveau poster “Narcoti-Cure,” created in 1895.
    http://www.amazon.com/Advertisement-Narcotic-Cure-Cures-Tobacco-Habit/dp/B007M1PQU4
    http://www.zazzle.com/art_nouveau_poster_narcoti_cure_by_will_bradley-228696851649223185

    Coca Bola
    http://southmallblogger.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/drug-war-cigarette-mercantilism.html

    Hindoo & No-To-Bac (Sterling Remedy Co.) late-1800s
    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/ephemera/addiction.html

    Newell Pharmacal
    http://www.popscreen.com/p/MTUyMDUwNzcx/Amazoncom-1916-Ad-Tobacco-Pipe-Cigarette-Newell-Pharmacal-Smoking-
    http://www.amazon.com/Tobacco-Cigarette-Newell-Pharmacal-Smoking/dp/B005DGXZ62

    1904
    http://leelinesteamers.com/?page_id=1239

    Baco Curo late-1800s
    http://pixels.com/featured/baco-curo-ad-1893-granger.html
    http://www.mhreporter.com/2012/12/02/the-tobacco-industry/
    Don't stop tobacco but take Baco=Curo, the only scientific cure for the tobacco habit. [front]

    • magnetic01 says:

      Then there was Ballou’s Tobacco Disinclinator from 1867
      http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/91720036/

      Interestingly it made these claims, without basis, back in 1867:
      “That the use of Tobacco shortens human life from Five to Twenty years, decreases manly vigor in the same ratio, causes a majority of the sudden deaths attributed to heart disease, and renders the subject more susceptible and less able to withstand any disease, is the opinion of our most eminent physicians. How shall we rid ourselves of this accursed habit, and prevent the uninitiated from falling into it? …..”

      This is the author – Hosea Ballou
      http://izquotes.com/quote/384303

    • magnetic01 says:

      It’s very questionable “religious” groups that were particularly against alcohol and tobacco from the mid-1800s. These were breakaway groups from the Millerites (the Great Disappointment), e.g., Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and the British import, the Salvation Army. In terms of the Christian teaching, these groups are all questionable. Temperance groups had very limited legislative success in their anti-tobacco/alcohol lobbying. An assortment of physicians was also making baseless claims about tobacco from the mid-1800s. But physicians at that time were not an organized group.

      At the turn of the 1900s, naturopaths outnumbered allopaths about 2:1. It’s Rockefeller primarily that propelled allopathic (cut, burn, poison) medicine to the fore through his “philanthropy”. His interest in allopathic medicine was the prospect of patentable synthetic drugs (pharmaceuticals). It’s in the early-1900s that the medical association, the cancer society, the lung association, and the heart foundation were created. It’s with the support/funding of the mega-wealthy (e.g., Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie) and the “educated’ classes that Eugenics came to the fore. The assortment of the medically-aligned became organized. It became very influential with the legislature – “if doctors say so, it must be so” (appeal to authority). It’s with the prominence of Eugenics that things started to occur legislatively, e.g., sterilization programs and anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol laws. The anti-tobacco/alcohol claims of eugenicists and Temperance groups were the same. Temperance groups supported eugenics and some fully bought into eugenics (see Ruth Engs). To make matters more twisted, some eugenicists were also part of these Temperance groups. For example, John Harvey Kellogg was a eugenicist and Seventh Day Adventist. Rockefeller, a great supporter of eugenics (and avaricious and megalomaniacal) considered himself a “Southern Baptist”. I think it’s a fair statement that questionable religious groups erroneously believed they were doing the will of God – as they still are, and eugenicists believed they were/are god, justified in their attempts to engineer a “healthier” society or the “master race” – as they still are.

      It’s this [physician-led] eugenics fervor, that included anti-tobacco/alcohol, first seen in America that was then seen in Germany applied to an extreme. Since, we’ve seen the American “medical model” – medical association, cancer society, lung association, heart foundation – replicated in countries around the world. These groups in whatever country blather from the same script. They have the same primary function: They are propaganda (e.g., physicalist ideology) outlets, they are protection fronts for allopathic medicine with the appearance of “independent support”, and most collect donations in the name of “cures” (self-sufficient). It’s a model of strong influence that was established by “old [mega] money”. “New [mega] money” such as Lasker, Johnson, Bloomberg, Gates, just falls into line with the “established order”.

      Here’s a good brief history of anti-tobacco from someone who believes all that they’ve been fed by officialdom:
      http://www.mhreporter.com/2012/12/02/the-tobacco-industry/

  11. magnetic01 says:

    Frank, have a comment in el dungeon. Thanks.

  12. Stevel says:

    I can remember reading a study done by enstrom and kabett on a group that for all intents and purposes live the same lifestyle,the Mormons. They found that at the most, smoking mormons had only on average two years less life expectancy than non-smoking mormons.
    Also a study was done on the Amish who live fairly basic clean lives, the results were that they have the same life expectancy as any other average american.
    Those of you who are more internet savy than me might be able to find these studies if they still exist.

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    Queensland prisoners caught smoking 222 times since ban, mainly tea leaves

    Smoke but no fire

    PRISONERS have been caught out 222 times since a smoking ban was imposed, in Queensland jails, with most found lighting up on tea leaves.

    But officials claim only “minor rule infractions” since the May ban and, despite not releasing the number of smoking contraband found due to system upgrades, say only a few related to prisoners caught with smuggled tobacco products.

    SUBSTITUTE: Tea leaves soaked in nicotine

    UNREST: Inmates protest as ban begins

    The Sunday Mail revealed there were plans to implement a ban after a policy document was inadvertently uploaded to a website last year.

    While most incidents related to tea leaves, a spokesman said some related to a single cigarette or rolling papers.

    “A small number of prisoners have been found soaking tea leaves with NRT patches for the purpose of smoking the dried tea leaves,” a Queensland Corrective Services spokesman said. “This low rate of non-compliance was expected in the early stages of the smoking cessation, and it is expected that the rate will decline as prisoners adjust.”

    There has been one major incident since the ban was ­implemented. Five prisoners staged a rooftop protest at the Southern Queensland Correction Centre near Gatton.

    There are almost 7000 prisoners in Queensland jails.

    Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said that more than 5000 prisoners had completed a quit smoking program since February.

    Originally published as What our prisoners have been smoking

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-prisoners-caught-smoking-222-times-since-ban-mainly-tea-leaves/story-fnihsrf2-1226978999419?nk=caee1fe05776af2112d0094dd0a3fe2d

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    Quirky Question # 172, Employing Cigarette Smokers

    April 2011 | Posted by Dorsey | Topic: Drug & Alchohol Use

    Quirky Question # 172:

    Our company recently adopted a policy of not employing cigarette smokers. We decided to adopt the policy to (1) reduce health our care costs and (2) set a positive example given our business’s relation to health. We now have two problems. One applicant admitted that he smoked during his interview and we did not hire him. He now claims he’s going to sue us. Do we have anything to worry about? What claims could he bring?

    Also, we recently caught a current employee smoking in our parking garage, in violation of our work rule against smoking on company property. Can we terminate her employment?

    Dorsey’s Analysis:

    You are not alone in implementing a policy against employing smokers. A recent New York Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/us/11smoking.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=smoker&st=cse, notes that “[m]ore hospitals and medical businesses in many states are adopting strict policies that make smoking a reason to turn away job applicants, saying they want to increase worker productivity, reduce health care costs and encourage healthier living.” Employers need to be aware, however, that there are potential litigation risks that come with such policies. Many states have passed some sort of “lawful consumable products” statute — laws that protect employees from adverse employment actions based on certain lawful conduct outside of work time and off work premises. Importantly, this lawful conduct includes cigarette smoking.

    Lawful Consumable Products Statutes

    Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes giving some protections to employees who smoke. (See, Cal. Labor Code §§ 96(k), 98.6 (California); Colo. Rev. Stat § 24-34-402.5 (Colorado); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-40s (Connecticut); D.C. Code § 7-1703.03 (District of Columbia); 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 55/5 (Illinois); Ind. Code § 22-5-4 (Indiana); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 344.040 (Kentucky); La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23:966 (Louisiana); Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26, § 597 (Maine); Minn. Stat. § 181.938 (Minnesota); Miss. Code Ann. § 71-7-33 (Mississippi); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.145 (Missouri); Mont. Code Ann. §§ 39-2-313, 39-2-314 (Montana); Nev. Rev. Stat. § 613.333 (Nevada); N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 275:37-a (New Hampshire); N.J. Stat. Ann. § 34:6B (New Jersey); N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-11-3 (New Mexico); N.Y. Lab. Law § 201-d (New York); N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-28.2 (North Carolina); N.D. Cent. Code §§ 14-02.4 (North Dakota); Okla. Stat. tit. 40, § 500 (Oklahoma); Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 659A.315, 659A.885 (Oregon); R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-20.10-14 (Rhode Island); S.C. Code Ann. § 41-1-85 (South Carolina); S.D. Codified Laws § 60-4-11 (South Dakota); Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-304 (Tennessee); Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-2902 (Virginia); W. Va. Code § 21-3-19 (West Virginia); Wis. Stat. § 111.31 (Wisconsin); Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-9 (Wyoming).)

    These statutes vary in what protections they afford, exceptions they include, and in the remedies available to employees, and an employer will need to look to the statute in force in its state to assess its particular litigation risks.

    All of the relevant statutes, however, allow employers to enforce work rules banning smoking on company property or company time. See, e.g., Colo. Rev. Stat § 24-34-402.5. In other words, an employer in any state may lawfully terminate, or otherwise discipline, an employee who violates an employer’s rule against smoking on its premises or during work time.

    Some statutes protect only current employees who smoke. See, e.g., S.D. Codified Laws § 60-4-11. In jurisdictions with these types of statutes, an employer can lawfully refuse to hire smokers, but cannot discriminate against current employees who smoke off company property on their own time.

    Other state statutes are quite broad and prohibit discrimination against smokers even in the hiring process. See, e.g., N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-28.2 (“It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee . . . because the prospective employee . . . engages in or has engaged in the lawful use of lawful products if the activity occurs off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours and does not adversely affect the employee’s job performance or the person’s ability to properly fulfill the responsibilities of the position . . . .”). Employers subject to such statutes may face lawsuits if they refuse to hire smokers. As a practical matter, though, this appears somewhat unlikely.

    Our research did not reveal a single reported case of a smoker suing an employer for anti-smoking discrimination. This is not particularly surprising as this type of case may not be appealing to many plaintiffs’ lawyers — a complaining smoker does not make a particularly sympathetic plaintiff. That said, policies against employing smokers are a relatively new phenomenon, and we may begin to see lawsuits related to such policies in the near future.

    The important takeaway for employers is to examine the relevant statute in their state or states of operation (if such a statute exists at all, remember 31 states have no lawful consumable products statutes at all) and tailor their policies accordingly. Perhaps an all out ban on employing smokers is not the best option. Employers may want consider alternatives. For example, if you ban smoking anywhere on your premises, it may be quite difficult for an employee to smoke at all during the work day, which may be the added incentive necessary for your employees to quit smoking. Also, a number of the relevant statutes expressly allow employers to charge smokers higher insurance rates than non-smokers, which may go a long way to reducing insurance costs related to smoking.

  15. carol2000 says:

    This has set off an outpouring of all the same clueless blather that has been so utterly worthless for the last 50 years. When will they ever learn?

  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    Smokers Against Discrimination

    First of all, it doesn not matter. Even if it would be true, that smoking is so bad for my health as you say, — my health is still not your fucking business. My body, my health, my decision.

    Second of all, it’s not true. Every word you say is a blatant lie.
    ………………

    “For years the anti-tobacco crusaders, from Drs. Koop and Kessler to President Clinton, have claimed that “cigarette smoking is the greatest cause of preventable or premature deaths, causing 400,000 deaths a year, a number greater than auto accidents, homicide, suicide, and various other causes of death combined.

    Those 400,000 Smoking Victims Live Longer Than The Rest of Us!”
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/sammec/newproof.htm

    THE FRAUD OF THE POTENTIAL YEARS OF LIFE LOST
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/pyll.htm

    PASSIVE SMOKE FRAUD
    “Mere exposure does not equate to toxicity; it’s the dose that makes the poison”
    Basic principle of toxicology
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/second.htm

    SMOKING AND ASTHMA
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/asthma.htm

    THE ADDICTIVENESS OF NICOTINE
    “The notion of addiction suffers from major conceptual, definitional and empirical problems. These problems have been detailed in the scientific literature but they remain almost totally ignored. If the criticism is misguided, the errors should be exposed. If the criticism is not misguided, it suggests the need for a radical revision in the way drug problems are approached. Instead of resolving these core issues in a rational and informed manner, addiction advocates simply cover their ears and press on. They convene consensus committees that attempt to legislate the truth. The addiction hypothesis is based on assertion and faith, not evidence and logic. The belief in addiction exists, not because of scientific information, but in spite of it. It is old-fashioned demonology, thinly disguised as science.”
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/addictiv.htm

    SMOKING AND LUNG CANCER
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/lung.htm

    SMOKING AND BRAIN CANCER
    “Some have suggested that cigarette smoking and other tobacco product use may increase the risk of brain tumors because tobacco product use is considered to be the greatest source for human exposure to N-nitroso compounds, which are potent nervous system carcinogens in animal studies. Our investigation, however, did not find a positive association between cigarette smoking, or with use of other tobacco products, and risk of brain cancer.”
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/brain.htm

    SMOKING AND HEART/ATHEROSCLEROSIS
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/heart.htm

    SMOKING AND EMPHYSEMA
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/files/colby.htm

    SMOKING AND CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/copd.htm

    THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS OF SMOKING AND NICOTINE
    http://www.forces.org/evidence/evid/therap.htm

    …………………………
    = Facts & Lies about Smoking =
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.319663114749521.73523.173802526002248&type=3

  17. garyk30 says:

    I rather like the terms ‘50% of smokers die because of their smoking’.
    (Note: only about 1% of smokers deaths might be said to be from smoking)

    The same study showed that the vast majority(85%) of smokers deaths were from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking.

    Short, sweet, and using their own data!! :)

    This proves that::
    1. Only about half of smokers deaths from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking were actually ’caused’ by smoking.

    2. About half of smokers deaths from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking were ‘NOT CAUSED’ by smoking.

    3. If a smoker dies from a disease ’caused’ by smoking, there is only a 50% chance that death was ’caused’ by smoking.
    (Note: a 50/50 ratio is not enough to prove causality)

    How did they do this?

    1. They did not read their own data.

    2. They are bad at math and could not convert death rates into percentages of deaths.
    a. Double the death rate does not equal doubling the percentage of deaths.

    They would have us believe that since 2 is twice the size of 1, that 2/4ths is twice as large as 1/2th. Both are 50%.

    Dolls Study
    deaths from smoking diseases vs total deaths per year

    Never-smokers = 16 per 19

    smokers = 30 per 35.5

    They would have us believe that since 30 is about twice as large as 16, percentage wise twice as many of the smokers deaths are from those diseases.

    Both 16/19 and 30/35.5 are about 85%.

    Both groups have the same chance of dying from the diseases that are said to be ’caused’ by smoking.

    • garyk30 says:

      The above result in a Relative Risk of 1.01.

      Then there is this:
      The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): “The threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual’s disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0.”

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