William Whitby: Smoking Is Good For You

One of the delights of the internet is that it makes it possible to keep alive texts which would have otherwise faded into obscurity and oblivion. Australian doctor Dr William Whitby self-published in 1978 Smoking Is Good For You, and about 10 years later he also published The Smoking Scare Debunked. In pre-internet times, both books would have probably been lost by now, with hardly any copies extant. But in fact both are now available online, free to read or download. Most likely both books  now enjoy a wider readership than they ever did as hardbacks or paperbacks.

To give a flavour of the book, here’s Whitby on the pleasures of smoking:



Much of the book is given over to not only debunking the belief that smoking causes lung cancer (or anything else), and the passive smoking scare, but also declaring that smoking is an effective treatment of many chest complaints, including bronchitis and asthma.

He believes that the war on smoking was mounted to conceal the far greater danger to human health from radioactive fallout.

He regards antismokers as “mentally deranged.” Which is probably true, given that my experience of life in the house of Dr W – the first antismoking doctor I ever encountered – left me with the lasting conviction that the man was seriously mentally disordered, if only for his inability to produce a genuine smile.

Even though it was written 40 years ago, Whitby’s arguments are startlingly contemporary. He had even come to see the puritanical antismoking lobby as an “antismoking industry” employing thousands of fanatics. Here he is on the Black Lung Lie:


That said, the book is very dated when it comes to describing the circumstance of smokers. It has all got much, much worse since 1978, with smoking now banned in indoor public spaces all over the world, and increasingly in outdoor areas as well, and even in people’s own homes.

His advice to smokers also seems a tad optimistic:


Unfortunately, it makes no difference if smokers declare: “This nonsense has gone too far.” Many of them do make such declarations. Their protests are simply ignored, or not reported, and the next raft of restrictions is then prepared. Smokers are not living in any ‘free country’ anywhere any more. Nor have they any representation either, and so democracy is dead too.

His predictions for the future, furthermore, now look horribly over-optimistic:


I don’t think that there will ever be a volte-face by the medical profession. If anything, they are now entirely under the control of the antismoking zealots in ways they were not 40 years ago. What’s now needed is for governments to intervene strongly in the affairs of the medical profession, to dismantle it completely, completely purging all antismokers (and indeed all healthists), before re-assembling it under tight political control. The medical profession needs to be suppressed in the same way that Margaret Thatcher suppressed UK unions in the 1980s.

However there is no sign whatsoever of any willingness or readiness on the part of governments to grasp this monstrous nettle, and tear it out. This will probably only be done when the social and economic and political disintegration resulting from this insane war on tobacco has become manifestly obvious to everyone. There will probably also have to be (and almost certainly will be) a public health catastrophe, most likely in the form of a global Ebola-style pandemic, which will reveal the tobacco-obsessed medical profession as being no longer fit for purpose.

Nevertheless, Whitby remains a voice of sanity in an increasingly insane world. And he remained influential enough for Tobacco Control to devote an article to him in 2003, probably as a result of his re-emergence on the internet. Whitby had predicted that sceptics like himself would be dismissed as ‘eccentrics’. And sure enough, Tobacco Control described him (twice) as being “as nutty as a fruitcake.”

May there be many more such fruitcakes.

About Frank Davis

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21 Responses to William Whitby: Smoking Is Good For You

  1. Nika says:

    Boston’s Mayor Martin Walsh now says he wants to ban CHEWING tobacco from Fenway Park and youth baseball diamonds across the city. Blasphemy! I never considered chewing tobacco before because I enjoy the “ritual” of smoking it as well as its other benefits — but now I’m thinking it might be very satisfying to spit! spit! spit! in bars, restaurants, etc. where smoking is banned.

    And from sciencedaily.com (though these days I seriously question the veracity of any and all “research”):
    Date: July 20, 2015
    Source: Association for Psychological Science
    New research reveals that the more people think they know about a topic in general, the more likely they are to allege knowledge of completely made-up information and false facts, a phenomenon known as “overclaiming.” The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

  2. junican says:

    Super post, Frank. But nothing will change until the Doll ‘Doctors Study’ is debunked. Until that study is found to be erroneous, nothing in tobacco control will change.
    Can it be debunked? On the face of it, the ‘facts’ are absolutely clear – the more that a person smokes, the more certain it is that that person will die at a lower age than a non-smoker. Can that idea be debunked?
    Perhaps there is no need to debunk it. Perhaps it debunks itself.

    • Joe L. says:

      Absolutely, junican. The Doll study has debunked itself – hundreds of thousands (probably hundreds of millions) of times already. Why does the media not pick up on this? Why have actual independent scientists not attempted to replicate the study? There are powerful, wealthy forces in play here that are not only silencing the truth, but stifling actual scientific progress. The question is what will it take for this to happen? Sadly, I agree with Frank that it will most likely take a public health catastrophe to finally cause the healthist façade to crumble.

      • mikef317 says:

        In the 1964 U. S. Surgeon General’s report, Doll is one of 7 “prospective” studies that all found a link between smoking and lung cancer. The study has therefore been replicated. (1964, table 26, pages 109-110.) There were also (maybe two dozen?) “retrospective” studies that found elevated risks for smokers.

        This doesn’t “prove” that smoking causes lung cancer, but certainly, the statistical link has been shown many times.

    • Frank Davis says:

      nothing will change until the Doll ‘Doctors Study’ is debunked.

      The Doll and Hill British Doctors Study isn’t, in my view, the most important one. It was their second study. But I think it was the first one that mattered most. And the first one was the London Hospitals study.

      If the second study has overshadowed the first, it’s because as a prospective study it ran for much longer (1950 – 2004), and produced a steady stream of reports. The first study (1948 – 1950) produced a single report. But it was that study that convinced both Richard Doll and George Godber (of the Godber Blueprint) that smoking caused lung cancer. The job of the second study was, as Doll described it in 2004, to advertise the link between smoking and disease, which he regarded as proven in 1950 by the first report.

      In fact, it did no such thing. What it found was that 99% of lung cancer patients were smokers, and this was what convinced Doll and Godber and others. What neither seemed to notice was that in that first study, almost everybody in the sample – over 98% – smoked, and so whatever they had been studying, they would have found that 98% of patients would have been smokers, because back then almost everybody smoked (probably as a consequence of war, bombing, rationing, etc). It’s really only now, when much fewer people smoke, and both smokers and non-smokers are getting lung cancer, that it’s becoming apparent that smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer.

      In the second study, which began in 1950, a mere 87% of the doctors were smokers. In that study, they waited for the doctors to die, which they gradually did over the next 50 years. For all I know, some of the doctors may still be alive. I’m not sure that it ever produced a final report. It might be regarded as a very slow exercise in counting, and every 5 years it would produce a report giving the current death toll. And so the status of each report was necessarily of a provisional nature, because the study was never complete.

      • Cecily Collingridge says:

        The legal judgment in the 2006 McTear vs Imperial Tobacco Ltd was interesting. As far as I can tell, the lawyers acting for the plaintive failed to prove smoking caused lung cancer and Richard Doll, the expert witness, came in for some criticism. Because of the lack of or weak scientific evidence of tumour genesis in the laboratory, the assertion relies solely on epidemiology – the strong statistical association. But correlation, however strong, is not proof of causation without explanation. Doll was arrogantly relying on his supposed status, expecting everyone to just take his word for it, which failed to persuade the judge.

  3. John Watson says:

    A public health catastrophe? Something along the lines of the Black Death perhaps? It is historical fact that after the Bubonic plague decimated Europe conditions for the ‘Serfs’ rapidly improved, their contribution to society became radically more important. Indeed the Black death did more for worker/employer relations than any Union ever has!

    Another point that came from the great plague was the use of burning herbs to ward off infection, a by-product of which may have been frightening the rats that carried the plague from the suburbs Even today the use of Nebulisers to create a fine mist or smoke are in common use dealing with diseases of the lung.

    As tragic as such viruses are, be it the Bubonic plague of the Middle Ages or the great Influenza epidemic post wwI, both epidemics changed the world as we knew it. Perhaps such a disaster would bear fruit.

  4. mikef317 says:


    Relative risk statistics are the primary proof that smoking causes lung cancer. Smokers get LC more frequently than non-smokers. This type of “reasoning” is ubiquitous in contemporary health “science.”

    From William M. Briggs, an excellent paper on why relative risk cannot establish cause.

    Unfortunately, the paper is complicated. I know a bit about the math, and I find it daunting. It’s not something I’d recommend for the “average” person.


    From page 12, The Futility Of Risk: “A common way to report on these matters is by relative risk. The simplest way to think of it is this: the probability of having the disease, or of dying or of having whatever outcome of interest, given the high exposure, divided by the probability of disease given low exposure. A relative risk of 2 means the disease is twice as likely to be found in the high group. Relative risk is a misleading way to report, however, because it exaggerates risk, as I’ll prove.”

    Briggs also did a blog post announcing the paper. There are a good number of comments.


  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    A varying T cell subtype explains apparent tobacco smoking induced single CpG hypomethylation in whole blood



    Many recent epigenetic studies report that cigarette smoking reduces DNA methylation in whole blood at the single CpG site cg19859270 within the GPR15 gene.


    Within two independent cohorts, we confirmed the differentially expression of the GPR15 gene when smokers and non-smokers subjects are compared. By validating the GPR15 protein expression at the cellular level, we found that the observed decreased methylation at this site in white blood cells (WBC) of smokers is mainly caused by the high proportion of CD3+GPR15+ expressing T cells in peripheral blood. In current smokers, the percentage of GPR15+ cells among CD3+ T cells in peripheral blood is significantly higher (15.5 ± 7.2 %, mean ± standard deviation) compared to non-smokers (3.7 ± 1.6 %). Treatment of peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) cultures with aqueous cigarette smoke extract did not induce a higher proportion of this T cell subtype.


    Our results underline that DNA hypomethylation at cg19859270 site, observed in WBCs of smokers, did not arise by direct effect of tobacco smoking compounds on methylation of DNA but rather by the enrichment of a tobacco-smoking-induced lymphocyte population in the peripheral blood.


  6. slugbop007 says:

    The OSHA 1994 study on secondhand smoke in the U.S.A. concluded that PEL (Permissible Exposure Limits) were so low that they did not find it necessary to set a standard marker. Their studies have been studiously ignored since then. The SHS hoax gave the antismoking crusaders all the ammunition necessary to scare the general public and bring them on board with the antismoking lobbies. Copies of that OSHA study (and the WHO study that was published several years later) should be sent to every president, prime minister, health minister and health organization director around the world, as well as every newspaper, radio and television outlet in every country. It will take a coordinated effort on the part of many people but I think it could be done.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      OSHA also took on the passive smoking fraud and this is what came of it:

      Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence: Third Edition

      This sorta says it all

      These limits generally are based on assessments of health risk and calculations of concentrations that are associated with what the regulators believe to be negligibly small risks. The calculations are made after first identifying the total dose of a chemical that is safe (poses a negligible risk) and then determining the concentration of that chemical in the medium of concern that should not be exceeded if exposed individuals (typically those at the high end of media contact) are not to incur a dose greater than the safe one.

      So OSHA standards are what is the guideline for what is acceptable ”SAFE LEVELS”


      All this is in a small sealed room 9×20 and must occur in ONE HOUR.

      For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes.

      “For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes.

      “Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.

      Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up.

      “For Hydroquinone, “only” 1250 cigarettes.

      For arsenic 2 million 500,000 smokers at one time.

      The same number of cigarettes required for the other so called chemicals in shs/ets will have the same outcomes.

      So, OSHA finally makes a statement on shs/ets :

      Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.” -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA.

      Why are their any smoking bans at all they have absolutely no validity to the courts or to science!

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Prison Economy Spirals As Price Of Pack Of Cigarettes Exceeds Two Hand Jobs

    From the Onion Prison Channel: Prison analysts warn rising inflation could devalue everything from rim jobs to shivs.



    • harleyrider1978 says:

      This should have been on the onion

      New Orleans Conducts Its Own Study On Smoking Ban And Finds That It’s Downright Fabulous

      The city of New Orleans has released a study that it conducted itself to determine that the smoking ban is working out great for residents, business owners, tourists and bar patrons.

      As Mitch Landrieu tweeted on Twitter yesterday, the study found a 96 percent reduction in the level of fine particle air pollution within a sample of venues in the city before and after the smoke-free ordinance took effect.

      The smoke-free study examined 13 bars, four of which did not allow smoking prior to the ordinance, and one casino.

      Obviously the air in these venues is more clear. But, that does not mean business owners and bar patrons are all that happy.

      Immediately following the smoking ban in the city, business owners across New Orleans filed suit against the city on the grounds that the ordinance was vague and New Orleans City Council members were not given the correct information on the impact of the ban ahead of voting for it.


      has facebook comments

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        They have to trumpet their own propaganda since no one else will. The NOLA ban is an utter failure. Notice the Antis claim hurrah’s isn’t actually losing money either.\!

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Tobacco nets inmates and officers thousands in prison

    Tobacco, once legal inside Mississippi prisons, is now the most popular contraband, creating thousands in profit for inmates, gangs and correctional


    Tobacco, once legal inside Mississippi prisons, is now the most popular contraband, creating thousands in profit for inmates, gangs and correctional officers.

    This 16-ounce bag of tobacco (now empty) came from inside the state Penitentiary at Parchman
    On the outside, this bag can be purchased by officers or others for $15 or $20. On the inside, this bag can be sold to a gang or an inmate for $350 to $400.

    Once inside, the pound of tobacco is divided up. Inmates say it can be divided into 1,600 balls of tobacco. Each of these balls sell for $1.

    I just obtained one of these $1 balls. It is pictured above.

    Corrections officials say they are doing their best to crack down on contraband and have conducted unannounced raids to seize that contraband, including weapons.

    An inmate wrote me the other day, “What would you like? I can get it for you. Heroin? Spice? Marijuana? You name it, and it’s all available here

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

  10. harleyrider1978 says:
  11. RdM says:

    Another direct (but still scanned) pdf version is available here if wading through scribd offputs:

    Click to access Whitby.pdf

    And, Frank, you come up in Google in this post (forgotten?) here mentioning it earlier:

    (best regards!)

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