Michael Siegel:

In a lie of epic proportions, the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest has publicly claimed that smoking real (tobacco) cigarettes may be no more harmful than using fake (electronic) cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and involve no combustion….

The rest of the story is that anti-tobacco advocates and groups are so threatened by electronic cigarettes that they are actually promoting cigarette smoking as being no worse than using a non-tobacco-containing product. They have completely transformed the tobacco epidemic from a problem of tobacco use to a problem of nicotine use. The problem now is addiction itself, not disease and death.

In other words, the tobacco epidemic is no longer a public health issue, it is a moral one.

The tobacco control movement, then, is no longer a part of public health practice. It is now little more than a moral crusade, spewing hysterical, unsupported, and misleading claims and blatant lies that in the end are serving to promote and preserve the sales of the most hazardous consumer product on the market: real cigarettes.

Actually, I think that Michael Siegel has inadvertently stumbled on what has been the truth all along: Tobacco Control is engaged in a moral crusade.

I woke up to this fact almost exactly 50 years ago when I heard Dr W, in whose home I had just arrived as a paying guest, bellowing at his eldest son at the top of his voice in a distant room. He had just caught him smoking. And he was shouting that it was a “filthy, filthy, filthy” habit.

It was a formative moment in my life. For I realised that what motivated Dr W was not dispassionate reason or research, but instead intense moral disapproval.  If Dr W had been motivated by reason, he would not have shouted at his son. So when I started smoking a few years later, it was in large part because I’d realised, thanks to Dr W, that in his case at least the objection to smoking was emotional rather than rational.

I encountered the exact same moral disapproval much more recently, when a couple of years ago a hygienist in a dental clinic told me that smoking was “naughty.” I laughed out loud.

This intense moral disapproval goes back a very long way. It makes its prejudicial appearance in the seventh word in King James I of England’s A Counterblaste to Tobacco:

That the manifolde abuses of this vile custome of Tobacco taking, may the better be espied, it is fit, that first you enter into consideration both of the first originall thereof, and likewise of the reasons of the first entry thereof into this Countrey.

To amend Siegel’s words slightly:

[The tobacco control movement] is now always has been little more than a moral crusade, spewing hysterical, unsupported, and misleading claims and blatant lies…

About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to Naughty

  1. The Blocked Dwarf says:

    was “naughty.”

    How many times has the Daily Fail published a photo of some star having a ‘crafty’ fag and then the comment from their agent that ‘they have been trying to give up’ and that it was a momentary ‘slip’ (again a ‘moral’ term).

    And God help any star seen to be even just in the vicinity of someone smoking if said star is pregnant, the moral OUTRAGE of the Red Arrows Brigade knows no bounds.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      The myth of smoking during pregnancy being harmful
      The myth of smoking during pregnancy being harmful

      Wed, 30 Oct 2013 17:51 CDT

      In about 1999 I was asked to analyze the data of pregnant women with respect to smoking for a major health insurance company. They were running a campaign to get pregnant women to stop smoking and they expected to find interesting data to support their case.

      I used to teach college courses covering the topic. The text books said that smoking causes underweight premature babies. Because of this babies of smoking mothers are more likely to have birth defects. With alcohol, two drinks a day was considered safe, but with tobacco, there was no safe threshold. I thought this was rather strange. You smoke one cigarette while pregnant and you are more likely to have birth defects? Even for a hard core health fanatic that is difficult to believe.

      Here is what was found in the data. Babies of smoking mothers average weight was 3232 grams (7.1 lbs.). Babies of non-smoking mothers averaged 3398 grams (7.5 lbs.). That is about a half pound difference and it is statistically significant. Seven pounds is a good healthy birth weight that does not set off any alarms. Babies are considered underweight if they are less than 2270 grams (5 lbs.). 4.5% of smoking mothers babies were underweight and 3.3% of non-smoking mothers babies were underweight. This difference is not significant. There is no indication here of a health risk from smoking based on weight.

      The other risk factor is length of term. Normal gestation is 253 days. 4% of smoking mothers did not go to term and 7.8% of non-smoking mothers did not go to term. Smoking mothers did better than non-smoking mothers but the difference was not significant. There was obviously no risk from reduced term for smoking mothers.

      Because the non-smoking mothers had heavier babies one would expect more C-Sections from the non-smoking mothers. There were about 20% more. This is significant at the .05 level but not the .01 level so you could argue the significance either way depending on your bias. The data here is limited because only 5% of pregnant women smoked but the trend for smoking mothers was toward less babies retained in the hospital, less C-Sections, insignificantly fewer pre-term deliveries and an insignificant increase in clinically underweight babies.

      This data can be explained by assuming that when pregnant women are stressed, they self medicate to relieve the stress. Non-smoking women tend to eat more causing the baby to be larger and more difficult to deliver. This can also cause other problems. Smoking women tend to light up when under stress. This is less harmful to the baby than over-eating. For this reason smoking mothers tended to have better outcomes for baby and mother. They also cost less for the insurance company.

      You might be interested in knowing that this information was not used. I was told that the medical insurance business is highly regulated by the government. The company was not allowed to tell the truth about these results even though it was better for the insurance company and for the patients.

      I do not think these results suggest that women should start smoking when they get pregnant. I do think it indicates that it is very poor practice to try to get smoking mothers to stop smoking when they get pregnant.
      About me

      I have a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and have worked in both research and teaching. I am a health nut and do not endorse smoking or care to be around people smoking. I was shocked by these results. My bias if any is certainly against these results. However I think it is horrible to withhold information form people and intentionally give them bad advice to advance a political agenda.

      • smokingscot says:

        Well it seems that between 2013 and 2015 the “science” now tells us that if your granny smoked while she was pregnant, then you’re infinitesimally more likely to develop asthma.

        It’s a facile study that takes sproggs with asthma, then – as the mother never smoked – asking the granny if she did when she was pregnant. As they’re tracing back 25 years or more then a whole heck of a lot more people smoked then anyway.

        But hey, what the heck, when you’ve got a pile of cash to spend every year, why not do it on something utterly fatuous. And the timing? Well it just so happened that this extensive study is reported in the UK papers on 30 September 2015. And just coincidentally stoptober (or whatever) starts on 1 October.

        I do apologise, I forgot for a second. Stop dohickey has proven to be so fantastically successful that the Netherlands has it as well.

        • “But hey, what the heck, when you’ve got a pile of cash to spend every year, why not do it on something utterly fatuous. And the timing? Well it just so happened that this extensive study is reported in the UK papers on 30 September 2015. And just coincidentally stoptober (or whatever) starts on 1 October.”

          Well observed, said, and very, very true Scot! I’ve seen the grandmother leap dance done before, several years ago, but forget what they aimed it at back then. It’s a “Hail Mary” play: when the researchers have promised to give their paymasters certain conclusions and they find that no matter HOW much they torture the statistics the conclusions simply won’t come out — look for another angle where, by pure chance, the stats WILL come out… no matter how ridiculous the connection might seem.

          – MJM

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Its called Voodoo blackmagic where anything is linkable even the impossible. At this rate they will soon invent imaculante conception……….

  2. castello2 says:

    Good stuff! This may be the end of TC as we know it. We can only hope and pray to the flying gods

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Well they cant prove smoking causes anything and they damn well cant prove ecigs cause anything………..what are they left with………..NOTHING TO CLAIM

  4. harleyrider1978 says:
  5. Ed says:

    Wasn’t King James the same royal psychopath that had also written a book entitled “Daemonologie” ? A book that fully endorsed witch hunting and which ultimately caused the torture and murder of thousands of innocent people.

  6. Tony says:

    A very weird juxtaposition of pseudo-scientific claptrap with what looks like a good documentary about a real scientific genius. I’ll watch it all later and I’m optimistic that it will be as good as it appears on the face of it.
    Although after seeing a few minutes I amused to note that they get Archimedes claw completely wrong – again. I remember discussing it with you on your blog many years ago (clue- a wooden ‘A’ frame could not support the weight but a stone wall could) :)

    • Frank Davis says:

      I just thought it was remarkable that they’d been able to read the rubbed-out lines on the palimpsest at all. A book was being resurrected.

      And certainly I’ve taken an interest in the claw. There seems to almost be a lierature surrounding it.

  7. The Moralists are just picking up the reins of Lucy Page Gaston and the Anti-Cigarette League of the late 1900s. The only really *new* ingredient in the mix, and unfortunately it’s an important one, is the addition of The Greedy. Past nutso crusades of this type depended upon donations, and since there simply aren’t THAT many crazy people out there, they never had the money to sustain themselves. The Alcohol Prohibitionists broke the pattern slightly by taking advantage of all the young males being off in a war and unable to vote for their freedom, but despite actually passing a full blown Constitutional Amendment (A **VERY** big deal over here!) they barely held on for fifteen years before having the prize whipped out of their hands with the Repeal. The problem we face now is the sheer amount of money the Antismokers have pouring into their greedy little pockets every year from taxes, charities (in exploitation of antismoking imagery and children during funding drives), Big Pharma, and from a few notable crazies with big pocketbooks like Bloombug.

    The real coup they’re planning is set for just a little over a year from now. They *almost* won an extra 800 million a year in 2012, but they lost by literally just a couple of tenths of a single percent. This time they’ll play it smarter, pumping more money in for the sake of the promised gold mine, AND starting out with the clever ruse of going for a $2/pack increase in the early stages. I doubt they’ll stick with that… they got stung last time and they’ll be gun shy… BUT, by yelling about $2, they’ll be able to “offer a reasonable compromise” of $1 and that 800M/year will land in their pockets.

    Can we beat that? Dunno. Maybe. But it’ll be a very, very, VERY hard fight… and meanwhile we’re still fighting open air, car, and apartment bans…. as well as the whole e-cig nuttiness.

    – MJM

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Psst blackmarket cartels lost revenues…………bean counters count and remember the democrats got prohibition passed and it was the same democrats that got it repealed in the end and begged forgivness on the news reels in the 1930s over their gastly mistake. but they weren’t after forgiveness they were simply looking for a way out ans a new cover… came in the form of the ACS ALA AHA and a big endowment from Rockefellor so they threw away the bibles for white labcoats…………then by the 1950s they had infiltrated the biggest colleges and depts. of medicine in chairmanship rolls and the fight to to reclassify old age diseases as smoking related began even if the committee members said that’s BS the chairman over ruled the vote or consensus and claimed lifestyle to be the cause of everything. Even the 1964 SG had problems keeping a straight face saying smoking caused LC at the time.

  8. Ed says:

    Apparently, it’s only thick people who smoke now (according to the comments below the propaganda) …

    The interactive graphic is quite laughable! I really can’t believe people still buy into all this BS, but they really lap it up

  9. Pingback: The Firing Squad | caprizchka

  10. beobrigitte says:

    Actually, I think that Michael Siegel has inadvertently stumbled on what has been the truth all along: Tobacco Control is engaged in a moral crusade.

    Tobacco Control has no morals. This morning the BBC wasted an awful lot of time on ‘smoking-in-pregnancy’ and that the medics should be ‘educated’ and ‘educating’ people about the “dangers” of smoking during pregnancy. It was the usual blah-blah, except it went on and on and on and on.
    This was the BBC’s priority for the day. Since this coincided with a letter from the health center (I was surprised they found me on their records!!!) about their smoking cessation clinic – which went unread into the bin, my patience with this anti-smoking lark was non-existent.

    The sensible thing to do was to switch channel.

    Instead of the anti-smoking blah-blah, Al Jazeera ran a report on Ebola – and questioned why the nurse suffering from Ebola currently experiences another episode of the same again.
    They interviewed some ‘expert’ who stated that the Ebola virus, indeed, remains in the bat host latent. But this had NEVER before been observed in humans. Also, the virus can be sexually transmitted.
    Question is, how many more people will relapse? Will we know about this or will the BBC yet again prioritise “the-danger-of-smoking-in-a-park” over REAL problems?

    I encountered the exact same moral disapproval much more recently, when a couple of years ago a hygienist in a dental clinic told me that smoking was “naughty.” I laughed out loud.
    The same happened to me a few years ago – the dental hygienist wagging the finger and telling me that I’m naughty. I sat up, looked at her and said: “If I do look 5 (years old) to you, you are going to specsavers BEFORE you touch my teeth!” Although I did say it laughingly, the lady stopped speaking to me.

    • roobeedoo2 says:

      Last time I went to the dentist, the hygienist was an utter bitch. First she berated me for smoking and then she fucking hurt, tutting and sighing the whole way through. I left half way through. I haven’t been to the dentist since the Naughties ;)

      I do need to go though… Hey, she was no spring chicken; maybe she’s dead! And if she’s not, then she’ll soon wish she was. Fuck! I’m looking forward to going now…

  11. Pat Nurse says:

    …”and preserve the sales of the most hazardous consumer product on the market: real cigarettes.”

    Is there really no other consumer product on the market more hazardous than smoking? Really? Absolutely nothing else? I’ll bet we can all think of many more. I certainly can. How about people who’ve died from alcoholism, kids from “legal” highs, families killed in car accidents, and well, I could go on.

    I agree entirely about the moral crusade of tobacco control hysterics but my problem with Siegal and the ecig campaign in general is that they appear quite happy to buy into anti-smoking propaganda when it suits them.

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