Days Of Future Past

For the past week or so I’ve been intermittently reading Scared To Death, by Christopher Booker and Richard North, which was very kindly sent to me by Joe L as a belated 70th birthday present. The book is a compendium of health scares, mostly in the UK, over the past few decades. And since most of them were familiar to me, I’ve been skipping over most of the chapters, and only reading those in which I had the greatest interest.

And one of these, obviously, was Chapter 12: Smoke and Mirrors. How they turned “passive smoking” into a killer, 1950 – 2007. The authors were quite sure that the passive smoking scare was a scare no different from any of the other scares listed in the book. And in this they relied heavily on Enstrom & Kabat’s very large 2003 study, which found little or no danger in secondhand smoke.

The chapter would have been a lot more interesting if it had been titled Smoke and Mirrors. How they turned smoking into a killer, 1950 – 2007. For that is what actually happened after 1950. The passive smoking scare is actually a secondary scare that followed in the footsteps of the primary scare, which was about the effect of the firsthand smoke upon smokers when they inhaled, rather than the effects on others of their secondhand smoke. For Booker and North the secondhand smoking scare was the real scare, while the firsthand scare was in their view not a scare at all, even though the authors of the former were the same people who had come up with the latter. In this respect Booker and North belong in the alarmist mainstream of public opinion, firmly convinced that (firsthand) Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. (While I think that both the firsthand and the secondhand smoking scares are exactly that: scares.)

But in the last chapter, the authors consider all the necessary components of an effective scare – scientists, media, politicians, lobbyists, etc – and address the question of which of the many scares they had considered was the greatest scare of all. And their answer to this was unequivocal: the global warming scare was the greatest of them all.

What was quite different from all the rest was the fear of global warming. Here at last was a cosmic scenario that had found expression in almost all the religions of the world, from the Jewish legend of Noah and the Christian vision of the Apocalypse to the world-ending Ragnarok of the Norse sagas and the Teutonic Götterdämmerung, the twilight of the gods.

The appeal of the fear of global warming was that it fitted so neatly into the plot of a story with which everyone is familiar. Man in his selfish and reckless exploitation of the planet had committed a great and unpardonable sin, if not against God then certainly against Nature. Unless he repents and learns to mend his ways, he and all life on the planet will face unthinkable punishment. The seas will rise and flood the cities of the earth. Great storms will rage, on a scale never before known. Vast tracts of fertile land will be reduced to barren deserts. Nature itself will be stricken before the onslaught. Billions of human beings will die.

And all this will happen very soon. The end of the world is nigh. The Last Judgement is upon us – unless we repent and mend our ways by acting on the Kyoto Protocol.

For myself, I generally regard the greatest scare of all to be the smoking scare. It is, after all, what I’ve been writing about for the past 10 years. But it has to be admitted that the smoking scare is not accompanied by visions of flood and storm and desert and mass death. The smoking scare simply doesn’t have the same grand, cosmic scale as the global warming scare. The very worst that ever happens in the smoking scare is that smokers die slightly younger than non-smokers. By comparison with the epic vision of the global warming scare – with tidal waves engulfing cities -, the smoking scare is a damp squib.

And since I’ve got much more interested in Climate Change over the past 3 months, as a consequence of my new Theory of Ice Ages, I’m almost inclined to forget about trivial, unimportant smoking bans, and devote my attention to climate change.

Almost inclined. But not quite. For while I must agree that the global warming scare presents an apocalyptic vision of the near future, I still think that the smoking scare is a far greater and more insidious scare.

For in the first place the global warming scare has so far had few direct effects on the lives of most people. They have not been banned from driving CO2-belching cars. Nor have they been banned from lighting CO2-belching fires. The effects of the global warming scare have been largely institutional in character, with moves away from fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas – towards renewable fuels – solar and wind and tidal -.

And in the second place, the global warming scare has seen the rapid emergence of a powerful countervailing sceptical movement to combat global warming alarmism. And this counter-movement has been so successful that most people now don’t believe the global warming scare, if they ever did before. In opinion survey after opinion survey, people give global warming as the very least of their concerns. So much so that the global warming scare seems to have almost become as senescent as many other scares.

And in the third place, the global warming scare has not produced deep social divisions between alarmists and sceptics. While some people are worried, and some are not, it seldom results in the breakup of marriages or the termination of friendships.

And in these three respects the smoking scare has had, firstly, a very great direct effect on smokers who are now exiled to the outdoors on almost every continent in the world, and secondly it has failed to generated a powerful countervailing scepticism, and thirdly it has caused profound social divisions to open up in society. Smokers have no powerful allies in the world of science or politics or the media in the way that climate sceptics do. Everybody (and this includes Booker and North) believes all the claims made about firsthand smoke, even if they don’t believe those about secondhand smoke. And the relationships between smokers and non-smokers and antismokers have become profoundly poisoned: it is no longer possible for smokers and antismokers to co-exist in the same places. The smoking scare has fomented an incipient civil war within society eerily reminiscent of that last seen in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, from which many people were forced to flee for their lives.

Yes, the smoking scare may not offer anything anywhere near as apocalyptic in scale as the global warming scare, but its affects upon society are far, far more profound, and far, far more destructive, and made all the worse for being almost entirely invisible.

And finally, the global warming scare is not a scare. It’s something that is already part of human experience. We’ve been through it before. And we have been through it many times. For some 12,000 years ago, the earth warmed up, and the glaciers retreated, and the sea levels rose 120 metres (see right). And when the seas rose, no doubt many people were drowned. And perhaps entire cities drowned too. And as the climate warmed, no doubt there were tremendous storms as well. The Apocalypse is not a prophecy: it’s a memory. It’s not the future: it’s the past.

And that’s why its memory is preserved in Judaism, Christianity, and the Norse and Teutonic sagas. And it may be that one reason why it is preserved in the Norse and Teutonic sagas is because the ice sheets once covered precisely those places. The global warming narrative ‘fits neatly’ into a story everyone knows precisely because it already is our story. It’s our history.

And Booker and North were well aware of this past episode of global warming:

But these [ice ages] have been punctuated by warmer, interglacial periods, lasting up to 20,000 years before the ice returns. It is in one of these ‘interglacial warmings’, that which began around 18,000 years ago, that we are living today.

Well, if the interglacial periods last ‘up to’ 20,000 years, and we’ve already had ‘around’ 18,000 years of our current one, doesn’t that rather suggest that we have only about 2,000 years before the ice returns, and sea levels fall, and crops fail, and billions of people die? What other conclusion can be drawn from the few lines quoted above? And why didn’t Booker and North draw that obvious conclusion? For fear of starting yet another scare?

Why is everyone gazing into the future, but seeing only the past?

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31 Responses to Days Of Future Past

  1. Vlad says:

    Another health scare, started just about the same time as the smoking scare, is that fats and particularly animal products that contain fats (meat, eggs, dairy) will either make you fat (the same superficial logic – eating fat will put fat on you, drawing smoke into your lungs gives you lung cancer) or clog arteries and give you a heart attack. The consequences of people falling for this scare are more and more obvious…high rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and all sorts of other health problems.

  2. Rose says:

    Lessons Learned From Tobacco Control Should be Applied to Climate Policy

    “The approach the world has taken to tobacco control holds many lessons for the COP-15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. A newly-published article in The Lancet summarizes the many similarities between tobacco control and climate policy, and how the lessons learned from tobacco control can be applied to the way countries approach climate policy.

    Deja Vu All Over Again

    For both issues, the scientific evidence mounted gradually over the years. Both tobacco and climate change negatively impact public health and disproportionately affect poorer countries and lower socioeconomic groups. Both have long lead times between cause and effect, and the solutions for both require significant political will, comprehensive international policies, and long-term monitoring.

    Climate change is similar to the issue of secondhand smoke in the sense that the damage both cause constitute “externalities.” That’s the word economists use to describe the side effects of a commercial enterprise that negatively impact other parties, where the cost is not reflected in the price of the product. Markets have no mechanism for dealing with externalities, leaving it up to governments to step in to limit the damage. Industries typically pocket the cash their products and activities generate, while leaving the cost of cleaning up their externalities to a larger group, many of whom don’t benefit from the product in any way.

    On the public relations side, both issues have entrenched, highly resourceful vested interests working to maintain the status quo. Industries associated with both groups have worked to manufacture doubt about scientific consensus, hired consultants to confuse the public and delay effective policies, and both groups have used the “junk science” label to tarnish the mounting evidence of harm deriving from their activities.

    The 50-year lag time between the first scientific evidence pointing to the hazards of smoking and the first globally-coordinated tobacco control policy to emerge in 2005 (the World Health Organization’s Global Tobacco Control Treaty contributed to the deaths of at least 100 million people globally. The delay in implementing real solutions to the tobacco epidemic is in itself a sad, and major, lesson in the high cost of delay.

    Delay Can Be Deadly

    Many mistakes were made in dealing with tobacco. As a society, we were naive about the power of entrenched interests to manufacture doubt and generate controversy about overwhelming scientific conclusions of harm. For decades, legislators and regulators put the interests of harmful, private industry over those of public health and welfare. We as a society also had no clue about the tobacco industry’s vast and varied public relations strategies to preserve the status quo, and “countermeasures development programs” to defeat public health authorities’ efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths. Now we know about all this, and with the benefit of hindsight, mankind should not be fooled twice.

    The power of entrenched industries in fighting necessary common sense regulation cannot be underestimated. Governments worldwide need to meet the challenges posed by harmful industries with a united and determined front. It is our sincere hope that the governments represented at COP-15 will learn from past experience and seize their chance to advance comprehensive policies limiting damage from climate change.”

    It’s all Big Industry’s fault you see.

    • Frank Davis says:

      As a society, we were naive about the power of entrenched interests to manufacture doubt and generate controversy about overwhelming scientific conclusions of harm.

      Who are they to claim to represent ‘society’?
      What’s wrong with doubt? Shouldn’t everything be doubted?
      What’s wrong with controversy?
      When are scientific conclusions ever ‘overwhelming’? Particularly those using statistics.

      • RdM says:

        The power of entrenched industries in fighting necessary common sense regulation cannot be underestimated.

        It works both ways …
        What nonsense!
        And what danger…

  3. buckothemoose says:

    I’ll have to disagree I think. Anti-Smoking is a scare that’s very personal to us smokers who bear the brunt of it and find ourselves fighting the tide on a daily basis, but I’ve yet to hear anyone proposing smokers be jailed or that we suspend democracy while we fight Big Tobacco
    Both of these hideous ideas have come from the Climate Change camp, but fortunately there aren’t enough followers of this particular religion for it to take hold
    If the climate alarmists were to get their way it would affect the entire population of the world in a very bed way, not just a few smokers in the west
    To me it is a bigger scare than Anti Smoking and I’m just very glad it seems to be withering away a little
    I read the book about ten years ago and I don’t remember the authors saying the believed smoking kills. I know active smoking was not one of the scares, but that was probably just because at the time the book was written, people hadn’t really thought to question that one
    I think we started to question active smoking after passive smoking took hold. Passive smoking was more blatantly bollocks, and that made us question other things too
    Having read what they say about all the other scares from selmonella to leaded petrol, I like to think they would at least have an open mind on the active smoking issue, even though it was omitted from the book

    • Frank Davis says:

      I agree that it’s potentially a far bigger scare than the antismoking scare. But it doesn’t seem to have actually materialised. There’s a lot of resistance to it. And as far as I can see, the resistance has been growing. And the global warming alarmists are on the defensive.

      The whole global warming scare seemed to really hit its stride around 2005, maybe even slightly earlier. But it hit a rock with the 2009 Climategate scandal. And I think that was when public belief in it cracked. They’re still soldiering on, but they never seem to get anywhere.

      That might change, however. They might get a second wind from somewhere.

      In some ways the book is showing its age. It was written in 2007, and there’s no mention of Climategate. It was written at a time when it was still the biggest scare around. I’m not sure if so many people are as sold on it now than there were then.

      • Tony says:

        I didn’t see your comment Frank until after I posted mine below.

        I agree that there’s been large scale opposition, unlike with the smoking fraud. But the warming scam funding hasn’t been significantly hit yet and it amounts to trillions of dollars a year.

        The whole scam was exposed in 2007 by the “Great Global Warming Swindle” documentary. Again in 2009by Climate gate, together with 28gate but still they press on at full tilt. I spoke to a highly educated, intelligent young woman recently. The look of utter horror on her face, when I suggested that we weren’t on the brink of disaster, was something to behold. She had seen the face of evil incarnate.

      • buckothemoose says:

        Yes, it may have dwindled in the public eye, but its still going strong politically. For example, we all pay green taxes as part of our energy bills, which puts up the cost. The government then says the energy companies are greedy and uses that as an excuse to further interfere in the market with price caps and such
        All companies have to worry about their carbon footprint, carbon (the gas, not the solid) is treated as a pollutant and has to be avoided at all costs, yet its essential for all life on earth
        Developing countries are ‘encouraged’ to use less efficient renewable energy rather than fossil fuels
        The global warming swindle still has its tentacles in the lives of everyone and I think for the moment, has a bigger impact than public health, although the way its going, who knows how much damage PH will cause in the future

      • Rose says:

        In 2007 the plant chemistry was very little known and was difficult to find unless you already knew where to look.

        The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables

        To the Editor:

        The presence of nicotine and its metabolite cotinine in the body fluids of nonsmokers is usually taken as evidence of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 800 people, both smokers and nonsmokers, all of whom tested positive for urinary cotinine1.

        There is considerable evidence that nicotine is present in certain human foods, especially plants from the family Solanaceae (such as potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant). Castro and Monji,2 Sheen,3 and Davis et al.4 have reported on the nicotine content of foods and drinks. We have been able to confirm some of their findings in our laboratory.”

        “It appears that the dietary intake of nicotine in nonsmokers may be of practical importance in the interpretation of the role of passive smoke inhalation when one is determining nicotine and cotinine levels in body fluids.”

        “Many plants of the Solanaceae family, which includes the genus Nicotiana, of which the tobacco plant is a member, contain solanesol; particularly those that contain trace amounts of nicotine.
        These include the tomato, eggplant, potato, and pepper.

        The potential interference due to these sources is negligible, cooking being the only likely potential source of interference.
        An interference of this type would bias results high, overestimating the contribution of ETS to RSP.”
        https: //

        “Despite an 18-month study in the late 1950s, the search for a “supercarcinogen” in MSS and CSC to explain the observed biological effects was unsuccessful. In addition, the exceptional study on MSS PAHs by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) personnel in the 1970s indicated no “supercarcinogen” was present. Only recently has the concept of complex mixtures in relation to the understanding of the complexity of carcinogenesis taken hold. Perhaps the reason why MSS is less tumorigenic than expected in humans is because of the presence of other MSS components that inhibit or prevent tumorigenesis. For example, it is well known that MSS contains numerous anticarcinogens present in quantifies significantly greater than those of the PAHs of concern. When one reviews the history of these four PAHs in MSS or CSC it is clear that many unanswered questions remain.”
        https: //

        And some information became available long after the book was published.

        “Solanesol, which mainly accumulates in solanaceous crops, including tobacco, tomato, potato, eggplant, and pepper plants, is a long-chain polyisoprenoid alcohol compound with nine isoprene units. Chemical synthesis of solanesol is difficult; therefore, solanesol is primarily extracted from solanaceous crops, particularly tobacco leaves. In plants, solanesol exists in both free and esterified forms, and its accumulation is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Solanesol is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry as an intermediate for the synthesis of ubiquinone drugs, such as coenzyme Q10 and vitamin K2. Solanesol possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-ulcer activities, and solanesol derivatives also have anti-oxidant and antitumour activities, in addition to other bioactivities.”
        https: //

        Investigating primary smoking takes years.

  4. Tony says:

    The global warming scam may well become even more destructive than the anti-smoking one but I agree that in many ways the anti-smoking scam is bigger. Not least because it has provided the template for all fanatics, including environmentalists and healthists, to follow.

    Fortunately they appear to be failing to get their equivalent of the MSA using legal machinations in California. The worry is that many commentators believed that the MSA was too ludicrous to succeed until it did.

    And oil companies have been paying Dane-Geld to them for years whilst prostrating themselves to the climate scam gods.

    Here’s an example today.
    ‘“Currently Shell and companies like it are acting like big tobacco in decades past by failing to take responsibility for the harm that they cause,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland. “Shell must now move on from its history of Earth-damaging fossil fuel extraction and play a major part in the transition to a sustainable future, to keep temperature rises to near 1.5C.”
    A spokesperson for Shell said the company strongly supported the Paris agreement, “but we believe climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts.” ‘

    I think John Brignell’s brilliant essay from just over ten years ago is worth another airing too.
    The “March of the zealots”

    • Rose says:

      Which came first, the chicken or the egg?


      Long-term effect:
      “The tobacco industry is becoming increasingly disturbed by industries which are using smoking as a cover-up for their problems in complying with the Clean Air Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
      Tobacco executives have noted efforts by the oil industry, the automobile industry and others to hide their pollution behind a tobacco smoke screen.”

      Adding to their suspicion is foot dragging of the National Cancer Advisory Board in acting on environmental and occupational cancer, which some scientists and environmental activists regard as ignored and “unindicted co-conspirators” in the case against cancer.
      The NCAB is much more vigorous in its almost single-minded persecution of smoking.”

      “The membership of the NCAB and the President’s Cancer Panel lends credibility to the tobacco industry’s fears. At the least there is ground for an appearance of possible conflict of interest.

      For example:
      Benno Schmidt; Chairman of the President’s Cancer Panel, is on the Board of Directors of four oil companies.

      Jonathan Rhoads is a past president of the American Cancer Society, which GM tycoons Alfred P. Sloan and Charles Kettering set up and nurtured.

      In the early 1950’s the ACS was looking at both cigarette smoking and air pollution as possible causes of lung cancer, but soon dropped air pollution as a target.

      Here is an example of how he has tried to whip other scientists into line on tar and nicotine control: “…every practical means /should/ be used to discourage smoking,” he said, “regardless of the effects this may have on the tobacco industry or the economy…”

      E. Cuyler Hammond, Vice President of the American Cancer Society, blazed the trail in the 50’s with his study zeroing in on smoking as the cause of lung cancer. He hasn’t stopped since. Regarding another possible cause, he said:. “There is no relationship whatsoever between lung cancer and air pollution.”
      He has said that the danger from asbestos is limited to only those workers who also smoke”

      • Tony says:

        On asbestos. The Asbestos scare is discussed at length in “Scared to Death”. A key factoid is that Asbestos is just a name for several different fireproof materials and if I remember right, they point out that the crystalline ‘Blue’ or ‘Brown’ asbestos (which is potentially harmful) is totally different to white asbestos which they consider harmless.

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        Diesel and Gasoline Engine Exhausts and Some Nitroarenes

        An IARC Monographs Working Group reviewed epidemiological evidence, animal bioassays, and mechanistic and other relevant data to reach conclusions as to the carcinogenic hazard to humans of environmental or occupational exposure to diesel and gasoline engine exhausts (including those associated with the mining, railroad, construction, and transportation industries) and to 10 selected nitroarenes.
        IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, No. 105

        Air pollution leading cause of cancer, World Health Organisation warns; Breathing ruled more dangerous than passive smoking
        “The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances. We consider this to be the most important environmental carcinogen, more so than passive smoking,” said Kurt Straif, head of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.”

  5. beobrigitte says:

    But it has to be admitted that the smoking scare is not accompanied by visions of flood and storm and desert and mass death. The smoking scare simply doesn’t have the same grand, cosmic scale as the global warming scare. The very worst that ever happens in the smoking scare is that smokers die slightly younger than non-smokers.
    The smoking scare is accompanied by visions of “countless smoking-related illnesses”, which lead countless deaths [at old age]; Worse even, long drawn out suffering is promised to the disbeliever or public scare resilient. To “prove” it, the scare mongers forced the tobacco industry to print pictures of sick people/open wounds etc. on cigarette packets/tobacco pouches. The climate scare mongers have only THEIR extrapolation based on THEIR “conclusions”.
    “It says on the pack that ‘smoking causes strokes and disability’, but I’m not in that photo due to the consequences of smoking.”

    In fact, the Galician man is not the only person to have reported unauthorised use of a photograph arising from the same health warning image.

    In June Serge Nizet from Belgium was shocked to see what he believed to be the face of his father who died six years ago.

    “I got a call from my mother saying ‘listen, Serge, I’ve seen a photo of your father on a packet of cigarettes’.”

    Mr Nizet told Belgium’s RTL TV channel that he had gone straight out to buy cigarettes, hoping that his mother had got it wrong.

    “I was stunned. There was a photograph of my father. “I don’t want my son to see his grandfather in that state. It’s a photo of someone who gets thrown away.”

    Those peddling the smoking scare are confident enough that they have governments in their pocket and brazenly (?forced the) claim:
    But the Galician public health service, Sergas, said the photograph could not have been taken in their hospital because “the breathing tube is a different type to those we use”.
    (They are telling this to the man who clearly RECOGNIZED himself – and stated what kind of operation he had!!!)

    The European Commission has said that all of the images of people shown on packets to be suffering health problems from smoking have been properly authorised by those concerned.

    In any case, ALL scaremongers work the best functioning tools on this planet: the fear of discomfort and death; Scaring people into being scared of fear – and dividing communities to the point of hatred.

    What if we all no longer had fear(s) and lived by common sense? The fear mongering would stop. Ageing gracelessly is fun – and we all enjoy fun!

  6. Joe L. says:

    Everybody (and this includes Booker and North) believes all the claims made about firsthand smoke, even if they don’t believe those about secondhand smoke.

    I was a bit disappointed that Booker and North, while in the process of thoroughly debunking numerous major scares, appeared to simply write off primary smoking as “settled science.” It seems strange that they wouldn’t question it, even in passing. I just cannot understand why even the most skeptical of skeptics will not touch the topic of primary smoking.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very happy that they included the passive smoking scare in the book, because questioning even that seems to be off-limits these days. Having it included among all the other scares might help to wake some people up, and that’s a good thing.

    I’m considering writing to Booker and North to see if, a decade later, they might be interested in examining the “science” behind the primary smoking scare. I think they would do an excellent job. If they decline, I would at least like to know their reasons why. If nothing else, it might help me understand why the subject is so damn taboo.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I had some slight contact with Richard North a few years ago when he was writing the Eureferendum blog, and I was an occasional commenter. He said he’d once been a smoker, but had given up smoking because of heart problems (I think he may have had one or two heart ops). I came away with the impression that he wasn;t particularly pro-smoking

      • Joe L. says:

        That would explain a lot. If North quit smoking because he believed smoking was contributing to his health issues, then clearly he would have a personal bias.

        For the same reason many ex-smokers become militant antismokers, there is a deep-seated need to justify their quitting. If North were to pull back the curtain on the first-hand smoking “science,” then he would have to come to terms with the fact that he quit smoking for no good reason. And as human nature goes, nobody likes to admit they were wrong, especially someone who has spent the better part of his career demonstrating that other people were wrong.

    • Having […] included [the passive smoking scare] among all the other scares might help to wake some people up, and that’s a good thing.

      Yet one still has to balance that with the fact that the authors’ deafening silence (throughout the book, apparently) about the first-hand smoking claims has undoubtedly bolstered that prejudice in the very same readers that had their belief in the danger of SHS shaken. And so those readers still rate the Doll/Hill, Wynder/Graham, or Cuyler Hammond corrupt claptrap as one of the most treasured and vital Conquests of Science in all of History, and therefore are bound to interpret – and condone – the SHS scam as some white lie that the crusaders legitimately resorted to in order to drive the Original Antismoking Message [aka outrageous lie] further home. They may have woken up, but only ‘to some extent’ (i.e. are still half-asleep).
      In summary, this ‘good thing’ at best is a draw, at worst a pyrrhic victory for us pro-smokers.

      • Tony says:

        Unfortunately I think you’re probably right. The passive smoking scam can be debunked until we’re blue in the face and people will just shrug and say “so they had to sacrifice a little integrity to rid the world of this deadly epidemic. How noble of them.”

        I agree that the whole scam has to be addressed.

        • Joe L. says:

          I also agree. While causing some people to rethink the secondhand smoke myth is good, it is not enough, because the primary smoking “science” which is is built upon remains “settled.”

          Slowly chopping away at the secondhand smoke scare would take a long time to have a noticeable effect, whereas publicly defeating the first-hand smoking claims would bring the entire house of cards crashing down rapidly.

          However, in the meantime, any progress is still better than no progress. And to date, Booker and North are some of the only people to address the secondhand smoke lies in a fairly mainstream format. For that, I am appreciative.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      “I just cannot understand why even the most skeptical of skeptics will not touch the topic of primary smoking.”

      You and me both, Joe. It’s never ceased to amaze me how even the most rebellious-minded people, both blog writers and those I meet personally, simply can’t contemplate the fact that maybe, just maybe, that first and biggest lie of them all – that Smoking Kills – could possibly be wrong. They’ll question all and everything else, say the unsayable, throw Political Correctness to the winds and cast doubt on anything said by anyone in authority, citing (quite accurately, as it happens) mistrust at those very “experts” for having been shown to be charlatans and liars in respect of pretty much everything they’ve ever said or done – and yet they will steadfastly still cling on to everything that’s ever been said about primary smoking, as if the idea of those very same supposedly-mistrusted Experts lying, or exaggerating, or fabricating “evidence” for any reason at all – personal bias, to push a political policy, or just to keep the funding stream flowing – is, in the instance of smoking and smoking alone, utterly impossible!

      I can only put it down to the fact that many of them are themselves ex-smokers and, as several people on here have commented, if they applied the same cynicism towards smoking “science” as they apply to everything else, they’d come face to face with the uncomfortable idea that they’ve been as thoroughly duped into giving up smoking for no good reason as all those “drones,” that they criticise now, are being duped into doing/not doing other things. And when you think of yourself as a non-conforming, rebellious, independent-thinker, that’s quite an uncomfortable thought. Best to simply sweep it under the carpet and just ignore the issue ….

      Yet another reason for taking with a pinch of salt pretty much any opinions stated by any ex-smoker, even if they seem to agree with yours. Because if they’ve been fooled by the highly personal anti-smoking hype, then they can ultimately be fooled by anything. No matter how “rebellious” or “non-conformist” they might like to think they are.

  7. Clicky says:

  8. Smoking Lamp says:

    A Delaware radio station’s blog asks “Could you imagine ever repealing an indoor smoking ban? One country is doing so.”

    I can imagine it and in fact work every day to further that goal. Rather than just imagine rolling back smoking bans we should demand it! Tobacco control must be destroyed!

    • Joe L. says:

      From the end of the article you linked:

      No great shock: It’s Austria’s major right-wing party that promised to repeal the smoking ban.

      Isn’t it instructive? The Right tends to be tobacco-friendly while the Left is marijuana-friendly. Of course, some of us would strongly discourage both.

      And the same “some of [you]” should fuck right off. First of all, the species of plant people smoke shouldn’t be politicized to begin with. And secondly, anyone who feels the need to discourage others from smoking needs to find a productive fucking hobby.

      • RdM says:

        “anyone who feels the need to discourage others from smoking needs to find a productive fucking hobby”

        Yes! I’ve just been re-reading

        Although rather long (I don’t mind that, some might) it’s worth a look at again IMHO.
        Some great take-out lines in the last few paragraphs…

        Ruth Malone, channeling Stanton Glantz (as she often does) mused on Twitter about whether e-cigarettes should be part of the endgame strategy too. The predictable responses ensued, but I interjected with the observation that the real problem here is goes deeper than that question. The real problem is that people like her think they have some kind of popular mandate or ethical basis for trying to engineer their “endgame”. They do not. They are trying to force people who want to take a particular action, in spite of its costs which they are fully aware of, to stop doing it even though it imposes basically no substantive costs on anyone else (and, indeed, provides net benefits for the rest of society). There is no defensible or accepted ethical system that offers justification for this. None.

        Sometimes I observe that the nanny state supporters must believe in a feudalistic or fascist ethic, in which all of someone’s possible labor belongs to his lord or his state, and thus any behavior by the individual that reduces his available labor is morally wrong. But even that does not really work in this case. Not only do low-risk tobacco products not cost any productivity, but even smoking provides net benefits by feudalistic standards, generally allowing people to finish their working life, and then taking away some of the retirement years when they are just a drain on resources. Plus, all of these products enhance productivity for most people. Thus even fascists and neo-feudalists are hard put to ethically justify an “endgame”.

        [my emphases]
        There’s much more, and that was approx 3 1/2 years ago, much more since.

        I know there’s been a Danish study, but I must get on to asking economists for country productivity timelines (last 20 years, 30 or 40, what?) vs implementation of smoking bans, excise taxes & etc. in same years.
        Thinking that they might find the data a lot faster than I would be able to.

        • RdM says:

          I don’t agree with his bias, though, that smoking might be “taking away some of the retirement years” – after all, it might have been asphalt coal tar diesel genetics or radiation or anything if someone was dying too young… or that pensioners “when they are just a drain on resources.” are necessarily a drain on “resources”!
          (although he was speaking to their cog in the wheels of the state viewpoint there.)

          Some have private equity.
          Many contribute to their community.
          Most if not all are loved and valued by someone, family friends acquaintances.

          Thoughts with Nisakiman.

  9. Smoking Lamp says:

    I think smoking became the scapegoat for air pollution (industrial and vehicle emissions) and nuclear fallout. The defense-industrial economy had to be protected, at least in the eyes of the elites that profited from it, so tobacco became expendable.

    I just read the article at The National Interest on nuclear fallout and cancer: “How a Nuclear Attack on North Korea Would Spark a Global Cancer Epidemic”. The author is concerned that a ‘cancer epidemic’ would resolute. Of course he ignores the elephant in the room calling the current 33% increase in cancer over the past decade is due to an aging population and cigarette smoking–despite a significant drop in smoking rates! His historical figures don’t add up.

    Of course he acknowledges the effect of past nuclear tests in ten Pacific and reactor accidents on cancer but glosses over their true effect by mentioning cigarettes. I wonder how much of the current demand for smoking abs in Japan is meant to obscure the effects of the Fukushima accident? I also wonder how much of Richard Doll’s work on smoking was influenced by his works for the chemical, auto manufacturing, and asbestos industries? After all he worked for Monsanto which was involved in the Manhattan Project and radiological research in addition to its chemical portfolio (he claimed there was no link between radiation exposure from nuclear tests and leukemia and multiple meloma). He also testified that and Turner and Newall the British asbestos corporation that gifted him £50,000 after he filed a sworn statement in discounting the cancer risk from asbestos exposure in a US law suit. (See Conflict of Interest: Sir Richard Doll (1912–2005) in,–2005/

    • Joe L. says:

      In Scared to Death (pages 290-291), Booker and North actually make a point to state that Richard Doll’s work was called into question when Doll’s 1955 paper linking chrysotile (“white” asbestos) with lung cancer was refuted by a 1970s paper by Julian Peto (ironically the brother of Richard Peto, who worked with Doll and Hill on the British Doctors’ Study), which suggested that lung cancer could no longer “be attributed with any certainty” to chrysotile.

      In a footnote, Booker and North also note that it was very odd that in Doll’s 1955 paper linking chrysotile to lung cancer, he completely failed to take into account the role smoking played in the incidence of the lung cancers he was reporting.

      Indeed it was very strange for a man who had been recognized for his recent “groundbreaking discovery” of the link between smoking and lung cancer to not even consider smoking as a confounding variables in his study on asbestos.

      Therefore, Richard Doll was either an extremely inept researcher, or he was a corrupt and morally bankrupt human being. Personally, I think his later work as a
      paid consultant for Monsanto
      tells us everything we need to know about him.

    • margo says:

      Thank you, Smoking Lamp. I’ve been saying this since the 1960s.

  10. Philip Neal says:

    Booker and North’s chapter on the Belgian dioxin scare is worth reading as a study of the role of the EU in promoting the panic so as to grab new powers, and also for the shameless way in which Guy Verhofstadt used it to win an election.

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