Some time ago I was sent an article on a website with a view to eliciting my comments.

Naturally, I forgot about it, but have now remembered again [because I am now using long term memory instead of short term?]

The page is typical of thousands all saying much the same thing.  I think it maybe a worthwhile exercise to analyse it piece by piece?

Secondhand smoke is a burning health issue, thanks to two major studies. Find out how to protect yourself and your family from the effects of secondhand smoke…

OK.  Fair enough.  Can you quote the two studies please?

Everyone knows the dangers of smoking – 1 in 10 deaths worldwide is from a smoking-related disease, according to the World Health Organization.

There is a nice sleight of hand here.  They talk about smoking “related” diseases, which can be anything from cancer to glue-ear or Sudden Infant Death [which incidentally have damn all to do with smoking] so if one in ten dies of a disease that they have arbitrarily listed, then that is not surprising.  In fact they have listed so many smoking “related” diseases that I’m surprised that the figure isn’t massively higher.

But exposure to tobacco fumes kills 600,000 nonsmokers a year worldwide, including 165,000 children, according to a December 2010 WHO study. That’s about 1 out of every 100 deaths worldwide, through smoke-related illnesses such as heart disease, lower respiratory infections, asthma and lung cancer.

I’m sorry but despite my best efforts, I can find no record of this December 2010 WHO study.  The figures of 600,000 and 165,000 are pure nonsense anyway.  They are at best a “guestimate” based on hypothetical figures derived from epidemiological studies, which in turn have been totally discredited.  They are designed as a scare tactic for the gullible.

And the fumes are harder to avoid than you think: They can seep through apartment ventilation systems and cling to baby car seats, where they’re easily ingested.

Fantasy land again.  Ventilation systems are designed to extract air from apartments, not pump air from one apartment to another.  They’ll be saying next that smoke can travel through telephone wires and through brick walls next.  Oh wait.. they already have.  As for the baby seats – this is appealing to the “what about the chiiiildren brigade”.  How many babies do you know who eat baby car seats?

The U.S. Surgeon General’s office issued its own report on the dangers of smoking in December 2010, reinforcing the dangers of “passive,” or secondhand, exposure.

“Chemicals in tobacco smoke reach lungs quickly every time you inhale, causing damage immediately,” said U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, M.D.

At this stage we are supposed to be awed by the very name of the U.S. Surgeon General.  After all, what higher authority can you get?  However, since her “there is no safe level of tobacco smoke” pronouncement, she has proved herself to be unscientific, biased and discredited.  Her “immediate damage” comment above isn’t even worthy of consideration.

“Inhaling even the smallest amount can also damage DNA, which can lead to cancer.”

Yes.  It in theory can damage DNA which technically can lead to cancer.  However on the face of it, this implies smoke will damage DNA which in turn will cause cancer, the use of the word “can” shows the more accurate truth.  Smoke can in theory damage DNA which can in theory cause cancer.  Equally anything we eat or drink can in theory damage DNA which can in theory cause cancer.

“About 3,400 lung cancer deaths a year are attributable to secondhand smoke, the report estimates.”

A very precise number?  Not 3,300 or 3,500?  Strange as it is not even an estimate.  Once again it is a figure that is chosen arbitrarily from thin air.  At least they have the grace to use the word “estimates”.  I concede that 3,400 people die of lung cancer each year who had been “exposed” to smoke, but there is no proven links anywhere to say that the smoke actually caused the cancer.  What about the millions who are exposed to smoke who don’t die?

Tobacco smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 70 known to cause cancer, according to the Surgeon General’s report.

Here we are in very familiar territory.  The “7,000” varies widely; some say 50, others say 10,000.  No matter.

Yes, cigarette smoke does contain chemicals, though no one is quite sure how many, and some of those chemicals are indeed carcinogenic.  However what they fail to mention is that the levels of chemicals are so low as to be beyond negligible.  You will in fact find much the same chemicals in ordinary tap water, in candles or in any open fire.  A barbeque will produce precisely the same chemicals but in quantities equivalent to hundreds or even thousands of cigarettes. 

Passive exposure also causes heart attacks, says cardiologist Matthew Sorrentino, M.D., FAAC, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

“The toxins in cigarette smoke enter the body and damage the coronary arteries that bring blood to the heart,” he says. “Cholesterol builds up on the arteries, and they become blocked, which can lead to a heart attack.”
The more you’re exposed, the higher your health risks.

The second paragraph here also has elements of truth.  Apparently there are toxins which in theory can damage arteries, but again the effect is less than negligible.  It is theoretical only.  The rest follows as exaggeration piled on exaggeration.  I would ask one simple question – in the days when smoking was the norm and 60% to 70% of the population smoked, how come the streets weren’t filled with the bodies heart attack victims?

“Someone who works in a bar or restaurant eight hours a day and is surrounded by smokers will have a higher exposure rate than most other people. The longtime spouse of a smoker will have a higher dose effect as well.”

Yes?  So?  That says nothing but implies a lot.

Each year, 46,000 American nonsmokers who live with smokers die from heart disease, according to the Surgeon General’s report.

Two points – I have already disqualified the Surgeon General as being biased and unscientific and who is to say that those heart attacks were cause by smoke anyway?  How many non-smokers [who live with smokers] live to a ripe old age?  How many would have died anyway.  What age were they when they died?  Yet another nonsensical piece of writing.

Demand Builds for Smoke-Free Environments
As concerns about secondhand smoke increase, so have calls for smoke-free homes, workplaces and public venues.

“The U.S. Surgeon General concluded that there’s no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” says Joel London, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health in Atlanta.

The only reason for the calls for smoke free environments is the exaggeration and downright lies by the Anti-smoker brigade.

And there you have the Surgeon General’s famous statement.  “There is no safe level!”  This is not a mistake.  This is not an exaggeration.  It is an outright and blatant lie to further the Anti-smoker cause made by a person in authority who should by rights be disbarred.

Any scientist worth a dam will tell you that the dose makes the poison.  Not only can most things be ingested safely at the right dose, but most things can kill if the dose is exceeded.  By making that statement, the Surgeon General is placing herself outside the realms of science and fact, and into the realms of lies and propaganda.  Incidentally I would apply the same to the World Health Organisation who have also made that “no safe level” statement.

The article carries on, piling scare upon scare and non-fact upon non-fact.

I could go on, but it just becomes tedious and boring.

All you need to know is that Secondhand Smoke carries no danger.  It never has and never will.  It is the invention of the Anti-Smoker crowd who will stoop to any level to further their cause. 

If you don’t believe me, just look back fifty years to when the majority smoked.  There was no “Secondhand Smoke” then.  No one dropped dead from heart attacks.  Cancer rates were considerably lower.  Asthma rates were also much lower. 

In fact, we were all a good deal healthier.

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Analysing Second Hand Smoke — 35 Comments

  1. If you tell a lie long enough … 
    I can’t agree with you more.  I grew up with a father who was a doctor.  An internist.  He never smoked anything.  I do remember him telling me that smoking doesn’t cause cancer and other diseases but it does aggravate them.  I believe that smoking is no good for ya’ but I don’t believe all the lies and false science that the anti-smoking crowd belches everyday.  If I am genetically prone to heart attacks or cancer I believe that my smoking may aggravate the problem but my smoking is far from the cause.
    My house is a smoking house.  If you’re caught not smoking you’ll be asked to step outside.

  2. Brianf – The problem with the anti-smoking/smoker business is that it has become akin to a religion.  People no longer look for proof or question the validity of statements – they are simply taken on faith alone.  Incidentally, I thought you gave up recently?  😉


  3. Yea, I’ve been quitting on and off for awhile now.  Right now I have 2 packs of smokes and when their gone I’m quiutting again.  This time I hope to make it more than a few days.

  4. Blah blah blah….   One look at the subject and that was it – instant turnoff.  You used to have a blog with short sharp and sometimes funny observations.  Now its obsessional, longwinded and boring.  Time to find another space with something worth logging on to.

  5. I believe second hand smoke does carry a danger if you are exposed to it for years? in a confined environment such as an office or a bus. Or your house. Tell me, do you smoke when your Grandkids are in the room? Or in your car? You shouldn’t.

  6. Having been brought up in a house of lifelong smokers (who are both now dead due to natural causes not first hand or secondhand smoking… who’d have thought old age was such a killer!) neither my brother nor I aged 47 and 51 have been ‘turned into smokers’ and neither has any ‘smoking related’ or indeed any other disease despite both remaining in the ‘smoky home’, which was heated by an open coal fire, for 25 years a piece.
    As grandad says it’s all bollocks built on bollocks.

  7. Brianf – A desciple of Mark Twain?  😉

    Sirvivor – …. which presumably proves that one can’t please all of the people all of the time?

    tt – I still maintain that the whole concept of “secondhand” smoke is a fabrication.  I grant it may be an inconvenience for some and an irritant for others but that is it.  As for whether I smoke in front of the grandkids – I abide by my daughter’s wishes.

    William – Nowadays people seem to forget that for generations, children were brought up in homes where one or both parents smoked.  Not only at home, but on public transport, cinemas and offices also.  It never did us any harm?

    tt – Two who?

  8. The only inassailable stastistic about smoke is that it is impossible to shovel it up a cat’s arse with a fork.
    The success attained with the smoking ban only serves to make THEM bolder
    with other such bans – stand by fatties – you’re/we’re next.

  9. tt- My daughter is extremely smart.  Not only does she take after her Dad, but I taught her well.

    Patrick  – And of course we all know that smoking is the greatest cause of statistics.  Incidentally you forgot to mention tipplers?

  10. Sorry, but absolute Bollox, GD.
    There are far too many documented cases of people suffering and dying from lung cancer (who never smoked) in the Bar and Entertainement Business.
    I’m sure The LVA can provide stats for the reduced rates of lung cancer deaths of its members since the smoking ban.
    I don’t have a problem with smokers as they are paying for their eventual medical treatment in taxes.
    I can’t countanance tobacco industry generated bullshit designed to cause such confusion in an attempt to protect their industry.

    My poor dead Ma used to say, If it was natural to smoke, then we’d have chimneys in our heads.
    Cancer killed her….

  11. Slab – Of course there have been cancer deaths amongst entertainers and bar staff, just as there have been cancer deaths in every other walk of life.  Cancer is indiscriminate in its selection.  I trust you are not referring to Roy Castle, who had his own theory that it was the smokey venues that caused his?  That was his own personal idea and has absolutely zero significance with regard to proof.

  12. On the contrary GD, Roy played the Trumpet like me and I know the physical dynamics related to such an activity. Blowing a trumpet pressurises the gasses in the lungs and if smoke is present it forces into the surrounding tissue, thus increasing the risk. He did’nt smoke and the damage caused to him was the same as if he smoked heavily all his life.
    This was medically proven at the time of his untimely death.

  13. “The only reason for the calls for smoke free environments is the exaggeration and downright lies by the Anti-smoker brigade.”
    Objection! That’s just one side of the problem, there is another, far more banal. I am a smoker myself and am all for smoke free environments. Why? because tobacco smoke stinks. That’s a fact. It stinks as hell and I am very happy with all the smoking bans that have been imposed. Simple as that. 
    “All you need to know is that Secondhand Smoke carries no danger.”
    Sorry GD, but it’s bullshit. I have a very nice piece of anecdotal evidence against this statement. I have a friend in my hometown in Poland who is a passionate mountain biker, passionate verging on insane. He used to cycle all the time, won a lot of prizes for that and so on. Then he decided to open a bar, which he did, with great success. The only thing is, this being east of Poland, people smoke like crazy there and soon enough you could hang an axe in the air inside the pub. Now, our guy kept telling me that it’s killing him, he was coughing all days and his fitness and stamina levels went down the drain. You can even measure it by the number of prizes he won since then.
    Then they introduced smoking ban in Poland and he is all happy again. Nice simple story!

  14. You side stepped the issue there about your daughter. The point is- is she extremely smart enough not to let you smoke around her kids and I bet she is.

    “Slab – Of course there have been cancer deaths amongst entertainers and bar staff, just as there have been cancer deaths in every other walk of life.” Jesus H Christ GD we fuckin know that. It’s about ratios, percentages, the odds. Surely you can get that.

  15. Jedrzej – I am surprised that you are in favour of a law purely on the basis of a smell?  That law has denormalised a significant sector of the population and has caused massive damage to the hospitality trade.  I would be strongly opposed to that law even if I were a non-smoker as it is an infringement on basic liberty, both individual and in the way private businesses are run.  Similarly I will be against any laws stating how much alcohol I can consume or how much salt or sugar I can take, and those laws are on their way, I can guarantee. 

    Anecdotal evidence is plentiful.  Most people will have some horror story to relate, just as some will talk of their grannys living to a hundred while smoking fifty a day.  In my own case, a friend who never smoked and never drank [and who did not frequent pubs] died of cancer. 

    tt – Of course I sidestepped it.  If I say I smoke in front of the grandkids, I’m branded a child molester.  If I don’t then I’m branded a hypocrite.  Ask my daughter if you want to know.

    Of course I know about ratios, percentages and odds.  I also know that those same ratios, percentages and odds can be very misleading as they are very easily skewed.  I have a list of the hundred and thirty or so major studies that have been done over the decades into the effects of second hand smoke, including the studies done by the BMJ and the WHO.  Not one is statistically significant in its results.  The “studies” that are touted around invariably are no more that these studies with various weighting factors removed or added in order to taint the figures. 

  16. Don’t need to ask her. We all know. And nothing, no amount of evidence would or will ever change your mind about anything.
    Here’s one very simple fact for you. One out of three non smokers dies of cancer. One out of two smokers die of cancer. That’s really all you need to study.

  17. tt – You might be surprised to know that up to a few years ago I was a fully paid up member of the “smoking gives you every available disease and kills everyone within fifty miles” brigade.  Then I started to find some contradictory evidence and that is when I started to delve a bit deeper.  And now you are throwing smoker figures at me, whereas I was talking about secondhand smoking.

  18. The issue boils down to ’cause’ – what causes a cancer to grow and what causes the ticker to stop. There is ‘NO’ one ailment unique to smokers and that presents the first problem. And of course, there is NO death cert anywhere on the globe, signed by a doctor, that says, “The patient died of secondhand smoke”. The second problem is that clinical trials in a real lab are banned, so instead we get statistics from epidemiological computer models. These come from egos, eager to make a name and utilize politics and propaganda to bluff their message through, and truth is the first casualty as a result. The third problem is money. Follow the money trail, and you will always find the culprit behind the scam. Ask yourself, it in the simple Irish context, if smokers here are spending two billion a year on their alleged nicotine habit, and you had a nicotine product you could force them to buy that instead, would you pump a few million into ensuring that force angle. That is what the smoking debate narrows down to, and Grandad is right is suggesting that the drinkers, the fatties and the plain stupid, are next for the “evidence based” treatment, that will cost them a fortune. “Divide and conquer, is the first rule of successful politics, hence “SHEEPLE”.

  19. “The third problem is money. Follow the money trail, and you will always find the culprit behind the scam.”
    Quite right. The tobacco barons. Multi national corporations.

  20. Poignant as always Grandad.  Next time I’m in Ireland drinks are on me.  When are tourist out of season?  Do not want to end up in the landfill!

  21. tt – Don’t be so dense!  I have no particular love for the tobacco industry [I have paid them enough] but they are a legitimate business selling a legitimate product in a heavily controlled market.  You reckon they are behind the bans?  Or are you claiming that I am in the pay of Big Tobacco?  I fucking wish!!

    DeanS – Just mention my name and you should be safe enough.  And mine’s a pint. 

  22. The quote I copied and responded to was John Mallon’s. Not yours. So your last comment makes absolutely no sense. Maybe the smoking is affecting your cognitive skills. And your manners.

  23. Heh!  Sorry about that.  I thought it but didn’t realise I typed it.  Must need more nicotine to aid concentration…….

  24. A friend was recently given a diagnosis of diabetis. Asked if he was a smoker, he said “No.” Asked if he ever smoked, he said yes, very lightly for a couple of years 35 years ago. He was marked down as a smoker. No wonder so many health problems are linked to smoking if they skew their data like that.

  25. Welcome Tondew!  You get a sense of almost desperation that they have to prove that everything from hernias to ectopic pregnancies are “caused” bu smoking.  I am well aware that if I should accidentally meet my maker by falling from the Cliffs of Moher, it will be recorded as a “smoking related” death.

  26. “Jedrzej – I am surprised that you are in favour of a law purely on the basis of a smell?”  
    I sure am. This smell is terrible and a major issue in confined spaces and I fully support the ban because of the smell only (being a smoker, I’ll remiand once again!).
    ” That law has denormalised a significant sector of the population and has caused massive damage to the hospitality trade.”
    For me they were denormalised before, because of the stench. I’m serious.
    ” I would be strongly opposed to that law even if I were a non-smoker”
    You must admit here GD that this is a very weak point, as you just cannot know if you would? 
    ” Similarly I will be against any laws stating how much alcohol I can consume”
    There are laws like that, they relate to how much alcohol you can consume in certain circumstances, i.e. before driving, flying a plane with 500 people in it or performing a major brain surgery. Are you against those laws? Same story here: the ban applies at certain circumstances, you are free to smoke outside. 

  27. Tell it to the Judge:
    “I conclude this passage by emphasising that I am in no way finding that
    cigarette smoking cannot or does not cause lung cancer: I am simply saying that, approaching the evidence with an open mind, as I am bound to do, and applying the law relating to expert evidence, I am unable to find it proved that cigarette smoking can cause lung cancer.”

    LORD NIMMO SMITH: McTear v Imperial Tobacco Limited 2005
    It is very important to note that Judge Nimmo is not only saying that the evidence is not strong enough to ‘prove’ that smoking does cause lung cancer, he is also saying that it is not strong enough even to ‘prove’ that smoking could cause cancer.
    Health Nazis, you can all go suck a tail-pipe.

  28. Jedrzej – I still can’t get over the fact that you are prepared to endorse such legislation simply because you don’t like a smell.  I have a list of things that irritate me, like people yelling into mobile phones on public transport and cigarette smoke [yes – I don’t like it either]  I also have an allergic reaction to some perfumes and nearly all “air fresheners”.  They give me great grief with my sinuses.  I also strongly dislike umbrellas as with my hight I am in constant danger of having my eyes poked out.  However I would strongly oppose any measure to legalise against any of hose.  Why?  Because it is a serious breach of liberty to impose a law on one sector of society because of the preferences of a second group.  Such laws are based not on need but on intolerance and that is just plain wrong.

    Welcome to the party, Orkneylad.  The reason that the judge could find no proof is simply because it doesn’t exist.  Any “proof” that is quoted is from epidemiological studies which are essentially seriously flawed.  No scientific laboratory test has ever proved a connection between cancer and tobacco.

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