Smoke without fire

Frank Davis has an interesting piece over on his site today.

Study: Passive Smoking Doesn’t Cause Cancer

Now I have been slightly [*cough*] critical in the past about "studies" and especially epidemiological ones, so how am I going to react to this one?

The answer to that conundrum is simple – I think it is a valid study.

But people will shout that I am only agreeing with it as it fits in with my point of view?  No, for the very simple reason that it is stating the bleeding obvious.

I have fond memories of going to the cinema [or The Pictures, as we called it] back in the fifties and sixties, and one of my more vivid memories is of the light from the projector barely making it to the screen through the dense fog of cigarette smoke.  It was a sort of precursor to modern laser displays, as the beam flickered and shimmied its way through the fog.  But the point is that I don't remember anyone complaining or coughing, and I certainly don't recall anyone dropping dead of a heart attack.

Smoking was everywhere, from shops to schools [a couple of my teachers were avid pipe smokers!], from transport to most houses in the land, yet non-smokers were perfectly healthy.  In fact asthma and other respiratory ailments were less common then than now.  So from the point of view of someone who lived through that era, the whole concept of "second hand smoke" was a blatant lie from the outset.

Of course if this study had shown the opposite – the definitive proof that second hand smoke causes cancer – it would be headline news in virtually every newspaper and on every radio and television channel in the land, and beyond, but I very much doubt there will be a single mention anywhere except on sites like this.  The lie has spread too widely and the laws have gone too far.  There are too many people making a comfortable living out of Tobacco Control and they aren't going to kill that little golden goose.

The study will probably never see the light of day.  You see, tobacco companies are thanked for their help in compiling the study so it will be dismissed out of hand as being more lies from Big Tobacco.  We won't hear that the researchers have also done work for Big Pharma?

But Big Tobacco didn't twist and contort the figures, so anyone with enough time and expertise can work out the conclusion for themselves.

It's all there.

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Smoke without fire — 20 Comments

  1. Interesting you should mention asthma. In my own Leaving Cert year, (1974), there were 97 of us across three 6th year classes in the school. One bloke, (his name was Frank), used inhalers from time to time. He was the only one who had asthma, or the 1% if you prefer. Over 70% smoked though. 

    Fast forward to 2011 and my son doing the Leaving and again, out of approx. 100 students in his year, 55 of them were asthmatic. Inhalers were more prevalent that cigarettes behind that bicycle shed!

    • The theory is that there were sufficient particles in the air at that time [not just cigarettes, but coal fires as well] to increase the level of immunity.  Also, these days homes are hermetically sealed and filled with those horrible chemicals [fabric conditioners, air "fresheners", fire retardants and the like] so it's no real wonder.  In other words, it's the "cleaner, healthier, eco-friendly" modern world that is causing the problem.

      • I don't remember anyone having asthma 50 or 60 years ago..And in addition to the cigarette smoke there was all the smoke from coal fires in homes, and steam engines on railway lines, and lots of factories with tall chimneys.

        Those were the days! 

        • When you think about it, I doubt if anyone now could even tell you what smog is!  I used to love the smell of coal smoke and in particular the smell of a steam locomotive – that beautiful mixture of oil, hot steel and smoke.

          Now I'm getting all sentimental!

  2. An anecdote from my schooldays (1950's -mid 60's)

    Certainly asthma was rare I suppose i knew of 3-4 who suffered out of 700.

    Our headmaster was a heavy smoker and on one occasion reportedly was smoking with his left hand whilst wielding the cane in his right . The infraction that merited the caning…smoking!

    • One of the Brothers in my school was an avid snuff fiend [tobacco, not "movies", though one never knows?] and there was a hypnotic fascination waiting for the next black snot drop from his nose.  He is the only person I ever met who is/was a snuff sniffer.

    • I was in school during the same period, and coincidentally the headmaster at my grammar school was a chain smoker, too. Being the sort of pupil that I was, I was a regular visitor to his office, visits which usually culminated in four or six strokes of a particularly whippy bamboo cane. He always smoked throughout the interview and the subsequent physical admonishment.

      There were, I think, about 800 boys in my school, and I don't actually recollect being aware of any of them having asthma. And I would have recognised it if I saw it, as my mother was asthmatic.

      It was the sheer crass stupidity of the 'second-hand smoke' claims that made me sit up and take notice of what the anti-smoking lobby was all about. Prior to that, I'd just uncritically accepted all the bullshit. Never really took much notice. However, as you point out in your post, GD, we grew up in a constant fug of smoke, and nobody was any the worse for it – in fact they were a lot healthier than the current lot, so when TC started on the SHS bullshit, I really had a 'What-The-Fuck?' moment. Which is when I started looking more closely at all the other propaganda they'd been pumping out.

  3. Reading of teacher being pipe smokers , long ago in the 50s I was in junior school and our teacher used to smoke his pipe in class. One day he tapped it out on the wall behind me and the sparks  dropped down the back of my neck,  I jumped and he  just slapped my neck to douse the sparks and told me to be quiet and get on with my work.   I survived .

  4. Asthma was the reason I gave up smoking, it was plain nasty and along with a vicious cough I just couldn't smoke anymore.

    Stopping smoking has given  me a new lease of life.

    • Dioclese,

      Smoking does agrrivate an asthma but it does not cause it, an important difference you should know when you are looking to aportion blame.

    • An old friend of mine (from the late 60s) is asthmatic, and a smoker. He used to have a couple of severe attacks a year, on average. About twenty years ago, his doctor really hassled him to give up smoking to help his asthma, so he did. Over the following couple of years, his attacks increased in both frequency and severity, and he got so pissed off with it, he told me afterwards, that he decided to start smoking again (because he liked smoking, and quitting hadn't improved his asthma situation at all). To his mild surprise, the frequency and severity of his attacks reduced to the levels they had been before he stopped smoking.

      It's only one person, I know, but it did make me wonder. I have read since that smoking can be beneficial to some asthmatics, and there is evidence that children brought up in smoking homes have a far lower incidence of asthma. It's counterintuitive, but so are a lot of things, I guess.

      Off topic, but your site no longer remembers me, GD. I have to fill in the username and email before I post, which I never had to before you had your basement fire – they were always already pre-filled.

      • Damn! That's the third report of delays [including your first one].  Personally I am not having any problems [at the moment], unlike last night when I was ripping my hair out in fistfuls!  I'm keeping a reasonably close eye on things today as I switched the site onto CDN this morning [Content Delivery Network to the uninitiated] as an experiment. 

    • I have both sides of this debate before – people who swear smoking aggravated their asthma and others who say it eased the symptoms.  Maybe different versions of the same condition, or maybe just other factors that haven't been considered?  The debate goes on….

  5. I understand from a friend of mine (a nurse, and a non-smoker, too) that one of the reasons that many asthma sufferers find that the frequency and severity of their attacks decrease when they are smoking is because their asthma is allergically-induced by pollution, house dust, flower/tree/grass pollen, or whatever, and that one of the lungs’ reactions to clear themselves of tobacco smoke involves the production of extra mucus to trap any smoke particulates so that they can be washed away by the cilia – the tiny hairs which line almost all of our mucus membranes and which waft to and fro constantly, moving anything caught in the mucus flow away from the lungs (or anywhere else where it might cause problems) and off to somewhere where it can be dealt with safely (often ultimately the digestive tract, where the digestive juices swiftly break it down and render it harmless). 

    The extra mucus layer also serves to protect the lung tissue from any further allergens reaching it by providing a thick barrier that few allergens can get through.  Hence, anyone who is a regular smoker will have a protective layer of mucus so that things like pollen never get to reach the lung tissues, and so don’t get a chance to trigger an asthma attack.  It’s also, incidentally, one of the reasons why smokers (contrary to what the antis, with their hysterical number-crunching would have everyone believe) actually get far fewer of those coughs, colds and chest infections which regularly whizz round planes, rush-hour trains, offices and other workplaces during the winter season, than non-smokers do – because the airborne bacteria and viruses, which is the primary way these diseases spread (“coughs and sneezes spread diseases” and all that), simply can’t get through that mucus layer to reach the lung tissues to enable an infection to really take hold.

    Apologies to anyone who’s eating their tea right now …

    • This goes back to my first reply [to John Mallon].  I have always held the suspicion that a polluted air, such as from traffic, coal fires, smoking and the like built up a resistance to pollen and other irritants.  Your friend's explanation is basically a rational explanation of my half-baked theory. 

      Many years ago, in a fit of madness I came off the pipe for a couple of years.  During that period I suffered a series of throat and chest infections.  I confronted my doctor and asked if there could be a connection and he replied that of course there was.  I can't remember his precise explanation but basically he said that the bacteria were flourishing now in a non-hostile environment.  When I went back on the pipe the infections cleared almost overnight.  So the smoke seems to have a dual beneficial effect – as an anti-bacterial agent and a booster for the bodies defenses?

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