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« Tobacco: a litmus test for the media in a free society | Main | And the big question is ... »

Joe Jackson: how can we tackle the passive smoking 'fraud'?

Joe Jackson (featured, above, on a Forest poster) has responded to my previous post about the journalist who asked me whether I should be doing something "more worthwhile" with my life. Joe writes:

Simon, you are indeed doing something very worthwhile, but I would like to offer a lone voice of qualified support or at least understanding, to the lady journalist in question.

I, like you and many others, am angry about many things the antismoking movement has accomplished: trampling on property rights, bullying and stigmatising people, causing social division, ruining businesses, etc etc. But the thing is, I would not feel nearly so strongly if I did not fundamentally believe that the risks of smoking are greatly exaggerated and the risks of SHS are non-existent. The trouble is, many, even most, people believe those things, and they can't entirely be blamed; they want to believe the 'experts' and the 'authorities' whose business it is to 'know'. And from their point of view, it is hard to understand why some of us are wasting energy making such a fuss about some supposed 'right' to poison ourselves and others with a toxic substance.

People DO care about civil liberties, etc, but not so much compared to dying of lung cancer. I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but I think sometimes it's good to remind ourselves of the real nature and magnitude of what we're up against. The problem is not that people don't grasp the various libertarian or business issues, it's that they feel fundamentally that Smoking=Death. Thus it can't really be defended even if 'our' side does have some valid points in theory.

That is why, although I will be the first to applaud if, for instance we get the UK ban amended to allow smoking rooms, I don't think we are ever going to start really turning the tide until something can be done to change this perception. How it's to be done, I only wish I knew. I remain baffled, for instance, that the myth of SHS is allowed to continue to flourish without meaningful protest from anyone with serious money or clout. Can't something be done about this latest piece of fiction about SHS from the WHO? Can't we, Forest, F2C, etc, pool our resources and send a petition to the government asking them to stop indulging such nonsense, since it is bringing science and medicine into disrepute? It might not change anything but at least it would demonstrate that people are waking up to the fraud. OK, I wish I had a better idea - does anyone else?

Download The Smoking Issue by Joe Jackson (2005).

Reader Comments (29)

Hear, hear. The ONLY argument that really matters is the lack of valid scientific evidence, until that is addressed smokers will continue to be persecuted.

November 27, 2010 at 14:16 | Unregistered Commenterali

Spot on Joe. My own belief is that backed by our own scientific medical experts, we should be pursuing a private civil or criminal prosecution against those who marginalise us through fraud.

That will cost a lot of money that we don't have.

Meanwhile, I'd rather hang myself that suffer any more of this persecution. As a lifelong smoker with no ill effects to me or the other three generations of my family that smoked, I can say that this feels personal and I am scared of the future and where "denormalisation" based on a lie will take me.

That is why that "Lie" must be exposed. I believe a criminal prosecution for fraud would at least bring all of these issues such as data manipulation and scientific cherry picking into the open and purged once and for all.

Perhaps then by examining these claims the wider public will see how we have been oppressed by press release and loud voices backed with Govt and Big Pharma cash.

I am not scared. I believe we have right on our side and we can prove it. If it was proved - inconclusively the other way - I would quit.

At present having smoked from the age of 8 to old age, I am afraid that stopping smoking now would cause me more harm. I want studies that look at that also rather than studies that just work to isolate me and turn wider society against me.

November 27, 2010 at 14:56 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Hi Joe, I hope you are well.

Very well written article again. I too get very frustrated from all the junk science, 'churnalism' and the one way street propaganda. I do agree we should pool resources and get a strategy together to counter matters. For the record this is what I am doing and have done.

1. I have applied for a grant to do a PHD in second hand smoke.
2. I wrote to the BBC asking them to add my name for a quote or appearance on radio and TV if needed on the science of smoking.
3. I wrote to Sir Mark Lyall Grant the UK's Permanent Representative at the UN to complain at the junk science and speak to the WHO on our behalf.
4. I am currently speaking to the Chair of The All Party Committe On Smoking and Health (APCSH) who are very reluctant to speak to me and let me offer evidence. I hope that they have no choice.

I think I have finally pieced together the web of anti smoking in Westminster and now know how to attack it. The biggest problem is that APCSH just carbon copy ASH's propaganda and distribute it to MPs like the SCOTH report. The only people they ask or allow to offer evidence are anti smokers.

The Coalition's Health Ministers, Lansley is a moderate who has to be seen to bow to the health bodies. Junior Minister for Health and for smoking is Anne Milton, an ex nurse and virulent anti smoker. Paul Burstow another Junior health Minister is also an anti amoker. Also I learnt very recently that one of Cameron's key advisors (spin doctor) who helped him win the election is an anti smoker.

Simon does a bloody good job considering the vested interests he is up against.

I am sure we read last weekend about the government's plan about plain packaging for cigarettes. Lansley was not consulted and was news to him, it was the anti smoking spin doctor who leaked it to the press.

However I am aware not everybody in the coalition is happy with the way smoking debate is framed, I know someone who got their knuckles wrapped the other day and Nick Cleggs admission that he smoked was a tacit acknowledgement that the UK's 12 million smokers matter.

This is at a micro level how the anti smoking tobacco brigade work but at a supra level.

November 27, 2010 at 14:58 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Dave - you are my hero. Thanks for all you have done and thanks for continuing to do it.

I hope we don't end up in the gulag together at some point in future but if we do then you will make the best company along with all the other fair-minded smokers who know the real issues are around this subject.

This Govt nor any other Govt should take sides. They only do so because of EU rule and targets for a smoke-free Europe which means our Govt can only meddle with our personal lives to prove that it has any kind of authority.

I sincerely believe that unless we get out of the EU, we can forget about fair play for smokers.

That has to be the first step.

November 27, 2010 at 15:49 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Joe, I couldn't agree more. Maybe this is a really stupid question, but why in the world don't the tobacco companies say, ermm, don't say that about our products, because it isn't true, and here's the evidence to prove it ...?

I mean, I get that people will say, "Well you would say that, wouldn't you", but so what? If I marketed a product that people said was lethal to be in the same room as, and I knew that was baloney, I think I'd be employing every last farthing to get the truth out there.

Am I missing something???

November 27, 2010 at 15:59 | Unregistered CommenterRose W

Rose - blanket smoking bans lead to more smokers - perhaps that's the answer?

November 27, 2010 at 16:37 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

A good and passionate article, Joe. The only thing I would change is 'social division' to 'lifestyle apartheid' (or similar), for that's what they've created with the smokng ban.

If they want to play word games and add labels, why can't we?

November 27, 2010 at 16:49 | Unregistered CommenterMalenfant

Rose W,

I’m not sure, but I’ve got a feeling that the Master Settlement Agreement, as well as inflicting significant financial penalties against the tobacco industry, effectively also prevented them from fighting any further charges against their product.

It certainly does seem strange that throughout the whole anti-smoking campaign there doesn’t seem to have been so much as a peep of meaningful protest from this multi-billion dollar industry about some of the accusations which have been lain at the door of tobacco. I can’t think of a single other area where such large interests wouldn’t have fought tooth and nail to prevent their product from being systematically eradicated and their sales from being decimated. Look at how the big pharmaceutical companies are joining ranks to prevent any meaningful investigation into their own, often highly dangerous, goodies; or how the oil companies are going all-out to show their “green” credentials and to keep non-oil-based energy sources off the market.

I’m sure that without the “gagging” element of the MSA we would have had a much more open and worthwhile debate about tobacco usage over the years and many of the claims of the anti-smoking cabal would have been roundly and robustly disproved well before they ever made the papers.

November 27, 2010 at 18:43 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

My opinion on this, is that the "smoking ban" law needs to be challenged. It was brought in on the sole assumption that SHS causes damage and therefore workers and anyone else present around smokers needed to be protected.

Sounds "sort of" fair doesn't it? That is until you challenge the fact that no positive proof was ever put forward that SHS did cause any or all of the problems, which this law ended up being passed upon.

In other words, this law was passed based upon a falsehood! At the very best it was based upon opinion, rather than fact, and under British law, opinions, unless proven otherwise are unacceptable.

We need an open debate/consultation with interested parties such as professional bodies, voluntary organisations and pressure groups. This debate needs to be publicised and open to the public.

It would not be at all difficult to organise such a debate/consultation. Let the anti-smoking lobby prove their assumptions regarding SHS or withdraw their allegations once and for all. Once that has happened, there has to be a change in the law.

November 27, 2010 at 18:55 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Hey don't forget Cameron smokes too!

November 27, 2010 at 19:23 | Unregistered Commenterpete s

Dave Atherton:

Who is the Spin Doctor that you refer to? I thought Steve Hilton at first, but then I read this comment by Quentin Letts in his Daily Mail column yesterday...

"Have never met the chap myself, but he smokes a great deal and does a lot of whispering" (my emphasis).

This sounds to me that he is someone you should try and cultivate. Let's be honest, if Steve Hilton is Keith Harris, then David Cameron is Orville!

Of course, you could be referring to Andy Coulson, I suppose. If so, well we can rest easily that he looks like he will soon be getting his own come-uppance from the boys in blue (the coppers, that is, not the Tories - they aren't very blue nowadays).

Anne Milton is a horrible piece of work, or so it seems from all of her utterings that I have read. She is turning into the Conservatives' answer to Caroline Flint. Eurgggh!

November 27, 2010 at 21:03 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Bond

Further to Peter Thurgoods post, challenge the antis ASH et al to an open debate, make sure that all our daily newspapers and plenty of MPs know that we have thrown down the gaunlet to them and would publicly like to challenge their claims on SHS, lets say three a side with Simon, Dave Atherton and Chris Snowdon or maybe Frank Davis or Dick Puddlecote batting for our side, obviously if they dont agree to the challenge then it will be seen far and wide what liars they are, if they agree and lose then its win win for us.

November 27, 2010 at 21:32 | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Ladies and Gents, we live in a time of austerity, a time where public funds are at a premium, a time where to raise £7 billion annually from cuts causes a certain amount of public discontent. So how would a Government react if a stream of funding to the tune of £10.5 billion per year were to disappear? Would they make further cuts to cover the shortfall? Would they raise income tax? Or would they attempt to restore the stream? I'm in no doubt if that source of revenue were to stop, the studies showing no link between SHS and serious illness would materialise, the smoking ban would vanish and the emphasis on how 'evil' we all apparently are would disappear overnight. As such, drastic times call for drastic measures and, in my opinion. the only way to make them hear us is to hit them where it would most hurt them. It is time to give them what they want. It is time for every single smoker in this country to join together and go on strike! We will NOT smoke until you give us the respect we deserve!

November 27, 2010 at 23:43 | Unregistered CommenterJohnBoyWalton

Frank Davis and Snowden are about to commence a debate specifically about the question, "Does Smoking Cause Lung Cancer?". Snowden will argue 'for' the resolution; Frank will argue 'against'.

Frank invites contributions, both as comments on the debate and as contributors to the debate. We should understand that, in the debate, it is quite in order for persons to draw attention to some study or medical 'fact' which supports the argument that smoking causes lung cancer.

I think that the idea of the debate is to bring the facts out into the open, as opposed to the propaganda.

November 28, 2010 at 0:47 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

The Sunday Telegraph this morning tells of how Cameron and his band of corrupt, thieving expense fiddlers are now going on the attack against drinkers by implementing a minimum price for alcohol. If you thought Labour were bad this lot are worse and anyone who believes a manifesto pledge in future is simply naive. Cameron was supposed to roll back Big Government but, as with everything else, he is doing the exact opposite of what he said he would do. Anyone who holds out any hope for a cessation of the war on the smoker is delusional, it will only get worse.

The only hope I see is to get behind the students, the unions and anyone else who will take action against this bunch of lying scum who have no mandate for anything they are doing. There is a clear common enemy and it is the political class as a whole. The only thing that will work against them is direct action and if this lot can be brought down then the same must be done to the nex lot until we get someone into power who will keep the promises they make. Cameron has betrayed everyone who voted for him with his lying and duplicity, not that Labour would be any different. People are beginning to stirr for various reasons, let's hope it picks up momentum and we finally get some politicians who will work for us rather than against us.

November 28, 2010 at 3:17 | Unregistered CommenterJames Trent

Can politicians who are on our side find out how Tobacco Control presented the SHS case to SCOTH and did the presentation also include duff info on the economic impact of SHS (because, let's face it, the bottom line is all that really matters to politicians)? Did Tobacco Control suggest that smoking rates would significantly decline when smokers realised they were killing their friends and family but that the loss of tobacco revenue would be more than compensated for? I think the nub is to understand why the politicians bought the SHS case and why it insisted on a comprehensive ban (sorry, Liam Donaldson having a hissy fit does not constitute a justifiable reason).

"Our" politicians should also be able to suggest how best to use this information to discredit Tobacco Control and the war on smokers.

November 28, 2010 at 10:21 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce


SCOTH was written by Prof Martin Jarivis, Chaired by Professor James Friend who presented the report to Sir Liam Donalson in November 2004. It was then distributed to MPs as their sole reference for scientific review. The Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA) fought a splendid rearguard action to no avail and much of their evidence appeared at the back as references. SCOTH also makes reference to the 2003 Enstrom/Kabat study and is numbered reference 17.

Economics played no part of the report and most anti smoking politicians would rather see pubs shut and people made unemployed instead of amending the ban.

I wrote to Prof Martin Jarvis on various scientific flaws in the report 2 months ago and have yet to receive a reply. Also the electronic copy of SCOTH seems to of disappeared off the Department Of Health's website.

November 28, 2010 at 12:25 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Thanks, Dave. Did the report include the findings of ALL the SHS studies or only those which showed elevated risk and how were the findings presented eg was it pointed out in layman's terms (understandable to non-scientist MPs) that an elevated risk of 25% of a tiny absolute risk is an insignificant level of risk?

I've never understood why, if someone like myself, with no 'proper' scientific background, can appreciate that the findings are insignificant, MPs bought the scaremongering - unless there was skulduggery, or unless they were prepared to collude on the grounds of the real objective. If it's the latter and smoking rates refuse to fall then their collusion has been to no effect except to be economically highly damaging.

November 28, 2010 at 15:59 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce


Yes Joyce, because anyone with a reading ability of about 10 can work it out for themselves, hence the spin, lies and the persecution of legitimate scientists who dissent. This has been commented on by Professor Carl V Phllips and Dr. James Enstrom. First Carl.

"These stories suggest a willingness of influential anti-tobacco activists, including academics, to hurt legitimate scientists and turn epidemiology into junk science in order to further their agendas. The willingness of epidemiologists to embrace such anti-scientific influences bodes ill for the field's reputation as a legitimate science.”

Dr. Enstrom: " I seek to defend the honesty and scientific integrity of my research and I directly respond to my most powerful critics, who have attempted to suppress and discredit findings that do not support their ideological and political agendas. To put a historical perspective on the tactics that have been used against me, I conclude by making an analogy with the pseudoscientific practices of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko."

"Even though our paper satisfied (and in many ways exceeded) the accepted standards of epidemiologic analysis and writing, it was immediately attacked by people who did not like the results we reported. Beginning in the days before May 17, 2003, our BMJ paper was subjected to a large-scale ad hominem attack. Since our honesty or scientific integrity had never previously been questioned, such an attack seemed to us to be quite implausible and indeed incredible. Based on what I have learned since May 2003, I describe the key elements of this attack in order to expose the tactics that have been used in an attempt to discredit and silence legitimate epidemiologic research.

November 28, 2010 at 17:16 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

I think the operative word here is "experts" as in according to the experts ..... the experts say........ the expert gave his opinion on.......... its the experts opinion that ......

Who the fuck are the experts? The fact that the experts brought down the ecomony and we're all wallowing in the deepest recession in history as a result, prove that the experts are a bunch of gobshites that hadnt got a clue except about lining their own pockets and who now have no alternative but to cave in to the quangos they appointedby to keep themselves in power by turning a blind eye to the smoking issue to divert us from the shambles their meddling in matters their high faluting degrees didnt measure up to.

Once the 'experts' are rooted out and we find out exactly what justifies them to call themselves experts, then we might be able to start from a level playing field.

November 28, 2010 at 17:22 | Unregistered Commenterann

I know that TC has sunk to smearing the reputations of dissenters, Dave, but that doesn't explain why MPs have bought the scam. Perhaps it doesn't matter that SHS is exposed to MPs - they always knew it was a scam but bought it because they're terrified of the health lobby (but, why?) or they have no power (which now resides with the EU) and have to be seen to justify their existence.

Joe's idea of pointing out to them that the game's up and the public is increasingly aware that they've been duped is perhaps an excellent one: if we, The Children (as MPs disparagingly refer to us) have seen through the scam then a) MPs look like fools and b) they have another very angry group on their hands. Our side has evidence that smoking rates are not falling as TC had hoped, there is economic damage and damage to the mental health of isolated smokers and TC's continual demands based on bizarre or non-existent evidence which defies common-sense (fourth hand smoke?) expose it for the unscrupulous and zealous lobby we know it to be.

Not only is the fraud bringing science and medicine into disrepute, but also the stature of our politicians.

November 28, 2010 at 19:29 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Re the comment a few posts back recommending the example set by current student protests it might be noted that the present wave of social controls is the result of the political culture created by the student demonstrators of the 1960s. I do wonder what some of the recent protesters would have done had any of their number lit a cigarette on the way back to 'uni' in bus or train.

Not of course that I or probably any of them would light up where it was known it would give offence, real or more probably imaginary - which of course underlines the fact that in a tolerant society, smoking compartments would be restored.

November 28, 2010 at 20:44 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Not meaning to be flippant, but for the sake a little levity - definition of an expert (according to my late husband):

Ex being the unknown factor
Spert being the drip in control

Hope this gives someone a grin, if not a smile!

November 29, 2010 at 10:06 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

Hello Joe Jackson.....are you still there? I don't blame you one iota if you are not, after reading so much crap on here in so called response to your call for "How can we tackle the passive smoking fraud?"

Instead of trying to help and think of an answer to your call, the majority are just either moaning in general about the ban, or trying to be clever by stumping up old facts and figures, which, as good and useful as they can be sometimes, are just not answering the point that you have asked here.

It is like saying "My shoe is letting in water", and the 'expert' comes along and tell you that you have a hole in the sole. You know you have a bloody hole, your feet wouldn't be wet otherwise would they? What you need to know is how to stop that hole ever appearing again, and that is what we need to do here.

We have a gaping hole in the lives and lifestyles of approximately 25% of the population of this country, which has led to pubs, bars, restaurants and club closures throughout the country, as well as a great deal of unemployment in those industries, and if left to carry on in the manner it is now progressing, will eventually lead to a massive hole in the tax revenue collected by the Government on tobacco products, and anyone with any sense knows where that will lead to.

That proverbial hole in our shoe is getting bigger and bigger every day, and until we get together and start suggesting solutions, like Joe has asked for, and I have tried my best to do, then I am afraid we will get nowhere.

I am personally convinced that we have all the right facts and figures on our side, and I am sure that the majority of posters on here feel the same, but our convictions alone are never going to do a damn thing. Like I keep on saying, we need to force the 'other side' (for want of a better term) to prove their accusation. In English law, a man is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. The 'other side' must be forced into taking part in a public debate, where they either prove smokers to be guilty of causing death through passive smoking, or they put up and shut up, and the smoking-ban law is amended or overturned completely.

When I say the other side must be forced into taking part, I do not mean 'threatened' with court action, as someone else once tried a similar action, which had to be abandoned due to the high legal costs. I mean 'forced' through the media and through 'friendly' MPs.

The smoking-ban law is based entirely on this one premise, that passive smoking is harmful and causes death and disease. The law is therefore illegal, as that "fact" has never been proven. I want to see the real facts and figures that prove beyond any doubt that so called "fact".

Don't give up on us yet Joe.

November 29, 2010 at 11:19 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Well said Peter, I absolutely agree with you.

The problem I feel for a lot of us is we do not know the right contacts or have the ability to put across in the best way what we need and why.

That is not an excuse but a valid reason as I, for one, am often afraid of making things worse (if that is possible) by the fact that I don't retain 'detail' well or figures and I am hopeless at remembering names and who is who.

I guess that sounds like an excuse as well - it is not meant to be, it is part of me, being unsure of myself.

There are a pool of very well informed people here, you being one of them. Is there a concerted effort and 'battle plan' that we could all partake in with a common aim and with the guidance of our own 'experts'?

November 29, 2010 at 11:29 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

I agree 100% with Peter and I feel exactly the same as Lyn in that I feel frustrated with the injustice of the SHS lies that are so blatently obvious to us but that everyone else doesent see for what it is and just go along with the spin because the 'powers that be' had the money machine behind them to pay for the best PR Spin Doctors and the rest of the 'experts'.
Granted they had a big head start on us because the brainwashing has been going on in plain sight for the past 20 years or more before it took root in the brains of the gullible and yummy mummies.
But when the emperor is shown to have no clothes it shouldnt take too many years to revert the lies.
For gods sake there must be some out of work 'experts' the times thats in it that could work on our side for a change to even up the score.

November 29, 2010 at 12:35 | Unregistered Commenterann

I think that it's very instructive to look at the global warming fiasco, to see just how vested and moneyed interests, together with a "popular" cause (popular with the left-leaning media and establishment, that is) can perpetuate things well beyond both rational argument and thought, even to ignore the most blatant evidence around them.

To wit, the world stopped warming almost a decade ago. An essential trace element which actually helps flora to flourish (CO2) has been re-classified as a planet-threatening "pollutant". To admonish mankind greatest wealth-creating, poverty-eliminating achievments (the internal combustion engine, electrical power generation, central heating, industrialisation) as "destroyers" and "polluters" of planet Earth.

The taxes spent on the global warming cause has created a body of evidence and a multi-billion dollar industry which is used to create reports, bureaucracies, lobby groups and support a PR campaign with a purely one-sided agenda: to promote the reality of global warming and the need to tax and spend in its name. The catch-cry of this vast edifice? The "science is settled"; the questioners are "deniers" (with the appropriate emotional overtones).

It is an instructive fact that this "industry" continues in the face of the scandal which was "Climategate" and the very obvious (to the person in the street) fact that, far from burning up, we are experiencing below average temperatures. Many of my friends, who as little as two or three years ago would look at me like a flat-Earther when I suggested that global warming was bunkem, are now very quiet about the entire thing and more are openly sceptical. In the mind of the public, global warming is slipping down the priority list as fast as a skiier down a mountain.

Yet, to listen to our politicians, our media and the Green lobby, you would think that there was even more urgency than their was 5 years ago. While the public can clearly see that the Emperor has no clothes, it does not seem to matter to the Elites of the climate movement. Facts are not relevant.

If you want to see how far they can perpetuate the anti-smoking scare campaign, look no further than climate change. Depressing, I know, but instructive.

November 30, 2010 at 1:17 | Unregistered CommenterAno

Your dead right there Ano, we wont see many Al Gore videos doing the rounds while the snow is piling inches thick, no sir, he'll wait till next summer before he cranks up the global warming money machine again.
Just like the rest of the Global Warming freaks are keeping quiet since the country started experiencing the coldest winters for the past two years.
Maybe the reason for their silence is they're planning a merger with the Climate Change brigade, after all they're not going to loose a good little money earner for the jobsworth like that golden cow.
Just like the SHS brigade, these guys will never admit they're wrong, they have too much to loose, apart from their cushy jobs and big salaries and perks, they just dont do Sorry.
Its frightening the way they can dumb down and scare the average intelligent person into believing this codswallop.
But it just goes to show what can be done when you have the right PR, Spin doctors, lobbyists and most important of all, have the media in your pocket.

November 30, 2010 at 11:08 | Unregistered Commenterann

Ano and Ann - I recall hearing on the radio the other day that apparently we cannot look to the weather as a guideline or significant indicator of global warming, it is not relevant!

I also heard that apparently 2010 is the warmest or second warmest year on record, 1998 being the other contender. You could have fooled me - then I guess that isn't difficult!

November 30, 2010 at 11:55 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

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