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« Carols by candlelight | Main | Are you insane?!! »

The truth about passive smoking

Sorry, don't have time to comment on the feature that appeared in The Times today. Unless you subscribe you can't read it online but I have read it in the cuttings. Rose W calls it "execrable". I agree. It almost (but not quite) put me off my mince pies.

If, like Rose, you want to read "the truth about secondhand smoke", I recommend this definitive report, published in 2005 and entitled, funnily enough, Prejudice & Propaganda: The Truth About Passive Smoking.

PS. Journalist Simon Crompton has his own website HERE.

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: A WEEK OF INSULTS
    A smokerphobe called Simon Crompton - who loosely describes himself as a "journalist" when he's obviously more of a propagandist - hasn't got a clue about the true science - but he knows for sure the hate he wants to spread about those he fears and dislikes.

Reader Comments (17)

Letter duly sent to The Times' editor ...

December 21, 2010 at 21:06 | Unregistered CommenterRose W

This sort of rubbish really does smack of desperation. A wicked thought has just struck me (or maybe it's just a piece of seasonal wishful thinking): is it at all possible that the AHS-ites have conducted some private polling - which strongly suggests that The Public is STILL not quite as convinced of the lethality of tobacco smoke as it should be ? If there's one thing that REALLY irritates The Experts, it's the perversity of Scepticism among the Great Unwashed (even though one could wish for a great deal more).

December 21, 2010 at 21:51 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

PS: And apologies to ASH-ites for spoiling their nice little acronym above. I know how sensitive they are to inaccuracy.

December 21, 2010 at 21:54 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Sorry for the length but here is mine Simon.

Dear Mr. Crompton,

I trust you are well.

I assume you are the journalist who wrote the article on passive smoking and the 11,000 deaths caused annually.

Let me first of all get my conflicts of interest out of the way. I am not paid, expensed or receive grace and favour from tobacco or pharmaceutical companies, however I am a Director of two pro choice smoking organisations Freedom2Choose and The International Coalition Against Prohibition.

Can I also confirm that active smoking of cigarettes is as bad as health experts make out. Seven years loss of mortality, 86% of lung cancer and 90% of emphysema patients are smokers, however passive smoking is entirely different and I believe we have been misled. By way of illustration in 1633 Galileo was sentenced to life house arrest by the Pope for saying the earth went round the sun and it was not until 1758 that as a Catholic were you allowed to profess it. It is the same with passive smoking it is an urban myth propagated by the health establishment to make smokers guilty and quit. Let us view the evidence that is all in the public domain and this constitutes <1% of my library.

There are over 80 studies done into lung cancer, 15% suggest statistical significance causation and 10% statistical significant protection the remainder of 75% no effect either way. (1) The remainder say nothing either way. The latest study published in October 2010 said in plain English.

"Among never smokers in our population, we observed no association between either exposure to ETS at home or at the workplace and lung cancer risk (2)



Also the WHO/IARC admit that lung cancer in non smokers is different to that in smokers, so hence not caused by passive smoking.

"In 1998, Pierre Hainaut and his collaborators at IARC analyzed the mutations in lung cancers that were at the time in the IARC p53 database. They found that the positions of damage by benzo(a)pyrene spotted by Pfeifer and his team were frequently the sites of mutations in lung cancers of smokers but rarely in lung cancers of non-smokers."

"A number of molecular and clinical characteristics differ between lung cancer related to tobacco use and those not related to tobacco use. 62 % of lung cancers among never-smokers are adenocarcinomas and 18 % are squamous cell carcinomas, while corresponding numbers among patients who smoke are 19 % and 53 %. The K-Ras-gene is often mutated in tumours from smokers, but seldom in tumours from non-smokers; whereas the EGFR-gene is mutated in tumours from non-smokers, and not in smokers. Also, age and sex distribution, therapy response and prognosis are shown to differ between the groups.
INTERPRETATION: Lung cancer in never-smokers should probably be regarded as a different disease-entity than smoking-induced lung cancer. This could impact prognosis as well as treatment."

How would you explain that in 1948 when 52% of adults smoked and with few restrictions where they could smoke asthma has trebled when the population is now down to 21%

On asthma smokers and children of smokers actually have less asthma and not only that nicotine actually suppresses atopy and asthma.

"Nicotine is an anti-inflammatory, but the association between smoking and asthma is highly contentious and some report that smoking cessation increases the risk of asthma in ex-smokers. To ascertain the effects of nicotine on allergy/asthma, Brown Norway rats were treated with nicotine and sensitized and challenged with allergens. The results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE. "

Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children. 11422156

In the USA the Rand Corporation commissioned the Universities of Stanford and Wisconsin to review 8 years of heart attacks covering all 50 states and 368 counties where there smoking bans were implemented. Covering 2 million heart attacks and 217,000 deaths not only did they conclude that "In contrast with smaller regional studies, we find that smoking bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases." That the reporting previously had been publication bias.

"...comparisons showing increases in cardiovascular events after a smoking ban were not submitted for publication because the results were considered implausible. Hence, the true distribution from single regions would include both increases and decreases in events and a mean close to zero, while the published record would show only decreases in events. Publication bias could plausibly explain the fact that dramatic short-term public health improvements were seen in prior studies of smoking bans...

The IOM and other policymakers have relied on the weight of the published literature when making decisions. However, it appears that publication bias did not receive sufficient attention. Our results suggest that only positive studies have been published thus far, and the true short-run effects of governmental workplace smoking bans would be more modest in the U.S.

U.S. state and local governments have increasingly adopted restrictions on smoking in public places. This paper analyzes nationally representative databases, including the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, to compare short-term changes in mortality and hospitalization rates in smoking-restricted regions with control regions. In contrast with smaller regional studies, we find that smoking bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases. An analysis simulating smaller studies using subsamples reveals that large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a smoking ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature. © 2010 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

I will leave you with a quote from Dr. Jerome Arnett writing in 2008.

"In addition, influential anti-tobacco activists, including prominent academics, have unethically attacked the research of eminent scientists in order to further their ideological and political agendas. The abuse of scientific integrity and the generation of faulty "scientific" outcomes (through the use of pseudoscience) have led to the deception of the American public on a grand scale and to draconian government overregulation and the squandering of public money.

Millions of dollars have been spent promoting belief in SHS as a killer, and more millions of dollars have been spent by businesses in order to comply with thousands of highly restrictive bans, while personal choice and freedom have been denied to millions of smokers. Finally, and perhaps most tragically, all this has diverted resources away from discovering the true cause(s) of lung cancer in nonsmokers

Please write back to me should you require more information.


Dave Atherton

December 21, 2010 at 21:58 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

I completely agree that they are concerned that the public are not fully buying their doom and despondency (the end is nigh, we have sinned and all that) and the statements from TC are becoming more extreme and infantile all the time.

However, the problem still remains that the All Party committee, fed by DoH and ASH are true believers. The APC and SHS are still the main targets.

December 22, 2010 at 9:08 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Excellent email Dave but it will probably be binned by this zealot. I hope you copied in the letters page as there is a minute chance it would be published.

December 22, 2010 at 9:39 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Peoples

He's got a journalism degree (wow) but nothing medical I note... one of my best mates has a docorate in micro-biology and we spend many evenings drinking and smoking together. He says passive smoking is bollocks - and he's far more qualified.

December 22, 2010 at 12:45 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

If anyone else feels like sending off their little message of Christmas good cheer to The Times, they could also point out the figures just published this week by the National Cancer Institute in Milan. The figures show the UK has one of the lowest survival rates for cancer in Europe.

I find this very strange, especially as we are constantly being told that since the smoking-ban, less and less people are now smoking, which should surely point us towards being at the top of that list, not the bottom?

It is also strange, that Spain rates way above us on the survival list, yet as we all know, Spain up to this point, is very lenient with its smoking laws, and as someone who visits and works there very often, and sees the general population as predominantly smoker orientated, I wonder how the likes of Simon Crompton would care to answer that one?

December 22, 2010 at 13:24 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

It's a bit of a side issue but I'd like to ask Dave Atherton a question on lung cancer figures he quoted in his letter. I look in on a french civil liberties site from time to time-nosliberté They have a table from an organisation called the 'Lung Cancer Alliance (English speaking group). The table claimed that 35% of new lung cancers were actual smokers; 50% were former smokers, many of whom had given up many years before; 15% had never smoked.
Now, I've never heard of this group but knowing two recent cases of 'givers-up' who succumbed to lung cancer a short time after, I wonder how this fits in with the undoubtedly solid findings in Dave's letter. By the way, many, many thanks for your work Dave.

December 22, 2010 at 18:24 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Ward

Richard you raise some interesting points and I do not have a definitive answers, however I can apply logic and ideas. I will start by saying I am aware of, but do not have a paper form India where the incidence of lung cancer in ex smokers was even higher. I would first hypothesise that the body may build up an immunity to LC to a certain extent and quitting may lose your body that ability.

Secondly as 15% of the population die of LC a certain % will contract it anyway. It maybe a EFGR, GPC5 and a new one I read about FFGR gene mutations which occur in non smokers that affect the former smokers.

Thirdly we all have to die of something and LC is most prevalent in the age group 75-79 when many of us have reached the average age to die from all causes.

My fourth point is that the specific gene mutation caused by smoking the guanine to thymine transversion, possibly the damage is done already, stopping smoking just stops any further mutations and delays the onset of cancer. However you still remain at risk.

I can only conclude more research is needed.

December 22, 2010 at 19:04 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Hello Dave Atherton.

Here are some thoughts straight off the top of my head.

There are two separate circumstances; a) people who contract life threatening conditions, and, b) people who die. Somehow, and I am not quite sure how, it seems to me that these two different things have become intermingled and confused.

I have in my mind the idea that 'incidental' deaths can be 'separated out' from the total of deaths in any given year. I would expect these 'incidental deaths' to be a small proportion of the total deaths. I would expect then that the remainder would be deaths from 'natural' causes.

In the case of very, very old persons, any particular person may be suffering from a variety of conditions. It is merely a question of 'luck' which of these conditions finishes him off. Sooner or later, one or other condition will cause a person to die. The vast majority of people who die will be 'diagnosed' in some simple way - heart attack, or whatever. Very few will be autopsied.

All the above is directed at one peculiarity of mortality statistics, and that is the idea of 'age adjustment'. This idea may be lovely for statisticians to play with, but is a MASSIVE CONFOUNDER when it comes to identifying the reasons that people die.

The ONS recently issued statistics regarding deaths in the UK for 2009, giving the cause of death, except that some 30% of the deaths were not given a cause, Presumably, the deaths from 'various' causes (unstated!) were accidents and old age. The ONS said that 'age details' could not be stated until about Feb 2011. AND YET, they were able to provide a graph of 'age adjusted' deaths. These age adjusted figures may be fine for insurance companies and such, who are happy with averages, but are useless when the conditions from which people die are said to be 'smoking related diseases'. In that case, the figures must be far more exact.

I cannot go into the other, separate, question regarding people who are suffering from some condition, whether it be lung cancer, heart weakness, blood conditions or any other. But, is it not true that the extent of these conditions among the people is far more important than mortality statistics? But, for all we know, there may be masses of people with 'conditions' which are undetected.

The whole thing is a mess. There are so many confounders that no sensible conclusions can be drawn. It is a massive error for Tobacco Control to draw definite conclusions of any sort.

December 23, 2010 at 1:26 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Richard, in answer to your query. Lung cancer tends to affect people who have been smoking for a long time and the median age for contracting it is 70. A large proportion of the 70 year olds who have been smoking a long time have now given up. I think that smoking prevalence in the over 60s is less than 15%, but maybe a further 15% smoked for 30 years and then gave up.

December 23, 2010 at 12:46 | Unregistered Commenterjon

Hi guys you may want to add some comments here. display ban debate.

December 23, 2010 at 13:25 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Richard Ward

Is this what you are looking for?

Quitters finish first
"Experience is their guide, numerically speaking. Of the 312 lung cancer patients they treated during a four-year period, 182 had recently quit smoking.
The report goes into detail. "Each had been addicted to the habit no less than 25 years, smoking in excess of 20 sticks a day.

The striking direct statistical correlation between cessation of smoking to the development of lung malignancies, more than 60% plus, is too glaring to be dismissed as coincidental."

Smoking Out The Facts

Journal Of Medical Hypotheses
Are lung cancers triggered by stopping smoking?

December 23, 2010 at 14:38 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

To get back to Simon Crompton's article regarding SHS and how, he says, that "it can wreck your health, and even kill you".

It seems that there is a constant search on here for the truth regarding SHS, although I don't know why, as the majority of posters here have been here long enough to know the truth for themselves.

For those of you who are familiar with my posts, you will know that I am constantly going on about the powers of propaganda, and how powerful it can be in the right, or maybe wrong, hands. But it is the use of propaganda in schools, to the young, that worries me the most.

There is an old adage that says: "Catch 'em young enough, and you have 'em for life", and that is exactly what the people who are trying to control our lives are now doing. Install a blind obedience into our children, and make it sound like fun, and just like the movie, "The Village of the Damned" it will be them, the children, who we will have to fear.

Have a look at this video

December 23, 2010 at 15:45 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Peter T -

The Midwich Cuckoos were already being indoctrinated back in the early-to-mid Eighties - the ones now in their mid-Forties, in other words. You might call them The Cameron Generation, in fact.

Somewhat different from my parents' generation - the one that knew what REAL danger was like (in my Dad's case, on the Murmansk Run, and in my Mother's, in Anderson Shelters). I sometimes wonder why they bothered (but am mightily grateful that they did). The deep sense of betrayal that many of them must now be experiencing is something that I feel, too. Junk food, junk culture, and electronic gizmos fail to compensate, somehow. But I always was fussy.

December 23, 2010 at 20:02 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Keep it up Dave on the Libdem site!

@Peter - I really, really, dread getting old or sick because of the way that smokers are being treated even now. As an aside, I recently had my second appointment with a new dentist who - for the second time - banged on about smoking (and I noticed on my 'treatment programme' (ye Gods) that the little smoking cessation box was ticked. HMG probably calls it making me aware - I call it bullying.

I don't think the dentist will mention smoking to me again.

December 23, 2010 at 20:11 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

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