F2C AGM Saturday 6 September, London

 photo ThePavillionedit_zps2a2d052c.jpg
Freedom2Choose’s AGM will be held this coming Saturday 6 September at the Pavilion End Pub, Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BR. The formal meeting (members only) starts at 2.00pm and will be very short, maybe 10-15 minutes. There will be informal and lively discussions afterwards and friends and supporters are welcome to join us. Do come along and look for us round the pub (or outside if you’re a smoker ) if you can make it – we haven’t bothered to book a room for 10 minutes. The pub closes at 5.00 pm and some of us may then drift elsewhere…

Map here (the nearest tube station on a Saturday is Bank and the pub is 5 minutes walk):
 photo mapPavilionEnd_zpsb8e8e008.jpg

 

 

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Plain Packaging Greek-style

 

I’ve been smiling at the recent discussions in the UK about introducing plain packaging of tobacco products.

Not because I think it’s a good idea:  I think it’s bollocks.
Not because it’s based on decent and honest research:  it’s based on complete tosh.
And certainly not because it will prevent even one 10 year old from trying smoking:  it won’t.

It’s because I’m reminded that every summer Greece’s leading cigarette manufacturer, Karelia, produces a special edition of packets with lovely pictures featuring the best of Greece.  This summer is no exception and amongst the pictures of yachts in the Aegean and ancient temples I have chosen the one above: beautiful bougainvillaea. They’re nice cigarettes as well and I brought back a few hundred for my own personal use.

The health warning in Greek translates as the more familiar: ‘Smoking seriously harms you and those around you’.

For more detailed analysis of the analytical tosh and political machinations behind plain packaging you could do worse than visit Chris Snowden’s posts below, although many excellent bloggers have also written on the subject.

The plain packs meta-lie (part one)

The plain packs meta-lie (part two)

 

 

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Prohibition Fever at the BMA

Al Capone’s Ghost must be smiling and his successors laughing.

On the 24th June this year, the BMA voted to ban the sale of cigarettes (forever) to anyone born after the millennium. So in 2018 it would be illegal for an eighteen year old but legal for a nineteen year old. And with each successive year thereafter, the discrimination would notch up accordingly.

The effect of course would be to progressively drive young and eventually older people into the hands of modern day Al Capones.

Freedom2choose chairman Dave Atherton appeared on BBC radio Wales and Freedom2choose Scotland’s Belinda Cunnison was also allowed a brief slot on BBC radio Scotland.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b047pj88

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b046ppbz

Update:

Unfortunately the links have now died but can be listended to below:

Wales – The case in favour is here:

BBC%20Radio%20Wales%2025%206%202014%20-%201.mp3

Dave Atherton and other’s responses are here:

BBC%20Radio%20Wales%2025%206%202014%20-%202.mp3

Scotland – Introduction:

BBC%20Radio%20Scotland%2025%206%202014%20-%201.mp3

Belinda responds:

BBC%20Radio%20Scotland%2025%206%202014%20-%202.mp3

Additional Comments:

It is much easier to make a false claim than it is to debunk it. This means that in a few minutes on air very few claims can be disputed. So a few comments about some other assertions that various doctors made on these programmes is in order:

  1. One doctor asserted that this proposal would stop young people smoking. He then contradicted himself by noting that most people tried cigarettes at around 13 or 14 years of age. Clearly these would have been bought for them so this crazy notion would make no difference at all.

  2. Others claimed that most smokers started smoking by their early twenties and became addicted young. More on addiction below but the real reason for people starting young is obvious. If you like something then you are likely to continue to do it. If you don’t then you’re unlikely to change your mind as you age.

  3. A doctor claimed that health problems wouldn’t occur until they reached their 30s or 40s. But even Richard Doll’s famous ‘British Doctors Study’ claimed that health issues only began to occur from age 50 onward. Incidentally, the average age at death for lifetime cigarette smokers in this study was 73 years. What’s more, most of those deaths occurred during the 1950s and 60s when life expectancy was less than 65 years.

  4. Addiction:

    If nicotine really was addictive then how come NRT products have a 98.4% failure rate?http://freedom2choose.info/news_viewer.php?id=969

    As to the claim that it is similarly or more addictive than heroin, there is no evidence to support that whatsoever. The nearest thing is the US Surgeon General’s report of 1988 which was the first report claiming that nicotine was addictive. So where did he get his evidence?

    The answer is that it was from a 1984 paper by Jack Henningfield, an advisor to the Surgeon General and also a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. Here are a couple of quotes from the McTear vs ITL court case. The full text is 600 pages long but there is a 60 page summary here: http://boltonsmokersclub.wordpress.com/the-mctear-case-the-analysis/ .

    Please note that this case (from 2005) is the ONLY time that a British court has been asked to consider anti-smoking ‘evidence’. The two top anti-smoking ‘experts’ in the UK were amongst those testifying. James Friend (appointed by the Government to chair the ‘Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health) and Richard Doll both gave evidence under oath.

ITL’s expert witness:

[5.398]…
“Figure 5 showed nine histograms each showing two bars, one for placebo (P) and the other for the “drug” under investigation (D) or simulated gambling (SG). In all nine histograms the D or SG bar was higher than the P bar. Professor Gray said that the significance was said to be that nicotine increased scores on this scale to the same degree as that seen for morphine and amphetamine, for example, and from the way the figure was drawn that appeared to be the case. It has subsequently been pointed out by Warburton, however, that the scales on the vertical axes of each of the histograms were quite different from each other. This was standardly regarded as very poor scientific methodology and should have been pointed out by the referees of the paper at the outset; it was something that graduate students were taught at an early stage not to do. For morphine for example, the P value was below 4 and the D value nearly 10; the same for amphetamine. For nicotine, the P value was 5 and the D value just below 7. But the scales had been set so that the difference between P and D for nicotine appeared to be as large as that for amphetamine and morphine, though this was simply not the case.”

And then the judge’s view:

“[6.206] Professor Gray’s evidence accordingly is consistent with the averment for the pursuer that once individuals such as Mr McTear have started smoking it is difficult for them to wean themselves off the habit. It provides no support for the proposition that tobacco is more addictive than cocaine, or more addictive than heroin for that matter. There is no evidence before me which provides support for the conclusion in USSG 1988 that the pharmacological and behavioural processes that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Indeed, insofar as this relied on Henningfield 1984, it lacked a sound scientific basis.”

The Henningfield paper is here:
http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2057063013-3023.html

See also: http://wings.buffalo.edu/aru/ARUreport03.html

Postscript:

The final consultation on plain packaging has begun so if you haven’t acted yet please be sure to read this.

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Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) which 10 years ago were in their infancy and now seem to ubiquitous with an estimated 2 million users in the UK alone. Whether you see them as potentially as tools to oppress smokers seems to have passed as e-cigs seem to be the new smoking evil. Basically world and national governments want to denormalise and restrict e-cigs as tobacco smokers are.

The European Union (EU) wanted to have them classified as medicines but MEPs voted against but did vote to restrict the nicotine content to 20mg/ml which would probably make them useless for heavy smokers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Federal Drug Administration want to classify them as tobacco and apply the same restrictions on advertising, to be highly taxed and indoor restrictions.  It seems that even the sight of an e-cig “renormalising” smoking is giving them, pun intended, the vapers.

Big Pharma’s fingerprints are probably all over this. The biggest critics include Professor of Engineering Stanton Glantz, John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health America and Tobacco Free Kids all of whom are in receipt of Big Pharma funding.

It is my belief that any e-cig users sniffy towards tobacco smokers will be keeping their council and can see that they are being treated as just as appalling as smokers. Certainly that is the impression I get talking to industry representatives.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy my article in Breitbart I did recently and also on the 25th April I was on BBC Radio Ulster discussing e-cigs with Andy Dougal Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, which Tony has been kind to record.

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/04/25/E-Cigarettes-to-be-Subject-to-Restrictions-Despite-Evidence-They-Help-People-Stop-Smoking

BBC%20Ulster%20ecigs%2025-4-14.mp3

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Plain Packs: Politicians Steal Trademarks and Help Bootleggers

(George Orwell)

So Sir Cyril Chantler, a paediatrician fresh from a fact finding mission to Australia has recommended that plain packets of cigarettes are to be introduced. Health Minister Jane Ellison has said “it is very likely to have a positive impact on public health and stop children from starting to smoke.”

Labour’s Luciana Berger is tripping over herself when she said “There is an overwhelming body of evidence in favour of standardised packaging and there can be no excuse for a further delay.”

The Liberal Democrats seen a bit mute for some unfathomable reason.

Ironically David Cameron  said in 2008 “The era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end.” To be fair he did reject the proposal originally but a defeat in the House of Lords forced him to reconsider.

Before Nick Clegg’s banishment from politics he said in his Freedom Bill will “roll back the power of the state.” Another LibDem fail.

Sir Cyril’s guestimate of 2% reduction in youth smoking is seen as “reasonable,” and “significant if smoking is to become denormalised.” The effect will barely register by their own metric and there is nothing like ratcheting up the ante on discrimination of smokers.

Sir Cyril’s “fact finding” tour from Down Under seems to have been a waste of taxpayer’s money. While far too early to draw any firm conclusions, certainly there seems to be no evidence of any reduction in smoking or sales.

Black market cigarettes are increasing in sales. A report by KPMG, paid for by cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris International (PMI) found a rise in contraband from 11.8% to 13.3%. PMI also have reported a rise in sales of 0.3% during 2013.

Another effect of brand homogeneity has been an increase in costs at the point of sale. Identical packs have seen a dramatic increase in sales times.  The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) reported in September 2013 on the effects in the retail trade, amongst many negatives these two stand out.

·         “Overall, around three-quarters of small retailers have experienced an increase in the time taken to serve adult smoker customers, and three in five report additional time is spent communicating with these customers about tobacco products.

·         Three in five small retailers have faced increased frustration from adult smoker customers, and nearly two-thirds have seen an increase in the frequency of staff giving the wrong products to customers (primarily due to difficulty in recognising/distinguishing between brands).”

With some Conservatives rebelling, Nick de Bois’ piece on Conservative Home is quite compelling.  He describes the policy as a “reckless risk” and poses “do we really want more criminals selling more fake cigarettes to children?”

Then we have the World Trade Organization (WTO) and inevitably the European Union (EU). It seems directly against the principles of Article 20 of Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) from the 1986 Uruguay Round. The clause is quite unambiguous: “The use of a trademark in the course of trade shall not be unjustifiably encumbered by special requirements, such as use with another trademark, use in a special form or use in a manner detrimental to its capability to distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.”

A number of countries including Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Cuba gave lodged objections.  If the Australian and British governments lose their taxpayers stand to pay £millions in compensation to tobacco companies.

Never mind 64% of people rejected plain packs and admit the government admits to the result in their literature.

Never mind that the previous hapless Junior Minister pro plain packs Anna Soubry failed, possibly wilfully to report to the House of a Commons European Scrutiny Committee from January to June 2013 on the EU Tobacco product Directive.  The Conservatives have not been good on tobacco all round.

The positives from this are that since the smoking ban in 2007 is the first time bullying of smokers was defeated. It may have been resurrected like a decaying corpse but at worst any government now knows any future restrictions will be fought hard at considerable political cost and inconvenience. As other nanny statists want to go the “new tobacco” route, as in sugar, salt, fast food, alcohol being the “new tobacco” we may yet see a white flag being waved over Parliament on smoker prejudice.

If you look at previous Ministers for “Smoking” they do not have staying power. Gillian Merron the Labour MP for Lincoln Central was dumped at the last election. Anne Milton who one Westminster insider described to me as NVG, not very good was sacked. Anna Soubry has been packed off to Defence (see above) and too can be looked upon as sacked. Et Tu Jane Ellison?

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/health/10035-TSO-2901853-Chantler-Review-ACCESSIBLE.PDF

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2008/jun/23/davidcameronspressconferenc1

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26873410

http://www.pmi.com/eng/media_center/documents/kpmg%20report%20on%20illicit%20trade%20australia.pdf

http://www.aacs.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Impact-of-Plain-Packaging-on-Small-Retailers-W2-Final-Report.pdf

http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2014/04/nick-de-bois-mp-plain-packaging-doesnt-work.html

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/212074/Summary_of_responses_to_consultation_-_standardised_packaging_tobacco.pdf

http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips_04_e.htm

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Tony Benn April 3rd 1925 – 14th March 2014

 (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images – via London24 )

Like him or loathe him Anthony Neil Wedgewood Benn was a one off in politics, formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate which he renounced to enter the House of Commons as an MP eventually rising to Chairman of the Labour party and holding two cabinet positions during the Wilson and Callaghan years died this morning aged 88.

Tony Benn as he chose to be known was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963 and lent his name to the left wing of the labour party in the term Bennite. After he retired from formal political involvement he became more involved in grass-roots movements and became president of the Stop the War coalition. He was also considered to be one of the countries most popular politicians in several polls throughout his long and distinguished career.

Tony Benn was one of the politicians who was not in favour of the Health act 2006, indeed like his contemporary Harold Wilson he was an avid pipe smoker, in 2008 our Secretary wrote inviting him to write a piece for our front page. His reply was kind, agreeing 100% in respect of the smoking ban. And though he never took never took up the invitation he did express regret that there were too many other more pressing matters to attend to despite his opposition to the ban. In part he said “At least when they imprison me for my pipe I can smoke in jail”

We don’t presume to make this article an obituary but simply to note his sad departure from this life celebrating his views on freedom of choice, especially in regard to smoking.

There is an entertaining little episode described here:

http://www.newstatesman.com/node/135127

“We sat in a non-smoking carriage, but Benn opened his briefcase and took out an old BR sticker that read “smoking” and placed it smack on top of the “non-smoking” sign on the window pane. He held up his pipe: “No one minds, do they?” he asked of the carriage at large. A chorus of “Go ahead Tony” greeted him: rules simply don’t apply to Benn. “

Maybe he did think that rules did not apply to him though it would certainly have been very much contrary to his life long anti-elitist principles. On the other hand, what this certainly demonstrates is that the vast majority of people have no significant objections to ‘environmental tobacco smoke’ (ETS).

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A Review of ‘Unlucky Strike’


The facts should make society much more relaxed about smoking than it is. But prejudice and perverse incentives in the political and legal systems have pushed policy in the opposite direction. It’s time for a re-think and a redress. Let’s see if you agree?

- From the preface to the book.

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology and Neurobiology, Emeritus, at Duke University.

The main thread running through Professor Staddon’s book is the notion of ‘private health’ versus ‘public health’. His strong contention is that smoking is not a cost to society and he backs this up with references to published papers. And that is even without considering pension savings or tobacco taxation.

He also explains, with evidence, that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) poses no significant health risk to third parties. And disputes the notion that smoking is ‘addictive’ in any normally understood sense.

Given this, he argues that smoking is in no sense a ‘public health issue’  and instead is a private one. Thus there should not be any public health campaign at all against smoking.

He begins with a very brief history of tobacco and continues with the issues raised by Fisher in the 1950s. He concludes that the evidence of health risk from active smoking is now overwhelming although he does not say why he is so sure. He then points out that many activities are risky but are a matter of personal, informed, choice. We at freedom2choose fully agree with this sentiment.

In many ways he appears to have come into the debate from a different angle from other writers. Regrettably, it seems that the only group speaking up for smokers that he has heard of is ‘Forest’. He can’t really be blamed too much though because despite our efforts; groups such as Freedom2Choose, Forces, CAGE, NYClash and the Smoker’s Club (to name just a few) still tend to have a rather small media presence.

The book is also crammed with information on anti-tobacco litigation and the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

“The MSA appears to violate both Article 1, Section 10 of the constitution barring compacts between states as well as federal anti-trust statutes (it enforces a legal cartel).
… it is in essence a protection racket (extortion). You (the tobacco companies) pay me (the states and trial lawyers) a large amount of money. In return you get protection from competition (the agreement forms a cartel) and from state lawsuits.”

And smokers rather than the tobacco companies are forced to pay for it all without even being consulted.

On the downside, this is, at 130 or so pages, a very short book. Despite that, he covers a lot of ground and such conciseness has merit in itself.

That said, it is very well written and highly readable. Numerous colour illustrations by David Hockney are provided which help to illuminate his case. Strongly recommended.

And as to the question posed at the end of the top quote: the answer is YES, we fully agree.

Update:

The publishers of ‘Unlucky Strike’ have been in contact and have uploaded this review to Amazon. It is on the front of the book’s website page as their main review of the book. As such it appears in the ‘Product Description’ section.

The only downside is that the Amazon facility has removed all formatting so it is a little difficult to read.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unlucky-Strike-Private-Science-Politics/dp/1908684372/ref=cm_rdp_product

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EU Politicians Trample on our Freedoms – the TPD

This time it is EU politicians trampling on our freedom. They have just passed the Tobacco Products Directive which will become law in 2 years time:

The EU Tobacco Products Directive rules include:

  • picture warnings must cover 65% of the front and back of every packet of cigarettes, with additional warnings on the top of the pack
  • a ban on “lipstick-style” packs aimed at women – all packs must have at least 20 cigarettes to leave room for health warnings
  • roll-your-own tobacco packs to have similar picture warnings
  • a ban on promotional elements, such saying “this product is free of additives” or is less harmful than other brands
  • a ban on flavoured cigarettes, such as menthol, fruit and vanilla
  • a maximum nicotine-concentration level for e-cigarettes.
  • EU-wide tracking of cigarettes to combat illegal trade

Chairman of Freedom2Choose, Dave Atherton has responded in a TV interview on BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03w63sc/Look_North_%28Yorkshire_and_Lincolnshire%29_26_02_2014/

He is on from 07:12 to 09:37

Dave has also written about it here:

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/02/26/EU-Votes-Through-Draconian-New-Anti-Smoking-Rules

 

Further info in these links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26355419

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20140221IPR36632/html/Tobacco-Directive-Parliament-approves-plans-to-deter-young-people-from-smoking

http://europarltv.europa.eu/en/player.aspx?pid=6dabee7d-8f9e-4c33-ab94-a2de0119470a

There was no debate and the voting began at 13:09:34 with the final vote at 13:16:19:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/plenary/video?debate=1393414017087

 

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Politicians trample over our freedoms. Again.

Once again, our politicians have decided to trample on the freedoms of the British people. The ban on smoking in cars when children are present was voted in by the House of Commons by 376 votes to 107.

The debate leading to this shameful act can be seen here from 17:43:30 to 19:44:45

A few MPs spoke against the amendment and Philip Davies MP (con) gave a very fine speech. You can read it in the Hansard text from Column 614 onwards and view it in the video from 18:28:06 to 18:36:16.
Philip Davies summed up events pithily by saying:
“We are supposedly here to try to defend the freedoms of people in this country. This Government want to trample over every single one of those freedoms.”
 
Note that this is an enabling act so it is not law yet but can and will be made law whenever a current or future health minister wishes.
The voting details can also be seen here:
The BBC reported it here:
It seems the BBC have actually tracked down the ’11 times greater study’ and now the amendment has passed have revealed that:
“Research published in 2009 showed that a single cigarette in a stationary car could produce levels of second-hand smoke 11 times greater than that found in a smoky bar.
Although it should be pointed out that the study also said if the car was moving and a window open it reduced the toxins to well below that level. “
Bloggers have also responded:
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An Open Letter to MPs About Smoking in Cars

The following email has been sent to all MPs
An Open Letter to all MPs About the Lords’ Amendments to the ‘Children and Families’ Bill from Freedom2Choose


You will no doubt have heard about the proposal to ban smoking in cars when children are present. This is an amendment (57BB) to the ‘Children and Families Bill’, which was passed in the Lords on the 29th of January 2014.

Amendment 57B, a rather disturbing enabling clause that would allow government to introduce plain packaging without recourse to parliament, was also passed.

It seems that the bill is to be debated in the House of Commons very shortly. Possibly as early as 10th February on a ‘free vote’.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2014-01-29a.1215.0
http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=14666

As chairman of freedom2choose I’m writing to strongly recommend voting against this amendment and also amendment 57B. I lay out my reasoning below.

 

Introduction


I suspect everyone would agree that some children may experience discomfort if an adult is smoking in a car with them. The vast majority of smoking adults play safe just in case and do not smoke in the car for that very reason. So we are talking about a tiny minority of people.

In fact University College Dublin and its Public Health Department studied 2,230 cars coming in and out of Dublin and found ‘Eight adult passengers and just one child were observed as being exposed to a smoking adult driver’. Just one. It is impossible to be certain that the ‘smoker’ was not actually using an -e-cigarette, in which case there would have been no passive smoke exposure(1).

Holden Pearmain on behalf of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association surveyed 1,000 smokers and drivers. They found that 76% did not smoke in the car with children and 11% would ask(2).

Legislating against something that is no more than a lack of consideration is taking a very large hammer to crack a very small nut. Many parents will act inconsiderately on occasion but that is no excuse for the state to take over parental responsibilities. The state should only get involved if there is real demonstrable harm being done. Evidence on harm is examined later on here.

Amendment 57BB introduces two worrying precedents:

The Government will be invading people’s personal domains for the first time. This could be the anti-smoking lobby’s first step towards banning smoking in private homes. Other pressure groups will use this in future as a precedent to enforce their lifestyle beliefs on the population backed by the force of Government.

The police would have to enforce a health directive for the first time. Surely the police have far more important things to do. In any case, even with police commitment, the law will be impossible to enforce. The enforcement angle will be used as a foot in the door to banning smoking in cars where no children are present which would be an entirely different matter and not one to be undertaken lightly.

Amendment 57B is an enabling clause:

It gives the present and any future health secretary carte blanche to introduce further laws on tobacco (which could be seen as a precedent for other policy areas) without recourse to Parliament. Democracy, anyone? Surely this in itself should be sufficient to reject it.

 

Harm?


Lung cancer risk:

Numerous studies have been carried out looking at the potential risk of lung cancer comparing children brought up by smoking parents with those brought up by non-smoking ones. One and only one such study achieved statistical significance. This was a study organised by the World Health Organisation and published in 1998(3). It found a negative correlation, yes negative. In other words it suggested that children of smoking parents were 22% less likely to contract lung cancer in later life. Not proof of a protective effect but certainly not evidence of harm.

Asthma:

Asthma rates, particularly amongst children, have tripled over the last forty years while smoking rates have halved. Again not proof of protection but certainly not evidence of harm.

A major 32-year study(4), of parents with allergies and their children, found that the children had, by the age of 13, a 45% reduced chance of developing allergies. Asthma is primarily caused by an allergic reaction although attacks can also be induced by fear and other stresses. Once again this is not proof of protection but certainly not evidence of harm.

Until the 1950s smoking was recommended, in medical textbooks, for the treatment and prevention of asthma. Even today many people find that it works better than anything else. This is not to recommend smoking but is nonetheless relevant. Usual rider here: it is not proof of protection but certainly not evidence of harm.

SIDS:

One area that smoking quite regrettably been mentioned as a cause of mortality is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or cot deaths.

In a recent BBC Radio Five Live interview Professor Terence Stephenson was unable to answer my question how that between 1970 and 1988 SIDS rose five-fold but smoking halved in that time(5).

Also in 2010 Harvard University uncovered the real cause of SIDS, a lack of serotonin production by the baby’s body(6).

SIDS has to have no attributional cause of death under both pathologists’ guidelines and the definition of SIDS itself. If they are claiming smoking causes SIDS then the cause of death cannot lawfully be SIDS.

The anti-smokers’ case:

On the other hand the anti-smoking lobby tends to quote a document by John Britton, published by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) which claims X many hospital admissions due to passive smoking from various ailments(7 & 8). These are, however, estimates and statistical projections by a long-term anti-smoking activist and trustee of ASH, an organisation founded by the RCP in 1971. It is based on selected studies that show a slight positive correlation.

Remember that these studies are epidemiological ones. These are the studies that lead to the scare stories so beloved of the mass media. So on one day you can read that ‘coffee causes cancer’ and the very next day that ‘coffee protects against cancer’. Campaigners will usually try to discredit the studies they don’t like by claiming financial motives but these contradictory findings are the direct result of modern epidemiological methods(9). There is also a very simple but serious mathematical flaw in using these correlations to project attributable numbers of cases(10).

 

Hyperbole


Last year the British Medical association (BMA) claimed that the air in such a car would be 23 times more smoky than a pub. This is untrue and the BMA had to issue a formal retraction. Unfortunately it is still widely quoted.

Here is the amended press release:

CORRECTION TO BMA briefing paper: ‘Smoking in vehicles… is 23 times greater…’ THIS SENTENCE HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH: ‘Further studies demonstrate that the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled vehicle could be up to 11 times greater than that of a smoky bar’(11).

An ‘expert’ doctor claimed that smoking in a car is the same as piping car exhaust fumes into it. Whilst it is true that the same chemicals are involved, car exhaust fumes are 1,000 times more concentrated. In any case, people have always smoked in cars so if it were true then people would have been dropping like flies ever since cars were invented.

The concentration/quantity of chemicals is the key issue in determining harm. This was first formally stated by Paracelsus 500 years ago when he said that ‘the poison is the dose’. It is true that tobacco smoke is estimated to contain thousands of chemicals and that some are known carcinogens. However everything is comprised of chemicals. Chocolate, tap water, toast, city air, clean mountain air and every human body also contain thousands of chemicals of which some are known carcinogens. What’s more, these are the same chemicals as those in tobacco smoke.

The office of the US Surgeon general issued a press release in 2005 to coincide with their latest report. The press release trumpeted that ‘There is no safe level of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)’. This statement is obviously wrong yet has been endlessly repeated. In the main body of the report it turns out that what they actually said was that no safe limit for ETS exposure has been decided. National and international bodies have set safe levels for all of the chemicals found in ETS. And these levels are miles above anything that could reasonably be encountered in the real world. They have also set safe limits for particulate matter but these are given as levels averaged over long periods such as a working day. Anti-smokers like to quote peak levels as though they were the same but they are not. Peak levels can fluctuate wildly in all manner of environments with or without tobacco smoke being present and yet remain well within these guidelines.

The anti-smoking industry is fond of quoting surveys that suggest 70% of smokers want to quit. However when asked whether they want to quit within a month or so the figure drops to about 20%. The Government spends around £100 million a year on stop smoking services and they are heavily advertised. But they record less than 1 million cessation attempts per year and many of these will be repeat ones. So less than 10% of smokers per year have shown a serious interest in quitting. The explanation for these mismatches in numbers is that, in surveys, smokers tend to give the answer they are expected to give and probably reflects their view that perhaps they should give up one day.

The black lung myth. Ask a pathologist whether smoker’s lungs look different and they’ll confirm that they don’t. Unless of course they are diseased, which can happen to non-smokers too, albeit a little less commonly(12).

 

The Historical Backdrop – A Lesson from History:


In a word, we may gather out of history a policy no less wise than eternal; by the comparison and application of other men’s forepassed miseries with our own like errors and ill deservings.
Sir Walter Raleigh, History of the World, Preface, Para IX.


Anti-smoking campaigning has a long and very dark history. In Europe it dates back to the fifteenth century when tobacco was first brought back from the Americas and it has waxed and waned ever since.

I was recently on BBC Radio and Fiona Andrews of Smokefree South West compared smokers to dogs, when she said on exclusion in public parks ‘they gate them to prevent dogs going in there’(13).

De-normalisation and prohibition have been tried many times, often backed by viscious and inhumane punishment, and supported variously by religious and/or scientific evidence.

But it has failed every time. And there is no reason to suppose this time will be any different. Indeed the smoking rate in Britain has flatlined in the last 6 years despite, or perhaps because of, smoking bans and other measures. There are some indications that smoking has become cool and trendy once more. People, especially young people, tend to rebel against state diktats.

A few pointers from the great American experiment on alcohol prohibition. By 1900, the temperance league had managed to force all school science textbooks to devote at least a quarter of their content to temperance science. Those who complied most cravenly would be lauded as the ‘greatest living authority’ or ‘foremost scientist’. These texts included claims, amongst other ridiculous things, that most beer drinkers died of dropsy and that it was addictive and harmful even in small quantities.

The Volstead Act of 1919 did not prohibit alcohol consumption in private nor its production. It simply banned the sale of it and consumption in ‘public places’. After it was passed, one of the temperance leaders, Billy Sunday crowed: “Prohibition is won; now for tobacco!”

 

In conclusion


So if I may sum up: the civil rights aspects of this Bill appal us, smoking in cars is an issue that most people are aware of and they do not smoke in the car with children present. The science is far from conclusive and this Bill is yet another way to create prejudice and bully and denormalise smokers which for any other minority would be seen to be quite intolerable.

Dave Atherton

Chairman of freedom2choose

If you would like to reply to this email, please do. We would very much welcome your thoughts.

About Us – http://www.freedom2choose.info/about_us.php

Freedom To Choose aims to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issue of smoking.

We campaign actively to prevent the victimisation of smokers, social division, social isolation, and to alleviate the negative social and economic impacts of the smoking ban.

We are funded entirely by donations from the general public and have no financial connections either now or in the past with any tobacco manufacturing, tobacco distribution or tobacco retail industries, nor with any pharmaceutical or smoking cessation commercial interests.

Our membership, which is open to all individuals who agree with and support our aims, consists of both smokers and non-smokers.

Footnotes


1    http://www.lenus.ie/hse/bitstream/10147/282336/1/Article6988.pdf
2    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmpublic/childrenandfamilies/memo/cf131.htm
3    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9776409
The figures of interest are the childhood Odds Ratio (OR) of 0.78 and the 95% confidence interval where the lower and upper bounds are less than 1.0. This indicates statistical significance.
4    http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0091-6749/PIIS0091674907019549.pdf
5    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/7530949/Fiddling-those-smoking-figures-again.html
6    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100202171811.htm
7    http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/passive-smoking-and-children.pdf
8      http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/rcp_parliamentary_briefing_-_passive_smoking_and_children.doc.pdf
9     http://www.f2c.org.uk/blog/2013/07/28/the-2-sigma-scandal-of-medical-science/
This is not a peer-reviewed paper but its veracity can easily be verified by anyone with a little basic numeracy.
10    http://www.f2c.org.uk/blog/2013/07/14/the-alice-in-wonderland-world-of-risk-factor-epidemiology/
Also not a peer-reviewed paper but again, its veracity can easily be verified by anyone with a little basic numeracy.
11    http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/blog/2011/11/17/bma-apologies-for-error.html
12     http://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/the-black-lung-lie/
13    https://soundcloud.com/dick-puddlecote/chippenham-outdoor-voluntary

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