Monday, March 29, 2010

Anti-smoker fanatics - a deceitful bunch

A recent commenter to one of my posts claimed that: “smoking is now considered a mental illness and is listed as such in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” He concluded his diatribe against smokers with the observation that, “ Smokers also obviously don't care about their own health so why should they concern themselves with the health of others. Defending second hand smoke borders on sociopathic behavior if you ask me.”

Shit. Exercising my right to free speech and expression makes me a borderline sociopath?

Of course, I've never really defended secondhand smoke. I do, however, take issue with the “science” which alleges that secondhand tobacco smoke kills people. And, I have, on more than one occasion, inferred that anti-smokers are a deceitful bunch of bastards when it comes to secondhand smoke. OK, OK. They're a deceitful bunch of bastards; period!

At any rate, anti-smoker fanatics claim that there is a 20% increased risk of lung cancer for non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke. Of course, the scientific evidence supporting their argument is tenuous at best, with less than one in six studies demonstrating a statistical link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer or heart disease. And, they've never been able to prove that SHS actually causes either of those diseases.

A 20% increase in relative risk may sound pretty ominous – to the timid; to the brain-washed and the brain dead. But, if they'd just take the time to really think about it and apply a little common sense, they might come to the same conclusion that I have; that the alleged increase in risk is just so much bullshit and bafflegab.

That 20% increase in risk means that, if 1 in 10,000 non-smokers never exposed to SHS die from lung cancer, then for every 10,000 non-smokers who are exposed, 1.2 will be expected to die from that disease.

Of course, it's absurd to claim that only 20% of any individual is likely to die due to exposure to secondhand smoke (or any other reason for that matter). So, the anti-smokers simply add up all those fractions and claim an additional two bodies per 100,000. And, if you extrapolate that data to a population of 33 million, well . . .

Did I mention that anti-smokers are a deceitful bunch of bastards?

Using this kind of statistical chicanery, Health Canada estimates that hundreds of Canadians (252 to be exact) die from SHS induced lung cancer every year. Another 579, they claim, will die from IHD (Ischemic Heart Disease) caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. But, those deaths are also grounded in the the same statistical shenanigans.

Of course, these data clearly expose another lie postulated by the anti-smoker crowd: “There is no safe level of secondhand smoke.” Because if we accept their numbers of two excess lung cancer deaths per 100,000 non-smokers exposed, that means 99,998 of every 100,000 non-smokers exposed to SHS will not die from lung cancer. At least, not anytime soon.

In fact, for only one-tenth of those 100,000 to die of secondhand smoke induced lung cancer would take almost 500 years. I'm giving 100 to 1 odds that most of them won't make it.

Like I said, they're a deceitful bunch of bastards.

Health Canada reports that there were 831 deaths (252 from lung cancer; 579 from heart disease) attributed to “passive smoking” (secondhand smoke) in Canada in 2002. That may seem like a lot of deaths until you realize they're computer generated numbers based on a statistical illusion.

And, the numbers don't really look that frightening when you compare them to some other common causes of death. For example, suicide (3,650), car accidents (2,953), accidental falls (1,769) or accidental poisoning (1,018). And, those are real, verifiable deaths, not computer generated estimates.

But, just how do the computer generated deaths attributed to secondhand smoke stack up against other computer generated deaths? Air pollution, for example.

Extrapolating national data to Ontario we can estimate 313 deaths in the province of Ontario allegedly due to passive smoking.

But, a 2007 report from the Toronto Board of Health, acknowledges there are 440 premature deaths annually from air pollution caused by traffic. That means deaths attributed to automobile exhaust in the city of Toronto exceed the deaths attributed to secondhand smoke in the whole province by 40%.

A 2004 report from the same Board of Health estimates that the total mortality from air pollution from all sources is approximately 1,700 annually in the city of Toronto. So, statistically, there are over twice as many deaths (1,700) attributed to air pollution in the city of Toronto alone than there are deaths attributed to secondhand smoke (831) in the whole damn country.

The same 2004 report notes that recent “studies link air pollution with lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure”. Lung cancer and heart attacks are also linked to secondhand smoke.

Which brings us to the question of the day.

Who in hell taught the computer how to tell the difference between lung cancer and heart attack deaths caused by air pollution and those caused by secondhand smoke?

The deceitful bunch of bastards.

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