Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A single cigarette could kill you . . . Honestly?

The (December 9, 2010) press release from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the latest report from the US Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin. But, anyone living in the real world, as opposed to the Alice in Wonderland creation of the anti-smoker fanatics, will see the press release for what it is; blatant fear-mongering.

The press release issued by HHS and the “fact sheet ” issued by the OSG (Office of the Surgeon General) appear designed to support the most fanatical claims of the anti-smoker cult. They are, by and large, propaganda documents meant to encourage anti-smoker hysteria rather than legitimate attempts to inform the public about the potential health hazards of smoking.

For example, the press release notes: “Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease and could trigger acute cardiac events, such as heart attack.” Uh-huh. Welcome to Fantasy Land, ladies and gentlemen; please check your hat, coat and common sense at the door.

Smokers only develop heart disease after many years of active smoking. As noted by anti-smoking activist, Dr. Michael Siegel: “Even active smoking does not generally lead to heart disease unless you smoke for many years. Thus, it is simply untrue to assert that brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Siegel claims, in the same article, that the press release “may be correct in suggesting that a brief exposure to tobacco smoke could cause a heart attack (although only in someone with preexisting heart disease).”

Of course, this is conjecture, not scientific fact. But, the preexisting condition would have to be severe. Theoretically, brief exposure to secondhand smoke might trigger a hearth attack in such an individual. But, so might any number of other factors; eating a heavy meal, emotional upset, excitement, smoke from a bar-b-que, taking a vigorous shower, etc.

Simply walking to the corner store in excessively hot or cold weather, or during a smog alert, could conceivably trigger a heart attack in someone whose health has already been compromised by heart disease.

So, the odds of someone actually dying from a heart attack after only a brief exposure to secondhand smoke are likely comparable to the chance of being struck by lightning. And, given the scare tactics and hyperbole in this latest propaganda effort from the US Surgeon General, we can't discount the fact that some poor schmuck with a serious heart condition might die of fright just from seeing someone light a fag.

The fact sheet from the Surgeon General claims that: “There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke – even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke – is harmful,” before going on to note that: “You don’t have to be a heavy smoker or a long-time smoker to get a smoking-related disease or have a heart attack or asthma attack that is triggered by tobacco smoke.”

Ah . . . finally. A grain of truth.

For the facts are that you don't have to be a smoker to get a smoking related disease or have a heart attack. The last SAM (Smoking Attributable Mortality) report prepared for Health Canada shows there were 40,627 deaths from IHD (Ischemic Heart Disease) in 2002, but only 5,343 were “attributed” to smoking.

The Surgeon General's report lends credence to the empty-headed rhetoric of the anti-smoker cult by disparaging tobacco products which could reduce the harm associated with smoking. “The overall health of the public could be harmed if the introduction of novel tobacco products encourages tobacco use among people who would otherwise be unlikely to use a tobacco product or delays cessation among persons who would otherwise quit using tobacco altogether.”

Novel tobacco products? Like Snus? The electronic cigarette? The SG, it seems, would rather fight than let smokers switch.

And, the fact sheet contains the compulsory plug for NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) and smoking cessation drugs provided by anti-smoker allies in the pharmaceutical industry. “Smokers often make several attempts before they are able to quit, but new strategies for cessation, including nicotine replacement and non-nicotine medications, can make it easier.”

The press release from HHS notes: “Fortunately, there are now more effective ways to help people quit than ever before. Nicotine replacement is available over the counter and doctors can prescribe medications that improve the chances of successful quit attempts.”

Nothing like providing a little free publicity for the drug czars.

Now, to be clear, I haven't read the entire report. But, judging from the press release and the fact sheet provided by the OSG, I expect little more than a rehash of the same, venomous anti-smoker rhetoric we've heard from the fanatics over the past decade or so. In fact, both the press release and the fact sheet could have been written by any number of anti-smoker fanatics, and probably was.

But there are other things about the latest SG's report which I find troublesome.

For example, this is number 30 in a long string of reports (beginning in 1964) on the smoking issue. Given First Lady, Michele Obama's commitment to fighting obesity, might that not have been a more current theme for Dr. Benjamin's first major report?

OK. OK. That was a snide remark. I simply couldn't resist. And, Dr. Benjamin does seem to have all the qualifications to fill her position. A medical degree, a masters in business administration, honours and awards galore. And, as noted in her biography, “some of her numerous board memberships include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the . . .”

Oh, shit.


Anonymous said...

She would look a fool trying to run an 'anti fat' campaign as she looks like just ONE more doughnut would kill her stone dead.
The far prat.

Anonymous said...

How is the nicotine in a cartridge more dangerous for a child to get hold of than NRT gum or nicotine patches ?
These are the products that should be banned as well if the banning of e-cigs goes ahead.
what about the e-cigs that contain no nicotine at all ?

Michael J. McFadden said...

Rambler, many thanks for another year of wisdom and insight here! Hopefully 2011 will see an upswing for us: Holland has "broken the mold," Spain and Greece are deeply unhappy, "smoking lounges" are popping up in France and elsewhere, Russia has put off its ban efforts almost entirely for at least another two years, and a number of states in the US are showing increasing signs of rebellion against the Antis at a grass-roots as well as legislative level.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to ye Rambler!


Michael J. McFadden said...

I'd like to add a second comment. I also cannot claim to have read the whole SGR2010, but I have skimmed through a good portion of it and read some sections in more detail. You can read my article on it at:

One sentence summary: they've used such things as Otsuka's intense "smoke chamber" study to characterize the "threat" from "low levels" of ETS exposure. Given that Otsuka used levels 400% those found in the middle of old pressurized airplane smoking sections I'd hardly call that an effective representation of "low level" exposures.


cigarettes online said...

e-cigs contains nicotine, at least in a very small part, but it does contain it. So , for a kid or for an adult, it is the same danger.
From my point of view, how people were smoking cigarettes, dangerous or not, they will smoke them continuously.

Keep sharing.