Thursday, February 3, 2011

SHS: little white lies or scientific fraud

A report prepared by a European group called the Smoke Free Partnership, completed in 2006, examined mortality allegedly due to secondhand smoke exposure in 25 nation states of the European Union. The report, titled “Lifting the smokescreen: 10 reasons for going smokefree”, concluded that “Second-hand smoke exposure kills and harms health”, noting that “Every worker has the right to be protected from exposure to tobacco smoke”.

The conclusions, of course, were not unexpected. The report was intended to convince politicians and policymakers in individual states in the European Union to commit to comprehensive smoking bans and other smoke free policies. And, the EU report was indeed used to justify the smoking bans recently imposed throughout Europe, including the ban implemented in France.

For years, anti-smoker zealots have used the “threat” of secondhand smoke to support the need for smoking bans in the workplace, including restaurants and bars.

Mortality statistics, deaths allegedly due to secondhand smoke, are frequently quoted in anti-smoker propaganda released through the main stream media. As often as not, the news stories appear to be written directly from the press releases issuing forth from the fanatics in the anti-smoker movement. The extravagant, often outrageous, claims made by the zealots are seldom challenged by the media.

Robert Molimard is professor emeritus of physiology and coordinator of the DIU of Tabacologie to the Faculty of Medicine Paris-South in France. A renowned tobacco researcher (tabacologist), Molimard took note of some discrepancies in the report which highlighted the number of deaths in France attributed to passive smoking.

Of particular concern to Professor Molimard were two tables presented in “Lifting the smokescreen”. The first asserted that there was a total of exactly 5,863 deaths allegedly due to secondhand smoke exposure in France in 2002. (identified as Table 6 in the report)

That's the figure most often used by anti-smoker zealots and their allies in the media, often rounded off to 5,000 or 6,000 passive smoking deaths. And, the inference is that these passive smoking deaths are among those who have never smoked.

However, Professor Molimard was quick to see the subterfuge; that the majority of those deaths occurred among smokers. “But what do we see when we revisit this study? We see that these 5,863 deaths include a majority of smokers!” he maintained in one interview. Uh-huh. Smokers are killing themselves with their own secondhand smoke, apparently after first having killed themselves by smoking. Or, perhaps they were killed by smoking after having already being killed by secondhand smoke.

At any rate, it's this frightening distortion of reality which clearly demonstrates the extent of the deceit perpetrated by the extremists.

This grossly inflated statistic points out another deception of the zealots. Looking at the chart we can see that, of those 5,863 deaths, it's apparent that only 314 of the alleged deaths occurred in the workplace, and only 25 in the hospitality sector.

But, there's more to the deception. Table 7 in the report estimates that deaths attributable to passive smoking among non-smokers is only 1,114, of which only 113 are allegedly due to passive smoking in the workplace. And, only six of those are ascribed to the hospitality sector.

But, the deception doesn't stop there. As noted by Professor Molimard: “And since ex-smokers represent approximately 40% of people who don’t smoke -- 48% and 52% [of non-smokers] are never smokers -- we then realize that the number of true non-smokers, who have never smoked, who will have a risk because of passive smoking in bars, hotels, restaurants, discotheques, these places where it is absolutely imperative to stop smoking because of the risks to the staff -- estimated using a scoop as a measuring tool -- is 2. ” Uh-huh.

So, the passive smoking deaths, as estimated in the EU report, included both smokers and former smokers. In addition, the vast majority, 5,574 of the 5,863 deaths allegedly due to secondhand smoke in the workplace, occurred not in the workplace, but from exposure in the home environment. Incredibly, only six were attributed in the hospitality sector. And, rough calculations by Professor Molimard suggest that fewer than half of those were never smokers.

France is a country of roughly 62 million people, with a smoking prevalence rate of between 21% to 27%, depending on who's quoting the figures. Yet, the anti-smoker zealots managed to convince their politicians that extremely restrictive anti-smoker legislation, which focused primarily on bars and restaurants, was needed to protect workers in the hospitality industry from secondhand smoke.

It's difficult to determine who is most at fault, the anti-smoker zealots who manufacture these fraudulent statistics to support their utopian goal of a smoker free society, or the brain dead politicians who blindly accept them without question.

And, the misrepresentation is not limited to France or the European Union.

It is a scenario being played out throughout the developed world. The economic costs, the loss in revenues experienced by restaurants, night clubs, bars, etc., occasioned by smoking bans, is ignored. The loss of jobs in the hospitality industry is ignored. The stigmatization of smokers, their social exclusion, and the blatant discrimination directed at them, is routinely ignored.

In France Professor Molimard, an anti-smoking advocate, is publicly trying to bring the deception to an end. But, as he notes in his interview: “My chances of success are very limited. “

And, he has a point - as long as the lies and deceit of the anti-smoker zealots go unchallenged in the main stream media, whether it's in France, the US, Canada, Great Britain or elsewhere around the world.

The English version of
an interview with Professor Molimard, translated by Iro Cyr, is available on the CAGE (Canadians Against Government Encroachment) website. The charts used in this blog entry came from the CAGE blog.

There's also a a second article by Molimard, discussing the same subject matter, on the CAGE blog.
Beliefs, Manipulation and lies in the Tobacco Issue

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