Monday, April 28, 2008

Anti-tobacco lies & more lies

In 1975, British delegate to the World Health Organization, Sir George Goober informed that august body of the means by which smokers could be encouraged to quit: “foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily” to secondhand smoke.

Note the use of the word “perceived”. It implies that the hazards of secondhand smoke didn’t have to exist; merely that the public perception that secondhand smoke was harmful to family, friends and co-workers had to be created.

Although anti-smoker activism has been with us for hundreds of years, they had failed miserably to coerce people into quitting the habit. Mostly, they failed because they attacked smokers on moral grounds or insisting on their right to be free of the “sickening stench” of tobacco.

But with Sir George’s dictum that it was the perception of harm, not the reality, that would be most advantageous in attaining the objective of coercing people to quit, the opposition to smoking took a different tack. True to form, the truth became the first casualty in the war about to be waged against smokers.

First the faulty methodology of the science, followed by the exaggeration and distortion of the science, eventually graduating into outright lies and propaganda.

Tobacco control became a growth industry shortly after Sir George’s address to WHO.

Non-smoker’s rights groups, smoke-free this-and-that groups, and others in the anti-smoker brigade saw funding opportunities increase in direct proportion to the lie, with those making the most outrageous claims often being the biggest benefactors.

Few of these groups are, in fact, grassroots movements. They are structured from the top down. They are, more often than not, funded by the pharmaceutical industry and taxpayer dollars filtered down from the usurious tax burden placed on smokers to force them to kick the habit. And, if they had to survive through member “donations”, they’d likely have to fold their tents and steal away like any other thief in the night.

The public has been indoctrinated to believe that evidence contrary to the propaganda spouted by the prohibitionists is the work of “tobacco stooges”, and not to be believed. The public is largely unaware that these “organizations” are funded largely through taxes imposed on the smoking public and funding provided by the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.

They are wary of any studies funded by big tobacco, but readily accept the deceit of big pharma, because the information is processed through legitimate public health sources such as Health Canada, The Canadian Cancer Society and The Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, among others. The problem, of course, is that even these organizations often receive substantial funding from the pharmaceutical giants.

The ultimate goal of the anti-smoker brigade is the outright prohibition of tobacco. Jim Watson (Ottawa-West Nepean MPP) declared his desire to make cigarettes illegal while serving as Ontario’s Minister of Health Promotion on April 9, 2006: "If I had my druthers I would not want to see tobacco anywhere in Canada….we know it kills people. If I had the ultimate authority to ban tobacco from the province or the country, of course I would."

Smokers themselves seem content to hang their heads in shame for choosing to use a perfectly legal product. They seem reluctant to fight back against what has become outright discrimination against smokers which would not be tolerated against any other minority group. They would do well to remember the words of Desiderada, “You are a child of the universe; you have a right to be here.”

This child of the universe chooses to smoke. No apologies.

Recommended Reading:
Passive Smoking: An Institutional Problem – Fabricated Risks Attributed to Passive Smoking. Click on the link: Forces International

Fact or Fiction 3

The (US) Surgeon General's Report concluded "there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.”

Actually, the Surgeon General’s Report concluded no such thing. No safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke can be easily determined simply because, as the anti-smoker brigade will be quick to tell you, there are over 4,000 chemicals in SHS. Whether that number is accurate or not is open to debate. At any rate, safe exposure levels to each of the individual components of secondhand smoke have been determined.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association), in the US, is responsible for determining permissible safe exposure levels for hazardous workplace substances, including the many chemicals in tobacco.

OSHA has stated regarding secondhand smoke: "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000) ... It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded."

Recommended Reading: Clean Air Quality American Cancer Society Test Results

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Ministry of Health Propaganda

The Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, in a letter responding to an inquiry about the proposed ban on smoking in motor vehicles with children present, claimed: "Clearly, medical science shows that children who breathe second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma, and cardiac arrest."

Dr. Michael Siegel, an anti-smoking advocate, took issue with this claim from the Liberal propaganda ministry, saying: “I do not understand why the Ministry of Health Promotion would fabricate such a claim.”

In his blog, The Rest of The Story, he says, “There is simply no way to justify or explain the statement that secondhand smoke causes cardiac arrest among exposed children. There is no degree of leniency on the terminology that we can allow that would enable us to interpret that statement as being anything other than blatantly inaccurate.”

“Children's hearts do not stop beating suddenly because of exposure to secondhand smoke. There is no evidence that secondhand smoke exposure causes acute coronary events of any kind among children. This claim seems to be pulled completely out of the blue. It's not like the claim is even an exaggeration of a claim for which there is evidence. In other words, this is not merely an exaggeration, it is a complete fabrication.”

Earlier this year, in March, Ontario Premier Dalton McGinty claimed publicly that “being exposed to one hour of secondhand smoke in a car is the same for a young child as smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.”

Dave Orazietti (Saulte St. Marie MPP), and sponsor of the bill, claimed during a press conference last December that “young people are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of second hand smoke and as a result they are more likely to suffer from cancer, heart disease, asthma and a number of other respiratory problems."

Mr. McGinty’s remarks were labelled “inaccurate” while Mr. Orazietti’s comments were labeled “irresponsible and unethical”.

The politicians get their information exclusively from the anti-smoker brigade.Their outrageous claims are based on seriously distorted science and statistics passed off as “fact”. Contrary opinions are simply ignored; their authors disparaged as “tobacco stooges”.

The press ignores the distortions of fact, perhaps too lazy, or maybe too gullible, to investigate the claims being made by such august bodies as Health Canada, non-smokers rights groups, Dalton’s Ministry of Health Propaganda and others.

The politicians take their cue from the fanatics in the anti-smoker brigade whose goal is to vilify and demonize smokers so that the public will accept any degree of blatant discrimination directed against smokers without resistance.

The “loyal” opposition in the Ontario legislature is loyal to no other interests, save their own. They’re all afraid of questioning the dishonest claims being made from the government bench lest they be seen as opposing efforts to “protect our children”.

The politicians can make their wild claims knowing there is no effective opposition to challenge their outlandish claims.
Check out Dr. Siegel’s latest post, “Ontario Health Ministry Tells Public that Secondhand Smoke Causes Cardiac Arrest Among Children” on his blog: The Rest of The Story

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Smokers, bad science & bans

The smoking ban in restaurants didn't bother me much. The establishments which I frequent had, for the most part, already prohibited smoking before the government saw fit to intrude on the free choice of the owners. The owners made legitimate business decisions based on what they felt was best for the success of their business. But, before the bans, I could simply retire to my favourite watering hole for a brandy and my after dinner smoke. At any rate, I don't dine out all that often anymore.
The smoking bans in bars, likewise, didn't bother me all that much. Next year I'll be, officially, a senior. Having been married for forty years, the bar scene just doesn't appeal to me anymore.
The ban on smoking in private clubs and legion halls was a little more troublesome. In years past, the Royal Canadian Legion, where I've been a member for over forty years, was at the centre of our social life. We seldom go there anymore. The walk to the parking lot is too long; and winters are far too cold up here in the Great White North. And, besides, it's demeaning.
Once, in the rapidly receding past, smokers and non-smokers could co-habit the same space without rancor. They probably still could. In fact, they still do at social gatherings in private homes. But now, there are efforts afoot to deprive smokers of even that limited social interaction. For now, it's limited to rental accommodation in multi-unit apartment buildings. To-morrow it will include private homes; count on it.
So what happened? There was no grassroots movement to ban smoking in these areas; no hue and cry from the public.
The “movement” was started, and is being perpetuated, by anti-smoker groups and government agencies funded by both the government and the pharmaceutical industry. Many of these groups are funded in part through taxes extorted from smokers themselves.
The outrageous claims of the anti-smoker brigade are based on seriously distorted science and statistics passed off as “fact”. Contrary opinions are simply ignored; their authors disparaged as “tobacco stooges”. But, It has been estimated that for every study showing a link to SHS and cancer, there are six showing no risk at all.
The World Health Organization tried to bury a study they commissioned from IARC because it didn't demonstrate what they wanted to show; that secondhand smoke caused lung cancer. The EPA study in the States was blasted by both the congress and the judiciary for scientific and procedural irregularities, including conflict of interest. The American Cancer Society pulled funding from a study by Enstrom and Kabat when the preliminary findings indicated that, like the WHO study, it wouldn't prove what ACS wanted to prove. Then they criticized the study because it was completed with funding from the tobacco industry.
The anti-smoker activists want people to believe that a society capable of putting a man on the moon, is incapable of building a ventilation system to protect non-smokers from exposure to SHS. They turned the scientific theory that the poison is in the dose upside down by proclaiming that “there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”
Politicians, eager to score a few cheap brownie points with their constituents, routinely take the information provided by the anti-smoker brigade as gospel; their gullibility, apparently, matched only by their lack of scientific literacy.
So the lies continue and the discrimination against smokers grows.
Maybe, some time in the future, there will be a politician with the integrity to do his/her own research and the moral courage to speak out against the discrimination. Maybe.
But, a word of caution; holding your breath that long may be hazardous to your health.
Recommended Reading:
Edmund Contoski posted an excellent essay on this topic recently. Check it out. Death by smoking ban

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tobacco Control - The new nazis

First they came for the Communists,
but I wasn’t a Communist,
so I didn’t speak up;
Then they came for the trade unionists,
but I wasn’t a trade unionist,
so I didn’t speak up;
And when they came for the Jews,
I didn’t speak up
because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then they came for me . . .
and by that time
there was no one left to speak up.

According to Wikipedia, "First they came…" is a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Niemöller’s poem is a popular way of warning people about the dangers of political apathy, especially when it comes to targeting selected groups for discrimination. Teach people to fear and the hate will inevitably follow. And, once the people learn to fear and hate targeted groups, they will allow, and often encourage, the most disgraceful behaviour by their government in efforts to “control” that group.

The phenomona has not been the sole preserve of totalatarian or dictatorial regimes. The Nazis weren’t the first, and they won’t be the last, to use the tactics of targeted fear and hatred to achieve their political goals. They were simply better at it than most.

The new nazis use euphimisms such as “tobacco control” or “non-smokers rights”. But, the tactics are the same tactics of fear, hatred and discrimination used in the thirties. Smokers are the current target; others will, inevitably, follow.

Non-smokers are beginning to feel more and more comfortable directing demeaning remarks to smokers; often complete strangers. Their confrontational attitude has already led to serious physical assaults on smokers. Efforts are in the works to deprive smokers of the right to earn a living, to deny them a place to live and to deny them medical care.

First the confusing and contradictory “scientific” studies to instil fear that smokers and their secondhand smoke may be causing health problems for those around them. Then, thinly disguised allegations that they are “killing” our kids.

Repeat the propoganda until it becomes the truth in the minds and imaginations of the the people, and then pounce when the lack of moral fibre in the general population allows the target group to be placed under the heel of their jack boots.

Some may think that equating the tactics used by the “tobacco control” movement with those of the fascist regimes of the thirties and forties, is a gross exaggeration. They should take the blinders off and give the strategies being employed by the anti-smoker brigade some sober second thought.

And, this includes guilt-tripping smokers who appear willing to accept their new role as second class citizens.

Smokers and non-smokers alike should be standing up for personal liberties and the privilege of free choice. Who’ll be next; the overweight and obese, the drinkers, gamblers?

Who’ll be left to speak out when it’s your turn?

Fact or Fiction 2

No ventilation system can adequately protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Many studies have, in fact, proved quite the opposite. One such study (The Black Dog Study), conducted by the Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division of Oak Ridges National Laboratory (Tennessee) in conjunction with Finn Projects (Toronto), should be of special interest to Canadians. They conducted a study in 2001 which compared the air quality in a restaurant/bar with both a smoking and non-smoking section against the air quality of several completely smoke free establishments.

The report concluded that: “Although limited in size, this study clearly shows that a suitably designed ventilation system installed in a restaurant/bar with both smoking and non-smoking sections can produce ETS levels in the non-smoking section that are not statistically different from those found in venues where smoking is prohibited.”

Recommended Reading:
The Black Dog Study
Air quality testing

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No new hearts for smokers - ASH

The Daily Mail article claimed that: “More than one in four heart transplant patients start smoking again after their operation.”

According to the article, Doctors at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle began analyzing urine samples for signs of tobacco use in 1993. Over the next 13 years, they tracked 380 male patients to see how many started smoking again. The result: according to the doctors, 104 had smoked again in the months and years after surgery.

The “findings” of this study claim the smokers lived an average of 11.89 years, 4 years less than those who didn’t resume smoking.

"A lot of families will be very upset and disappointed," said Pauline Weaver, a trustee of the Donor Family Network charity, "But donors and their families cannot choose who they give an organ to. All they can do is give other people the chance of a better life. What they choose to do with that is up to them."

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) is, as usual, a little more militant in expressing their opinion, saying. “Indeed, since many families of heart donors are "very upset and disappointed" when former smokers "waste" this gift of life by smoking again, perhaps they should begin to specify that hearts should go only to those who never smoked, or who gave it up many years ago”.

ASH Executive Director, John Banzhaf, says “Many non-smokers die while waiting for the hearts which are now being put into people (smokers) very likely to accelerate their own deaths.” Banzhaf also takes issue with the Donor Family Network charity, and their contention that donors and their families cannot choose to whom they can give an organ.

Banzhaf, a “professor of public interest law”, suggests, “Conditioning the gift of a heart upon a requirement that it not be largely wasted by being transplanted into someone very highly likely to smoke is very different from trying to prevent a heart from being donated to someone because of his or her race, religion, or similar immutable characteristics.

But, Banzhaf’s opinion is a legal one which ignores morals and ethics. And, his remarks amount to blatant discrimination. Claiming that heart transplants are “wasted” on smokers because they only live an average of 12 years after the operation instead of 16, clearly shows his contempt for a large minority in our society.

And, in this case, their suggestion that smokers and/or former smokers be denied transplants is counter-productive. Why should smokers and former smoker sign an organ donor card if they know there’s no way they would, themselves, be considered for a transplant?

ASH openly preaches hatred, intolerance and discrimination against smokers.

Dr. Michael Siegel, an anti-smoking advocate says in his web log, “There is no place for discrimination and bigotry in the practice of medicine. And I hope other anti-smoking groups join me in speaking out against the position that ASH has advanced here.”

They won’t. Not publicly. Dissent is not tolerated in the anti-smoker industry. The advancement of their “cause” is predicated on demonizing smokers; painting them as a sub-human species no longer fit for civilized society.

The anti-smoker brigade will march on like good little party members.

For additional information on this topic and links to the articles, visit: The Rest of the Story

Monday, April 14, 2008

The path to prohibition

Dalton McGinty and the Ontario Liberals are considering a ban on smoking in cars with children. The Premier has declared publicly that the ban should not be seen as the start of a journey down the slippery slope to an erosion of personal liberties and/or parental autonomy.

The problem is that McGinty and the Liberals have already chosen a policy of appeasement, rather than compromise and common sense. They accepted the unsubstantiated claims of the anti-smoker brigade and their distortions of science and statistics. They failed to recognize that the “science” surrounding the ill-effects of exposure to SHS is less than conclusive and that there is a considerable amount of debate in the scientific community itself on the issues surrounding SHS.

And, if you listen to only one side of an argument, you can reach only one conclusion.

But, historically, policies of appeasement have never worked. Now, having conceded that the province wide ban on smoking in public places was necessary “for the public good”, and that a ban on smoking in cars with children present is necessary to “protect the children,” there is nowhere to go but downhill.

How can McGinty now justify any failure to impose sanctions on smoking in homes with children or even a non-smoking spouse? How will he be able to stand up to the onslaught of the anti-smoker brigade when they start insisting that, if bans are required in public places and private automobiles, they are required even more in the private homes and gardens of the province . . . to protect the spouses and children of smokers.

How can McGinty possibly explain how secondhand smoke is less dangerous to non-smokers and children simply because exposure occurs in a private home?

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) has been at the forefront of campaigns to ban smoking in public. The organization has chapters all over the world. ASH is also responsible for some of the most outrageously false claims pertaining to the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke.

This anti-smoker pressure group is now claiming that the British government's public smoking ban has made the problem worse for children because it encouraged parents to light up at home instead of in pubs. They will be making similar claims in the near future about Ontario’s smoking bans; count on it.

Having remained silent on private sector discrimination against smokers in employment, housing and medical treatment, how will McGinty be able to resist the pressure for even more aggressive restrictions on smokers? By adding his voice to efforts to “de-normalize” smokers, he has contributed to the intolerance, invective and discrimination being openly directed at them.

And, to make matters worse, the government is in a state of denial about the socio-economic impact of their "tobacco control" policies; job loss in the hospitality industry, bars and casinos; job loss in the tobacco industry; declining tax revenue; increased costs for policing the growing demand for cheap contraband tobacco.

Will they continue to bury their heads in the sand when the call for bans turns into a call for outright prohibition?

The policy of appeasement has a price. It will be high.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fact or Fiction 1

It has been proven conclusively that exposure to secondhand smoke causes cancer in children.

The word “conclusively” is misleading. Very little of what you hear about the health effects of secondhand smoke is, in fact, conclusive. A study conducted in 1998 by IARC, an agency of the World Health Organization, found that “ETS exposure during childhood was not associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio [OR] for ever exposure = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64-0 – 0. 96)”.

With a relative risk of only 0.78 and the upper and lower confidence intervals being less than one, this suggests that childhood exposure to secondhand smoke may have a beneficial effect in preventing lung cancer in later years. The results were so at odds with what the WHO was trying to prove, that they tried to bury the study. It was published only after the study was brought to light by the London Telegraph through British freedom of information laws

Recommended Reading:
Hittman Chronicles
Lorraine Mooney - Wall Street Journal

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dispicable discrimination against smokers

The 1993 study conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the WHO study conducted in 1998, along with many other studies before and since, have been unable to prove a definitive cause and effect relationship between secondhand smoke and lung cancer, heart disease or any other disease.

All that was proven was that a relationship might be possible. These studies simply showed that there was a slim statistical possibility that secondhand smoke might slightly increase the risk of being affected by “smoking related” disease.

According to the Non-Smokers Rights Association of Canada, 1000 people died last year from exposure to secondhand smoke. But, they offer no evidence; nor can they. It simply doesn’t exist.

The NSRA, and many similar organizations, are irresponsibly promoting fear, hatred and intolerance and advocating discrimination against smokers. Many recent initiatives go far beyond any credible claims of protecting anyone’s “rights”:

  • Efforts designed to deny a smoker’s right to hold a job
  • Proposals to deny smokers a right to rental accommodation
  • Initiatives to declare smoking parents child abusers
  • Efforts to deny smokers appropriate medical treatment

These are morally reprehensible acts, not to be tolerated by any “free” society.

Many in the anti-smoker brigade will tell you they didn’t initiate these practices. And, that may be true. But, their efforts to “de-normalize” smokers, has created the climate of fear and intolerance which allows these practices to be introduced and tolerated within our “free society”. Members of the anti-smoker brigade, meanwhile, stand on the sidelines and cheer.

Defenders of a free society should strive for compromise achieved through reasoned debate, not the imposition of the “will” of the majority; especially when that will has been suborned by corrupted science, deception and outright lies. True democracy defends the rights of the minority; it doesn’t deny or trash them “in the public good”.

Today, it’s a ban on smoking in bars and Legion halls, tomorrow it’s a ban on smoking in cars and the day after that, the erosion of personal liberty will reach into the sanctity of the home. Today, it’s smokers; tomorrow it’ll be drinkers and the obese.

And, the non-smokers in the house shouldn’t get too complacent or convince themselves that it’s not their fight. It’s no longer about smoking or secondhand smoke.

Those who condone, and in a growing number of cases, support the initiatives of tobacco prohibitionists; who condone or support discrimination in housing, employment and medical treatment should be very cautious.

Anti-smoker, anti-fat, anti-abortion, anti-alcohol; all these obsessions challenge personal liberty and individual rights. Those who support the repression of free choice may wish to re-evaluate their position when it’s their turn to be pilloried for making a particular lifestyle choice.

If anti-smoker fanatics are allowed to continue, and even intensify, their attacks on smokers and the privilege of free choice, there is no telling who the next target will be.

For more information, go to:

FORCES International Round Table
A conversation with Dr. Michel Siegel, focusing on the iniquitous treatment of smokers instigated by the anti-smoker brigade

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

SHS kills 340 kids a day

Dr. Michael Siegel recently ran a “tournament” to select the “Most Ridiculous Secondhand Smoke Claim” being made by the health scare professionals. He writes a web log called “The Rest of the Story.”

A long time anti-smoking advocate, he is concerned that anti-smoker groups are making inaccurate, often outrageous, health claims to frighten the public into believing that exposure to SHS is worse than it really is. He has suggested that, by making such dishonest claims, to generate a more emotional and sensational message for the media and the public, legitimate public health efforts will lose their credibility.

Dr. Siegel collected a series of what he considers dishonest claims from anti-smoking groups and asked his readers to vote on the most ridiculous.

In one semi-final, a group called Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, who claim that "Smoking Kills About 340 Young People a Day," lost the best lie contest to an organization called Smoke Free Air for Everyone.

In October, 2007, Dr. Siegel notified Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails that the statistic on its web site was blatantly false.

Incredibly, the organization didn’t dispute his assertion that the claim was erroneous. Instead, they told him that they couldn’t remove or correct the absurdly dishonest statement because only the web master could make changes to the site. Apparently, they’re still searching for the web master. He is believed to be hiding out on an uninhabited island off the coast of Bora Bora. And, evidently, he forgot his laptop, since the claim still appears on their web site.

Dr. Siegel says in his web log, “Clearly, 340 young people do not die from smoking every day. That would mean that there are 120,000 deaths from smoking each year among young people. As I have explained previously, it is rare for smoking to cause death prior to about age 40, or age 35 at the earliest (though there may be very rare exceptions). Thus, it would be difficult to defend a claim that smoking kills 1,000 young people each year, much less 120,000.”

The winner of the semi-final competition was Smokefree Air for Everyone and their contention that: "After 20 minutes, blood platelets look like a pack-a-day smoker's, making your blood "sticky" and contributing to stroke causing blood clots.”

Dr. Siegel remarks, “Although it was difficult to watch Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails go down to defeat, there really is something to be said for an organization that is willing to claim that a mere 20 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure can cause an otherwise healthy person to suffer a stroke.”

In the national final, Smokefree Air for Everyone lost out to St. Louis University Tobacco Prevention Center (St. Louis, MO) and their claim that: "Arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide, Plutonium 210 and a host of other poisons are in secondhand smoke."

Plutonium 210? Oh-oh. That sounds like enough justification for George Bush to bomb the hell out of Phillip-Morris and send in the marines to locate their weapons of mass destruction.

Announcing the semi-finalists, Dr. Siegel noted: “What makes the St. Louis University Tobacco Prevention Center claim the hands-down winner is that it came in the context of correcting an earlier statement that secondhand smoke contains asbestos. You would think that having been caught with an egregious error like that, you would be extremely careful in fixing it. But instead, you come up with a claim that is exceedingly more ridiculous than the original fallacious claim.”

He points out: “Anyone can make a mistake. What you are rewarded for here is making the mistake but failing to correct it. This is especially impressive because both of the web pages with these fallacious claims are still active and accessible, and thus the public is still reading this inaccurate information.”

In announcing the winner of the tournament, Dr. Siegel notes that the group had “the audacity to claim that Plutonium 210 - which does not exist anywhere in the known universe - is present in secondhand smoke.

The point of this rather long, rambling post is simply this: If someone with Dr. Siegel’s credentials is concerned about the distortions of science and the dishonesty being put forth and/or perpetuated by the anti-smoker brigade, shouldn’t we all take the time and effort to verify the facts before continuing a program of outright discrimination against smokers?

Shouldn’t we all question both the science and the statistics behind a “de-normalization” campaign that is no longer directed against “big tobacco”, but against smokers who, through choice or addictiction, continue to consume a hazardous substance.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

1000 Canadians die from SHS

I wrote a post a few weeks ago, after reading an article by the anti-smoker brigade claiming that one out of three smokers would, eventually, die of a smoking related disease. I pointed out that three out of three smokers would, eventually, die of something. I also noted that three out of three non-smokers would, eventually, die of something.

The facts are incontrovertible. Everyone is going to die. Some will die sooner and some later, but we’re all going to die. And, although most people, I suspect, would prefer to die later, many take risks that could cause them to die sooner. It’s human nature.

Some do it because they have to make a living. Coal miners, for example, accept the risks associated with that occupation. Cave-ins, methane gas explosions and black lung disease are all risks associated with mining coal.

Some accept risk through a sense of duty. Soldiers take the risk of some guy shooting their ass off before they have the chance to shoot his ass off. Some soldiers, not content with the risk of being shot at, volunteer to take additional risks; like jumping out of perfectly good aircraft flying very high off the ground.

Many people engage in risky activity for the pure joy of it; doing really crazy stuff, like sliding down steep, snow-covered slopes at 80 MPH on a couple of waxed boards; or driving to and from work across the QEW at 100 KPH.

And some people smoke!

So why aren’t these other people targeted to reduce their exposure to risk? Why is there such an all-out effort to “de-normalize” only smokers? Why is the anti-smoker brigade free to preach intolerance and hatred against five million Canadians? Why is there a deliberate strategy to vilify and discriminate against smokers by the fanatics, public health advocates and the government? Why don’t they demonize miners, soldiers and skiers?

Ah, yes; because smokers “force” the “serious health hazards” of their addiction on non-smokers. Or do they? Has anyone really thought to question the statistics being quoted by the zealots?

For example, Health Canada “estimates” that 1,000 Canadians are killed annually by secondhand smoke. That simple statistic has people wringing their hands in despair. But has anyone in the media, the government or the public asked where that statistic came from? StatsCan does not list SHS as the cause of any of the roughly 230,000 deaths that occur annually in Canada. Did someone from Health Canada really reach behind them and pull that number out of their anal cavity?

If I want to know how many Canadian soldiers were killed in the service of their country over the last century, I can get their name, rank and serial number from the Department of Defense. If I want the names of all the miners killed in coal mines in Nova Scotia, I can get a full list from several sources on the web. It took me less than twenty minutes to find my uncle, who was killed in a rock fall back in 1941.

But, try asking Health Canada for a list of the 1,000 Canadians they claim were killed by secondhand smoke last year? I’ll risk everything I own on a bet that no list will be forthcoming.

It’s time to use some common sense, friends and neighbours. Even if we accepted that figure (I don’t; not for a bloody minute), try putting the number into context. StatsCan figures for 2004 show that 8,626 Canadians died in accidents, including motor vehicle accidents. Another 8,032 died of pneumonia. In that same year, over three times as many Canadians died by their own hand than allegedly died from secondhand smoke. That’s 3,681 suicides; real people, real deaths, not fictional “estimated” deaths plucked from somebody’s posterior.

Do Canadians really want to persecute five million of their countrymen because some petty, would be dictators “estimate” that 1,000 Canadians may be dying from possible exposure to SHS? Do Canadians really want to deprive 20% of the population of their right to hold a job; a place to live; proper medical care?

Common sense doesn’t cost a cent, friends and neighbours. Let’s use it. Don’t buy into the prejudice and propaganda. Get the facts. Stop the discrimination.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hate crimes against smokers

Most people are unaware of how successful the anti-smoker brigade’s campaign to dehumanize smokers has been. An article in a Welsh newspaper, ICWales, dated Mar 19, 2008 demonstrates just how successful.

Summarized, the article says a non-smoker was jailed for two years for attacking a man who refused to stub out a cigarette. Robert Russo, 35, demanded Glyn Robbins, 56, stop smoking while they were waiting at a bus stop. When Mr. Robbins refused, Russo thought he was being rude.

Russo then punched him in the face and kneed him as he fell to the floor. Surveillance camera footage showed Russo kicking Robbins as he lay on the floor of the shelter bleeding from the nose and ear after the attack at Cardiff Central bus station.

A witness called police and Russo was arrested.

Russo told police, “I told him to stop smoking and I thought he was going to have a go at me so I hit him.”

But, the asshole didn’t just hit him. He punched him, knocked him to the ground and then kicked the shit out of him as he lay there bleeding. In my mind, that makes him a whole lot more than a non-smoker; it makes him a rabid anti-smoker fanatic and a cowardly tyrant. And, just who in the hell gave him the right to order smokers to butt out or the authority to punish smokers who might refuse to obey his unlawful commands?

But, the real kicker in the story is that Robbins had not, in fact, refused to butt out, nor was he being rude; he was a deaf mute.

That article ends with the simple statement that, “Robert Russo, of Snowden Road, Ely, Cardiff, admitted wounding with intent and unlawful wounding.”

In other words he pleaded guilty to a contemptible act of violence on a fellow human being simply because, in his eyes, Robbins was of that vile, loathsome class of people called smokers. Two years is not enough; the vicious bastard should have been given another two years for an unprovoked hate crime.

The tyrannical anti-smoker brigade and their followers should be proud. But, they’ll probably try and tell the world that the “de-normalization” of smokers is for their own good.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Smoking, sex on the sidewalk

It was the headline that caught my eye. The online edition of KCBS (Radio News) reported the story (as did others) as an attempt to protect non-smokers from the alleged hazards of secondhand smoke.

Berkeley Expands Smoking Ban
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to expand an already-tough outdoor smoking ban to include all commercial zones. The ban previously only included sidewalks along 16 major streets.

Mayor Tim Bates, himself a former smoker, said enforcement is complaint driven "Certainly it's in peoples' best interest not to have a smoker around them. So we hope that we can convince people that it's the right thing to do," Bates explained.

Violators will be fined $100 for a first offense, and as much as $500 after multiple offenses.

I really didn’t pay much attention; smoking bans of this type are becoming old hat and it was a short piece, not really worth commenting on, or so I thought. But a day or two later, I read a post by Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco control advocate whose blog “The Rest of the Story”, has become one of my regular stopovers on my frequent trips through cyberspace.

What had I missed that Dr. Siegel found so interesting? What was the rest of the story? Dr. Siegel’s post pointed me to an article by Carolyn Jones in the San Francisco Chronicle; and there it was.

Apparently, last November, City Council in Berkeley, California, approved a controversial plan to crack down on “yelling, littering, camping, drunkenness, smoking, urinating and sex on sidewalks and in parks.” (Italics mine)

Under The Public Commons for Everyone Initiative, seniors or social workers would walk around monitoring street behavior and either direct homeless people to social services or call the police as necessary. The initiative was, allegedly, in response to complaints from visitors, merchants and residents that the city's public places were becoming increasingly inhospitable as a result of rowdy behavior.

Dr. Siegel’s post begs the question, “How exactly is smoking "rowdy behavior?"

“I can understand why city officials would want to outlaw public yelling, public littering, public camping in certain areas, public drunkenness, public urination, and public sex. However, how in the world did public smoking get onto that list?”

And, the answer, as I’m sure Dr. Siegel is aware, is that it’s simply another attempt to vilify smokers; another exercise in behavioural control. Linking smokers to such socially unacceptable behaviour as urinating in public and publicly engaging in sexual activity, tends to demonize smokers. And, the anti-smoker militants must discredit and demean smokers at every opportunity. Otherwise, their campaign of discrimination against smokers would not be tolerated.

Dr. Siegel ends his post with the comment, “I think I am now safe in opining that the anti-smoking movement has indeed gotten out of control.”