Thursday, July 31, 2008

The new reality . . . NO SMOKERS

“What’s that guy doing, Mom, it looks like he’s got smoke coming out of his mouth?” The boy’s mother turned in the direction in which her son was pointing.

“Oh my God!, don’t look William, close your eyes”, she exclaimed in horror while shielding her son’s eyes from the tobacco fiend standing in the corner of the parking lot. He was leaning against his van and puffing on his cancer stick as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“My God, he’s seen one. What are we going to do, Bill? We have to get him to a hospital”, she cried, turning to her husband, her hysteria mounting.

“Relax, dear”, he husband responded calmly, “the boy is seventeen years old. He’ll be fine. And, I’ll go have a talk with the guy”.

“Be careful, Bill”, he heard his wife call as he started in the direction of the smoker. “He may be dangerous”.

He wasn’t dangerous of course. Instead, Bill was met by a big friendly grin. “How can I help you, neighbour”, he asked.

“Actually”, said Bill, “I’d like to bum a smoke. Can we step around to the side of the van?”

The city of Loma Linda has imposed the most draconian ban to date in the United States. The ordinance is only a few steps away from outright prohibition. The ban drops all but the pretence of protecting non-smokers and children from the alleged hazards of secondhand smoke.

The new by-law will ban smoking in all public and private spaces with few exceptions. That means no smoking on city sidewalks, parks, alleyways or parking lots.

The exceptions will include private homes and a hypocritical, self-serving exemption for smoking shelters at the city’s two shopping malls. After citing the need to protect children from the very sight of smokers lest they start believing that smokers are normal human beings, they exempt the local malls where young people congregate in large numbers.

In the preamble to the ordinance, there are twenty whereas statements, mostly bullshit and bafflegab, which seek to justify the ban.

For example, the city council was apparently unaware, or just didn’t give a rat’s ass that the EPA study declaring secondhand smoke a group A carcinogen was trashed by both a congressional committee and a court of law as an outright fraud. I guess they don’t have a whole lot of respect for the truth in Loma Linda if they have to justify their ordinance with the fraudulent science which the EPA study represents.

The statements in the preamble cite the imposition of state laws to control the sale and distribution of tobacco products to minors as justification for their new ordinance, saying in essence, the state used legislation to control tobacco use, therefore it must be justified. What they didn’t explain was the need to impose additional bans which go far beyond what the state felt was necessary.

They also cited a decision by the California Air Resources Board that is month’s away from being made, to justify their ban, which leads one to wonder what they know that the public hasn’t been told. Is the result of the Air Resources Board a foregone conclusion?

Four out of five of Loma Linda’s councillors want to reduce the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle and affirm and promote the family-friendly atmosphere of the City’s public places. Uh-huh.

And, arresting Mom or Dad for engaging in a perfectly legal activity in public will certainly ensure that children learn to respect the law. In reality, teaching children that smoking is abnormal behaviour is encouraging fear and intolerance. But then, fear and intolerance is what tobacco control is all about. De-normalizing and dehumanizing smokers. But then, it's never been about controlling tobacco; it's about controlling smokers.

The hoax of secondhand smoke is based on lies and deceit, including corrupt science.

Having been born just before the fall of Hitler’s Nazi movement, I’ve always wondered how the entire population of Germany could allow themselves to be duped by the hate-mongers and their propaganda. How could they allow huge segments of society to become the targets of blatant discrimination?

After all this time, the new health Nazis are providing the answers. And, those answers are frightening.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Smoking litter - a new problem?

A few weeks ago, I had to go down to the city core to sign some legal documents. By the time I got downtown, found a parking space and walked up the street to the lawyer’s office, I was ready for a smoke. The problem was that there was a sign at the entrance to the building housing the lawyer’s office that read, “No smoking within 9 metres of front door”.

I turned south and started pacing off the distance to the fenced in patio of a small restaurant.

“You’re two metres short”, grinned the waitress awaiting me at the patio entrance.

I glanced from the front door of the office building to the curb, visually trying to calculate the distance.

“Uh-uh”, said the waitress, “you’ll be two metres into the street; could be hazardous to your health. And, if you go north, you’ll wind up in the middle of Pete’s patio”.

The grin had turned to a chuckle and I recognized a kindred spirit. “OK”, I asked, “where do you go to smoke?”

“The alley”, she replied, “there’s a chain link fence about three feet in, but you’re not on the sidewalk and nobody will bother you”.

I said “Thanks”, gave her a “thumbs up”, and retired to the smoking area. As I lit up my Putter’s Light, I noted a six inch pile of cigarette butts littering the alley along the bottom of the chain link fence. Must be a popular spot, I thought.

I took a deep drag and ruminated on one of those “public service” bulletins I’d seen in Ottawa At least, I think it was Ottawa. But the anti-smoker zealots are everywhere these days.
  • A cigarette butt takes 15 years to decompose. Please put your cigarette butts in an ashtray or a butt stop. Cigarettes are litter and do not belong on the ground.
  • Every year, Canadian smokers toss away nearly 8,000 tonnes of butts.
  • Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of birds, dogs, cats, and squirrels.
  • Please dispose of cigarette butts and litter properly!
How in the hell are we supposed to put our butts in an ashtray or butt stop when the smoke police have removed the bloody lot of them? And, are we really expected to believe that they performed autopsies on road kill to see if they had devoured any cigarette butts?

There’s simply no way to dispose of a butt properly when the means of proper disposal have been removed.

The incident was still fresh in my mind when I read an article written by Michelle Lang in the July 12, 2008 edition of the Calgary Herald.

“City targets litter bugs”, blared the headline.

Calgarians, apparently, are fed up with litter bugs, prompting city council to propose by-law amendments to crack down on the problem. People caught dumping their trash, tossing garbage out their car windows or flicking burning cigarette butts on the ground could face fines ranging from $300 to $750.

The stiffest penalties will be reserved, of course, for smokers who improperly discard burning cigarette butts. A report prepared for city council said lit cigarette butts are causing grass and bush fires. Uh-huh.

Although I haven’t been to Calgary in five years, I can recall a beautiful city in the bend of the Bow River. But, I don’t recall a lot of brush on the city streets. And, the grass was green for the most part, at least on the city streets and parks I saw. I have a hard time believing a pedestrian tossing a butt onto the asphalt covered street creates a serious fire hazard. But, any excuse is better than none.

First, they kick us out of bars and restaurants and into the street. Then they remove the means of disposing of cigarette butts safely, without litter. Now, they want to hit smokers with heavy fines for disposing of butts in the only way left.

Since the disposal of cigarette butts is only now becoming a problem, perhaps the city should commission a study to see if there is any association with the initiation of smoking bans in Alberta (and across Canada, for that matter).

But, why waste the money? I suspect the proposed changes to the littering by-law are just another way for the anti-smoker brigade to take a cheap shot at smokers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

SHS may not kill anyone

All across Canada, smoking bans are being implemented to punish smokers for actively engaging in a perfectly legal (for the time being) activity.

The public is seldom told that the bans are being initiated to force people to stop smoking; that some people simply find the smell offensive, or that some find the habit morally distasteful. Instead, they’re told that the bans are necessary to protect workers (wait staff and bartenders) or children from the alleged hazards of secondhand smoke.

Nor are Canadians being told that the bans originate with the World Health Organization.

Canada signed the FCTC on July15, 2003 and ratified the legally binding treaty on November 26, 2004.

FCTC is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and was the brainchild of the WHO (World Health Organization) and a coalition of special interest and anti-tobacco groups in countries from around the world.

In fact, there are over a dozen anti-tobacco groups listed as Canadian members of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) including the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada, the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit and Canadian Cancer Society. The non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) which comprise the FCA are charged with developing and implementing the FCTC “guidelines”.

By signing the FCTC agreement, the “Parties” (national governments like Canada) agreed to accept, among other things, “the overwhelming scientific consensus that second-hand smoke kills”:

“Parties recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability”.

But . . . at this point in time, the hazards associated with exposure to secondhand smoke are simply allegations. The scientific evidence is neither unequivocal nor overwhelming.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that by reading the typical press release or news article. Most begin with the categorical declaration that: “The evidence is in, secondhand smoke kills” or “Scientific studies have proven that secondhand smoke causes cancer”. The exact wording is immaterial; the message is the same.

It doesn’t matter that the assertions are untrue. All that matters to the propagandists is creating the public perception that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard. The truth is a minor inconvenience with which they’re willing to dispense. And, the Canadian government has agreed, in writing, to propagate these misrepresentations of fact.

The simple truth is that science has not proven that secondhand smoke is a cause of lung cancer or heart disease. Not has science shown that SHS has ever “killed” anyone.

What some scientific studies have proven is that there may be a slim statistical association between SHS and those deadly diseases. The bulk of the science shows no such association. And, in any event, a statistical association does not prove cause; at least not in any valid epidemiological study.

Forces International recently published a list of studies done on secondhand smoke over the years which was published on their website. The list includes 81 published, peer reviewed studies on the effects of SHS exposure on spouses and children of smokers and the effects of exposure in the workplace.

The chart at the top of the page was developed using information and graphs available on the Forces International website. The chart clearly reveals that the studies finding no statistically significant association (the green bars) between secondhand smoke and major diseases such as lung cancer and/or heart disease outnumber those which do (the red bars) by a ratio of better than 5 to 1.

What the list from Forces shows is that, of the 81 studies conducted on the effects of SHS, 67 (including a major study conducted by WHO (World Health Organization), found no correlation between SHS exposure and major diseases such as lung cancer and/or heart disease. Only 13 of the studies showed a statistically significant association.

And in all of those 13 studies, the association was very weak (a relative risk (RR) of less than 2). In most scientific studies, a relative risk of less than two would be ignored and the study would likely remain unpublished. But, the anti-smoker brigade pounces on every such study, no matter how weak the association, in their propaganda war against smokers.

You’ll notice in the chart, that one study shows a statistically significant health benefit for children exposed to SHS. This would suggest that SHS actually has a shielding effect on children in later years. That study was conducted by the IARC on behalf of the World Health Organization, the organization responsible for the creation of the FCTC.

In other words, the organization responsible for the FCTC, the organization demanding that parties to the conventions agree that the evidence is “unequivocal” conducted a study that proved just the opposite.

There’s a brief explanation on the meaning of relative risk and statistical significance in a previous article on the WHO study.

Or, if you want a more detailed explanation, Dave Hitt has an epidemiology primer on his site. Don’t be afraid of the long word; it’s difficult to get your tongue around, but understanding the concept is actually quite easy. And, it will help you wade through the mountains of propaganda being disseminated by the anti-smoker brigade compliments of the WHO.

Don’t buy into the propaganda. Don’t let the WHO and Canada’s anti-smoker fanatics dictate Canadian law. Get the facts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The making of a criminal

Bob Gee has been in the tobacco business for over thirty years. He doesn’t grow tobacco leaf or manufacture cigarettes; he sells tobacco products. He’s a tobacconist. He is the owner of a business called Mader’s Tobacco Store in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

He’s not a criminal; not really. But, he’s in trouble with the law.

Bob holds the dubious honour of being the first person to be charged under a Nova Scotia law requiring retailers to keep tobacco products out of sight.

Gee is charged with the improper display and storage of tobacco products, an offense which makes him liable to fines which start at $2,000.00 and increase to $10,000.00 for a third conviction.

Says Bob: "If we comply, we'll not be able to show our products and we'll look like an empty store and a business out of business; all I want is to operate my business in a normal, peaceful manner without unnecessary restrictions".

And I suspect even non-smokers (as opposed to anti-smokers) will understand that it’s kind of stupid to force a shop that sells only tobacco to hide their entire product line.

Nova Scotia’s law was passed, as all such laws, to protect the children. The anti-smoker fanatics were concerned that the kids would become hopelessly addicted to the demon weed by the mere sight of a pack of smokes. They were immersed in the fear that the prospective juvenile delinquents would rush home, break into their piggy banks and start scouring the streets for a pusher.

But, hey, wait a minute. Just why in the hell would kids be in a tobacco shop anyway? They can’t legally buy tobacco products until they’re 19.

Bob Gee is ready to challenge the anti-smoking rules in court. A trial date has been set for Oct. 29, 2008.

Nova Scotia isn’t the only province to approve such asinine anti-tobacco legislation.

On May 31, 2008, a similar anti-tobacco law went into effect in the province of Ontario. Like Nova Scotia, the new legislation bans the display of tobacco products in all retail outlets, including Ontario’s many convenience stores.

Cigarettes, and other tobacco products, now have to be hidden from view. In fact, retailers cannot display signs outside the store to notify customers that cigarettes are available for sale inside the store. For that matter, they can’t display signs inside the store to tell customers there are cigarettes for sale. You have to ask.

However, once you’re inside, you can be fairly certain that a store sells cigarettes if there is a big blank wall behind the cash register. Then, provided you know what you want, you can make your purchase and go outside to light up.

Now, where was I again; inside or outside? Never mind.

Governments earn big bucks off the sale of tobacco. In fact, they make more than the tobacco companies and yet . . . these puritanical politicians see a need to pass lunatic legislation “to protect the kids”?

Just who in the hell do they think they’re kidding?

And, as for Bob Gee and his tobacco shop, I wish him the best of luck.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

No smoking on my mountain

He was a nice, clean cut young man; a little pudgy perhaps, but he appeared fit and there was nothing for the fat police to be concerned about.

He had gathered staff at the mountain resort to discuss a staff memorandum outlining the new company smoking policy.

“Grouse Mountain takes the health and well being of staff very seriously. Therefore, we are initiating a no smoking policy for the resort. The new policy restricts smoking to a designated smoking area for both staff and guests”, he began.

One rather attractive young female college student, eyes sparkling brightly, interrupted with a question. “Will the smoking area be centrally located?”

“Oh, yes”, replied the young manager, “it will be at the foot of the mountain”.

“Excuse me?” questioned the girl. “The foot of the mountain is over 4,000 feet down. You want us to travel over three-quarters of a mile to have a smoke?”

“Only if you have the time”, replied the manager as he watched the smile on the girl’s face evaporate.

A recent news release from CTV News reports that Grouse Mountain in British Columbia is destined to become the first smoke free mountain in the world.

Apparently, the operators of Grouse Mountain Resort have decided to ban smoking on the whole damn mountain, both indoors and out.

A spokesman for the Grouse Mountain resort said: “We are aiming to make Grouse Mountain a smoke free mountain resort. That applies to both staff and the 1.1 million guests we get every year”.

In the typically Canadian habit of understatement, he added: “As you can imagine, it’s quite an ambitious undertaking”. Uh-huh.

The only way for staff or guests to get to the new smoking area will be to make the 4,000 foot trip up and down the mountain in a gondola. My instincts tell me that staff will not have sufficient time to make the trip with a smoke break of only 10 to 15 minutes.

There is, of course, a faster way down the mountain. However, it is not recommended despite the obvious advantage that such a descent would preclude the necessity of having to make the trip back up.

The spokesman was quick to point out that the proposed ban was not intended to discriminate against staff, but rather a commitment to the “health and wellness of their staff”. Or as the spokesman put it: “Our aim is not to persecute smokers and single them out and say – you know – we have to be rid of you. We’re trying to help them beat the addiction and kick the habit”.

In fairness to the management of Grouse Mountain, they will, apparently, provide employees with smoking cessation aids and give them the time “to adjust” to the new rules. Of course, that’s only fair since they are depriving employees of any choice in the matter. And, they’re probably getting a discount rate from the dug barons.

The new ban is tentatively scheduled to take effect in time for the winter season, after staff have been given time to comply with the new directive.

It will be interesting to see how the 1.1 million guests will respond to the new code of conduct.
Update: The news item found at the link above has been removed from the MyChoice website.
Whoops, it's back.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Anti-smoker bigotry

I stood at the open window in the front lobby, my back to the ‘No Smoking’ sign, using an empty soft drink can as an ashtray. I watched the cab pull up to the curb, saw the driver get out and walk up the steps and into the lobby.

I heard him announce his presence to his fare over the intercom and heard her respond that she would be “right down”. I turned in his direction as he spread his arms, his hands palms up, in a questioning gesture.

I smiled, in my best imitation of a Cheshire cat. Then I closed my right hand into a fist, extended my middle finger and pumped my arm slowly up and down. I didn’t want him mistaking the gesture as a friendly greeting.

It’s amazing how a few years can mellow a man. Ten years ago the air would have been blue with my verbal response. Twenty years ago, that cabbie would have been left thinking he had been struck by the hammer of Thor.

The cabbie left the building, muttering to himself.

I dropped my butt into the empty can and stepped outside the sheltered lobby into the rain. After dropping the soft drink can into the garbage I returned to my unit, wondering just how in the hell this anti-smoker nonsense had gotten this far.

A letter dated November 1, 2004 was sent to Ujjal Dosanjh, M.P. and Minister of Health for the Conservative government in Ottawa at the time. The letter was from an organization called the Campaign for Tobacco Industry Denormalization. The full contents can be viewed on the NSRA (Non-Smokers Rights Association) web site.

The group was soliciting the Minister’s support for an anti-smoking strategy called TID (Tobacco Industry Denormalization). The strategy had been developed some time around 1999. Here’s part of what the Minister was told:

“Epidemics normally trigger extraordinarily aggressive responses from governments. Unfortunately, and tragically, the tobacco industry has been protected from such responses by a belief by some within government and by the general public that the tobacco industry is a normal, legal industry selling a normal, legal product, an industry entitled to be accepted within the mainstream of normal business”.

“TID is a strategy that transfers the responsibility for the epidemic from individual behaviour (teen misjudgment) to corporate misbehaviour where such responsibility properly belongs. It involves nothing more than telling the truth about tobacco industry behaviour. And, it should be stressed, there are no legal blocks to governments speaking the truth”.

But, in fact, the tobacco industry was not the intended target of the TID campaign. And, speaking the truth was the last thing on the minds of the anti-smoker activists.

The anti-smoker fanatics had secured millions of dollars in funding, with hundreds of millions allocated to a massive anti-smoking media campaign and further government resources committed to supporting the anti-smoking agenda. Shortly after that letter, the real target became apparent: smokers!

The objective of the denormalization campaign was to radically alter the public perception of smoking as an unhealthy activity which harmed no one but the consumer of tobacco products, if indeed it harmed anyone at all. Smoking had to be transformed into a deviant behaviour, practiced only by nicotine addicted, abnormal people not fit to be part of civilized society.

Using corrupt science and dubious statistics, they managed to convince the public, the politicians and the press that smokers were a menace, not only to themselves, but to family, co-workers and their children; especially the children.

A well organized, well financed propaganda machine was turned loose on an unsuspecting population. Suspect scientific studies gave way to outright lies. Public health became an instrument of social control.

Secondhand smoke was touted as a serious health hazard, an object of irrational fear rather than a mere nuisance. And the smokers who spewed the allegedly deadly toxins as a by-product of their addiction were forced into social isolation as smoking bans limited where they could engage in what was, and still is, a perfectly legal activity.

Smoking became a social disease and smokers became objects of fear and loathing. The anti-smoker brigade even convinced some smokers, awash in a sea of guilt, that they were somehow an abomination to mankind.

The anti-smoker fanatics constantly churned out propaganda: ‘Secondhand smoke kills’, ‘There’s no safe level of exposure’, ‘Smokers really want to quit, the poor addicted fools just need a little encouragement’, ‘Smokers are child abusers’.

No claim was too outrageous in the fanatic’s efforts to stigmatize smokers; no lie too egregious.

Only by stripping smokers of their pride and self-esteem could the anti-smoker brigade hope to force them into giving up their despicable habit. Only by depriving smokers of their dignity could the fanatics eradicate their undesirable, antisocial behaviour.

Blatant discrimination which would not be tolerated against any other minority became the order of the day.

Now, employers openly advertise that “Smokers need not apply”. Employees are fired for smoking in the privacy of their own home. Others are forced to submit to gross violations of privacy such as providing blood or urine samples to prove that they aren’t smoking on or off the job. Some have gone so far as to insist that the wives of employees must be non-smokers.

Smokers have been denied rental accommodation in multi-unit housing and denied proper medical treatment. Smoking has been cited as a reason to prevent people from fostering or adopting children and used in child custody cases to deny parents custodial rights.

In the end, denormalization is really about the dehumanization of smokers; a morally bankrupt experiment in behavioural control. Submit to our will or be punished. And yet five million Canadians continue to smoke. Such experiments have met with resistance from the dawn of time.

I started this ramble with a simple incident that happened six months ago, wondering how we had gotten to this point.

After a little research, I think I know how. But, I must confess that I still don’t understand why.

How can any free society tolerate, let alone condone, the bigotry and intolerance exhibited by the hate mongers masquerading as protectors of public health?

And, how do we stop it?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Did heart attacks decline in England?

Many years ago (OK, it was several decades actually), I attended a training course for an accounting program I was taking at the time. One day-long session appeared to be something of a time waster and I recall thinking, along with several of my colleagues, that maybe our instructor was simply trying to give us a brief respite from the relative banality of accounting procedure.

He was, in fact, doing nothing of the kind. Instead, he was providing a valuable lesson in how easily numbers could be manipulated and how effortlessly people could be deceived by the way in which the numbers were presented. The session involved a series of simple logic questions. One of those questions is probably well known by many; but I’ll use it here to make my point.

Three men from the same company walk into a hotel. Each of the men rents a room for the night at $10.00 per night, for a total of $30.00. After the bell hop has taken each of the men to their rooms, the manager realizes that he has over-charged the men since there’s a special corporate group rate of only $25.00 per night for three rooms. He gives the bell hop five dollars with instructions to return it to the three men.

The bellhop, seizing the opportunity for personal gain, returns one dollar to each man and puts the two remaining dollars in his own pocket.

The question, as posed by the instructor, was, since the three men had paid $9.00 each for the room (a total of $27.00) and the bell hop had put $2.00 in his own pocket bringing the total to $29.00, what happened to the other dollar?

It was several minutes before someone tripped to the deception and said: “Hey, wait a minute, that’s a misleading question. You misrepresented the facts”.

I was reminded of that training class while reading newspaper accounts of the effects of England’s year old smoking ban on hospital admissions for heart attacks in that country. People are still playing games with numbers and people are still being deceived.

The Sunday Times (June 15, 2008) proclaimed: “Heart attack admissions fall by up to 40% since smoking ban”, The TelegraphCo.UK trumpeted: “Fall in heart attack numbers after smoking ban” and finally, the MailOnLine, where the story originated, ran the headline: “Smoking ban cuts the number of heart attacks by more than 40 per cent at some hospitals”

On reading the fine print, however, there was no 40% decline in heart attacks. Although there were 1,384 fewer heart attacks in the nine months following the ban than in the nine months prior to the ban, it represented only a 3% decrease in heart attack admissions. The headlines were deliberately manipulated to deceive the public into believing that the ban was having a more significant impact on people’s health than was actually the case.

But, the headlines were not the only deceptive practice used in the MailOnline article written by Rebecca Camber. The article was accompanied by a photo (shown above) of two smiling young women smoking in a comfortable outdoor patio on a bright, sunny summer’s day. The caption on the photo noted that: “90 per cent of pubs, clubs and restaurants have complied with the ban with many installing special areas outside for smokers”

The impression left in the reader’s mind was that the smoking bans were only a minor inconvenience to smokers who could still sit in a comfortable environment while imbibing their favourite beverage and enjoying a smoke.

Once again, the numbers (and, in this case, the photograph) were used in a manner designed to deceive. The claim that 90% of pubs and clubs were in compliance immediately preceded the statement, “with many installing special areas for smokers”. The casual reader was inclined to associate the undefined “many” with the 90% and thus leave the notion that few smokers were experiencing any inconvenience due to the ban. The photo reinforced that subliminal message.

However, if the photo had been of three smokers in a back alley, huddled under a single umbrella on a rainy winter’s night, the reader might have been left with an entirely different impression; one more indicative of the manner in which smokers have been treated since the bans in the UK (and around the world) took effect.

Deceptions of this nature may be legitimate in a learning environment or to hawk useless gadgets and gizmos on the Shopping Channel. But, they are unacceptable in the debate over the alleged hazards of secondhand smoke or to justify smoking bans implemented, presumably, to protect public health.

The British Cardiovascular Society, British Heart Foundation and the Department of Health greeted the “good news” with great praise; once respected organizations, ready to risk their credibility to support the propaganda of the fanatics in the anti-smoker brigade.

The campaign to demonize smokers has been built on a foundation of this kind of deceit, shoddy science and misleading statistics. The severe socio-economic impact of smoking bans has been lost in a propaganda campaign which now rivals that used by Nazi Germany in 1930 through the end of World War II. Legitimate public health organizations, politicians and the press have willingly signed onto this program of deception.

Forty-five years ago, an instructor used a simple parlour room trick to dispatch his students on a search for a dollar that didn’t exist. The anti-smoker fanatics are using similar deceptions to encourage a gullible public to believe in a public health hazard which hasn’t been shown to exist.

When it comes to distorted statistics and twisted logic, some people are still ready to buy into the same old bullshit and bafflegab.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Now, SHS on your breath is hazardous to kids

The anti-smoker brigade has declared that there is no such thing as a smoke free home as long as there is a smoker living in it. That’s the latest from the land down under.

“If parents would like to provide a smoke-free home environment they have to stop smoking”, says Dr. Krassi Rumchev, author of a recently released study on the effects of secondhand smoke on children. “Smoking outside just isn't providing the protection that many Australian smokers believe it does".

The study, published in the June issue of Indoor Air, concludes that even smoking outside the home poses a major health risk to children inside the home. Rumchev explained that, “they (smokers) still breathed out smoke that contaminated the air enough to cause damage. They also brought particles inside on their body and clothes”

That’s right; toxic smoke constituents in your breath. When you smoke outside, your children may be protected from the firsthand risk of secondhand smoke, but they’re still susceptible to the hazardous effects of third hand smoke constituents which you carry back into the house on your breath . . . and your clothes. Follow me?

One possible way to mitigate the dangers to children inside the home is to take a shower and gargle with Listerine before going back inside after smoking your Putter’s Light outside. And don’t forget to change your clothes after every smoke. Yes, I understand what that will do to the laundry expense, not to mention the water bill, but it’s for the good of the kids.

Or, if you’re the smoker in the family, you could simply throw the pack of Putter’s Light into the street. But, that would mean capitulating to the coercive pressure tactics of the anti-smoker brigade and their suspect scientific studies. No, there has to be a better way.

Of course, if your spouse is the smoker in the family, you could always throw him/her into the street. This, however, is not the recommended course of action. Winters can be cold and harsh in the Great White North. No sense making them lonely too.

If you both smoke you’ll have to throw . . . no, we’d better not go there; it’s the kids we’re trying to protect in the first place. Besides, it’s against the law.

But, before we start tearing our hair out trying to find a solution to a problem that may or may not exist, maybe we should ask a few questions.

Dr. Michael Siegel is an anti-smoking MD and a professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health. He also writes a blog. And on his blog, he has written two critical articles regarding the Australlian study, pointing out obvious deficiencies in methodology and the conclusions of the study.

According to Dr. Siegel: “This article demonstrates what I predicted yesterday: that anti-smoking advocates will use this flawed study to send the message that parents need not bother to try to refrain from smoking inside the home. It is all or nothing. Either quit smoking completely or you might as well just puff in the faces of your children”.

You mean breathing on my grandkids (as opposed to blowing smoke in their face) is not a hazard, Doctor?

“No, I don't believe that it represents a serious health hazard to nonsmokers or to children. There may be a few very isolated circumstances where a person is exquisitely sensitive to smoke and this could present a problem, but as a general matter, no”.

Did these people honestly expect us to believe that breathing on our kids after smoking a cigarette could have a detrimental effect on their health?

The answer is: yes, they did. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have said it. Let's face it, they’ve got a lot of people believing that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard, haven’t they?

It doesn't matter if the study is flawed; all that matters is that people believe it's the truth and direct their anger at smokers for jeopardising the health of the kids. It called propaganda.

These non-smokers are a gullible bunch, they’re ready to believe anything they’re told.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Propaganda and prejudice

In 1975 Sir George Goober informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that to encourage smokers to quit, it would be necessary to: “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.

In fact, Goober was proposing a propaganda war against smokers similar to the propaganda campaigns used by the Nazi’s in 1930. And, the anti-smoker lobby heeded his advice. They reasoned that, if smokers would not quit for their own health, they could be forced into quitting if non-smokers were led to believe that their habit was injuring or killing others.

According to Wikipedia: “Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large number of people. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience”.

“Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission), or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented”.

“Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist."

A web site called Tobacco Control Strategy Planning, provides several guides on how to conduct the propaganda war on smokers and how best to influence the public, the press and politicians to get them to do what they want. The following excerpt from Guide 1: Strategy Planning for Tobacco Control Advocacy, illustrates just how propaganda has been used to garner support among the non-smoking public for the bans, punitive taxation and blatant discrimination being used to force smokers to quit.

One of the questions in the anti-smoker guidebook asks: “What messages are most likely to move our target audience to do what we want?” Note that the question does not ask how to present the truth to the public, politicians or the press. The question is how do we convince people to do what we want (ie prohibit smoking).

In response to their own question, the guidebook says: “As advocates, we are eager to develop strong messages to persuade the public that action must be taken to control tobacco use. Indeed, we might be so eager to create such messages that we fail to stop and ask the question that will make our messages strategically effective. The question is not, ‘What do we want to say?’ but, ‘What must we say to persuade our target audience to take the actions we recommend?’”

In other words, don’t tell people they want to force adults to quit smoking (what they want); tell them they want to protect the children (what they want the public to believe).

In simple terms, tobacco control advocates are being advised to distort the truth and cover up their real agenda (to coerce smokers into quitting) by focusing attention on the hazards of secondhand smoke (protecting the children).

It makes no difference to the anti-smoker brigade that the hazards are grossly exaggerated (and in many cases non-existent). Nor do they care that the bulk of the scientific evidence suggests no association between secondhand smoke and major diseases like lung cancer and heart disease (lying by omission).

The objective is to create the perception that secondhand smoke kills, thereby making smoking bans necessary to protect workers and children. The truth of the message is unimportant. The goal is to force smokers to quit.

Simply providing honest and accurate information to the public would not achieve the desired effect, so they give “loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information”.

Most non-smokers would simply shrug their shoulders and say “So what?” when told that smokers were killing themselves. They would be unlikely to tolerate state intervention in the form of bans or other discriminatory tactics.

But make them believe that smokers are endangering their children and they will support, and even applaud, any discriminatory action directed at smokers. They will react emotionally rather than make a rational evaluation of the information.

In effect, the message that secondhand smoke kills is intended to spread fear of smoking and hatred of smokers. And the anti-smoker fanatics don’t care whether or not it’s true, as long as the public believes it’s true.

The propaganda campaign launched by the anti-smoker zealots parallels, and perhaps surpasses, the efforts of the Nazi’s so many years ago. Such manipulation of the public is an insult to a democratic society.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Smoker smoked by lightning

The bold print at the top of the page said: “Strange and interesting news”. I’m always on the lookout for anything strange and interesting, so I thought I’d take a peek.

One news item that caught my eye bore the headline, “Smoking man zapped by lightning”.

Great, more ammunition for the anti-smoker brigade. Bad enough that smoking is pointed to as the cause of everything from lung cancer to heart disease to losing at tiddly-winks; now the fanatics will be coming out with studies that show smokers are at greater risk of being struck by lightning than non-smokers.

John F. Banzhaf the turd, from ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), will be issuing a press release proclaiming that: “God is on our side”. Smoking related deaths will jump by 30% within the week.

All because some silly fool got struck by a bolt from the blue.

Apparently, a Florida man, Adam Rice was holding a cigarette out the window of an apartment when he was struck on the hand by lightening. .

Mr. Rice told reporters: “All of sudden it sounded like fireworks go off, just loud pops, like, constantly. The whole house lit up blue and I got zapped on my hand”. Rice said he could feel the electricity leave through his feet after it went through his body. “Next thing I know my body felt like I stuck a fork in an outlet”. Uh-huh.

The brief (less than 200 words) article is, indeed, strange and interesting.

But the strangest things about the article were the questions left in the reader’s mind and the comments from readers.

For example, just why in the hell was the guy holding a cigarette out the window? Was the cigarette lit?

One reader suggested he may have been looking for a light. Huh? Like, maybe he couldn’t find a Bic to flick, so he perched on the windowsill, stuck his hand (firmly clutching his fag) out the window and started yelling, “Come on lightning.” Man, that’s the kind of nicotine fit you don’t need.

Another reader commented that, if he needed a light that badly, he could have used a toaster.

I’ve used that technique myself, on occasion. A word of warning, however, in case you’re ever confronted with a similar situation; do not put the cigarette in your mouth and then try to light the fag by placing it against the element in the toaster. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “Hot Lips”.

One reader wanted to know just how this guy knew what it felt like to stick a fork in an electrical outlet? Smart ass.

One un-sympathetic commenter wrote: ”Just another dumb smoker. Like they always say, smokers suck butts, no matter what the risks”.

To which another, who may or may not have been the unfortunate soul lit up by the lightning bolt, responded: “You’re a loser. First off, I was smoking out the window so my stuff doesn’t smell and I was trying to respect my roommate .And, another thing, nobody deserves to be struck by lightning, moron”. (Quote edited for grammar and spelling)

He’s right, of course. No one should make fun of someone who wound up smoking, just because he wanted a smoke. I hope his roommate appreciated his sacrifice.

Still . . . I wonder if he got his light?