Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Smoke and Mirrors.?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Smoke and Mirrors.?

Article excerpt

In her letter Ailsa Rutter (Fresh Smoke Free NE, 4.5.07) says it is vital that people understand the harm secondhand smoke (SHS) can do. Quite right too.

They should understand that at a 1975 World Conference on Smoking and Health held in New York, anti-smoking activists were told that to eliminate smoking it was essential to "create a perception that smokers injure those around them".

The "dangers" of SHS has been used as a means to that end ever since. In reality, the extravagant claims regarding SHS do not stand up to scrutiny.

Much to their chagrin, major studies by both the World Health Organisation and the American Cancer Society could find no significant association between SHS and death from either coronary heart disease or lung cancer.

The first report was buried, the second caused a furore when it was published in the British Medical Journal in 2003. Indeed, the vast majority of studies into SHS and ill-health have failed to find any increased risk factor that would meet normal scientific standards of "proof".

According to ASH "statistics", the numbers of alleged UK "victims" has leapt from an "estimated" 1,000 in 1998 to a whopping 10,000 as cited by Ms Rutter. SHS is blamed for the increase of a range of illnesses when smoking has dramatically declined and the places where people may smoke have been increasingly restricted.

The ban on smoking in public is built on misinformation and scaremongering. It has little to do with passive smoking and everything to do with coercing and bullying smokers to stop.

In the USA and Australia this now includes a ban on smoking in parks, private cars, on beaches, council housing, even private gardens and balconies.

I have no doubt that by July 2 the anti-smoking lobby will be pressing for similar extensions to the ban.


*** ***

WITH reference to the letter from Wendy Hobson (Gone In A Puff Of Smoke, 28.4.07), I understand her concern.

I don't drink but I do go to a bar with my carer and I am happy with a glass of lemonade.

I have smoked for 50 years. I go to a day centre and at the moment a room is set aside for smokers, and it is the only time I mix with people my own age, but I will not be able to go there after July 1 as the centre has locked doors as the mentally confused tend to wander off. …

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