Skip to comments.The risks of smoking are greatly exaggerated
Posted on 11/26/2002 4:58:07 AM PST by SheLion
Too much is made of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke. We're told these chemicals are so harmful that they are responsible for the deaths of millions worldwide. Untold in this "war on tobacco" is that each of the plants we consume consists of an equally daunting thousands of chemicals many of which are recognized poisons or suspected cancer-causing agents.
Cayenne peppers, carrots and strawberries each contain six suspected carcinogens; onions, grapefruit and tomato each contain five -- some the same as the seven suspected carcinogens found in tobacco.
High-heat cooking creates yet more dietary carcinogens from otherwise harmless chemical constituents.
Sure, these plant chemicals are measured in infinitesimal amounts. An independent study calculated 222,000 smoking cigarettes would be needed to reach unacceptable levels of benzo(a)pyrene. One million smoking cigarettes would be needed to produce unacceptable levels of toluene. To reach these estimated danger levels, the cigarettes must be smoked simultaneously and completely in a sealed 20-square-foot room with a nine-foot ceiling.
Many other chemicals in tobacco smoke can also be found in normal diets. Smoking 3,000 packages of cigarettes would supply the same amount of arsenic as a nutritious 200 gram serving of sole.
Half a bottle of now healthy wine can supply 32 times the amount of lead as one pack of cigarettes. The same amount of cadmium obtained from smoking eight packs of cigarettes can be enjoyed in half a pound of crab.
That's one problem with the anti-smoking crusade. The risks of smoking are greatly exaggerated. So are the costs.
An in-depth analysis of 400,000 U.S. smoking-related deaths by National Institute of Health mathematician Rosalind Marimont and senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute Robert Levy identified a disturbing number of flaws in the methodology used to estimate these deaths. Incorrectly classifying some diseases as smoking-related and choosing the wrong standard of comparison each overstated deaths by more than 65 per cent.
Failure to control for confounding variables such as diet and exercise turned estimates more into a computerized shell game than reliable estimates of deaths.
Marimont and Levy also found no adjustments were made to the costs of smoking resulting from the benefits of smoking -- reduced Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, less obesity, depression and breast cancer.
If it were possible to estimate 45,000 smoking-related Canadian deaths as some health activists imagine -- and Marimont, Levy and other respected researchers think it is not -- then applying an identical methodology to other lifestyle choices would yield 57,000 Canadian deaths due to lack of exercise and 73,000 Canadian deaths blamed on poor diets.
If both the chemical constituents of tobacco smoke and the numbers of smoking-related deaths are overstated -- and clearly they are -- how can we trust the claim that tobacco smoke is harmful to non-smokers?
The 1993 bellwether study by the Environmental Protection Agency that selectively combined the results of a number of previous studies and found a small increase in lung cancer risk in those exposed to environmental tobacco smoke has been roundly criticized as severely flawed by fellow researchers and ultimately found invalid in a court of law.
In 1998, the World Health Organization reported a small, but not statistically significant, increase in the risk of lung cancer in non-smoking women married to smokers.
Despite these invalidating deficiencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization both concluded tobacco smoke causes lung cancer in non-smokers.
One wonders whether the same conclusions would have been announced if scientific fraud were a criminal offence.
When confronted with the scientific uncertainty, the inconsistency of results and the incredible misrepresentation of present-day knowledge, those seeking to abolish tobacco invoke a radical interpretation of the Precautionary Principle: "Where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activity should not proceed."
This unreasonable exploitation of the ever-present risks of living infiltrates our schools to indoctrinate trusting and eager minds with the irrational fears of today. Instead of opening minds to the wondrous complexities of living, it opens the door to peer ridicule and intolerance while cultivating the trendy cynics of tomorrow.
If we continue down this dangerous path of control and prohibition based on an unreliable or remote chance of harm, how many personal freedoms will remain seven generations from now?
Eric Boyd of Waterloo has management experience across a wide range of sectors.
I'm glad I don't travel in your circles, what with the constant inconvenience of stepping over the bodies of the destroyed.
How does one come back from destruction, by the by? Or were you using hyperbole to make a point?
My mother died of lung cancer after almost 70 years of smoking
three to four packs per day. She started when she was in her teens.
My father (still alive) smoked the same amount [nearly] as long, plus
inhaled her "second hand smoke for their entire marriage (and until her
death). He suffers from no lung ailments.
People "are destroyed" from their own neglect; from inherited
deficiencies and weaknesses, or diseases. Banning smoking in a public
place to thwart a nuisance situation should be left to the proprietor
of the business, not the legislative body.
If 4000 chemicals are present in cigarette smoke, how many are present in the baseline air used? How many chemicals are present in the air while sitting at your computer?
I am no great fan of smoking. The only dog I have in this fight is the one that demands sound science. If I were a cigarette company, I would be suing these advocacy groups for false claims. What do they have to lose? They are already the villain in the first place.
This all started when Crest claimed "Three out of four dentists recommend Crest" back in the 60's. Well, three out of four lousy journalists who can kiss my A$$ would prefer I use Charmin(over using no toilet paper at all).
The problem with the majority of scientific studies (on smoking and any other currently PC taboo topic) is: the people conducting them start with their findings in mind prior to conducting their research. Once you know what you want to prove...the rest is easy!
Totally mind-boggling! My goodness. With talk like this, who needs the anti's! They have pulled the wool over more eyes then we thought.
And "they" told us that if we stop smoking, within two years, our lungs will be a pink and shiny. Yes, right!
My Grandmother smoked three packs of unfiltered Camels and lived to be 86 year's old. Died from old age.
I always ask: if smoking is SO dangerous, why is it still a legal commodity? But we all know the answer to that one. MONEY! It's no worse then alcohol! Except to the prissy noses that can't stand the smell!
Your so right. If a person is an avid couch potato, that alone will take him to an early grave. Then you add obesity, and a drinker, and we can even throw "a smoker" into this mix, and what do you have: a VERY unhealthy person.
We have sports professional's who smoke. It doesn't stop them! It's like anything else: if you exercise and eat right, being a smoker is not going to kill you.
I smoked for 10 years. I know what cigarettes can do. I love cigars and I love pipes. But a cigarette is a nasty little instrument used merely to deliver death and disease to its user.
Tobacco is not only dangerous in it basic form, but the delivery vector, setting it on fire and inhaling the fumes, is dangerous in its own right.
You certainly have the right to smoke and I fondly wish you well. Personally, I've spent too much time with my wife in oncology facilities in the last five years to willingly engage in any activity that increased my risk even slightly.
I'm going to assume you're too grown up to be offended or impressed by scare stories but unless you've been there, you wouldn't believe how bad it can be.
I often wonder this myself. But Big Tobacco fell to their knees in front of the Attorney Generals and now there isn't much Big T can do to defend themselves.
But the junk science put forth by the anti-smoking health groups is getting way out of hand, and the general public believes it.
I was in that room at a bar once.
We should find out who that fourth journalist is. He or she needs to see a physician. Or a psychotherapist. Or both. =;^)
Thanks! Judith Anne!
But no matter how much we bring out about this issue, there are still a certain few that the anti's have brain washed. There is NO convincing them. If you know what I mean.
Sigh. Tell that to all the folks in my waiting room....
This COST business has been blown so far out of proportion it's time for an oil change, Dr. Luv.
The Congressional Research Service, in the 1998 revision of their study found: Smokers cost the federal government $9 billion in medical care and $10 billion in lost contributions to social security, etc. But they also found they save $40 billion in retirement costs (mostly social security), about $8 billion in nursing home costs (mostly from Medicaid), and they collect $5.6 billion in cigarette taxes. When added up, smokers saved the federal government $34.6 billion dollars yearly.
State governments saved money too. After subtracting net medical costs of $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion from lost contributions from a savings of $4.8 billion in nursing home costs financed through Medicaid and $.6 billion in retirement savings, and $7.6 billion in cigarette taxes, smokers saved the states almost $9.7 billion.
That's a total saving of $44.3 billion.
Since this 1998 report, taxes have skyrocketed on cigarettes in many states and the tobacco settlement was signed. The settlement was for reimbursement of past and future medical expenses, so states have not only been reimbursed, but smokers are paid up to infinity on future medical costs.
Leaving out new taxes and the settlement, smokers have been overpaying the state and federal governments for an average $950 each year I figure. But to be fair, there are about the same number as former smokers as smokers so if there is ever a rebate given, it should be split up between the two groups and average about $475 each, each year.
Now, the state insurance program may feel the effects of smokers costs, but either it should be taken out of the excise tax or figured into the tobacco settlement, which supposedly covers it.
Not only that! We HAVE our own health coverage, thank you! No one, not even you, have to pay for US should we ever get sick! And that's a fact.
RADON is a silent killer. But if a person smokes and is around RADON and gets sick and or dies....guess what they blame the death on. heh!
Is ANYTHING we are posting getting through to you at all? Or do you refuse to remove your blinders? Why are you so pig-headed!
You know what: a lot of people can run 10 miles. Most can't. A lot of people can smoke without repercussions.......some can't. It all depends on generics.
And the Tobacco Cash Cow is being paid 100% by smokers who pay cigarette taxes. Not Big Tobacco and NOT the Government. The smokers who pay taxes are paying for all of this control, restrictions and abuse.
But its definitely something we never ask for. Big T sold us out.
Maybe to turn attention away from the real risks?
Go ahead. Blow your smoke, Ditter! Get it out of your system and move on!
At seventy-five he quit because, "The G-- damned things are slowing me down!"
He died in his sleep November, 19, 2002 at 95 years, five weeks.
Honey, at my age, it doesn't make much difference. If you think I am going to give up my coffee and cigarettes now, after enjoying them all the days of my life, well........there is no way!
Been there? I have been there. And I had a team of Doctors that ask me if I smoke, how much I smoke and they all said my smoking did not cause my cancer. And not one of them told me to quit. Cancer is caused by all sorts of things. Not just smoking. I'm a survivor and I smoke!
We like to use this one: how about I sit in a sealed, smoke filled room for 6 hours. You sit in a sealed garage with your car running for 6 hours. Let's see which one of us comes out alive.
I'm a survivor and I smoke!
LOL...... yep... one every minute.
Personally, I have been rolling our own for 17 months now. The money saved for Christmas is mind-boggling!
I'm sorry you feel that way. But not all of us look at smoking in this same light.
My belief is this: when a person has a hard time quitting or can't quit, it's because they love to smoke. When you love to do something, it is not easy to give it up.
My father woke up one morning, lit a cigarette, went "YUCK!" Put it out and never smoked another one to the day he died. You really have to hate it to quit easily. I love to smoke. There is no way I am going to punish myself by quitting.
I sure could be doing a lot worse. And as long as it's legal, I am smoking!
About supporting social programs: many smokers across the US are now buying cigarettes from the Internet, or from Reservations or Rolling Our Own. So.......this money is NOT going for those Social Programs. And, when all the smokers find out about the wonderful way to save on taxes, guess what? They will be coming for YOUR wallet when their "social programs" funding runs dry from the smokers.
Oh your a real sweetheart. Hope you got this out of your system, so you can go on to have a marvelous day!