Homeland Stupidity

Anti-smoking claims full of smoke and mirrors

Yet more anti-smoking “research” aims to mislead and deceive the public about the actual hazards of tobacco smoking and its effect on people.

First up, it seems some teenagers have switched to cigar smoking as less hazardous to one’s health, which it turns out, they actually are.

A letter to the American Journal of Public Health that wonders whether teenagers are “choosing cigars over cigarettes” is the latest excuse for anti-smoking activists to mislead the public about the relative hazards of these two forms of tobacco. John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health tells HealthDay “it’s hard to make a direct comparison” between the risks posed by cigars and the risks posed by cigarettes “because it depends on how often one smokes each product, the extent to which the cigar smoke is inhaled, and which cancers we focus on.” It’s true that frequency and inhalation matter. If the typical cigar smoker went through 10 stogies a day and inhaled the smoke, his risks might resemble those of the typical cigarette smoker. But he doesn’t, and they don’t.

Cigar smokers face much smaller risks than cigarette smokers do, precisely because they smoke less often and are less apt to inhale. They are therefore much less prone to lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema’the three major smoking-related causes of death’and much less likely to die as a result of their habit. Given these facts, it is more than a little misleading to say the comparison depends on “which cancers we focus on,” as if there were no clear overall difference in risk. Banzhaf moves from misdirection to outright prevarication when he says “most experts would agree that cigar smoking is clearly not less dangerous than cigarette smoking.”

The HealthDay story directs readers to the Web site of the American Cancer Society for more information “about the risks of cigar smoking.” There you will find an article with a headline claiming it’s a “false notion” that cigars are “safer than cigarettes.” In fact, says the ACS, “cigars are as deadly as cigarettes,” a point “supported by the National Cancer Institute.” It immediately contrradicts itself by citing a 1998 NCI report that found “regular cigar smokers have a similar risk of developing oral and esophagus cancer, but less chance of developing lung and larynx cancers, coronary heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than cigarette smokers” (emphasis added). As I said, the latter diseases include the major cigarette-related killers, and the upshot is a lower overall risk. — Hit and Run

While cigar smoking among teenagers is on the rise, the anti-smoking activists are simply lying through their teeth about the dangers.

Speaking of lying, the anti-smoking liars tried to tell everyone that the rate of heart attacks in several cities went down after smoking bans went into effect in those cities. The truth finally comes out.

A new analysis by David Kuneman and Michael McFadden of the Smoker’s Club suggests why it wasn’t: because it didn’t happen. Looking at data for California, Florida, New York, and Oregon, Kuneman and McFadden found that hospital admissions for acute myocradial infarctions (AMIs) either went up after smoking bans took effect or declined very slightly. There is no evidence of an effect anything like that claimed by Glantz and other ban proponents (such as Rosemary Ellis, editorial director of Prevention magazine, who cited the Helena study in a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece as conclusive evidence that “secondhand smoke kills”). Kuneman and McFadden note that “the number of AMIs examined in Helena and Pueblo combine to a total of about 315,” while “the number of AMIs examined in the combined states studied here total over 315,000, i.e. 1,000 times the number examined in the combined jurisdictions of Helena and Pueblo. And yet neither the medical journals nor the media have paid any notice at all to the fact that in vastly larger populations, virtually no change in acute myocardial infarction rates after smoking bans has occurred.” — Hit and Run

They then cite rare anti-smoking activist Michael Siegel, who is openly against the use of such junk science to advocate the anti-smoking agenda of forcing everyone to quit smoking, who had this to say:

Anti-smoking groups have been too quick to go to the media with definitive claims of a drastic and immediate effect of smoking bans on heart attacks when the scientific evidence is simply not sufficient to support such claims. What is happening, I believe, is that the anti-smoking agenda is driving the interpretation of the science. As I stated before, it is an agenda which, in this case, I wholeheartedly support (I have been lobbying for workplace smoking bans, especially those in bars and restaurants for 21 years). However, I don’t think the importance of the ultimate objective justifies the use of shoddy science to support that objective. — Michael Siegel

Clearly you can’t believe much of what comes out of most anti-smokers’ mouths, as they’re big fans of using smoke and mirrors to mislead people to advance their agenda.