Friday, December 20, 2013

Myth Buster: Second hand smoke causes lung cancer?

Surely second hand smoke is proven to have many consequences, such as that it has been proven both to cause and trigger an asthma attack.  However, according to the most recent study, it does not cause lung cancer.

This is great news for the many spouses forced to endure a life of living with a person who smokes and refuses to do so outdoors.  It's great news for the children of parents who smoke in front of their kids.

According to James Delingpole of the Daily Telegraph:
Passive smoking doesn't give you lung cancer. So says anew report publicised by the American Cancer Institute which will come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone with a shred of integrity who has looked into the origins of the great "environmental tobacco smoke" meme.
It was, after all, a decade ago that the British Medical Journal, published the results of a massive, long-term survey into the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. Between 1959 and 1989 two American researchers named James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat surveyed no few than 118,094 Californians. Fierce anti-smoking campaigners themselves, they began the research because they wanted to prove once and for all what a pernicious, socially damaging habit smoking was. Their research was initiated by the American Cancer Society and supported by the anti-smoking Tobacco Related Disease Research Program.
At least it was at first. But then something rather embarrassing happened. Much to their surprise, Kabat and Enstrom discovered that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ie passive smoking), no matter how intense or prolonged, creates no significantly increased risk of heart disease or lung cancer.
Similar conclusions were reached by the World Health Organisation which concluded in 1998 after a seven-year study that the correlation between "passive smoking" and lung cancer was not "statistically significant." A 2002 report by the Greater London Assembly agreed. So too did an investigation by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.
Yet between 2006 and 2007 smoking was banned in all enclosed public places throughout the United Kingdom largely on the basis of the claim – widely promulgated by bansturbating politicians and kill-joy activists – that it was necessary to protect the health of non-smokers. On the basis, in other words, of a blatant and scientifically demonstrable lie.
It's not just British health Nazis who like to promulgate this myth. Here's what America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say on the subject: "Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year."
The actual number, Jacob Sullum argues at Reason, is "probably closer to zero."
Surely there's probably plenty of proof that second hand smoke does not cause lung cancer.  There's probably enough proof that the CDC was flat out wrong in stating there are 3,400 lung cancer deaths each year.  There may even be proof the CDC flat out lied.

There's probably also truth the the assertion by Delingpole that many people in this country exaggerate the hazards of cigarette smoke because of our societal effort to make smoking look bad, as if it already isn't bad enough.

Truthfully, I don't see a reason to exaggerate the truth about smoking.  I think smoke is bad in and of itself without exaggerations and lies.  On the other hand, it still doesn't make me feel any better about second hand smoke.  It's dirty, filthy, and it's an invasion of my right to breathe clean air.

Bottom line, my natural right to breathe clean air trumps your natural right to poison your own body with the over 40,000 chemicals present in cigarette smoke.

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