We have seen that that in Dec 1952 London suffered an appalling smog caused by still, cold air, a ‘temperature inversion’ (whereby cold air was trapped near the ground), an outpouring of the products of tens of thousands of chimneys as people heated their homes, using ‘soft’ coal, in the cold weather, and industry powering on. Further, buses, taxis and cars filled the streets with fumes from their diesel and petrol engines. As a consequence, thousands more people than normal died from the complications of bronchitis, heart problems, lung cancer, and several other conditions.
It seems that the Government tried to downplay the effect of the smog by claiming that there was an outbreak of flu, and tried to move deaths from areas of London which were badly affected by changing the location of the deceased from their residential district to the area of the hospital in which they died. Nevertheless, the 1952 smog, and the consequences thereof, resulted in the first Clean Air Act of 1956. (That was followed by a further tightening in 1968)
It has been curious to note how the ‘Air Pollution and Health Report’ of 1970, which we have been looking at briefly, used every trick in the book to move the blame for the deaths from the smog to smoking. They used the trick of saying, in effect, that these deaths would not have occurred had people not smoked so much. But we also saw that a study of Belfast reported that children in the age range 6 – 10, and, obviously, non-smokers, suffered three times the number of bronchitis events if they lived in the City of Belfast than if they lived in the countryside. That fact was reported but glossed over in the Air Pollution report. It is impossible to conclude other than Tobacco Control was already well established, which is not surprising since Doll, Godber, et al had been hard at work setting up the framework since around 1947, if not earlier. Don’t forget that Doll had already conducted the Hospital Study in 1950, and started the Doctors Study in 1951. I cannot help but believe that the two studies were planned in tandem. That is, the Hospital Study was a ‘dry run’ for the Doctors Study. Maybe it was useful to check out the data collection method (questionnaires) and the recording methods. I am sure that Doll et al learned a lot from the Hospital Study.
Commenters have given me lots of links to sources, and I am grateful. I am sure that readers will understand that it has been impossible to read them all so far, but I have quickly scanned a few. Mikef gave me a couple which were short studies (just a few pages). Both were apposite to the subject. The first was this:
It concerned the effects of ‘heavy’ smoking and showed that heavy smokers did not always die earlier than the average for the USA. The study was financed by ‘The Tobacco Industry’ and would, therefore, not even be considered for publication today by the BMJ. In fact, the mere fact that it was financed and supported by the Tobacco Industry would automatically render it unreliable and also fraudulent. But that claim would be awfully difficult to support regarding this particular study since the study was very simple (only 7 pages) and the facts could very easily be checked.
The study took as its ‘population’ 11,000 tobacco company employees. (As usual, for some reason that I do not understand, no date is shown in the heading to the report. I had to look for it and found a copyright date of 1962)
It particularly looked at ‘heavy’ smokers and compared death rates and causes to the general USA population. The question of whether or not the heavy smokers (25 + per day) were indeed smoking that much was easily confirmed by the fact that each employee received 20 fags per day free. It was unlikely therefore that they would lie about their smoking habits. It was easy to keep track of these employees since there was little staff turnover and staff who ‘retired’ through ill-health and age were still covered by the Tobacco Companies’ insurance scheme. The researchers obtained information as to the cause of death from the insurance company and not from the tobacco company.
The researchers discovered that the heavy smoking employees and retired employees had LESS premature death than the average USA population, and LESS lung cancer. The study concluded that heavy smoking was not. in itself, a cause of premature death.
The connection between this study and the Air Pollution report is the claim in that report that heavy smokers STILL suffered more than non-smokers wherever the smokers lived, simply because the smoked. That phrase “simply because they smoked” is the important point.
The second link was:
This ‘opinion’ is quite short at 16 pages.
The remarks seem to have come from a ‘proper’ statistician. The heading is:
REMARKS ON THE STATISTICAL STUDIES OF PULMONARY CARCINOMA IN “SMOKING AND HEALTH”.
By Otfrid Mittmann: (Medical Faculty of the University of Bonn).
Med . Welt 35 1 1832-1835 , Aug . 29, 1964.
["Smoking and Health" refers to the Surgeon General's 1964 report thus entitled.]
Mittmann takes great exception to the statistical methods used by the “Terry Report” upon which the Surgeon General’s report was based. Essentially, Mittmann says that the Terry Report was mesmerised by the tenfold excess of risk of lung cancer for heavy smokers. He said that the statistical analysis concentrated on only the one factor – smoking. It failed to consider other co-factors, like air pollution.
I don’t intend to go through the whole thing. It involves some incomprehensible mathematical stuff. What I will do is extract just a few stats which he drew attention to.
The stats in question were from 13 European countries concerning the occurrence of lung cancer deaths in a specified year. The table will be meaningless unless I explain. Mittmann’s table showed not only LC deaths and smoking, but also urban concentrations and motor vehicle concentrations. I have taken only six of the countries – two with low smoking, two with moderate smoking, and two with high smoking:
Deaths From Lung Cancer (per 100,000) 1959.
I shall have to give a code for each column since the table would be otherwise too big to fit the page.
2. Lung cancer deaths per hundred thousand (Column headed “LC”)’
3. Cigs per person per an (? not sure). (Headed “Cigs PP”)
4. % of population living in conurbations in excess of 100,000. (Headed “% Urban”)
5. Vehicle density. (I am not sure how that was arrived at. Is it based upon the total area of the country or upon the roads or something else?) Suffice to say that it is ‘per unit area’. (Headed “Cars”)
6. Average age at death of persons who died from something OTHER THAN lung cancer – as a control, I suppose. (Headed “Age died not LC”.
Country………….LC……Cigs PP……% Urban…..Cars……..Age Died not LC.
It is easy to see that cig smoking is not the only thing which might influence the prevalence of lung cancer. There are also correlations with urban densities and vehicle densities. As I understand it, the last column is intended to show that, overall, deaths in these countries were, on average, pretty well standard as to age. That means that there was not some particularly horrible death toll as might occur in some primitive country.
I have not cherry-picked the countries to show – I merely looked at the ‘number of fags’ and chose a couple in each quantity without looking at the rest of the figures. The last column is almost exactly the same for all the thirteen countries.
Mittmann goes on to show that, if you take into account the urban densities and the vehicle situation, then cig smoking differences cease to be related to lung cancer deaths. If what Mittmann says it true, then high LC deaths in the UK might just as well be caused by urban densities and vehicle densities as smoking. Also, in Norway, low LC deaths might just as well be caused by low urban densities and low vehicle densities as low smoking densities.
Am I not just as likely to be correct when I say that smokers would not get LC if it were not for pollution, genetics, stress, atom bomb tests, etc?
It is now being said that non-smoker deaths from LC are now greater than smoker deaths. We shall have to rely upon those ‘scientists’ who are independently wealthy to produce the evidence. We most certainly know that the Tobacco Control Charlatans will not do so. There again, Big Alcohol and Big Food could fund the research. I have yet to see any intention from the BMJ to refuse to publish research from those sources.