More About ‘50% of Smokers are Killed by Tobacco’

I am not a mathematician. I know little about the use of logarithms. I know about the ‘Richter Scale’, which is a measurement of the power of earthquakes. I know that that scale is ‘logarithmic’. An earthquake measured as ‘1’ on that scale would hardly be felt, but an earthquake measured as ‘8’ would bring much devastation. If I could quickly draw a graph to illustrate, I would, but I cannot, so I’ll use figures.

Consider this series of number:



If you were thinking about the power of an earthquake, and you used the top line of figures, you can see how enormously the power would increase. In six steps, you have gone from a mere ‘ten’ to a ‘million’.
But ‘the log’ numbers are only 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (the ‘power of 10’ numbers).

That is the way that the Richter Scale works. It massively simplifies many calculations, such as the depth of the epicentre, the distance away from the earthquake, and the effect thereof.


I do not understand with any certainty, but, as I see it, Doll used logarithms to change this very curvy graph into a ‘straight line’ of ‘causation’:


I know that it is mumbo-jumbo, but it enabled him to calculate ‘numbers’, and, from those numbers, to ignore everything else except those numbers. Thus, the focus was limited to a very narrow band of ’cause and effect’. Only ‘the numbers’ justified the statement ‘tobacco kills 50% of its users’. Such things as genetics, atmospheric pollution, alcohol consumption, diet, stress, could be ignored completely. As far as the slogan, “Tobacco kills half of its consumers”, is concerned, such considerations do not exist.


It is tempting to say that Doll was a chap who was just doing his best to draw the attention of government to the dangers of tobacco, but ….. NO! He was a communist in his early days and was not averse to mixing with German eugenicists before WW2. His ‘performance’ in the McTear Case was comical, but, to be fair, he was about 80 years old at the time. Even so, his claims that ‘authority knows’ were fascist in character because they assume that government has absolute power over the people of a nation. That is a big problem at the moment, because the BMA and others want the State to act in a fascist manner by introducing PROHIBITION of tobacco. Such a PROHIBITION is fascist because it denies the rights of minorities and individuals. It is also totalitarian since it requires that ‘one size fits all’. All must conform.


Zealots have a habit of conflating anti-smoking laws with laws which forbid murder and such. Such conflations are false. Murder contravenes Natural Law and Common Law. Statute Law is irrelevant. Natural Law and Common Law are permanent, but Statute Law is temporary. For example, the Seat Belt Law need only exist until a better method of protecting people in vehicles is discovered. If a better method of protecting people in cars was discovered, would the Seat Belt Law be repealed? Of course not! It would just sit there, of no consequence. I am not sure that the Law requiring a person to walk in front of an ‘automobile’ holding a red light was ever repealed. It might have been by a new law which repealed all previous laws regarding motor vehicles. Statute law introduced the poll tax, statute law removed it.


But I have, as usual, drifted away.

What Peto did was ‘prove’ that the Sun revolves around the Earth, when he ‘proved’ that the statistics justified the claim that ‘tobacco murders 50% of its users’. As we have seen (courtesy of garyk), 85% of smokers die from tobacco related diseases, but so do 84% of non-smokers.  No one dies from ‘tobacco specific‘ diseases. There are no such figures.


DOLL ET AL created the equivalent of a ‘flat Earth society’, which is revealed most clearly by the slogan “50% of smokers are killed by tobacco”. Old age has nothing to do with it, nor has pneumonia (which is a huge cause of death in very old people), nor are accidents or drug use or alcohol, or blood poisoning or brain cancers or strokes, or the myriad of other conditions, some of which kill babies and infants.


Enjoying tobacco is just as innocent as enjoying alcohol or coffee or tea or chips. Given prolonged and sufficient hysteria, combined with logarithms, one could prove that monkeys are as intelligent as humans. After all, do they not use tools?


6 Responses to “More About ‘50% of Smokers are Killed by Tobacco’”

  1. Rose Says:

    Richard Doll’s finalish thoughts on the matter.

    Sir Richard Doll on chance and genetic susceptibility in carcinogenesis, or, why not all smokers get lung cancer.- 2006

    To the Editors: Your recent tribute (1) to Richard Doll (“the greatest epidemiologist of our time”) brought to mind what must be one of the last articles he wrote. In it, he stressed the importance of chance in carcinogenesis and expressed his concern for what could be regarded as a one-sided genetic determinism in cancer research. I will let his words speak for themselves:

    Doll R. Commentary: the age distribution of cancer and a multistage theory of carcinogenesis – 2004

    “What I now find surprising, now that the concept of multiple mutations is so widely accepted, is that so many people fail to see that it accounts for the fact that only a relatively small proportion of people (<20%) are commonly victims of a particular type of cancer even if heavily exposed to known chemical carcinogenic agents. There have been two small groups of men who were very heavily exposed to chemical carcinogens in the course of their work in which all were affected, but they are atypical.

    The fact that only, say, 20% of heavy cigarette smokers would develop lung cancer by 75 years of age in the absence of other causes of death does not mean that 80% are genetically immune to the disease any more than the fact that usually only one cancer occurs in a given tissue implies that all the stem cells in the tissue that have not given rise to a malignant clone are also genetically immune.

    What it does mean is that whether an exposed subject does or does not develop a cancer is largely a matter of luck: bad luck if the several necessary changes all occur in the same stem cell when there are several thousand such cells at risk, and good luck if they do not.

    Personally, I find that makes good sense, but many people apparently do not"

    • junican Says:

      I haven’t seen that quote before, Rose.
      So, despite all the propaganda in the final report, Doll decided after all that it was just bad luck if a smoker just happened to be hit by LC. He might be even unluckier if, for some reason, his immune system happened to be compromised at the time.

      • Rose Says:

        I hadn’t either.

        I only found it the other night when spurred on by your post I was looking for something else entirely.

        It was at the bottom of his obituary.

        Articles citing this article

        Sir richard doll on chance and genetic susceptibility in carcinogenesis, or, why not all smokers get lung cancer. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. July 1, 2006

        Which contained the link to Oxford Journals.

  2. garyk30 Says:

    “50% of smokers are killed by tobacco”.

    Not a single death certificate lists ‘smoking’ as a cause of death.

    At the very most, smoking might be said to be a contributing factor.

    Any physician or coroner that is responsible for filling out death certificates knows this.

    Here are the guidelines that are about the same worldwide and one example.

    PART I.
    Enter the chain of events—diseases, injuries, or complications—that directly caused the death. DO NOT enter terminal events such as cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, or ventricular fibrillation without showing the etiology.

    IMMEDIATE CAUSE (Final disease or condition resulting in death) Due to (or as a consequence of): Sequentially list conditions, if any, leading to the cause Due to (or as a consequence of): listed on line a.
    a._= Rupture of myocardium

    (due to)
    .b =Acute myocardial infarction

    (due to)
    c.= Coronary artery thrombosis

    (due to)
    d.= Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease

    PART II.
    Enter other significant conditions contributing to death but not resulting in the underlying cause given in PART I.

    Diabetes, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, smoking

  3. garyk30 Says:

    Bit more of the same
    Note: Smoking listed in Part II is an opinion of the certifying official.

    Immediate cause of death.
    Part I, line a, is for the immediate cause of death (see Table 1).

    This should be a disease, complication, or injury
    that directly caused the death.

    A common error is to list a mechanism of death (for example,
    cardiac arrest) rather than a disease (myocardial

    Specific terms are better than vague ones.
    For instance, “cerebral infarction” is better than
    “stroke.” “Escherichia coli sepsis” is better than
    just “sepsis.”

    When cancer is the cause of death, list the
    primary site, cell type, cancer grade, and specific
    organ or lobe affected.

    Avoid terms without medical meaning, such
    as old age or senescence.

    Intermediate/underlying causes. Lines b, c,
    and d are for intermediate and underlying causes.

    Each condition listed should cause the one
    above it.
    You should be able to proceed logically
    from the underlying cause through each intermediate
    cause by saying the phrase “due to” or
    “as a consequence of,” moving from the lower
    line up through line b.

    There may be several intermediate causes. For example, a death may be due to a pulmonary embolus, as a consequence
    of hip surgery, resulting from a injury
    from a fall, resulting from a cerebral infarction.
    The underlying cause is the cerebral infarction.

    Other illnesses.
    Part II is where to list other significant illnesses or conditions that may have contributed to the death but were not the
    direct causes of it.

    More than one condition may be listed. Many patients have multiple conditions and there may be uncertainty as to direct
    and contributing causes of the death.

    The physician is only expected to make the best judgment
    possible as to the most likely causes and

    • junican Says:

      I seem to remember reading that before, gary. But no harm in repeating it at all. In fact, it is important to use the same methods as the Zealots – repeat. repeat.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: