“165,000 Deaths of Babies between 1 and 5 Years old due to Second Hand Smoke”

This needs to be a short post because I have to be up tomorrow earlier than usual. I dare not go on until 4 am.

Dick Puddlecote and others have talked about this in detail. See:


The TC Industry is fond of quoting such figures without putting them in context. A person who has no concept of ‘facts’ in the UK might believe that that number applies to the UK. It would be stupid to believe such a thing, but if you have no idea what the birth rate is, or how many babies die between 1 and 5, you might well take it on-board, without really thinking about it – and be absolutely appalled. You would not necessarily have to be stupid. All that is needed is for a person not to know essential facts, or even think about them. “It said so in the newspaper” is often enough.

I suppose that the figure of 165,000 deaths … per year…. is worldwide, although I did not see that stated – not that I particularly looked for it. Why bother? We all know that Public Health stats are manipulated.

So here is my own take.

In England and Wales, there are around 700,000 live births each year. I have a National Statistics table for causes of death in 2014. We must bear in mind that the 165,000 deaths are from ‘lower respiratory diseases’.

I have looked up the number of deaths in Eng and Wales from respiratory diseases in 2014. The total is 65,000. Of those, only 102 deaths, in total were of babies between 1 and 5 years old.

The section of the Table is called: ‘Diseases of the Respiratory System’. It is split as follows for 0 to 5:

Influenza: 7 deaths.

Pneumonia: 38 deaths.

Bronchitis, Emphysema, and other chronic obstructive ….:  1 death.

Asthma: 2 deaths.

Something is wrong, because the total of 102 deaths does not conform to the breakdown. The breakdown total is only 48 deaths. I see no explanation of the discrepancy. Here is a copy of the entries:

The last three columns are: total deaths, under 1 year old, 1 – 4 years old.

Diseases of the respiratory system M 32,270 20 31
F 34,302 19 32
Influenza due to certain identified M 19 0 1
influenza virus F 13 1 1
Influenza M 41 0 4
F 45 0 0
Pneumonia M 11,182 4 10
F 14,154 9 15
Bronchitis, emphysema and other M 13,547 0 1
chronic obstructive pulmonary F 12,720 0 0
Asthma M 345 0 1
F 769 0 1

That is a ‘copy and paste’ of the bit of the table. I can see nothing amiss. The figures do not add up. Perhaps the difference comes from uncertainty about the precise underlying cause.

But that is not important. What is important is that the number of deaths, tragic though they might be, is minuscule when compared with the number of live births. Remember that, during the five years that such deaths were recorded, some 3,500,000 live births had occurred, of which, for whatever reason, some 500 babies had died from ‘respiratory diseases’. Take, for example, asthma deaths. Two such deaths were recorded in 2014. Why did those two babies out of some 700,000 have such a terrible affliction? The ’cause’ of death is described as ‘asthma’, but there must, surely, have been some other factor, such as prematurity, or genetics.

TC has taken a world estimate and made an assumption that SHS has ’caused’ deaths which would not otherwise have occurred, mostly in 3rd world countries.

May I suggest that the lack of such deaths in England and Wales proves that those deaths in 3 rd world countries were NOT due to SHS? When I say  proves, I am not being precise, but I am being no more imprecise than TC. Lots of parent in England and Wales smoke. The number of deaths is minuscule compared with the number of smoking parents – so minuscule as to suggest that SHS has nothing to do with those deaths.

Why should it be otherwise in Africa and Asia?

What thinking about epidemiology has suggested to me is that “Null” results can be trusted (but not all the time, obviously). The reason is that ‘no correlation’ is is like saying that water does not make you drunk. It’s a simple fact which we are all aware of. The above figures suggest a “Null” result in England and Wales. There are simply two few such deaths. Therefore, it is likely that positive results in 3 rd world countries are false positives. Much more important factors cause the deaths of those babies.








7 Responses to ““165,000 Deaths of Babies between 1 and 5 Years old due to Second Hand Smoke””

  1. BrianB Says:

    A couple of nerdish points, if I may, Junican.

    The table that you copied from is a breakdown of deaths by “selected causes”. What the ONS have always done with these summary publications is to concentrate on the groupings of causes of death that provide most added value and/or interest to their users. In other words, they aren’t meant to add up in the way that you are seeking.

    The key to this is the column in ONS’ table that would appear to the left of your pasted table section above, ie the column headed ‘ICD-10 Code’ (International Classification of Diseases – 10th Revision), you will see that the code for ‘Diseases of the respiratory system’ is ‘J00-J99’ – which means that this section of the classification (respiratory diseases) is a summary total of up to 100 possible diagnoses, coded ‘J00, J01 … J100’. In fact, according to my latest copy of ICD-10 tables, there are around 64 of the 100 possible ‘J’ codes in use.

    Now, look at the subgroups of J00-J99 that are included in this table, and you will see that they only cover 17 out of the 64 used J codes. It is safe, therefore, to assume that the missing deaths are due to the other 47 respiratory causes of death.

    I can’t explain why these 47 causes are excluded from the summary table. There include some, nowadays, rare causes such as Pneumoconiosis and Pneumonitis, but they also include all acute viral events such as common cold, pharyngitis, laryngitis, croup, tonsillitis and more. I don’t know whether or note these are killers of infants, but some out of the 47 will be. I would also suggest looking for the numbers in the groups J96-J99, which are catch-all codes for diagnoses where there was much uncertainty, and hence couldn’t be assigned to one of the exact codes.

    Can I also suggest that you shouldn’t be including those deaths in the “under 1 year old” group in your analysis. Since the “billion lives” number (165,000) is said to apply to ages “1-5”, then this would assume to exclude any that were under 1. Of course, “1-5” would also imply that you need to include 5 year olds in your analysis too, as, in ‘normal’ statistical parlance, “1-5” would mean “anyone of age 1 year and over, but less than 6 years”.

    Apart from that, I agree with your reasoning, although I do feel, frankly, that you are wasting your time trying to reconcile voodoo numbers with reality, since, as we well know, whether the claim is for 165,000 or just 165, it is complete bullshit!

    I hope this helps.

    • garyk30 Says:

      Since you have a ICD-10 and it is used for the official cause of death to be listed on death certificates, can you see if ‘smoking’ or ‘second hand smoke exposure’ is listed anywhere?

      If not, then smoking or SHS can not be said to be the ’cause’ of any death.

      • BrianB Says:

        Hi Gary

        Well, I suspect that you know the answers as well as I do – but here goes:

        The only reference to ‘smoke’ in the ICD-10 tables that I have is in the ‘X0?’ series, and in particular X08: ‘Exposure to other specified smoke’, and X09: ‘Exposure to unspecified smoke’. Now before any anti starts to ejaculate over this, it needs to be pointed out that those two codes complete the ‘X0?’ series, the rest of which all relate to types of fires. So what this means is that ‘Exposure’ to smoke has to have been the direct cause of death – and it needs to have been obviously so, and pretty well instant, as you would expect in, say, a big fire.

        However here’s one ICD code that should make all vapers quiver in their boots:

        X13: ‘Contact with steam and hot vapours’


        I recall reading some time ago that WHO (who are actually the gatekeepers of ICD) were attempting to bring in a range of codes that could be used to implicate tobacco smoking. Their problem is that these have to be in the ‘Z??’ series which are officially described as ‘Factors influencing health status and contact with health services’. This series has already been recently extended to include. eg, codes for Body Mass Index.

        However – the Z codes are not ’causes of death’ (‘diagnoses’ when used in a general healthcare setting), what they are meant to describe is a reason why the person was on the radar of the health services in the first place.

        So, let them go ahead and add ‘SHS’, or plain ‘tobacco smoking’ to the Z codes, but it won’t make a blind bit of difference: there will still be no way of recording smoking (real or ‘passive’) as a cause of death on a death certificate.

        Which, of course, means that not one death has ever, officially, been caused by smoking tobacco – and that’s an indisputable fact – according to the WHO’s own classification!

        As I said, I suspect that you knew that already (?).

        Oh, and for info, there are around 25,000 causes in ICD-10 – each of which is subdivided into up to a dozen sub-causes. A lot to get your head around!


      • BrianB Says:

        Just a small addendum, in case there is any doubt: the ICD ‘Z’ codes are not used to give the cause of death. Even if someone adds them to the death certificate, they won’t be recorded into lasting computer database statistics – only the actual ‘primary’ causes will be retained.

        Or to quote the words of your own CDC, in their official guidance document for those charged with turning doctors’ scribble into formal ICD diagnoses/causes:

        The supplementary Z code appears in Volume 1 but is not used for classifying mortality data.

        That should be clear enough.

  2. slugbop007 Says:

    About that many children, age 1 to 5, die every day from starvation, malnutrition and various diseases.

  3. Timothy Goodacre Says:

    More TC lies !

  4. junican Says:

    Thanks to all for the comments.
    BrianB, I was rushing a bit last night. I’m not sure that I looked at the right table. I guess that you are right, and that I looked at the summary table rather than the detailed table. I have lots of ‘saved’ tables of that sort going back to 1951. It can be confusing. Historical data has been uploaded, but is categorised differently for more recent years.
    Thankfully, I don’t think that such detail invalidates the argument, which is that the deaths of such infants are extremely extraordinary in a modern country such as the UK. If the big numbers come from 3rd world countries, then, clearly, smoking is not very relevant, if you consider the primitive conditions in which many of those people live.

    Regarding the 1 – 5, the stats make things difficult. They go: under 1, 1 – 4, 5 – 9 etc. Thus, you cannot calculate 1 – 5 from Nat Stats. Perhaps TC academics have access to annual data. I suppose that leaving out 0 – 1 eliminates cot deaths and such, since such deaths almost exclusively occur before one year old.
    But how reliable are such statistics for the 3rd world? It beggars belief that any records in such places can be remotely accepted. Thus, only the records of 1st world countries can be trusted.
    What do the records show? In my opinion, they show that the babies which die in the first five years of life start off with chronic conditions. The deaths are not caused by the presence of tobacco smoke, but by serious defects in the infant. For example, apropos Paris, if the people who were outside because the were smokers, were their deaths ‘smoking related’? It could be argued so, but that argument does not hold much water, UNLESS the terrorists shot those people because they were smokers.

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