Science and Public Health

When we think of Science in the medical sphere, we might think of Pasteur who pioneered pasteurisation of milk in order to rid it of harmful microbes, or we might think of Fleming, who discovered penicillin. We might ask ourselves if those people were scientists or epidemiologists. I think that we would certainly opt to describe them as scientists because they actually made scientific discoveries about the way in which nature works, and what can be done to protect against and defeat diseases which have plagued mankind since time immemorial. They did not say that the cure for malaria was not to go to places where malaria was endemic.

In my opinion, Tobacco Control has been saying just that for decades: “The cure for lung cancer, etc, is not to enjoy tobacco”. That is not science; it is superstition. It follows also that most of epidemiology is superstition. We see this sort of situation: We search for disabled people who find it difficult to walk. We ask them questions about their history. We find that many of them worked in manual industries which required lots of effort with the legs. When we compare those people with office workers, we find that fewer office workers suffered from that condition. Therefore, we conclude that it was the hard physical labour which ’caused’ the problems with the limbs. That is superstition and not science. Why? Because no physical link between the hard work and the disability has been established; only a superstitious link has been established.

The importance of the above is that ‘Superstition’ is the only reasonable reason that the trade in snus has been banned, by the elite in the EU, other than in Sweden. Figures from Sweden show a much reduced incidence of lung cancer in the population, which has been attributed to the use of snus rather than smoking tobacco. (NB. That too is a superstition)

If these superstitions are what drives policy, ought it not to be the case that the use of snus is positively encouraged throughout the EU? Why not? That would be the logical thing to do.

The same applies to ecigs. No tobacco, no combustion. Why are they not encouraged? Why, like snus, are they being hounded into extinction?


I think that we can say that the reasons are entirely and totally political. How long has the trade in snus been banned in the EU? A decade? More? And how many smokers, who might have swapped to snus, pegged out as a result of that ban? How many smokers will peg out prematurely, after becoming disabled for many years and having cost the NHS a fortune, simply because they were denied snus and ecigs?

That is how the superstition, disguised as science, reveals itself, and how the superstition is very profitable to lots of people. It is no accident that the zealots plan to eradicate smoking (and the tobacco industry) by 2035. As at 2015, that is 20 years of profitable witch-hunting – and it might not end there. It could go on for decades and decades, always based upon the same platform of emotional superstition. Also, the loss of tobacco tax revenues needs time to be transferred elsewhere. It does not matter how many people peg out in the meantime, directly as a result of TC delays.

There is also the matter of smokers being hounded to only smoke approved, taxed cigs or other tobacco. I really mean hounded – again via the superstition. You are not permitted to be self-sufficient.

The result of the superstition is that EU MPs vote without thinking and pass a law which virtually bans ecigs. UK MPs pass a law which destroys individual tobacco products of their identity, destroys intellectual property – all based upon the superstition that ‘children’ don’t like the colour dark green or brown. Chocolate is brown. Grapes are green. Some grapes are even black. Blackberries are black. They start off green, change to red, and then to black. Only when they are black do they taste nice.

It strikes me that MPs are unduly superstitious. I wonder if they tend to consult astrologers?




6 Responses to “Science and Public Health”

  1. garyk30 Says:

    Seems to me that most ‘science’ these days is just ‘engineering’ and refining of what has gone on before.

    There is little discovery these days and what there is, seems silly.

    Why do they show ‘Black Holes’ as looking like a whirlpool?

    Gravity attracts in all directions equally, not just at the equator of a sphere.

    A ‘Black Hole’ is a collapsed sphere.

    • junican Says:

      As I understand it:
      1. There is no reason that a black hole should not be spinning.
      2. ‘Hawkins Radiation’: At the ‘event horizon’ (the point in space which dictates whether or not anything can escape from the black hole), radiation can split. Some of it will fall into the hole and some will escape.
      But it is all theoretical.

  2. Roberto Says:

    The difference between Pasteur and present day tobacco “control” epidemiologists is not so much methodology in itself, but intellectual honesty/dishonesty and the absence/presence of an aggressive political agenda that works as a moral crusade against some infinitely evil substance. Bites from rabid dogs was (and still is) one of the causes of rabies, but Pasteur did not subscribe to a political agenda to wholly eliminate dog ownership by means of aggressive prohibitionist legislation and concerted efforts to stigmatize and “de-normalise” it. Pasteur’s recommendation (which influenced public health policies) was simply to vaccinate your dogs, not to get rid of them, he never recommended the introduction of harsh regulations that would make dog ownership sufficiently difficult in order to induce most folks (specially the poor) to get rid of their dogs. Pasteur was not aiming at preventing rabies by forcing the creation of “dog free” spaces that eventually would fill the whole planet. His efforts were motivated by introducing changes of behavior to meet real public health concerns, not to meet some vast global project of social engineering with moral crusading overtones.

    However, I am afraid that the social engineering brought by 2 decades of tobacco “control” is now unstoppable, at least in English speaking countries. Not only the medical profession and health bodies (the WHO for example) have jumped into this wagon, but I have the impression that most of the public either supports it or is wholly indifferent. Most folks simply take for granted that “science has proven that second hand smoke kills”, simply because fear is a powerful drive and because most folks roughly trust the medics on a sort of “common wisdom” sense (if all doctors say it, then it can’t be fabricated). Were it not because I love smoking cigars and thus have been personally affected, I would also be indifferent as most of my acquaintances are. The process is so overwhelming that it seems to be roller steaming all counter-arguments and dissenting voices. There is no large grass roots organised opposition perhaps because we, smokers, are becoming an aging group. I am 62 years old and most under 30’s who smoke that I know feel guilty about it (and I live in Mexico where the anti-smoking attitude is far less intense than in the USA or Canada). We smokers are also becoming increasing a group of majority low income and less formal education, so we are the ideal political “punching bag” or escape goat.

    In Mexico there is a strong campaign to legalise hard drugs, since the government’s “war on drugs” has costed the country more than 100 thousand dead and hugely increased common criminality (the defeated cartels fragment into small cells whose criminal activity shifted from drug trafficking into robbery, kidnappings and extortion). For me the most depressing experience has been to hear young open minded people who favor legalisation of hard drugs (cocaine, heroine, meta-amphetamines, etc) as well as removing the stigma to addicts, expressing hard authoritarian prohibitionist opinions regarding tobacco use, which is far less additive and damaging that these hard drugs. If these folks, who could be our allies already turn down on us, then what can you expect from most other folks? It’s depressing.

    I strongly believe that exposing the shallow scientific basis of the studies that purport to demonstrate the dangers of second hand smoke is still necessary, but may not be so important in opposing increasingly aggressive legislation (outdoor bans). Rather, the opposition should perhaps start to be phrased in terms of human rights. We should argue that even if all studies of second hand smoke are correct (which they aren’t), all of them (and I attest to have read most) examined indoor exposition to smoke, not purely outdoor exposition and less so in large outdoor spaces. Therefore, while these studies may justify indoor bans (or even bans in sport stadiums or very crowded outdoor areas), they do not justify smoking bans in large outdoor spaces, such as public parks, beaches, streets, terraces. Further, these studies do not justify the excesses of anti-tobacco militants in their explicit intended (and even admitted) attempts to impose systematic stigma to smokers. These studies do not justify denying the possibility of allowing for decent designated indoor spaces where smokers can smoke without being exposed to harsh climate.

    We should aim at getting social support to force the tobacco control machinery (including doctors and health bureaucrats) to “declare victory” and stop pressing for further excessive legislation and “de-normalisation”. They must be forced to accept they can’t eradicate smoking at a 100% level without incurring in gross violations of human rights. I recon that at least 5-10% of the population everywhere (myself modestly included) will not quit smoking even under extreme legislation and stigma (even if tobacco is made illegal). We should get the necessary support from the civil society to protect our basic human rights, we should argue that tobacco smoking can be effectively regulated (with rights of the non-smoking majority well protected) without violating the human rights of the smoking minority by large space outdoor bans, social stigma and denial of the right of using designated indoor decent places to smoke.

    Ooops ! sorry for the long post

    • junican Says:

      Hello, Roberto. Welcome to the BSC.
      I agree with (almost) everything that you say.
      What I have noticed is that it is older smokers who tend to show shame because they smoke. I have also noticed that young smokers, of which there are many, have heard all the junk science and admonitions over and over, but they feel no shame. The need to feel no shame is of great importance. They are used to going outside for a fag and don’t really care. In fact, it seems to me that the going outside has become part of the crack of a fun night out. It also seems to me that young smokers can take it or leave it. For example, I never see any young smoker craving. If the weather is foul, they will simply not bother going outside.
      In fact, even though I have been smoking all my adult life, I notice that I am more and more unperturbed by bans on aircraft, buses, taxis, etc. They do not matter because I have to use them from time to time. Pub bans DO matter because I do NOT have to use them. In that case, I tolerate the ban, but hate it. But I have reduced my pub going enormously over the past several years.
      And so have millions of others.
      Sooner or later tobacco control will run out of steam. The costs will become visible and the reward will be seen to be non-existent.

      • Roberto Says:

        Hello Junican, thanks for welcoming me aboard. I agree that I cannot generalise to young smokers everywhere when my experience is restricted to the younger smokers I meet (mostly university students). I agree they are perhaps not representative of young smokers in Mexico or everywhere. The point I wanted to make is the depression I feel when seeing how these young folks are open minded enough to agree (and campaign) to repeal authoritarian prohibitionist policies on marihuana or cocaine (or alcohol), and yet remain authoritarian prohibitionists regarding tobacco, a habit they associate with old guys like me or with chain smoking hapless junkies. They cannot conceive that tobacco can be enjoyable and only (in statistic terms) harmful in excessive doses. Obviously students who smoke among them feel guilty. I get the feeling that it is going to be very hard to undo 2 decades of misinformation and indoctrination by the tobacco “control” machinery. For this reason we need to fight in terms of human rights.

        From my personal side, I suffer from the fact that anti-tobacco non-smokers find cigars much more repealing than cigarettes, for this reason (and the high price of good cigars) I have partly switched to pipe smoking. I have also adapted to prohibition to smoke indoors in bars, restaurants and parties. Weather in Mexico allows for year round outdoor activity, so indoor bans are a nuisance but not so problematic and the law in Mexico still allows for smoking in open terraces of large expensive bars and restaurants (smaller establishments cannot meet ventilation restrictions). I spent 6 weeks in London last October and November for a work trip. I noticed how many young smokers broke the regulations and smoked in the evening in outdoor areas where smoking was forbidden (a university campus). I also enjoyed my cigars and pipes in outdoor roofed terraces in various pubs in the East End and in the Killburn area.

        I hope you are right in saying that the tobacco “control” is running out of steam. My personal impression is that they know their whole scheme is based on junk science and it will crack sooner or latter, so they hope to mitigate the scandal by saying “yes, we lied to the public but we were able to eradicate smoking”, and hope that by that time there will be very few smokers left to protest the scam. If my perception is correct, then we should expect a lot of fanaticism coming from them before shit hits the fan.

      • junican Says:

        What I meant by ‘running out of steam’ is that TC have to invent more and more outlandish imaginary ‘problems’ to push their agenda forward towards prohibition.
        The end might come from a totally unexpected direction, such as a reorganisation of the WHO, or even the whole UN. Suppose that countries started to leave the UN in droves, and the UN broke up? Suppose that the IPCC (global warming) inflicted real damage on economies and that widespread corruption was revealed? We don’t know what might happen in the future.
        My own thinking is that, sooner or later, countries will start to rebel big time against the gradual spread of totalitarian tyranny.

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