Sundry Thoughts About Smoking, Drinking and Eating

I find that it is getting more and more difficult to find anything to talk about re Tobacco Control. Their claims are getting more and more outlandish all the time. According to what I have read about epidemiology, a relative risk less than double, or even treble, is not worth considering, being far too easy to be due to confounding from all sorts of unknowns. And yet, more and more, we are seeing “25% more likely…. ” and such, being claimed to be perfectly acceptable evidence.

So what was the evidence that children actually suffer harm as a result of a parent having a cig in the car while ferrying his/her children to school? There is none at all, as far as I know, and yet MPs voted the ban on ‘smoking in cars with children present’ into law without any hesitation. I read earlier about a Scottish MSP who wants vaping in cars with children present banned for no apparent reason at all, other than that he doesn’t like it.

What I find quite heartening is that the general public are beginning to wake up. The Brighton beach etc smoking ban was given a bad reception and was shelved; there was an attempt somewhere in Scotland to have smoking banned in outdoor seating places in cafes and such, which was also chucked out. Consultations are not going to plan – non-smokers are not falling for the bait any more. Is it possible that they are looking at their shuttered and closed local pubs and putting two and two together? Are they seeing people standing outside pubs having a cigarette and thinking, “That doesn’t look right to me”. Simple ideas like that make a lot of difference to people’s attitudes. It will not be long now before the tobacco products directive comes before parliament. A lot depends upon the newspapers as to what will happen. If they meekly fall in line because the hysteria against ecigs sells more copies, rather than the stupidity of the directive selling more copies, then expect them to shriek anti-ecig propaganda. But they have a problem, which is the Public Health England recent statement that ecigs are at least 95% ‘safer’ than tobacco cigs. It really is up to vapers to inundate their MPs and newspaper editors with letters complaining about the treatment of vapers NOW!!!

It amused me no end to see a picture of the MP Blackman reading word for word from a script written on ASH headed notepaper. That is carelessness. He was calling for more money for TC. Ha! It seems that some funding has been cut by 6%. I wonder what exactly? I suspect that his demand will fall on deaf ears. There is a world of difference between calling for legislation ‘for the children’ and calling for money to subsidise ASH ET AL ‘for the children’.

I can’t help but think that the use of the tobacco control template in connection with alcohol taxes, sugar taxes, salt taxes, fizzy drink taxes, fast food taxes, etc, etc, is a huge error. Very few people dislike sweet stuff, be it chocolate or ‘afters’ at dinner, and very few people do not enjoy a tipple. Also, it is unimaginable that food manufacturers could be driven to take their factories out of the country and locate them in the far east or in east European countries, or that breweries might do that. Further, it is far easier for food manufacturers to modify their wares than tobacco manufacturers could. ‘Action on Sugar’ would have to demonise food in its entirety, just as tobacco has been demonised in its entirety, to get anywhere. In this case, the junk science which Action on Sugar produce rebounds upon them. That is because the public perception of why people become obese is that they eat too much and they keep on eating too much. And that is probably the truth. Blaming obesity on sugar alone is just too easy.

But the Zealots are trying very, very hard. Witness this piece in the MailOnLine:

That article says that it is better to be thin and unfit than to be overweight and fit because being overweight will kill you early. The article says that this judgement comes from a study by researchers. But that is not true. The study in question is entirely and only concerned with OBESITY and not ‘overweight’. I don’t know how it is possible to be obese and yet be considered to be fit, but the study says that fit obese people fare worse in terms of mortality than unfit skinny people. Read this:

The propaganda trick was to apply the study to overweight people as well as obese people. Needless to say, the Mail article nowhere said that the study applied only to obese people.

So what shall I name this post?


4 Responses to “Sundry Thoughts About Smoking, Drinking and Eating”

  1. michaeljmcfadden Says:

    “The propaganda trick was to apply the study to overweight people as well as obese people”

    Yep. And the smoking version of this is one we see endlessly repeated in articles about secondary smoke exposure simply being all mixed in with claims about smoking itself. :/

    – MJM, not obese, not overweight, not “normal” weight, and tending toward outright invisibility at times… :>

    • junican Says:

      Likewise – I too am rather skinny. I can eat what I want and I still stay slim. Metabolism? I think so. I have a theory. Everyone has ‘fat feelers’ in their gut. Some people have more ‘fat feelers’ that others. These ‘fat feelers’ wave about and grab anything in the gut which can be turned into fat. Actually, that means almost everything that we eat. It figures therefore that people who have an over-abundance of ‘fat feelers’ need to watch how much they eat, whereas you and I need not be so careful. I like that idea!

  2. garyk30 Says:

    “According to what I have read about epidemiology, a relative risk less than double, or even treble, is not worth considering,”

    First of all, ‘Merry Christmas’ to you and yours!!!!

    How might they get a RR of 2?

    Well, suppose that non-smokers had a death rate from some disease of 10/10,000 and smokers had a death rate from that same disease of 20/10,000.

    Smokers are twice as likely to die from that disease and therefore have twice the risk or their RR=2.

    But, what does that say about the probability that the smokers’ disease was actually ’caused’ by smoking?

    Bearing in mind that there is NO disease that is solely ’caused’ by smoking, and that there is no way to tell the exact ’cause’ of the aforementioned disease, we must figure that 10 out of the 20 smokers’ deaths were ’caused’ by something else and we do know which ones are which.

    The smokers that die have a 10/20 or 50% probability that smoking was NOT the ’cause’ of their death.

    Saying that smoking ’caused’ a death, when there is a 50% chance it did not, is very bad science.

    No honest scientist would consider causality under such odds.

    A RR of 1.3 would mean that there is a 1/1.3 chance of something’s
    NOT being ’caused’ by smoking.

    1 is 77% of 1.3.

    RR1.3 implies a 77% chance that a disease was NOT ’caused’ by smoking.

    To say that SHS causes lung cancer from a RR1.25 must have honest scientists hanging their heads in disgust or shame.

    • junican Says:

      Thanks for the good wishes – and the same to you and yours.

      The point about RR is that it is the same whether the numbers are 10/100, 10/1,000, 10/10,000, etc, etc. Without considering the absolute risk, RR is meaningless in itself.

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