Warning: smoking can be hazardous to your logic

Pam Frampton
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

I’m always amazed to discover there are actually people who believe the world is flat, or that dinosaurs co-mingled with Christians a mere 5,000 years ago (what fun!), or that women should vow to obey men when they marry.

Seriously, there are people who believe this stuff.

What I didn’t quite grasp until recently is that there are actually people out there who say they don’t believe that smoking poses serious health hazards.

A couple of times in recent days I’ve heard people casually pooh-pooh the risks, including Canadian music icon Stompin’ Tom Connors, interviewed on “Q” recently by CBC Radio’s Jian Ghomeshi.

Stompin’ Tom was lamenting the fact that he can’t smoke on the tour bus and he has trouble finding places to smoke in motels and bars.

Ghomeshi suggested that perhaps he should ditch the smokes, given how damaging they are, health-wise.

Stompin’ Tom — clearly not impressed with that suggestion — said he didn’t believe any of that stuff.

Perhaps Tom could take Simon Critchley’s “The Book of Dead Philosophers” on the tour bus with him, and read all about how hardcore smoker Sigmund Freud met his demise.

Critchley writes that from 1923 until his death in 1939, Freud suffered from cancer of the mouth, jaw and palate and required more than 20 operations.

“The cause was his prolific cigar smoking, up to 20 a day, without which he was unable to think and write and which he never gave up.”

The father of psychoanalysis lived in constant pain and developed a growth on his cheek that was so malodorous, his favourite dog would no longer go near him. Eventually, the cancer ate through his cheek and he wasted away.

Even Freud — who was fond of blaming a person’s childhood as the source of their ills — recognized that his own was caused by smoking.

In Freud’s case, it was the strength of addiction and habit that prevented him from tossing the cigars in the trash.

Perhaps that’s the case with Stompin’ Tom, as well.

Whatever the reason, anyone who does not recognize the link between smoking and ill health has never smoked a pack of cigarettes and then hoofed it up Prescott Street after a night at The Ship.

Even now, three and a half years since I smoked my last cigarette, I still feel like I have reduced lung capacity when I hike a steep hill or go for a run — though it is getting better.

A common argument — or bromide, perhaps — from the pro-smoking lobby is that lots of non-smokers die of lung cancer. True enough. And there are smokers who will never die of lung cancer.

But that does not negate the causal relationship between the two. Not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos will develop asbestosis, but few people will dispute that one causes the other.

The difference is, I don’t know of anyone addicted to asbestos, nor do I know anyone who is proclaiming their right to be exposed to it.

And therein lies the rub.

Do a little research on the organized pro-smoking lobby and you will quickly discern a common, libertarian theme: smokers have a right to smoke and the government has no right telling them not to.

So it’s not necessarily always a matter of someone not believing the health warnings. Instead, it might be a matter of them asserting their right to ignore them.

The most popular tactic in this battle will be familiar to anyone following the climate change debate: disparage the scientific evidence.

An international smokers’ rights organization calling themselves Forces, which has its Canadian headquarters in British Columbia, has a website that sums up the message:

We are part of an international organization determined to fight irrational smoking bans, and misinformation about primary, and second hand smoke.

For many years now, our government has targeted smokers as the object of psychological persecution, moral lynching and public apartheid. This affects over a quarter of Canada’s population, and it has no precedent in the history of this country.

The anti-smoking industry claims to be based on scientific evidence. We are here to prove that this evidence is largely flawed and manipulated. We believe that the real reason for this persecution stems from the wider and much more dangerous tendency of the state to control the personal choice of citizens, just by deeming some choices “unhealthy.”

Smoking prohibition is just one goal of a much broader policy of state interference in our lives, and it must be stopped.

The use of the word “apartheid” in this context is offensive, particularly for anyone who suffered through that racist regime in South Africa.

But at least the website sets out the organization’s manifesto, warts and all.

The argument that the government would go through the effort of concocting false research and selling it to a nation in order to frighten people away from smoking makes little sense, given how much governments rake in from taxes on tobacco products.

For the record, I absolutely agree that people have the right to buy and smoke a legal product — though not anywhere they please.

But there’s no conspiracy, folks.

The percentage of Canadians who smoke is just about the same as the percentage of Canadians who die each year from smoking-attributable diseases.

Coincidence? I think not.

Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s story editor. She welcomes comments by e-mail: pframpton@thetelegram.com

Organizations: CBC Radio

Geographic location: Prescott Street, British Columbia, Canada South Africa.But

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Elysha Rogers
    September 21, 2010 - 07:02

    Ex-smoker .......Who would have guessed.

  • Flex H.
    August 01, 2010 - 11:02

    http://fightingback.homestead.com/ Great deal of information available about smoking at links provided by this website. It is mostly about SHS but many of those links also provide information about smoking Pam Frampton lecturing Stompin' Tom about smoking instantly reminded me an incident a few years back at a club where my mother was a member. A planned birthday party was canceled because of the sudden death of birthday "boy" four day prior the planned event. Just by chance I was present when the news was announced as I was giving my mother a ride and also because I wanted to see if any help was need it for the planned party. I met the birthday "boy" twice before. Outside, both of us having a smoke, while I was waiting for my mother. Yes, another "smoking related" death. Sudden heart attack 4 days before the age of 100. Truly remarkable shape for anybody 2 or 3 decades younger. What reminds me of Pam Frampton is the remark of a lady about how she predicted this to happen because he was always going outside for a smoke. As for this writer flat earth and other hyperbola? My own family history shows both on my father and mother side that smokers lived longer. Not only lived longer on both side but on my father side encountered less health problems. On my mother side the health problems were about the same. Granted, some stopped smoking before. Like my father at an age of 74. So did an other uncle past 70. No doubt, my father death more than a decade after quitting smoking still be listed as a "smoking related" death.Totally discounting his more than three decades involvement in the plastic manufacturing trade. Most of it without masks or even half decent ventilation. Is stating the truth about my family makes makes me a believer of the flat earth theory in the eyes of Pam Frampton? Who knows? Never personally encountered a smoker who ever said to me that smoking is not a health risk. Ever. The poison is in the dose. Smoking in moderation reduce the risk and can even provide health benefits for some. Now, put that in your meal and eat it.

  • harleyrider1978
    July 31, 2010 - 23:05

    The new Tobacco Prohibition I would like to take the time to tell the entire community about a falsehood so big that everyone who believes in freedom should be appauled. This falsehood is so big it resonates from historical fact forward to this day. This falsehood is so big billions of dollars have been spent to make it believable to those of us who dont take the time to look up the facts. We all remember reading about alcohol prohibition,but did you know there was also tobacco prohibition going on before alcohol became such a target of the last nanny staters. Our great grandparents lived thru prohibition and the great depression,they also lived thru tobacco prohibition. Heres a time line starting in 1900,dont be surprised to see the same thing playing out today nearly 100 years later. 1901: REGULATION: Strong anti-cigarette activity in 43 of the 45 states. "Only Wyoming and Louisiana had paid no attention to the cigarette controversy, while the other forty-three states either already had anti-cigarette laws on the books or were considering new or tougher anti-cigarette laws, or were the scenes of heavy anti- cigarette activity" (Dillow, 1981:10). 1904: New York: A judge sends a woman is sent to jail for 30 days for smoking in front of her children. 1904: New York City. A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette in an automobile. "You can't do that on Fifth Avenue," the arresting officer says. 1907: Business owners are refusing to hire smokers. On August 8, the New York Times writes: "Business ... is doing what all the anti-cigarette specialists could not do." 1917: SMOKEFREE: Tobacco control laws have fallen, including smoking bans in numerous cities, and the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho and Tennessee. 1937: hitler institutes laws against smoking.This one you can google. Now onto the falsehood...... We have been told for years by smoke free advocates that second hand smoke is the cause of everything from johnnys ear ache to cousin ED'S lung cancer. But wheres the proof!!! Remember they claim 50,000 deaths a year yet,there are no bodys not even mass graves of the dead to second hand smoke.We await the names of these victims. A simple stroll down historys road say 10 years or so and we start to get at the truth...... A federal Judge by the name of osteen got a case dropped in his lap in North Carolina,the case was that of EPA'S study on second hand smoke/environmental tobacco smoke.The judge an anti-tobbaco judge by reputation spent 4 years going thru the study and interviewing scientists at EPA and came to the conclusion : JUNK SCIENCE ''EPA's 1992 conclusions are not supported by reliable scientific evidence. The report has been largely discredited and, in 1998, was legally vacated by a federal judge.Before its 1992 report, EPA had always used epidemiology's gold standard CI of 95 percent to measure statistical significance. But because the U.S. studies chosen[cherry picked] for the report were not statistically significant within a 95 percent CI, for the first time in its history EPA changed the rules and used a 90 percent CI, which doubled the chance of being wrong. This allowed it to report a statistically significant 19 percent increase [a 1.19rr] of lung cancer cases in the nonsmoking spouses of smokers over those cases found in nonsmoking spouses of nonsmokers. Even though the RR was only 1.19--an amount far short of what is normally required to demonstrate correlation or causality--the agency concluded this was proof SHS increased the risk of U.S. nonsmokers developing lung cancer by 19 percent.'' The EPA fought to have Osteen's decision overturned on technical grounds, ignoring the multitude of facts in the decision. They succeeded in 2002 on the narrowest of technicalities. The fourth circuit court of appeals ruled that because the report was not an official policy document Osteen's court did not have jurisdiction. In their appeal the EPA did not answer a single criticism in the 92 page report, nor challenge a single fact put forth by Judge Osteen. Not one. Although the anti-smoker movement was already established, this report was used, and continues to be used, to bolster their claim that SHS is a killer. http://knol.google.com/k/second-hand-smoke # So here we find that second hand smoke was made a political scapegoat by EPA.Lets not forget how EPA has reworked the global warming studys just this last summer. Where its top scientists paper was rebuked because it didnt carry the EPA'S stand that global warming was real. The political shenanigans surrounding SHS/ETS go deep not only with the government and its health agencies but also to the big pharmaceutical companies and non-profit orginizations aka ACS,ALA,AHA and a meriad of others. All lobbying for smoking bans and their weapon of choise Propaganda paid for by big pharma and tax dollars. Studys made to order that second hand smoke is deadly. Take a memory note here too,over 250 studys on shs/ets have found it safe. Yet a simple look at the chemistry shows us that its: About 90% of secondary smoke is composed of water vapor and ordinary air with a minor amount of carbon dioxide. The volume of water vapor of second hand smoke becomes even larger as it qickly disperses into the air,depending upon the humidity factors within a set location indoors or outdoors. Exhaled smoke from a smoker will provide 20% more water vapor to the smoke as it exists the smokers mouth. 4 % is carbon monoxide. 6 % is those supposed 4,000 chemicals to be found in tobacco smoke. Unfortunatley for the smoke free advocates these supposed chemicals are more theorized than actually found.What is found is so small to even call them threats to humans is beyond belief.Nanograms,picograms and femptograms...... (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80). Now, how odd that when we search the smoke free activists sites not one of them mentions that water vapor and air are the main components of second hand smoke. Is this just a fluke or an outright omission to further their political healthscare against the general public. The last informative tid bit I have for you is what does OSHA have to say about all this secondhand smoke stuff. Here is where it gets interesting,it seems John Banzhaf, founder and president of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) decided to sue OSHA to make a rule on shs/ets not that OSHA didnt want to play ball with him,its just that the scientific facts didnt back up a rule to start with. Now for a rule to happen Osha has to send out for comments for a period of time and boy did the comments fly in, over 40,000 of them....Osha has whats called PEL'S and limits for an 8 hour period of exposure to chemicals in indoor environments...[epa is in charge of outdoor air]some smoke free groups have tried to use 30 minute air samples using epa monitoring to create a air borne healthscare. The actual standard to use is OSHA'S The EPA standard is to be used for OUTSIDE ambient air quality and it is the average over a period of 3 years. The proper standard to compare to is the OSHA standard for indoor air quality for respirable particulate (not otherwise specified) for nuisance dusts and smoke. That standard is 5000 ug/m3 on a time-weighted average (8 hours a day, 5 days a week) and is intended to be protective of health over an average working life of 30 years! This is where second hand smoke really becomes a joke,remember its nearly 90% water vapor and air.....now lets get to the facts of toxicology and dose makes the poison: According to independent Public and Health Policy Research group, Littlewood & Fennel of Austin, Tx, on the subject of secondhand smoke........ They did the figures for what it takes to meet all of OSHA'S minimum PEL'S on shs/ets.......Did it ever set the debate on fire. They concluded that: All this is in a small sealed room 9x20 and must occur in ONE HOUR. For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes "For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes "Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes. Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up. "For Hydroquinone, "only" 1250 cigarettes For arsenic 2 million 500,000 smokers at one time The same number of cigarettes required for the other so called chemicals in shs/ets will have the same outcomes. So,OSHA finally makes a statement on shs/ets : Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997 WHAT! DILUTED BELOW PERMISSABLE LEVELS By the way ASH dropped their lawsuit because OSHA was going to make a rule and that rule would have been weak and been the law of the land,meaning no smoking bans would ever have been enacted anywhere,simply because an open window or a ventilation system would have covered the rule. Let me also tell you that the relative risk for shs/ets by the SG report of 2006 was a 1.19 ''EPA study is whats used to call it a carcinogen''......milks is a 2.43 and that glass of chlorinated water your about to drink is a 1.25 yet these things aren't determined to be a carcinogen....The gold standard in epidemiology is a 3.0....Now had the SURGEON GENERAL included 2 other shs/ets studys the relative risk for disease from shs/ets would have been nearer a.60-.70 meaning it would have a protective effect against ever getting disease. But,what each of us has is years and years of exposure and the knowledge that our kids all grew up around shs and generations of others,yet we are here alive not dead from a lousy 30 minute exposure to shs as stanton glantz tries to claim.....thats another story and its just as crazy as all the rest of smokefree's claim about shs/ets. Oh! have you heard the one about ''laugh'' thirdhand smoke or third hand drinking. Like I said their claims border beyond that of any reasonable persons commomsence. The next time you see a healthscare claim consider the source.Especially if it comes from a government or non profit agency!

  • Ann W.
    July 31, 2010 - 20:58

    It really does concern me when I see the word "control" and the dollar value of our taxes going to these groups for "control"........ Grants and Contributions Disclosure Health Canada Recipient Name: Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Date: 03/14/2008 Value: $769,635.00 Type: Contribution Purpose: Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) supports global tobacco control worldwide through partnerships with international public health associations, governmental organizations and NGOs. With this project, PSC will promote and support the global implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Latin America and Africa. Funding will be used to support the global implementation of FCTC articles 5, 11, 12, 20, 22 and 26 until March 31, 2009. http://www.contracts-contrats.hc-sc.gc.ca/dpfad/gcdisc.nsf/WEBbydetails/96FA38009F8DB55385257427006DFEF0?OpenDocument&L=E& or Grants and Contributions Disclosure Health Canada Recipient Name: Canadian Council for Tobacco Control Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Date: 10/30/2009 Value: $1,317,800.00 Type: Contribution Purpose: The Canadian Council for Tobacco Control was founded in 1974 by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Lung Association. The CCTC strives to provide the timely and practical transfer of critical knowledge and skill development for effective local, provincial and national action on tobacco to health intermediaries. Through this initiative, the CCTC will maintain and up-date their extensive library of tobacco-control documents; disseminate and share critical tobacco control information with health intermediaries from across Canada, as well as promote National Non-Smoking Week campaigns for 2010 and 2011.

  • Ann W.
    July 31, 2010 - 20:50

    "The argument that the government would go through the effort of concocting false research and selling it to a nation in order to frighten people away from smoking makes little sense, given how much governments rake in from taxes on tobacco products." What makes you think that the government is the one doing the research? They only provide funding and disseminate results of research that agrees with their policy. Now wouldn't a name like "Non-Smokers' Rights Association" kind of have a bias to anything they did? Grants and Contributions Disclosure Health Canada Recipient Name: Non-Smokers' Rights Association Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada Date: 09/14/2007 Value: $850,000.00 Type: Contribution Purpose: Non-Smokers' Rights Association is proposing to support, through the activities outlined below, the following objectives of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS): To examine the next generation of tobacco control policy in Canada, and; To contribute to the implementation of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Project objectives would focus on: i) Educating the broader health community; ii) Developing options for tobacco control policies to further improve public health nationally and globally, and; iii) Building the capacity of Canadians to engage in tobacco reduction activities. The deliverables that the project would produce are conference, workshop and roundtable presentations, research and policy reports and papers, web site content, news bulletins and news stories. http://www.gcdisclosure-divulgationsc.hc-sc.gc.ca/dpfad/gcdisc.nsf/WEBbydetails/4E3C53F9F3E041C0852573FE00561889?OpenDocument&lang=eng&

  • Tony
    July 31, 2010 - 20:07

    Hey Pam , last time I checked smoking is legal and untill the Fed. and Prov. Governments want to lose millions in taxes, it will continue to be so. That nasty habit of drinking spirits is also legal, which also contributes to all Governments general revenue.The hamburger sin tax, is soon coming, so I can assume your next rant will be about all the studies of how children copy what their parents eat. It's already been done and unfortunately , it's true!! Moderation, coupled with common sense is the norm. For God's sake, let people live their own lives!! The special interest groups who squeak the wheel, will get no grease from me!!! Pam, you usually don't spread any peacock feathers!!! I am surprised you did. Really!!!

  • Cyzane
    July 31, 2010 - 18:30

    If you ''absolutely agree that people have the right to buy and smoke a legal product'', what business have you got moralizing people for using it? Why not lecture your government for still keeping it legal? Or do you also agree that asbestos should be readily available and ''sin'' taxed at every corner store for people to insulate their homes if they so choose? As long as tobacco remains a legal product, people will never believe the extent of its alleged hazards. The only thing that your judgmental crusade does, is that it makes you and everyone like you look like the worst of hypocrites. If you truly believe any or all of the anti-smoker rhetoric, the only lecture you should be giving is to your government to ban it and point out to them that if they don't , they're worse criminals than the tobacco industry. Enough with the hypocritical double standards. It is time we shit or got off the pot when it comes to anti-tobacco.

  • David Andrews
    July 31, 2010 - 16:53

    Yeah, right! And Paul Newman (a chain smoker earlier in his life) died of lung cancer at age 83. Of course, had he not smoked, he would have lived to 114... or would never die, as anti-smoking zealots would have you believe! I don't know what fat carnivorous non-smokers must be thinking while they're lying in their death beds in their mid-50s, dying from all the animals they devoured over their lifetimes, while their elderly friends & relatives have to nip outside for a smoke.

  • qaz668
    July 31, 2010 - 15:30

    My mother got away from using tobacco by switching to an electronic cigarette. It does not expose anyone to smoke, tar, or carbon monoxide because nothing burns. It has an atomizer that warms and vaporizes a nicotine solution. Since she got her starter kit from www.CleanGreenNicotine.com , she has had no urge to go back to smoking. Also, she has ceased starting her day with the ritual of an extended coughing fit. And, the refill cartridges are cheaper than buying cigarettes!

  • Rob Moffatt
    July 31, 2010 - 13:58

    more segregation and hate for big pharm profit!!