British medical establishment lighting up smokers again

The misrepresentation of the truth by the DH and the medical establishment is truly galling. When you cannot trust your doctor who else is there to turn to for expertise?

The war on smokers continues
David Atherton
On 4 March 2013 15:13

Today I will be appearing on BBC Northern Ireland to discuss plain packaging for alcohol and BBC Radio Humberside to discuss the Junior Health Minister Anna Soubry’s desire to ban smoking in cars with children. Both are troubling; both have weighty backers. But it is the latter I'd like to write about today.

Anna Soubry has gone on record to say: "I would ban smoking in cars where children are present. I would do that for the protection of children. I would see it as a child welfare issue…I think it is something we should at least consider as Government.” And she is backed by Martin Dockrell of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) who has said, "The minister can count on our support and the majority of the public. A ban on smoking in cars is the right thing to do. "We need to think about whether this should just be aimed at children. Older adults are vulnerable too." (Note the slippery slope it is not just for the children but adults too.)

The issue goes right to the heart of the British Medical Association (BMA) too. Indeed, Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, Director of Professional Activities, said in 2011: “The current UK government prefers voluntary measures or 'nudging' to bring about public health change, but this stance has been shown to fail time and time again."

(On this I agree with her. After all, smoking rates have remained unchanged since 2007 despite extreme and woefully unscientific propaganda being spewed out by the government and paid for by you, the taxpayer. See this Department of Health/NHS advert which kindly informs that “If you smoke, you stink.”)

Dr. Nathanson also made the outrageous claim that cars contained more harmful chemicals than smoky bars by a factor of 23 times.

The accusations are that second hand smoke (SHS) leads to “cot death (sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS), asthma, lower respiratory infections, glue ear, bacterial meningitis as well as coughs and wheezes.”

This is no more than the triumph of faith over science, in this case creating a platform of prejudice, intolerance and bigotry against smokers. The Department of health (DH), the BMA and other anti-smoker groups are fabricating evidence, called publication or wish biases. The perversion of science knows no limits.

Let me deal with the BMA. As I outline in a previous article, The BMA’s Wrong Diagnosis, the ‘23 times figure’ is a complete fabrication. Even the Guardian’s best churnalists had to retract the number after quoting it in its article, Smoking in cars should be outlawed to protect children, says BMA, leaving the following note:

“This article was amended on 1 December 2011 in line with a correction issued by the BMA after the article was published. The original said that a car's occupants were exposed to 23 times more toxins than they would encounter in a bar.”

I have taken the trouble to read the paper by Dr. Geoffrey Fong where this nonsense comes from and if the windows are wound down – or even just the driver’s – then it is perfectly safe. It is highly contentious anyway that in the time it would take to smoke a cigarette, say five to 10 minutes, higher concentrations of PM2.5 exposure would endanger any person’s health.

As for cot deaths or SIDS: in the UK, from 1970 to 1988, SIDS deaths rose by 500 percent while smoking rates and, by definition, exposure to SHS, reduced from 45 percent to 30 percent of the population.

If that doesn’t sound alarm bells, in 2010, Harvard Medical School, funded by the National Institute of Health, found the true cause, and I quote:  “The researchers found that serotonin levels were 26 percent lower in tissue from infants who died of SIDS than in tissue from the group of infants who had otherwise died unexpectedly. Measurements of tryptophan hydroxylase, an enzyme needed to make serotonin, also were 22 percent lower.”

The story doesn’t get any clearer when it comes to asthma. In fact, I dealt with this topic recently in yet another article, addressing some solid evidence that exposure to SHS or smoking actually reduces asthma and atopy (general allergic reactions).

But what passes for research at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is basically guess-work by anybody else’s standards. Take this gem. “We took the proportion of children exposed to be the 22% who do not live in smoke-free homes and as a measure of risk, used the odds ratio for each disease outcome in relation to smoking by any household member given in Chapter 4.”

In other words no scientific rigour was taken to actually find out who was or was not exposed to SHS. 

As someone who is a voracious reader of scientific papers, the misrepresentation of the truth by the DH and the medical establishment is truly galling. When you cannot trust your doctor who else is there to turn to for expertise?

David Atherton is Chairman of Freedom2Choose, which seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issues of smoking. Follow him on Twitter: @DaveAtherton20

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