Monday, July 02, 2007

Behind the smokescreen

Number Watch is something of a curiosity as blogs go, but it's quickly becoming an essential daily visit for me with articulate arguments backed up with eloquent phrasing. Take this excellent piece on the smoking ban and the rise of the zealots.

Every public building (so-called; in fact most of them are private property) now has to show a no-smoking sign. Taxpayers now have to fund the training and wages of anti-smoking snoopers: yet another bunch of wage-parasites. Even churches and cathedrals have to display the signs, though oddly enough they don’t have to show signs banning, say, copulation or excretion. This is pure triumphalism, the arrogant and pointless display of power by the victorious armies of political correctness. In terms of the punishment decreed, smoking is now a far more serious crime than theft or vandalism. Even for those who are not of the faithful, the desecration of a beautiful building by offensively sited signage is an affront. Just as the pagan religions gave way to the new monotheistic variety, so the latter in turn must give way to the godless religion of political correctness.

The way smokers are portrayed and vilified, particularly on TV, contrasts starkly with the way junkies are glorified by the same medium. Watching Casualty on Saturday evening I was struck by the scene in which a junior doctor called Guppy - or something like that - was struggling to treat a patient. He was indecisive, hesitant and clumsy. He then excuses himself, trots off to an office where he is seen preparing to take cocaine. Moments later he arrives back in the ward where he then marches confidently over to the patient and is miraculously transformed from a bumbling incompetent into a super efficient master of his art. Quite honestly, it was one of the most disgusting pieces of pro-drug propaganda ever put forward - and there has been plenty of that.

Back to Number Watch and smoking, though. Number Watch points out the lies and distortions about smoking which have been put forward by the anti-smoking zealots and the - pardon the pun - smokescreen used to disguise the flip side of the argument by quoting Woodrow Wyatt.

It is well known that smoking , particularly at work, relieves stress, and to outlaw it increases demands on hospital beds. Even the US Surgeon General, in 1964, recognised that Parkinson’s disease (a degenerative disorder of the nervous system) occurred at around half the rate among smokers. In the International Journal of Epidemiology , in 1991, a review of 11 studies showed that non-smokers suffered 50 per cent more Alzheimer’s disease than smokers. And researchers at Erasmus University Medical School , Rotterdam , found that more non-smokers had early-onset dementia than smokers.

In the Daily Telegraph, Dr. James Le Fanu wrote: “Smokers have a 50 per cent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and the more smoked, the greater the protection.” The New England Journal of Medicine. in 1985, reported that endometrial cancer of the womb occurs at around 50 per cent the rate among smokers as non-smokers. Colon cancer and ulcerative colitis also seem to be about 30 and 50 per cent respectively less frequent among smokers according to articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association and in the New England Journal of Medicine, in 1981 and 1983. The American government’s first Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has found that osteo-arthritis is five times less likely to occur among heavy smokers than non-smokers.

I do not claim that smoking by those with unhealthy diets cannot activate illness (that passive smoking may be dangerous is a preposterous joke). But we urgently need a serious, objective, unbiased study of the causes of ill health, including the advantages and disadvantages of smoking, the impact of faulty diet and of inherited genes. It requires open minds, not the blinkered political correctness of the Department of Health. Telling the truth would unmask the futility of the many millions of pounds of public money wasted on ill thought-out and unscientifically based attacks on smoking. The campaign against smoking has certainly caused more crippling illness and premature death than if it had never begun.

And, crucially, Number Watch is quick to spot the real culprit behind the rise of anti-smoking zealotry in England.

Political power now resides in Brussels , among an unelected elite who have no regard for truth or science. They produce and propagate the really big lies. As Booker reports, for example, they claim 20,000 passive smoking deaths for the UK, which pro rata for population is over thirty times higher than the demonstrably fraudulent EPA claim for the USA . There is no actual evidence that anyone, anywhere has ever died of passive smoking. (His emphasis).

Read it all.

I sometimes wonder myself if the rise in bad manners, rudeness, aggressive behaviour and general lack of patience we see on a daily basis in Britain today is a symptom of the decline in smoking.

Smoking does reduce stress levels - that is a well known effect of tobacco. It calms people down. And as the pressures on our time in our everyday lives becomes greater - in the workplace through email, instant messaging, the incessant background noise of open plan offices and both parents stressed out from working long hours. In the streets with crowded roads riddled with road works and plagued by jams, people talking noisily on mobile phones and not looking where they are going, the increasing noise of the traffic on the roads and in the skies, booming stereos pouring dreadful noise through the open windows of "souped up" hatchbacks. Even in our home lives with the demands of the 24/7 lifestyle, cold callers on the phone, junk mail, 24 hour TV news coverage spreading fear and concern about terrorism, global climate catastrophe or the latest impending world wide pandemic.

It's surely no coincidence that as we've seen a decline in smoking we have seen a rise in suicides, violent behaviour - be it road-rage, air-rage or just plain rage - increases in depression and an explosion in illegal drug usage and alcohol abuse?

I don't think it is.

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