Guess what causes tuberculosis? Go on, have a guess. You'll never guess.
You guessed 'smoking', didn't you? Well done. Have a cigar.
In another triumph of preconceived conclusions over actual data -
A new study on the incidence of tuberculosis in Taiwan compared the likelihood of developing active tuberculosis among former and current smokers and non-smokers. It found that those who had smoked in the past had 2.69 times the risk of developing active tuberculosis compared to those that had never smoked, while current smokers had 2.73 times the risk.
Logically, therefore, if you smoke you are 2.73 times as likely to get tuberculosis than someone who has never smoked, assuming you are in contact with someone who has it. If you used to smoke but have stopped, you are still 2.69 times as likely to get it as a never-smoker. The obvious conclusion is that smoking cessation programmes will have no effect at all on anyone's risk of getting tuberculosis because even if you stop smoking, your relative risk is pretty much the same. Therefore there is no point in a smoking cessation program in this case because it will not affect this problem at all. That's reality. Now let's look at the reported conclusions.
Watch for the sneaky shift in emphasis. Non-smokers pay particular attention.
To our knowledge this is the first cohort study from a general population that provides evidence on the positive association between tobacco smoking and active TB. Based on results from ours and other studies, policy makers and public health personnel should consider addressing tobacco cessation as part of tuberculosis control. From the perspective of prevention, the target of smoking cessation should aim beyond TB patients to reach high-risk populations who are most likely to benefit from cessation," said Dr. Lin.
Did you see it, non-smokers? They don't care about you. If you get tuberculosis they're not interested. They're not actually interested in smokers who get it either. It's one of the flimsiest excuses to demand controls on smoking ever devised. Even though their own data makes clear that it will not work.
1) Tuberculosis is a lung infection. It cannot be caught from smoking. It can only be caught from someone who already has it. Smokers should avoid high risk areas because they are more susceptible. Non-smokers are not immune either - they have less than half the risk, but it's not zero. The reason it's not zero is that the disease is utterly unconnected with smoking. Smoking might increase susceptibility but you still have to be in a room with someone who has the disease in order to catch it.
2) The results show that smoking cessation will not affect a smoker's susceptibility to the infection in any meaningful sense. Giving up smoking will not influence susceptibility so spending wads of money on smoking cessation will do nothing. Well, it will do something. It will make susceptible people less easy to spot and will give those ex-smokers a false sense of security. This hype will also make non-smokers imagine they are immune to tuberculosis and if they get it, it was the little goblins in SHS that caused it.
3) If second hand smoke has such a terrible effect on non-smokers, why are those who have never smoked not suffering as badly as the smokers? They claim we damage their lungs, but this study says otherwise. Match that one to the SHS scare, if you can.
4) While the health nuts are playing around with this, they are not looking for ways to cure the actual infection, nor to prevent it spreading. As usual. They are simply using it as a new thing to blame on smokers. Once this goes through the ASH truth-extraction machine, smoking will be the only cause of tuberculosis and no other research need be done. Eventually, as with all other diseases, only smokers will be treated because non-smokers can't possibly be catching anything. They're all just hypochondriacs.
One last thing -
The study also found that younger smokers were more likely than smokers older than 65 to develop active tuberculosis when compared to those who had never smoked.
This wouldn't have anything to do with those over 65 being less likely to be out late partying in crowded discos, would it? If smokers are at a higher risk of catching it, but don't go to crowded places where someone might be infected, then they won't catch it. Susceptibility is only half the equation. No matter how susceptible you are to an infection, if you are not exposed to it, you won't catch it. Even if you chain smoke. Because the disease does not come from smoking.
I give it a week before 'smoking causes tuberculosis' goes mainstream. A non-smoker will catch it and blame it on SHS, a second non-smoker will catch it and blame it on traces of SHS coughed out by the first non-smoker and before you know it, medicine is back in the Middle Ages. No more bacteria or viruses.
Just 'bad air'.