Monday, 8 February 2010

Smoking reduces heart attacks. Ha ha ha.

Sounds impossible? Well since the smoking ban in Scotland, a year before the rest of the UK, there has been much trumpeting and crowing about how much better life is, how many heart attacks have been prevented, how the air is clean, how nicotine-stained seagulls no longer drop wheezing from the skies and the dogs and babies of the land no longer hack up wads of phlegm every morning. Even the daffodils aren't yellow any more (What? You thought they were that colour normally? Noooo. Everything yellow is because of smokers. I have it on good authority that Big Bird gets through five packs a day). Oh, that song 'Yellow' is just asking for it, don't you think?

A claimed reduction in heart attacks because of the ban. Because, surely, those 70% of smokers who 'wanted to give up' will have stopped and only the die-hards insist on battling on. Except...

Smoking has not reduced at all since the ban (thanks to the good Captain of the Rant in the previous post's comments for the tip-off). So it's okay, you can continue to enjoy yellow daffodils courtesy of the smokers. If you see a white one, report it at once to the Smoker's Hotline and they'll send someone to deal with it.

What a wonderful thing is the imaginary placebo effect. ASH believed that the ban would reduce smoking related disease and rather than relying on a real placebo effect, they made one up. They've also moved the goalposts, it seems.

And eight per cent of Scots admit being heavy smokers - puffing 20 or more cigarettes a day - compared to just six per cent in England and Wales.

When did 20 a day become a 'heavy smoker'? That used to be an 'average smoker' which is why the packs come in twenties. More than one pack a day was always the start line for the journey to 'heavy'. Although now, I suppose we'd have to call anyone on more than one pack a day a 'wealthy smoker'. Note also the use of 'admit' as if it's a crime. Denormalisation continues.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of anti-smoking charity ASH Scotland, said: "These figures show there has been a decline in smoking prevalence with rates dropping from nearly a third of the population in 1998 to just under a quarter in 2008.
"Although this is welcome news, there is much more to be done.

Sheila, the only thing that needs to be done is to take you to a quiet place and pound your face into hamburger over a period of some weeks, using the gentle but regular application of a potato masher. Perhaps that will bring home the one and only thing that smokers demand in this life. Leave us alone. That's really the sum total of what we want, you know. We don't want to get all evangelical and promote smoking, we just want to be left alone to get on with it. Have no-smoking places, fine. No problem. Just let us have our places too. Otherwise, there are many non-sharp kitchen implements in the hands of inventive smokers who are reaching a level of blind fury and guiltless rage you cannot conceive.

You know what? We'll blow smoke at you while we do it, too. You'll be all... yellow.

I smoked a fag
I smoked a fag for you
Upwards the smoke I blew.
The ceiling's all... yellow

No, no, must do that later when I haven't been at the giggle water.

"The smoke-free legislation was about protecting public health and the recent Tobacco Bill was about preventing young people taking up smoking.

It didn't work, did it? Your continuous advertising of smoking has kept sales up. The executives of Philip Morris must piss themselves with laughter every time your mouth opens.

"Only by continuing with prevention and stop-smoking programmes can we continue to drive down Scotland's smoking rates and reduce the harm caused by tobacco to our nation's public health."

Oh dear. More tobacco advertising on the way. The boardrooms of the tobacco companies will need better toilet facilities and they'd better have the heart-zap machine on standby. This will cause more mirth-induced corporate heart attacks than smoking could ever be blamed for.

Public health minister Shona Robison said: "Stopping smoking is the biggest single thing anyone can do to improve their health.

I'd say the best thing to improve anyone's health would be the spontaneous combustion of every member of every parliament in the UK and every member of every fake charity funded by said governments. Second best is getting out of the country, as many ex-pats have already confirmed, here and elsewhere. Giving up smoking is way down my list. But the woman who can't spell Robinson has more nonsense to spout:

We have already made progress - notably by banning smoking in public places,

Which has had no effect at all.

raising the age for buying cigarettes to 18

Which has had no effect at all. When the age limit was 16, ten-year-olds managed to get them. They still do now, by exactly the same means. The only thing you've achieved is to make them more inventive in doing so, which I suppose is no bad thing. At least they are using their brains outside school. God knows they have little use for them inside.

and passing laws that will bring an end to cigarette displays in shops and sales from vending machines.

Which will have no effect at all. On smokers. or on the level of smoking. The only effect detectable in all of this is the destruction of businesses and the loss of jobs. That effect has been dramatic and it has been destructive. They will not see it. The Cause is everything and collateral damage means nothing to them. Were you once employed in the hospitality industry? You're a statistic in a war on smokers that is ASH's Vietnam. They will not win. It's been stalemate for years and still the innocent bystander casualties mount. We smokers are not firing a shot. We don't need to. We are bulletproof. We just want to be left alone but you lot don't get it.

A separate Scottish government report shows that since the smoking ban there has a 19 per drop in heart attacks among smokers.


Try to get it. Really try. It is all lies and it has been a scam to rival the Climatology scam.

Look, antismokers. You have your ideas of what smoking is but you don't do it. I do. Try listening for once.

If it was a simple nicotine addiction, as you believe, then the patches, the gum and Electrofag would have stopped everyone smoking at once. We can get our fix in other ways so we would all have ditched the ash and the piled-up butts and the expensive extra tax and the... I can't resist...

The rollies call
The rollies call to you
They're not temptation-proof
Your fingers all... yellow

All of that would be gone in a flash if it really was simple nicotine addiction. Gone. Yet the success rate for itchy patches and badger-bum gum is about one per cent. Electrofag does better even though hardly anyone knows about it. I was recently smoking outside a venue and met a publican (off duty). He had never heard of Electrofag. Nobody in his pub had ever asked to use one. Even so, Electrofag works far better than patches or gum even though it's not an addiction, as many still believe. Including many smokers. You are not addicted. If you want to stop, stop. That's all there is to it.

What we like is the action of smoking. We like the smoke. It's relaxing to watch it billow into the air. It's fascinating to watch it level into a thermocline that looks like the laser layer over the eggs in the first 'Alien' film. We blow smoke rings and watch them dissolve. Electrofag gets close but the thing missing is heat. It's not hot enough for real smoke. Fix that and we're there. We don't really want to breathe in all the crap that comes from burning leaves. We just want to smoke.

In peace. Without being treated like shit. That is really the sum total of our demands. You can be somewhere else if you don't like it and we won't mount a guerrilla operation to smoke you out. We don't care about you at all. Do whatever you want, live however you want, die in any manner of your choosing. Up to you.

Just leave us alone. Otherwise, the potato masher awaits.

I mashed your face
I mashed your face to goo
And drank the residue
And it was all... yellow.


Anonymous said...

Most excellent post! Hits the nail directly on the head.

Anon 00.32 said...

"A separate Scottish government report shows that since the smoking ban there has a 19 per drop in heart attacks among smokers."

I think that report has been debunked elsewhere, iirc something along the lines that heart attack numbers had been falling in the years before the smoking bans. I wouldn't be surprised if that report had some goalpost moving tweaks to make the numbers "fit the policy".

Dick Puddlecote said...

Great piece, LI.

This is interesting.

"A separate Scottish government report shows that since the smoking ban there has a 19 per drop in heart attacks among smokers"

Because, this logically means non-smokers must have been dropping like flies.

Private Widdle said...

So heart attacks are supposedly dropping amongst smokers whilst the rate simultaneously remains the same amongst the population as a whole? That probably means that some of the victims (or equally savvy relatives/friends) know that declaring yourself as a smoker may lead to second-class treatment (yeah, yeah, I know- bear with me) on the NHS, so they're declaring themselves to be non-smokers on arrival in A&E. Now that you can't smoke in hospital any more, everyone who's an inpatient becomes a non-smoker, right?

Anonymous said...

Not smoking causes lung cancer. The smoking rate for Welsh women has been falling for decades, but the lung cancer rate in Welsh women is increasing.

View from the Solent said...

"A separate Scottish government report shows that since the smoking ban there has a 19 per drop in heart attacks among smokers"

No, sorry, maybe it's a bad case of Monday morning but I can't extract any meaning from this.

A smoker is somone who smokes.
Passing a law has caused those who smoke to have fewer heart attacks.

Nope, still don't get it.

English Pensioner said...

"A separate Scottish government report shows that since the smoking ban there has a 19 per drop in heart attacks among smokers."
If this is true and that the rate is dropping amongst smokers, it must be for some other reason as presumably they are still smoking.
Or do they mean amongst ex-smokers?
And the trouble with statistics like this is that they are meaningless unless you know the original figure which has allegedly dropped by 19%.

Gendeau said...

Enjoyed your rant, agreed with you completely, but


please stop rhyming 'you', 'goo' and 'yelloo' err 'yellow'!

You known to be amoung the finest bloggers in the land (certainly my favourite), but you are clearly NOT A POET!

Poetry and giggle juice shouldn't be mixed - you just proved it.

MarieC said...

And another thing:

If there is no smoking in pubs and clubs why has the drop in exposure to bar works only 89% and not 100%?

Leg-iron said...

Dick P - it might mean that the patches and gum cause heart attacks. That would never be publicised.

Private Widdle - any time I go inside any public place I am a non-smoker. On public transport I am a non-smoker. I'm only a smoker when I'm smoking and every time I stub one out, I've stopped. As Tweedledee would say - that's logic.

Leg-iron said...

Gendeau - I'm no poet. I can only corrupt existing stuff, not invent new.

But the 'yellow' isn't meant to rhyme in that one, just as it doesn't in the Coldplay original.

Marie C - it's because of the thing they won't say: Some bar staff are smokers.

Those smoking staff could work in a smoking pub, in which case the whole second-hand smoke argument would be irrelevant, so their existence must be denied.

Anonymous said...

There has been a 19% reduction in heart attacks for smokers and yet the Scottish figures show NO reduction in overall rates for heart attacks.
Therfore it must be the non-smokers that are seeing a 19 % increease in heart attacks.
They must be getting these attacks because there is not enough smoke around them.

DaveA said...

You maybe interested in some articles I have written on heart attacks in the British Medical Journal. Suffice as to say ASH are talking shit.

"You mention heart attacks, again since smoking bans have come in where are the reductions? A meta analysis of heart attacks in America conducted by the universities of Stanford and Wisconsin "examined a total of 217,023 heart attack admissions and 2.0 million heart attack deaths in 468 counties in all 50 states over an eight-year period." Its conclusions were:

"1. "In contrast with smaller regional studies, we find that workplace bans are not associated with statistically significant short- term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases."

2. "An analysis simulating smaller studies using subsamples reveals that large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a workplace ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature."

Other studies around the world have also confirmed that smoking bans do not lead to less heart attacks, including the ill fated Scottish study. Triumphed throughout the world as proof positive, the study was just another example of the SHS junk science of publication bias. The project leader Professor Jill Pell conveniently left out January and February months, of course, which see the highest number of heart attacks. The author Chris Snowdon under a Freedom Of Information Act request has obtained the figures. They dropped by 7.2% and the next year by 7.8, establishing a constant non correlation with smoking bans. "Scotland enacted its smoking ban (April 2005 to March 2006), there were 16,199 admissions for acute coronary syndrome. In the second year of the smoking ban (April 2007 to March 2008) there were 16,212 admissions – slightly more than there had been before the legislation was enacted." (4&5)

The same is true for England, Wales, Australia and New Zealand. (5&6) Infact heart attacks rose after the implementation of the smoking ban in Australia."

Mick Turatian said...

Well if you're in the mood for silly smoking related surveys and studies, how about this one then?

Exposure to passive smoking falls

Children's exposure to passive smoking has declined by nearly 60% in 10 years, a study revealed.

Levels of the tell-tale tobacco by-product cotinine in children's saliva fell by 59% between 1996 and 2006, researchers found.

The study, lead by Dr Anna Gilmore of the University of Bath, revealed a "marked decline" in exposure to second-hand smoke among children aged four to 15.

The team analysed eight surveys conducted between 1996 and 2006 including saliva samples taken from over 19,000 children aged between four and 15.

The samples were analyzed for a substance called cotinine, an indicator of tobacco smoke exposure.

The largest decline was between 2005 and 2006, and coincided with increased public debate and information campaigns in the run up to the 2007 anti-smoking legislation.

Second-hand smoke exposure in non-smoking children was highest when one or both parents smoke, when the children are looked after by carers that smoke, and when smoking is allowed in the home.

Dr Michelle Sims, writing in the paper published today in Addiction, explained: "The importance of carer and parental smoking and household exposure tells us that reducing exposure in the home is the key to reducing the health risks associated with second-hand smoke exposure in children."

Dr Anna Gilmore, who led the project, said: "This study shows that the factors which most strongly influence children's exposure are modifiable.

"Parents and carers can reduce their children's exposure to smoke by giving up smoking, or failing this, only smoking outside the house."

There's quite a lot that's troubling about this and a fair amount of meddling and interference on the way that will be resting on this report - I hesitate to say evidence.

For starters, on what basis, I wonder, were 19,000 saliva samples taken from children?

Leg-iron said...

I wonder how many heart attacks are due to the hypertension induced in non-smokers as a result of the scaremongering?

Not so long ago, a non-smoker viewed smoke as a bit of a nuisance, perhaps they'd avoid smoky places because they didn't like the smell, but they didn't worry about it all that much.

Now, many really believe they will die if they get so much as a whiff of it.

Could it be that the propaganda machine that is ASH is actually causing more heart attacks than smoking?

Leg-iron said...

Mick T - as I understand it, cotinine is also indicative of the consumption of potatoes and tomatoes, among other things.

It's not an exclusive metabolite only caused by one single plant, tobacco. It's in a lot of plants. Some of them are vegetables.

So once more, it's control backed up by dodgy science. No wonder they don't want children educated.

Anonymous said...

"We don't really want to breathe in all the crap that comes from burning leaves."

You speak for yourself! I LIKE all the crap that comes from burning leaves!

(excellent post, nontheless.)

Chief_Sceptic said...

Well said ! - personally, I don't use (and never have used) Cigarettes of any kind ...

But, I am SO partial to a Cigar, albeit only perhaps once or twice a month ...

It's the whole ritual that is so soothing - light it, enjoy the flavour \ smell, admire the smoke spiralling upwards - even better when accompanied by a large 'dram' ! ...

Casper W. Milquetoast said...

"I mashed your face
I mashed your face to goo
And drank the residue
And it was all... yellow."

Oooh, you nasty violent person!

Anonymous said...

good post!

Personally, I like to make my own mind up - although that is practically banned today!

I would guess that smoking more than 40 fags a day is bad for you - less than 10 is irrelevant to your health.

The smell of smoke is therefore also irrelevant.

However, heart disease is caused by stress - and that is the bad type of stress, the one where you are not in control of what you do. Such as where you get stupid rules banning you from doing something, but you can't see why!

Finally, lung cancer - Its something that happens to old people - live long enough, and you will get some sort of cancer - its in your genes! As for accelerates which can trigger cancer in people, I think diesel fumes has got a lot to answer for - its just a shame that the oil companies are much more powerful than the tobacco ones ever were!!
However, they must have got a tip off, because self service fuel stations were one of the first of their types - shortly after they spotted fuel attendants were susceptible to lung cancer - tin hat time?

Mrs Rigby said...

They'll probably turn round and say smokers are 'healthier' than they were before because they're getting more fresh air!

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