Sunday 21 November 2010


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'.


Snowolf said...

Whereas Filthy Engineer points to a Uni of Central Florida study which says smoking KILLS TB.

What a quandry, eh?

Moriarty said...

The BBC HYS is discussing the latest tobacco control proposals, some of the bansters logic there too is just mindbending-

The cost of treating smoking related illnesses far outweighs the proportion of the tax income allocated to the NHS.

The pro-smoking lobby always try to muddy the waters by suggesting that ALL duty goes to the NHS, rather than the 10% (approx.) which does.

Make no mistake: smokers are stealing from the NHS.
( #105 )

He explains himself in a later post, apparently he reasons it like this: If 10% of tax revenues go to the NHS, then only 10% of what smokers pay in tax goes to the NHS, therfore the figures show that smokers are a burden on the health service. Sheer lunacy.

Mark Wadsworth said...

For the second time this evening, what Snowolf says.

Also what Moriaty says. Once you've done all the netting off, each non-smoker is subsidised to the tune of about £1,000 a year by smokers (large margin of error, but it's a nice round figure).

Anonymous said...

Further to Snowolf's post.

Shocker: 'Villain' nicotine slays TB

"The amount of nicotine needed to kill the bacteria is less than in one cigarette," says Saleh Naser of the University of Central Florida, who presented his results at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Orlando on Monday.

"Naser made the discovery by chance. A colleague of his inserted a gene for a protein into tobacco plants, to see if it would kill the TB bacterium. But when Naser tested the antibactericidal properties of these plants, he found normal tobacco was just as effective at killing cells. Further studies showed nicotine was responsible for the effect."

"Naser says that smoking doesn't work because the level of nicotine fluctuates so much. "The dosage is wrong," he says."

We also set fire to it.
So in this instance chewing tobacco might be more useful.


Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

Yet more signs of desperate scrabblings by the anti-smoking league. How is it that over the last few months pretty much each and every study which has ever been done which has shown either no connection to smoking or a protective/preventative effect has been countered, not with claims from the anti-smoking movement that this is “encouraging smoking” or is “irresponsible” – which might be an understandable reaction given their stance and their whole raison d’etre – but instead with a conveniently-discovered (or perhaps a quickly cobbled-together) study which proves (conclusively, of course) the complete opposite of the earlier findings?

Breast and colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Pre-eclampsia and, now, TB. All of these diseases, plus several others, have at some stage been cited as either being totally unconnected with smoking, or there have been signs that smokers rarely fall prey to them, and yet in recent months pretty much all of them have suddenly been linked negatively to smoking.

Coincidence? I don't think so. Does anyone else get the feeling that the anti-smoking movement is now running very, very scared indeed, or is it just me? I've said it before, and I'll say it again - in the fullness of time, the smoking ban could well prove to be the worst thing ever to happen to the anti-smoking movement. How delightfully ironic!

Leg-iron said...

Snowolf - statistics don't lie, but statisticians do.

It depends how many confounding factors you ignore. Whether those who smoke are more likely to be those who go to crowded places, for example. Or whether the nonsmokers have another lifestyle routine that renders them less likely to be exposed.

It is appalling science to pick one single attribute and one single possible cause out of a complex system, combine them and draw absolute conclusions. Even if they were the 'right' conclusions, which they are not in this case.

When I'm testing treatments for horrible gut-emptying diseases, I don't just test against the pathogen. I test the treatment in the whole gut microflora plus the infection. The interactions of the unseen and in many cases unknown factors matter. Controls must have all factors the same as the tests, apart from the one factor you're testing. Otherwise, the comparison is meaningless.

If that study you mention showed that nicotine killed tuberculosis, then burned nicotine might not, as you say, be quite as effective.

It suggests, though, that Electrofag would be. It doesn't burn anything. Just vapourises like an asthma inhaler. You don't get partially combusted nicotine. You get nicotine.

Logically and scientifically, therefore, it is entirely possible that Electrofag would treat, if not cure, TB. It could be the rapid TB cure the world has been crying out for and it has no carcinogenic properties at all. No smoke. No side effects. A medicine inhaler, a perfect preventative, that could eradicate TB from the face of the planet.

Can you really see anyone even trying it?

Not a chance.

I think I'll take a quick vape now, just in case...

Leg-iron said...

Moriarty - presumably he's happy for us all to stop smoking tomorrow, which would mean (by his odd version of logic) an instant 10% cut in NHS funding?

In reality, the cut would be hugely more than that but let's not tax these encephalically challenged special people too much, too fast.

Leg-iron said...

Rose - sorry, it was you who mentioned the burning.

Nicotine is water soluble so it won't all be burned. Most will but some will be in the steam component of the smoke.

Electrofag sends it all in the steam because steam is all there is.

Now, if it was a drug addiction, consider this. Smoking by burning drastically reduces the intake of uncombusted nicotine. Electrogfag at the same nicotine concentrations provides entirely uncombusted nicotine.

As do patches and gum. All three provide far more actual nicotine than tobacco.

So. Why are any of us still smoking? If it was simple drug addiction we would have dropped the weaker version for the stronger version at once. Frank Davis knows why. I think he's right.

Leg-iron said...

Anon - running scared? They are sprinting at a speed that would make Linford Christie gasp and leaving a continuous brown line behind them as they go. It's the Diarrhoea Derby, the Squit Sprint and the Triple Flying Vomit all in one. If these were in the Olympics, I'd watch it. On TV. I won't pay their prices if I can't smoke within fifty miles of the place.

This is when it gets really dangerous. They'll go down, they always do, but they'll take as much with them as they can.

Neal Asher said...

All they need to do now is link smoking with global warming and they'll have the full set.

AlGore said...

You rang?

Al Gore Reveals That Cigarettes Cause Global Warming

Anonymous said...


Why are we still smoking when nicotine is clearly not addictive?

I'm sure Frank is right, and my own experiments with herbal cigarettes would tend to prove it, though the ubiquinone is good and the nicotinic acid helpful, there's far more niacin in my cup of coffee.

Nitric oxide: From menace to marvel of the decade

Carbon Monoxide Gas Is Used by Brain Cells As a Neurotransmitter

Or that's my guess.As yet there is no replacement.


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