BLOWING SMOKE: Debunking anti-smoking legislation
ANTI-SMOKING laws have now pervaded every major city in the country, making it illegal to smoke in restaurants, pubs, bars — just about everywhere where there’s a chance that others may inhale second-hand smoke.
Such laws are based on the argument that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer. There are many long-worded, perhaps confusing policies that anti-smoking advocates base this argument on, which appear to be working for them.
I’m usually put off exploring a subject the minute legal documentation presents itself, which I often find difficult to understand. I am also one to believe that it is very easy for people to hide behind vague documentation and for legal experts to put a spin on data — presenting it in a way that serves a particular agenda.
But then I watched a programme (not unlike Mythbusters) that presented all the evidence that anti-smoking advocates base their campaigns on in a very simple and easily digestible manner. So for those who are like me who want to know the truth without having to undergo the sleuth work ourselves, here are the facts behind anti-smoking laws in a nutshell (according to the programme).
The Legal Bit
In 1993 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report which stated that second-hand smoke causes 3 000 deaths in the U.S. annually. This is the main document and media catalyst that anti-smoking advocates use to support their cause and campaigns.
In 1998 the Federal Court in the U.S. discredited the findings of the EPA — stating that there was no link between second-hand smoke and cancer. The report also stated that the EPA had deviated from any scientific procedure and had basically cherry-picked the data.
The same year the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report that was titled in such a way to suggest that second-hand smoke did cause lung cancer. However, the report went on to conclude that there was no association between cancer and second-hand smoke. In other words, it ignored its own findings.
The original statistics that were released regarding second hand-smoke and lung cancer are as follows: 1:80 000 Americans die annually from exposure to second hand-smoke. For those who are not exposed, the figure is 1:100 000.
These figures translate into 12,5 out of every million Americans who are exposed versus 10 out of every million people who are not. According to scientists, this difference is considered as statistically insignificant.
The EPA is equally guilty of inflating its figures, now stating that second-hand smoke kills 50 000 Americans every year (as opposed to the original 3 000). It has created a projected figure, which sounds far scarier than the original and far more likely to be paid any attention.
The Lighter Side
Just for the record, I’m all for anti-smoking laws. I’m all for a cleaner, healthier society and being considerate of one another. However, I’m sure none of us appreciate scare tactics or being lied to. On a lighter note, what we can all appreciate is clever advertising, or perhaps anti-advertising.
Disclaimer: The following advertisements are not aimed to get you or anyone to quit smoking. They are not real images, but rather graphic representations. No animals or people were harmed in the making of these adverts. These adverts will not kill you.
Now that you can take to be true.