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Cancer zealots engage in puffery

Cancer zealots engage in puffery

Zealots driving the anti-smoking crusade argue based on wisps of wishfulness rather than science, says Casper the ghost writer, who suspects eminent self-interest is their ulterior motive. 

Cancer zealots engage in puffery

By Casper, the ghostly smoker

There are few of us left railing against intrusive government and public health lobbyist attempts to micromanage every activity of the population.

smoking persecutionBut the smallness of the few should not suppress the trumpet shouts of outrage of the many which should have greeted the outbursts of the federal Minister for Harassing Smokers, Sussan Ley, when she proposed an extra tax on smokers and/or others with ‘’unapproved’’ lifestyles.

The ‘’me too’’ dictators in the ALP then had the gall to state they would engage in yet more bullying of smokers (after 37.5% excise increases which they started, with more increases following) to pay for the ill-found, ideologically-driven Gonski reforms.  One wag has commented we should just let students smoke, so they can pay for their own education.

Both major parties are despicable bullies, again picking on smokers because they are an easy target. Smokers are cowed by decades of taxpayer-funded negative conditioning to feel guilt for smoking, although smokers subsidise federal revenue unfairly far more than any other category of consumer.

Fortunately, most rational commentators, other than those cloaked in the self-righteous and sanctimonious garb of ‘’public health’’, realised such a differential would totally undermine the concept of a universal health care system, resulting in a US-style approach where people can be denied treatment on basically any grounds.

I don’t like the lifestyle of a federal Liberal Minister, so I should not be forced to copy it in a free country. For example, I don’t fly light aircraft, which is inherently more dangerous in statistical terms than many hobbies or “job-related expenditure” activities, as I’m sure Ms Ley’s high-flyin’ habits are occasionally designated on her expense claim forms as she flip-flops around her electorate like an expectorating shearer’s cook.

The other problem with this “lifestyle” proposal is, of course, that all non-smokers get the same diseases and illnesses as smokers, so how would the causes be conclusively attributed to tobacco consumption when correlation is not causality?

Ms Ley might die in a plane crash, but did she run out of fuel, suffer from her own pilot error, or was the cause a mechanical failure?

The intolerant neo-prohibitionists again tried to justify their illiberal, unLiberal and dictatorial views persecuting smokers by repeating the regurgitations and PR puffery of the tobacco control movement, uncritically accepting outright propaganda, the Great Lies:

*  Health costs of tobacco outweigh revenue collected.

Great Lie No. 1.  Not by any defensible method of calculation, they don’t.

A 20-per-day smoker pays around an additional $4000 a year in taxes over the non-smoker. Smokers are claimed to die about 10 years earlier, so they are not a burden on the health or pension systems in that time, plus they also pay Medicare levy (another tax) and were almost certainly forced into the junk private health insurance system, yet another example of bad public health policy by guaranteeing the funds clients regardless of the benefits or otherwise of their insurance products.

In actuality, smokers pay around 17 times more in tax than any health costs which could be attributed to smoking, even using the bogus claims of the smoke-free utopia lobbyists, those tumorous cancerous growths on civil liberties and human rights.  Smokers already pay taxes that are too high to be fair, and far above any cost they impose on the rest of society.

* Second hand or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) causes illness.

Great Lie No 2.  No it doesn’t.

In terms of establishing a clear causal connection between exposure to ETS and illness in non-smokers, the anti-smoking industry has continually failed to prove its case. One of the few scientists who managed to publicise attempts to measure significant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke – in Swedish homes – was a toxicologist, Professor Robert Nilsson.  Prof Nilsson quoted findings that showed that non-smokers who consistently breathe other people’s tobacco smoke are smoking the equivalent of somewhere between one cigarette a week to two cigarettes a year.  Even the Cancer Crazies admit that two cigarettes a year is not a rate likely to give you cancer.

Remember, the good Prof’s measure is indoors, so there is no defensible public health basis for bans on outdoor smoking, where the effect of ETS is probably about as significant as you absorbing through your skin the perfume worn by the blonde at the next streetside coffee table.

Only the most diligent or scrupulous students will have heard of such findings because, as Prof Nilsson explained, studies that produce the “wrong” results (that is, unwelcome to the extensive anti-smoking network) do not get published. The campaign of intimidation and suppression goes unchallenged.

So why are we told that “passive smoking kills”?  Anti-smoking campaigners are determined to stop people smoking. The suggestion that smokers are harming non-smokers is a carefully orchestrated means to an end.

Is second-hand smoke a rationale for higher taxes on tobacco or smoking bans?  The research used to justify government regulation of second-hand smoke has been powerfully challenged by critics, including the US Congress’s own research bureau. According to the US EPA, the risk ratio for 40 years of exposure indoors to a pack-a-day smoker is just 1.19.  Epidemiologists as a rule are sceptical of any relative risks lower than 3, and dismiss ratios less than 1.3 as random.

An important report on second-smoke appeared in the 12 May 2003 issue of the British Medical Journal.  Two epidemiologists, James Enstrom at UCLA and Geoffrey Kabat at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, analysed data collected by the American Cancer Society from more than 100,000 Californians from 1959 through 1997.

“The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality,” the researchers wrote, although they do not rule out a small effect. “The association between tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.

“It is generally considered that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is roughly equivalent to smoking one cigarette per day,” according to Enstrom and Kabat.  “If so, a small increase in lung cancer is possible, but the commonly reported 30% increase in heart disease risk – the purported cause of almost all the deaths attributed to second hand smoke – is highly implausible.”

There is a rightful presumption that an adult has the right to choose whether or not to indulge in a legal activity.  But the Cancer Zealots believe, if they can peddle their wishful fancy that smokers are harming others, they can win the day without having to prove the science or logic of their position.  They are the Science Deniers of the Smoking Debate.

ETS is a very effective weapon with which to demonise smokers and justify the zealots’ calls for a blanket ban on public smoking. But, as they have been unable to prove that “passive smoking kills”, the anti-smoking lobby propagate a falsehood hoping that “a lie told often enough becomes the truth”.

Similar to the various rent-seeking Cancer Councils, anti-smoking wowsers are reliant for continued public funding on totally exaggerating the incidence and causes of cancer and disease allegedly caused by smoking for self-serving purposes. Medical science has not yet conclusively identified the causes of cancer: some say it is a by-product of ageing as cells become less effective at dividing and replacement.

The Cancerous Councils seem to have some concept of a utopia where everyone would surely live forever if they just did as they were told, by their betters, the high-profile, pontificating poseurs of the cancer gravy train. For them, longevity is viewed as the only measure of a ‘’good’’ life…no-one is allowed to enjoy him/herself in any fashion the wowsers don’t approve of along the way.

It is of concern that, as a society, we appear to reward with eminence the people who engage in such paternalistic bullying. In reality, the smoker harassers must have their own closet skeletons, otherwise they might behave like tolerant human beings.

Apart from the infringement of civil liberties, the other main problem with the punitive and excessive tobacco taxes and bans on smoking almost everywhere is that the rate of crime has increased – robberies of delivery trucks and service stations are trending up and this will probably continue, now that the price of a single cigarette is over $1.  Counterfeit and ‘’chop chop’’ tobacco are also much more likely to increase when consumers of a legal product are penalised by such excessive taxes.

A whole carton of 200 cigarettes costs $32 in Bosnia – that would get you slightly more than one packet of 20 here in World Tobacco Taxation Central, Australia.

Charging $119 tax on goods valued at about $30 is nothing less than institutionalised extortion.  The zealots are totally one-eyed and ignore any facts or evidence which contradict their entrenched bias (e.g. the Laffer Curve, which states that total revenue collected is likely to decrease when effective tax rates exceed 50%, due to the significant incentive for evasion).

Tax reform, Malcolm? By all means…but start with lifting the excessive tax on smokers and smoking, which is simply people enjoying a legal product in what used to be a free country.

The tax on smokers disproportionately penalises low income earners, who comprise the majority of people who smoke. The decades old taxpayer-funded crusade against smokers (not Big Tobacco companies, who simply pass taxes onto consumers) must stop.

Some reasons for discarding the puritanical anti-smoking zealotry are:

  • The public health community’s campaign to demonise smokers and all forms of tobacco is based on junk science.
  • Smoking bans hurt small businesses and violate private property rights.
  • The harm caused by smoking can be reduced by educating smokers about safer options such as electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
  • Appeals to “protect the children” don’t justify the war being waged against adult smokers.
  • Punishing smokers “for their own good” is repulsive to the basic libertarian principles that ought to limit the use of government force.

The micromanaging anti-tobacco bullies are openly hostile to concepts of personal responsibility and freedom of choice. Their dictatorial attitudes have no place in what used to be a democracy, and politicians should stop pandering to their harassment, from fear of adverse publicity.



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