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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Frank Davis adds his 2 cents to the discussion.

Yesterday Chris Snowdon, writing on his blog about the current discussion here, said:

So untrustworthy have anti-smoking campaigners been in their handling of science in recent years that it is not surprising that some people find it difficult to believe anything they say.

Quite so. Anti-smoking zealots now produce fabrication heaped on fabrication in an accelerating campaign to demonise smoking, smoke, and smokers. They have built, and are still feverishly building, a truly monumental house of cards - one that mysteriously defies gravity, sustained the mainstream media, and supported by government (e.g. Andrew Lansley''s backing for plain packaging of cigarettes). We have firsthand smoke, secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke, fourthhand smoke, and by now probably even higher occult dimensions of smoke. 

The whole vast, swaying edifice has been erected upon a single foundation: the conviction - nay, the absolute certainty - that smoking causes lung cancer. Once everybody had become convinced of this, then it became possible to erect upon it the further construction that secondhand smoke caused lung cancer too. And once that vaporous idea had hardened into concrete conviction, the way was open to erect an entire multi-storey skyscraper of ever more tenuously homeopathic smoke, with each floor occupied by dying children, and each new height reached demanding ever more stringent regulations, restrictions, and penalties. But take away the foundation, and the entire edifice falls. Yet while almost everybody in this present debate knows perfectly well that the entire edifice is made up of a pack of lies, some of us believe that the foundation upon which they are erected is a solid truth. If so, at what point in time did the antismoking doctors and scientists stop telling the truth and start lying? Was it when Sir George Godber declared that it was necessary to create the perception that secondhand smoke posed a significant health threat? Or was it later? Or was it earlier?

Is it actually possible to treat antismoking science as some sort of curate's egg - good in parts? Is it actually possible to pick and choose which of its doctrines you will believe, and which you won't believe? Would that not be rather like saying that you reject ridiculous astrological claims to be able to predict the future using progressed days charts of changing planetary aspects, but that you're quite sure that Saturn in the third house is an ominous portent. Either you accept it all, or you reject it all. There is no halfway house.

Let us reconsider that foundational doctrine that smoking causes lung cancer. Let us remind ourselves that this began life as a Nazi doctrine, with some of the research personally funded by Hitler. That alone should be cause for profound concern. The historian Robert Proctor, author of the Nazi War on Cancer, has tried to argue that Nazi antismoking research was an example of 'good' Nazi research, comparable to the Nazi V1 and V2 programme. But elsewhere he admits that:

"The Nazi campaign against tobacco and the 'whole grain bread operation' are, in some sense, as fascist as the yellow stars and the death camps,"

Then let us look at the methodology of this science, which proceeds by asking people to (impossibly) remember how many cigarettes they have smoked in recent years, and sometimes even in their entire lifetime. Sometimes they are even asked to (even more impossibly) remember exactly how much other people have smoked, as in a survey by Franz H. Muller (The Nazi War on Cancer p195) which asked:

Was the deceased, Herr __________ a smoker? If so, what was his daily consumption of cigars, cigarettes, or pipe tobacco? (Please be numerically precise in your answer!)

This 'science' nowadays arbitrarily declares that a non-smoker is someone who has smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their life, but the definition has never been consistent. All the raw data used by this supposed science consists of guesses of one sort or other, including whether these 'smokers' and 'non-smokers' died of lung cancer or not. And its preferred unit of measurement - the 'cigarette' - comes in all sorts of sizes, ranging from matchstick thin roll-ups to superkingsize filter-tips. 

In the real sciences of physics and chemistry, every effort is made to measure quantities as accurately as possible, within known margins of error. In antismoking science, nothing is measured accurately, and the margins of error are unknown and unknowable. It is only by using accurate measurements that it is possible to derive the laws of nature, such as Boyle's law - P.V = K, gas pressure times gas volume is a constant - which could only have been found by very accurately measuring gas pressure and volume, and which would never have been found if they had not been accurately measured. Or, if Boyle had used the methodology of antismoking scientists, and guessed pressure and volume (perhaps using 'cigarettes' as a measure of length), we would now have Boyle's law state that P.V3 = k, and have erected a vast edifice of crazy physics upon it.

And even if we avert our eyes from its Nazi past (citing Godwin's Law), and excuse its manifold inaccuracies, what do we find in the very first study by Richard Doll and Bradford Hill - the 1950 London Hospitals study? In this study we find that of 649 lung cancer patients, only 2 were non-smokers. Over 99% were smokers! So impressed by this was Richard Doll, as the figures rolled in, that he gave up smoking before the study had been completed. The young George Godber was equally impressed. These numbers even appear in Sir Richard Doll's Times obituary. But if we look more closely at the study, we discover that 98% of patients in the study were smokers. Pretty much every single patient, lung cancer or not, was a smoker. And that means that, even if smoking had no effect whatsoever on lung cancer, it would still have been found that 98% of lung cancer patients would have been smokers. Viewed in that light, not only did the London Hospitals study not show that smoking caused lung cancer, but if anything gave smoking a clean bill of health.

There are some other disturbing features of the London Hospitals study. Sir Ronald Fisher, the leading statistician of his day, was able to show (when he eventually got the raw data from Doll and Hill) that those smokers who inhaled had a statistically significant lower risk of lung cancer than those who did not inhale.

Furthermore, while the study questionnaire had asked patients about their smoking habits, it also asked a variety of other questions, which were supposed to be documented in a further paper. This was never written. Nor was a planned parallel study of smoking outside London - where lung cancer incidence was reportedly lower - ever carried out. Effectively, the London Hospitals study focused entirely on smoking, with the rest of the data discarded.

Instead, Doll and Hill immediately commenced the long-running British Doctors study. British doctors were sent a questionnaire asking one single question: how much did they smoke? Fully 87% of those doctors who replied classified themselves as smokers, making it a fair bet that when these doctors in turn started developing lung cancer, it would be found that 87% of those who died of lung cancer were smokers. Which is more or less what they found, and which results in CRUK declaring that "smoking causes up to nine out of ten cases of lung cancer."

The British Doctors study ran for 50 years, producing a steady machine-gun fire of papers as the doctors all slowly dropped dead, which ensured that it would continue to link smoking and lung cancer. And this, it seems, was its purpose:

Writing in the December, 2001, issue of the British Medical Journal, Doll explained that the study was "devised by Sir Austin Bradford Hill to achieve maximum publicity for the critical link between smoking and lung cancer". In short it was never intended as a serious scientific study to test the hypothesis that smoking may cause lung cancer.

It might be said that both these studies are now too old to be much concerned about. But they are the studies which defined the subsequent antismoking era. They are the studies which settled opinions (like those of Doll and Godber) in favour of the cigarette hypothesis. Subsequent studies are mere repetitions and footnotes. Most people don't even remember their names.

No laboratory studies of smoking animals have shown them developing lung cancer. And intervention studies like the MRFIT study have shown no health benefits from giving up smoking (or engaging in other supposedly 'healthy' activities). And towards the end of his life, Sir Richard Doll became a controversial figure when it emerged that he had for years been taking large amounts of money from Monsanto and other companies, seemingly in return for favourable reports on their products (e,g, Agent Orange).

Furthermore, the tobacco hypothesis has been entirely barren. After 60 years, there has been no further progress. Antismoking zealots have no more idea today how smoking tobacco causes lung cancer than they did 60 years ago. Nor has there been in any progress in protecting people, nor much in the way of improved treatment of lung cancer. The only medical advice is to tell people to stop smoking.

None of this would really matter if life had continued as it used to do, with doctors patiently advising smokers to cut down or give up smoking. But those days of free personal choice are past history now. Smokers have been evicted from their pubs and bars and cafes by smoking bans, and they are being demonised in media campaigns, fired from their jobs, evicted from their houses, refused medical treatment, savagely fined, and even imprisoned . Smokers can no longer be permitted to choose to give up smoking. They must be forced to comply with medical dogma.

And this changes everything. A Jew living in Germany in 1920 or even 1930 might have been intellectually persuaded by the Nazi racial science of the time, as advanced by notable scientists. But 10 years later he would have been a fool to give any credence to any of it.

So also with smokers today, facing a new onslaught coming from the same direction and using the same methods. They should reject antismoking science in its entirety, from its Nazi origins, through its post-war antismoking epidemiology, right up to the secondhand and thirdhand and fourthhand smoke of today. They should reject it lock, stock, and barrel. Because this is no longer a gentle academic debate, as once it was back in the 1950s: It's a struggle for survival.

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Well said and three cheers sir!

That is so heart felt and genuine a posting. I congratulate you sir on such fine writing and wholeheartedly endorse your sentiment.

frank,damnit man..............your a poet for truth and freedom! Well Done,the finest piece of literary writing I have read......

Well I certainly can't disagree.

Journal of the American Medical Association
Sept.30 1939

Zeitschrift fur Krebsforschung, Berlin

"Muller states that considerable increase of primary carcinoma of the lungs has been observed in the recent decades. To explain this increase various causes have been pointed out, such as increased • street dust, exhaust gases of rhotor cars, tarring of the streets, war gases, x-rays, trauma, influenza, tuberculosis and increasing industrialization.
There appears to be agreement only as to the exogenic character of the causes.

Increased attention has been called of late to the significance of smoking as a cause of carcinoma, and the simultaneous increase of carcinoma of the lungs and consumption of tobacco supports this view. The tar content of tobacco is due mainly to the lignified parts of the leaves such as the veins, and these have been used lately in increased quantities in the manufacture of tobacco.

The cancerigenic effect of tobacco tar has been demonstrated on experi- mental animals. Continued use of tobacco creates in man a disposition to cancer at the place of provocation.
The time needed for creating this disposition varies for different persons.

The author observed lately a relatively large number of patients with carcinoma of the lungs at the municipal hospital in Cologne.

Prompted by this observation he carried out a statistical survey on ninety-six dead patients as to smoking habits and other factors acting on the respiratory tracts, such as soot, dust, smoke, tar, vapors, exhaust gases, coal, metal dust and chemicals.

Previous diseases of the respiratory tracts were likewise recorded. Of the ninety-six persons, eighty-six were male and showed the following result as to smoking habits: extreme smokers twenty five (29.07 per cent), very heavy smokers eighteen (20.93 per cent), heavy smokers thirteen (15.12 per cent), moderate smokers twenty-seven (31.39 per cent) and nonsmokers three (3.49 per cent).

Comparison between these and eighty-six healthy persons as to daily consumption of tobacco disclosed that the healthy persons smoked considerably less and that most of them were moderate and medium heavy smokers.

On the basis of this statistical survey and bearing in mind the positive results obtained in animal experiments, the author concludes that the great increase of tobacco consumption is primarily responsible for the increase of primary carcinoma of the lungs.

The fact that about one third of the subjects surveyed smoked moderately or not at all indicates the presence of other cancerigenic factors besides smoking, such as influenza and industrial working conditions. The great significance of the latter can be inferred from various indications but needs further study. Members of families disposed to cancer and persons with chronic catarrhs of the respiratory tracts should be dissuaded from smoking."

Testimony of Dr Hueper, who knew exactly where the cigarette theory came from.

A That is right, reputable European journals and the possibility of the question was ventilated that smoking of cigarettes might have something to do with lung cancer.

Q How widespread was that?

A There were repeated publications on that subject.

Q Were those publications'available in the major cities of the United States?.

A Yes, if they would read them.

Q In other words, anyone who was a doctor or not could go to any medical library and find it and read such statements?

A, Yes, it was in general medical journals and readily accessable.


Excellent writing, excellent argument, excellent all ways around.

Someone should link this to other places on the internet to force people to think.

The Mail On Line has just published an article regarding female lung cancer rates. There are some 50 comments so far. One commenter said that 90% of lung cancers were smokers and thus, in effect, said that "The science is settled". Below is a comment that I have made in response:

""dave, essex 11.04

Your last sentence (90% of lung cancer victims are smokers or recent former smokers) would indeed be damning - if it was true. There is, however, something that you may not be aware of.

When the people who designed the studies decided what would be considered to be 'a smoker', they decided to include anyone who had smoked 100 cigarettes in their lifetime as a smoker. You can see, can you not, that, say, a person in the armed forces would almost certainly have smoked for some time while in that situation. 100 cigarettes in a lifetime is minuscule.

And so you can see that this simple 'ruse' can inflate the number of 'smokers' out of all proportion. Notice the really clever thing about this 'ruse' - it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to untie all the knots which have been tied. That is, the actual truth is impossible to determine.""

The question is: Am I right in asserting that 'ruses' and 'tricks' of this nature are common? I am pretty sure that I saw in one study that a person who has smoked even only ONE cigarette was classed as a smoker, although I cannot be sure about that.

It would be interesting to see how many 'studies' have defined a smoker in a similar way.

It seems the anti smokers have the same attitude as politicians in dealing with the truth. They both treat the public with contempt.

Have there ever been any studies looking at matches/lighters in relation to lung cancer? Wondering if inhaling these fumes could be a culprit - you know, those who use matches get lung cancer, those who use lighers don't (or vice versa). Haven't been able to find anything on this.

Excellent writing and ideas !

Beautiful writing very well presented. But beyond the amazing writing style, which whether we want to admit or not appeals to our emotions, it is the facts presented that should be examined.

I agree with mostly everything that you have presented us with about the early studies and their obvious flaws that cast serious doubts about their validity. And I use the word ‘’doubts’’ simply because I am sitting on the fence on this issue. The alleged lie has been so big and has been repeated so often and for so long, that deprogramming what I have taken for granted for almost all my life is very difficult thus causing me to be very cautious when assessing the issue.

There is one point that I disagree with however, and it is that all anti-tobacco science should be discarded because we don’t know from which point on tobacco science became corrupted. If we take the Nazis just as an example, the fact that Hitler was involved in scientific experiments and discoveries that had an ugly agenda, is not in my opinion a valid reason to discard all Nazi science. I am not that well documented on what exactly the Nazis discovered, but odds are that they have found genetic diseases very common in certain nationalities. They most likely found such genetic disorders or diseases in people of Hebrew origins and although I am not informed enough to name them, it may be totally accurate, This of course does not make all of their anti-Semitic agenda driven discoveries valid, but it doesn’t make the accurate ones false either.

This is the only weakness I have found in your argument. Do I think that the anti-tobacco’s house of cards should be totally destroyed and rebuilt from its ashes? I certainly do, but not for all the same reasons as you. As of this moment, I still stick to my belief that inhaling smoke abusively and deeply for several decades significantly increases one’s risks to get lung cancer. I am now trying to quantify the term ‘’abusive’’ and ‘’significantly’’ and I think I’ll probably be disappointed at the end of this debate, not because our good host and the other debaters are not well documented, but because such documentation simply doesn’t seem to exist in the scientific literature and knowing that modern tobacco scientists have no intention to do such studies that would go against their funders’ agenda, gives me good enough reason to see tobacco control as we know it today completely destroyed and rebuilt on solid and honest scientific grounds.

Excellent writing and ideas

Above post should have been signed Iro :-)


Echoing everyone who commented on the great writing, and wondering if there isn't some publication somewhere that would publish this. Reason Magazine?

I'll throw two other thoughts into the hopper.

I'm pretty sure the hard stats purport to show that, over the course of a lifetime, one in ten smokers will get lung cancer. Ok. Scary. But it also means that, over the course of a lifetime, nine in ten smokers won't. So even if the first part is true, we can eliminate the concept of "cause." If smoking "causes" lung cancer, it would "cause" it in the same way that the small pox virus causes small pox. I.e., 100% of people with small pox have the virus in their systems, and 97% of the people with the virus in their systems have small pox. (Natural immunity counting for 3%.) But when 90% are somehow "immune" something else is at play. Or is at play TOO. Smoking may be a "risk factor" but only when combined with X. Or with X and Y. Or with X, Y, and Z. Or may, as you suggest, simply be a confounder.

I did disagree with your example of cave men inhaling smoke (and presumably not getting lung cancer). Cancers of all sorts are diseases of age and cave men didn't live long enough to get it; nor do many or most people living in primitive circumstances today. They die of malaria or dysentery or AIDS or malnutrition or war. Then too we read that 50% of new cases in the (allegedly) civilized world are among ex-smokers, many being ex for 20+ years. And, again, we might hazard that someone who smoked for 20 years beginning at, say, 20, and then quit for 20 is.. not young.

Don't know if any of this adds anything to the conversation.

Re: Ditto

Those are very astute observations. The standard rhetoric is that smoking “leads to” lung cancer. Yet, there is no definition of the mechanism(s) that does the “leading to”. The preponderance of evidence, i.e., 90%+ of heavy smokers, is that smoking does not lead to LC. It may be that smoking is a contributing factor to LC. However, other mechanisms/factors are required to distinguish the 10% that do develop LC from the 90% that do not. Also, smoking cannot be the critical factor.

For example, if a “cancer prone” (about a third of the population) group can be discerned genetically, then the predictive strength of cancer proneness (CP) and heavy smoking is 25% (i.e., about a quarter of the 33%) compared to a 10% predictive strength of heavy smoking alone for LC. Yet even in this case, three quarters of heavy smokers in the CP group DO NOT develop LC. There must be other factors involved. It might turn out that previous lung infection (viral quantity) combined with CP and heavy smoking yields an even higher predictive strength for LC. A naturopathic hypothesis that has been circulating for some time is that cancer indicates a vitamin B13(?) deficiency. So adding this factor to the others produces an even higher predictive strength. Etc. Etc.

The scientific goal is to define a cluster of factors – an antecedent – that uniquely and highly predicts a consequent. Lifestyle epidemiologists do not seem to comprehend the requirements of causal argument or the scientific goal of pinpointing an antecedent for a consequent. In fact, the “grasp” is atrocious. It is noticeable that epidemiologists focus only on only positive instances of a consequent and completely disregard negative instances. Coherent causal argument needs to account for both. This is reflected in epidemiology’s reliance on “relative risk” (and not absolute risk) which only considers positive instances of a consequent (e.g., it will only consider those instances where LC follows smoking). This promotes a back-to-front reasoning which coincides with clinical training. The clinician begins from the consequent (e.g., LC) and then attempts to find common antecedents. Clinicians are therefore very impressed, statistically, when 8-9 out of 10 persons with LC are smokers. And they believe their job is finished. What they are doing is trying to predict an antecedent by the consequent. Since LC is a very high “predictor” for prior smoking, they believe they have found the “cause”. It does not dawn on them that the scientific objective and the requirements of causal argument is the other way around – to identify antecedents that highly and uniquely predict a consequent. The problem is institutional.


Scientific Integrity

"It might be said that both these studies are now too old to be much concerned about. But they are the studies which defined the subsequent antismoking era. They are the studies which settled opinions (like those of Doll and Godber) in favour of the cigarette hypothesis. Subsequent studies are mere repetitions and footnotes. Most people don't even remember their names."

At this point it should be mentioned that Researchers are not (and have not been for quite a number of years) in a position to accept funding from the tobacco industry whilst it is common practice for e.g. pharmaceutical companies marketing e.g. smoking cessation products, to invest in this.
This raise thes issue of scientific integrity.
"What is scientific integrity?
Integrity has been defined as "a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code" [13]. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for the individual scientist, "integrity embodies above all a commitment to intellectual honesty and personal responsibility for one's actions and to a range of practices that characterize responsible research conduct. It is an aspect of moral character and experience." Within a research institution, integrity is "a commitment to creating an environment that promotes responsible conduct" [14]. Clearly, both the individual investigators and the research environment are expected to act with integrity to guarantee scientific standards of excellence, trustworthy research findings, and to preserve public confidence in biomedical sciences." (Environ Health. 2008; 7(Suppl 1): S9.
Published online 2008 June 5. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-7-S1-S9.)

Neither, the tobacco industry nor the anti-smoking brigade supported by the pharmaceutical industry can be accused of adhering to this principle; a good case for barring both sides from funding further studies and in the case of the anti-smoker brigade saving us from further ridiculous (e.g. third/forth hand smoke) publications.

Re: Scientific Integrity

The definition of “integrity” is a reasonable one. However, it’s a bit rich coming from the Institute of Medicine. Check some of the IOM’s lack of integrity on Michael Siegel’s blog:
Oct 16, 2009
Oct 20, 2009
Oct 21, 2009
Oct 22, 2009
Dec 2, 2009
Dec 21, 2009
(The links for 2009 are at the very bottom-right of the webpage)


Thank you Magnetic
I had read about Dr. Michael Siegel's commitment to scientific integrity and did follow his blog for a good while.

What a surprise to find this link
there, too.

In Dr. Michael Siegel's words:
"What is the point of doing the research, however, if we are not going to actually objectively analyze the data?"


I have never believed that tobacco causes cancer, as a child I used to read books on plants like other children read books about dinosaurs.

Reading pre-war gardening books, I was fully aware that the nightshade vegetables had the same plant chemicals as tobacco, just in smaller amounts.

If they didn't harm you when boiled, fried or roasted, then tobacco was most unlikely to.

This was my world

Yorkshire Post-1962

"The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research also said that the sulphur dioxide concentration was six and five times higher than normal.

"Pollution compared to that of the 1952 smog, the experts said. But without the Clean Air Act conditions would have been worse than in 1952.
In the Kirkstall Road area of Leeds, the sulphur dioxide concentration was greater than that registered in London in 1952. At 5,185 microgrammes per cubic metre it was the highest ever registered in the city.
The smoke content of the air has decreased since the last bad smog in 1959 said Mr RA Dalley the city's analyst. This was due to the smoke control zone."

"Fog mixed with smoke, chemicals and fumes, such as the major industrial conurbations and London have suffered in the last three days, damages lung tissue, stomach lining, nasal passages.
Children's lungs so damaged "will never be the same again".

Now would you believe that a wisp of nightshade smoke could possibly cause as much harm as the smog?

6 miles outside the city and on a fine day, the washing on the line,still had black specks of soot.

Though I knew from my reading that tobacco was an ancient herbal medicine, and therefore must have some benefits, I never really expected to find anything much.

I just wanted to know what happened when nicotine burned.
As no plant science seemed to be available in one place, I had to trawl through all the nightshades.
Having been lead to believe that the tobacco companies were wicked. I could only use other sources, draw my conclusions and then consult the R&D documents from before 1960 as confirmation.

When looking at modern science on the properties and current uses of the plant chemicals by scientists who may sometimes be unaware that they are also in tobacco, I found Herba Regina, not the Demon Weed.

Finding Salicylic acid was the final straw, tobacco does seem to be the universal panacea they always said it was.

And therefore a huge threat.


It seems that nothing happens in isolation.

"Our conference is concerned with alternative medicine, and so a question naturally arises: How did the Nazis view unorthodox medical systems? One might have expected them to be sympathetic. After all, the Nazi ideology claimed that modern society had become too dominated by urban values. Life was too technologized, and the Nazis said they wanted to return to peasant wisdom.

A characteristic book of this period was the novelist and philosopher Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer's The Philosophy of the Hunting Lodge. Wouldn't people with such views have an affinity for therapies that promoted natural methods of healing and opposed laboratory medicine? Natural healing was very popular at the time. In November 1934, more than 270,000 people paid for treatment by natural healers, even though they could have received free treatment from government-paid physicians.

At first, the Nazis met our expectations. Gerhard Wagner, the head of the National Socialist Physicians' League and Leader of German Medicine, favored a unification of standard and alternative medicine. The government provided funds for natural healers, as well as for standard medicine, and the Rudolf Hess Hospital in Dresden specialized in homeopathic medicine.

But, as always, when the state supports something, it takes control. Wagner made clear that alternative healers must be strictly regulated."

"The standard doctors strongly opposed natural healing, and their opinion became more and more influential.

"By 1939, a law provided that no one could practice as a healer unless enrolled in a government approved program, and natural healers were gradually to be phased out"

Many people think that before the 1950s, the evidence that linked smoking and lung cancer was just anecdotal, but in fact a member of the Nazi party, Franz Mueller, established the link in his 1939 dissertation."

"Drug companies have a proven track record in trying to legislate the natural health business out of existence. In 1996, for example, the Ecologist magazine revealed that, when the Codex Alimentarius (the World Trade Organisation body that sets international standards for drugs, food, supplements, etc) met, the German delegation put forward a proposal, sponsored by three German pharmaceutical firms, that no herb, vitamin or mineral should be sold for preventive or therapeutic reasons, and that supplements should be reclassified as drugs"

Brussels moves against herbalists
"Daniel Hannan giving an explanation of the vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 24th November, concerning European regulations on herbal medicines which will put companies selling harmless products out of business."

It seems that we have until April to find substitutes.

“The directive takes full effect when the transitional period for compliance expires on 30 April 2011.

“The directive will make the use of unlicensed manufactured herbal medicines bought in from third party suppliers illegal after that date and lends urgency to the need to make a decision on practitioner regulation.

“The effect of the directive in the UK is to bring a sector that was previously largely unregulated into systematic medicines regulation."


I usually don't respond when people praise my writing, because I don't really know what to say. I'm pleased, but also a little embarrassed.

The praise has been unusually warm today, so I feel I should for once respond in some way.

In this case I felt I was writing in some illustrious company - Chris Snowdon and Rich White -, and needed to put on my sunday best, so to speak. So I worked on the above piece all yesterday evening (although a lot of that time was spent digging up links). Usually I don't spend more than an hour or so writing. And very often I write the thing straight out from start to finish.

The above piece, however, was assembled from various fragments, which were bolted together, and the joins smoothed over. The result, in my opinion, is that it doesn't flow perfectly. It flows quite well, but not perfectly. I can still see the joins.

And I think that's what I always try to do: make the writing flow like a river, so that there isn't anything too jarring or discordant. I'm trying to make music. Or write a kind of poetry. Although I'm not quite sure what the rules of that poetry are. Because, somehow or other, it adds more force to words to do that. I'll often take a word out and replace it with another just because it doesn't quite fit right.

And I've had a lot of practice writing. I used, for many decades, to write a diary, and was trying to put things into words as best I could. Thousands of words every day, it sometimes was.

And lots of writers do something along these lines. I remember reading one of the Devil's rants a year or so back, and realised as I was reading it that it was pure poetry. And that the final 'Tit' was a sort of poetic full stop.

Anyway, thanks for the praise. But ultimately it's the substance of the arguments that matters.


Maybe you could consider writing a book the way Chris Snowden has written a book, yours on this subject matter.

Each of the areas of argument outlined above could each be more deeply researched and each be a chapter in and of themselves.

You may already have material previously blogged on this website that could also be combined into such a book.

Just an idea.

Surely, this debate would be greatly assisted by an analysis of the up to date figures for LC showing the percentage of smokers, ex smokers and never smokers. Are these available anywhere?

There was a recent report I mentioned a week or two back, which said:

Sixty percent of lung cancer cases diagnosed in 2006 were in people who had quit smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent report on the subject. (Another 21 percent were in people who had never smoked.) Given prevailing trends, ex-smokers' share of cases could be even higher now.

Since US smoking rates have been down around the 20% mark in recent years, these figures suggest that lung cancer among smokers is much the same as for everyone else.

But I've not seen the CDC report.


Here's the ,a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5644a2.htm">CDC 2006 data:</a>

CDC 2006 data

The same report gives 23% male smoking, 18% female smoking.

Thanks. I know of this report. Do you know of any similar reports - broken down in the same manner - by any 'responsible' body in UK? e.g. NHS figures, or plans for it? If it came out with similar it would be very intriguing. Equally, if they chose not to do it when requested. I think it would be unlikely the likes of ASH, CRUK, BHF, etc. would touch it with a disinfected barge pole.

It would certainly assist the ongoing debate. Nationally, as well as here.

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