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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Frank Davis continues the discussion.

I'd like to pick up on a couple of Chris Snowdon's points from CATCH-4. Last night he remarked that:

Really, this debate should be called ‘Does cigarette smoking cause lung cancer.’

Well, CATCH is short for Colloquium/Conversation/Chat About The Cigarette Hypothesis. So it actually is called that already. Because when this controversy began, 60 years ago, the concern was about these new-fangled cigarettes that people had been smoking since they were popularised by the troops in WW1. Nobody believed that smoking pipes or cigars caused lung cancer. The idea would have been risible.

Somehow or other, over the past 60 years, this distinction has become entirely lost. I don't know why this happened. But on the back of the tobacco packets I buy, it says Smoking Causes Fatal Lung Cancer, and not Smoking Cigarettes Causes Fatal Lung Cancer. All tobacco products - cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snus - are lumped together as a single threat. It's not cigarettes any more: it's tobacco. Somehow or other lung cancer epidemiology, rather than narrowing its focus, has only succeeded in widening it. More and more things become risk factors, rather than fewer and fewer.

uk tobacco consumption and lung cancer incidence 1900 - 1947
uk tobacco consumption and lung cancer death rate 1900 - 1947 
Doll and Hill, in the 1950 London Hospitals study, provide a helpful graph of tobacco consumption from 1900 to 1947, which shows the amount of tobacco being consumed in the UK approximately doubling during this period, with most of the growth coming in the form of cigarettes. And it shows a sharp increase in lung cancer beginning about 20 years after cigarettes began to become popular.

It's quite clear from this graph why cigarettes in particular became the focus of attention. In 1900 less than a third of tobacco was consumed in cigarette form. By 1947 nearly 90% of it was. But if all forms of tobacco are now regarded as equally carcinogenic, why is it that a doubling of tobacco consumption over this period didn't bring a simple doubling of lung cancer - from 2 per million to 4 per million? Why was there so little lung cancer prior to 1900 even though plenty of tobacco was being consumed?

Cigarettes probably replaced pipes and cigars because they provided a quick 'fix'. Cigarettes are to pipes and cigars a bit like whisky is to beer. Cigars, particularly the larger varieties, take a long time to smoke. Pipes have to be laboriously refilled by hand. A cigarette, by contrast, comes ready-made, and can be smoked in minutes. This was ideal for troops on a highly stressful battlefield. The differences were that the cigarettes were wrapped in paper, and were often treated with saltpetre to keep them alight once lit (another useful characteristic on a battlefield). And the smoke of them was usually inhaled into the lungs, rather than savoured in the mouth like pipe or cigar smoke. A soldier on a battlefield didn't have the leisure time to savour tobacco smoke.

Although we may suspect the paper, the saltpetre, and other characteristics of cigarettes, perhaps all of these were perfectly innocuous. Instead it may well have been that smokers have acted as society's 'canary in the mine'. If any environmental carcinogen or toxin was likely to have a strong impact, it was likely to be among smokers who were deeply inhaling these substances into their lungs where they were rapidly absorbed, whether they originated in the air or on the ground or anywhere else. The ill effects were simply amplified among smokers. In an arsenic-rich or fallout-rich environment, smokers would have inhaled and absorbed more of it, whatever it was, than non-smokers, and suffered greater ill-effects than them (as well as enjoying greater benefits from smoking tobacco).

But was cigarette smoking the only candidate culprit for the rise in lung cancer? Chris Snowdon again:

What we are looking for, then, is an unknown factor which is as strong or stronger than the statistical correlation between smoking and lung cancer, which causes lung cancer to rise and fall several decades after smoking rises and falls, which affects men first and then women and which is less common in countries where smoking is less common. Over to the defence.

Let's start off instead with lung cancer incidence throughout the world: (click on map to get globocan interactive map):

male lung cancer incidence

This is a very interesting map. It almost appears from this map that lung cancer is largely absent from the tropical regions of the world, and is only found in the higher northern or southern latitudes. Perhaps lung cancer doesn't like heat? Or conversely, it could be interpreted to mean that lung cancer is principally a problem for the developed world.

There doesn't seem to be any particularly close association with tobacco though. It's true that Hungary, according to my figures, has one of the highest prevalence in male smoking in Europe, at 40.5%, and also the highest incidence of male lung cancer at 79.3 per 100,000.  It's also true that Sweden has the lowest prevalence of male smokers at 16.7%, and the lowest incidence of lung cancer at 19.4 per 100,000. But step outside of Europe, and the picture is different. Iraq has a male smoking prevalence of  40% (same as Hungary), and a male lung cancer incidence of 14.7 (lower than non-smoking Sweden). Yemen has a whopping 77% prevalence of male smoking, but LCI of 3.5. Aghanistan has 82% prevalence, but LCI of 9.5, India a 46.6% prevalence and LCI of 10.9. Peru has a 52.5% smoker prevalence, but an LCI of 9.3, while Uruguay has a smoker prevalence of 34.6%, and an LCI of 54.6.

I used the lung cancer incidence figures from globocan, and the smoking prevalence figures from nationmaster to create a sample (and by no means complete) table, and plotted the two against each other to produce a scatter diagram, and found the regression line through it - which indicated no correlation of smoking prevalence and lung cancer incidence.

lung cancer incidence against % prevalence of smoking (m)
lung cancer incidence against % prevalence of smoking (m)

I agree that it's important to explain why women tend to get less lung cancer than men. But is the only difference between men and women that women smoke less than men (although in Sweden more women smoke than men)? Over much of the world, there has historically been a strong division of labour between men and women, with women looking after home and family, and men going out to work. In Britain, the now vanished species called the "housewife" spent much of her time at home, looking after children, preparing food, sweeping and cleaning, while the man of the house went out to work, often many miles away. If lung cancer was caused by some external environmental factor, stay-at-home housewives might well have been protected in ways that their roving husbands were not. And if, in the USA, female lung cancer incidence has been rising towards male levels, this may reflect the fact that today's 'liberated' woman may very often have a job just like her husband.

And of course there may well be other factors. In a 'buttoned-up' era when women wore long skirts and long sleeves and high collars, women may have been inadvertently gaining rather more protection from a toxic environment than their less 'buttoned-up' menfolk. The more people wear and the less they venture outdoors, the less they are exposed to the environment in which they live.

As for possible new environmental carcinogens in the 20th century, cigarette smoking is just one among many. At the same time that cigarette smoking was on the rise, so also were cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines. Entirely new materials were appearing and coming into common use, including a whole variety of plastics and other chemicals. Radio-active elements such as radium and uranium were beginning to be used, very often with little understanding of their dangers. If ever there were a prime candidate for causing lung cancer, such radioactive materials ought to be up there at the top. This wasn't an era in which the principal cultural shift was from smoking pipes to smoking cigarettes. It was an era in which everything was changing.
Tags: ,

I believe it was the Boar War when rolling tobacco in paper first started.

In 1971, ASH UK was formed. A couple of years later, they had pursuaded the government to put a warning on the side of cigarette packets - note, cigarette packets - "Cigarettes may damage your health".

If only it had stayed there. 'cigarettes' and 'may'.

This is why I am avoiding this 'discussion'. I considered writing a submission, but no. When a minority are trying to fight the myth, the invention of second hand smoke, to my mind, they are shooting themselves in the foot trying to say that inhaling particulates into their lungs cannot contribute to ill effects.

In closing. I do not believe that smoking causes lung cancer, I believe that smoking cigarettes can contribute to lung cancer, along with other factors like genetics, environment and diet.

When a minority are trying to fight the myth, the invention of second hand smoke, to my mind, they are shooting themselves in the foot trying to say that inhaling particulates into their lungs cannot contribute to ill effects.

Fair enough. But then you go on to say that you don't believe that smoking causes lung cancer! Do you have other ill effects in mind?

Somewhere at the outset of this discussion I wrote that I thought the myth of secondhand smoke was simply an extension of the doctrine that firsthand smoke caused lung cancer. After all, if active smoking causes a lot of lung cancer (without defining what's meant by 'a lot'), then passive smoking must cause a little lung cancer, no? I don't think the myth of secondhand smoke is ever going to go away while the firsthand smoke doctrine remains standing. It'll just come back, again and again.

So it seems to me that anyone who wants to dispose of the myth of secondhand smoking has got to get rid of the doctrine (or myth) of firsthand smoking as the primary cause of lung cancer. Because that's what most people believe. They've been told as much repeatedly for half a century.

Perhaps it seems like 'shooting oneself in the foot' to attack the firsthand smoking doctrine, because 'everybody knows' that it's a well-established scientific fact. Maybe anyone who tries establishes themselves as a nutter for even suggesting it. A bit like anybody who mentions the Nazis falls foul of Godwin's 'law'. And so people end up dispensing with most of their best arguments, because they don't want to be regarded as nutters. And that's what the other side always intended. They're always trying to close down discussion. They're always trying to make things unsayable, or politically incorrect.

Perhaps I miss your point, but I don't think people should be afraid to look like fools, or nutters, or whatever. They should be glad of being so regarded.

Sure smoking has its downside. I've been coughing all day today. 90% of that is down to smoking too much, I'm sure. Does it matter?


(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
The more that this debate goes on, the more intriguing it becomes. But the more I read here, the more evident it becomes to me that we are moving to an absolutely necessary question which is:

"What CAUSES cancer - any cancer?"

Despite the focus that we have on 'lung cancer', it seems to me to be true that the focus needs to be widened. Whay EXACTLY is cancer? Is it correctly described as 'a disease'? Or would it be more correctly described as 'a condition'? For example, we would not describe a broken leg as 'a disease'; however, if the site of the break becomes 'infected', we would describe the infection as 'disease' while describing the broken leg as 'a condition'.

I do not know what cancer actually IS. But I know a little about 'cell death' (apopsosis?). The cells of our bodies are continuously dying. When one dies, presumably it disintegrates and the dead bits are carried away by the blood stream and excreted. The gap created by the loss of the dead cell is filled by the the splitting of an adjacent cell.

Is cancer an INCOMPLETE cell death? Are cancer cells some sort of 'zombie' cells? Cells which are useless, but still 'alive' and able to reproduce (split)? Can a virus cause a local 'zombieisation' of cells?

It is all very intreging, but we will not know until researchers start trying to find out why people DO NOT get cancer - with all that that implies.

Re: The debate Catch

What EXACTLY is cancer?

That's a good question. My understanding of cancer is that it's what happens when cells in our bodies start multiplying uncontrollably, either forming local colonies (or tumours) of cancer cells, or spreading (metastasizing) throughout the body. These cancer cells, furthermore, don't contribute anything to the body's 'economy', like normal bone and skin and muscle, etc, cells do. And nobody seems to know why this happens, or what the hell to do about it. It's front line medicine.

I've thought about it quite a lot within the terms of Idle Theory. And I've thought about it mostly in terms of Plant Succession. This is the idea that when a new bit of ground gets colonised by plants, the first ones tend to be fast growing/reproducing weeds, and then these are replaced with slower-reproducing shrubs and bushes, and then even slower growing/reproducing trees. All of which leads up to a 'climax forest', which in Britain used to be a forest of oak trees. But these climax forests don't live forever. The oak trees start dying and falling down one by one, and wherever this happens, it's like a new patch of bare ground has appeared, and fast-growing/reproducing weeds start growing in it. And these are the cancers. An ageing human body is like a climax forest of slow-growing trees. Here and there a tree has died and fallen, and in that space new fast-reproducing weeds or cancers begin to multiply.

Seen this way, cancer is perfectly natural. It's a natural consequence of ageing. If you don't want it to happen, you have to make sure that those weeds growing in the clearings where old trees have fallen never get enough light or sustenance to grow and multiply. Within the human body, that would mean reducing blood sugar levels. And that's done by reducing food consumption. Old people shouldn't eat any more than they need to sustain themselves. Because if they do eat more, they'll create the perfect energy-rich conditions for lots of fast-growing cancer colonies to appear. Cancer, in this approach, is the result of people being too well fed.

Well, it's a theory...


P.S. Apoptosis is 'programmed cell death'. I don't believe in programmed cell death. I don't think the human body is 'programmed'. But that's just me.

Just a quickly before I go to bed.

I read about 'apoptosis' some years ago. Prof whoever studied 'cell death' intensively. I am not sure of the detail, but I think that he found that cells have a 'life cycle'. Different types of cell have different 'life cycles' - some live longer than others. I'm not sure, but I seem to remember that the whole point about cancerous cells was that they did not die as normal cells should and that that is one of the reasons that cancer takes so long to develop (unless it is a very aggressive type of cancer). His problem was that he could not discover what the reason was that cancer cells did not suffer from 'normal' apoptosis'. Tomorrow, I will see what I can find.

Apoptosis and cancer

Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is a process regulated and influenced by a number of factors.
Here just a few:

and here an overview of apoptosis and cancer:

(apologies for the rushed, hence lack of detail, post)


Just some final thoughts.

In the “hard” sciences, the term “causation” is one of the most, if not the most, powerful in the scientific vocabulary. When the term causation is invoked it highlights to peers that the understanding (underlying processes) of particular phenomena is such that from an antecedent set of events a consequent event(s) can be predicted with very high accuracy.

We can see that the claim “Smoking causes LC” does not meet this criterion: It is nowhere near meeting this criterion – it is on the wrong-end of the conditional-probability scale. Claims such as “Smoking causes cancer” are as questionable: In proportional terms, there is no excess cancer mortality amongst smokers.

So why is there a higher LC rate, relatively, amongst smokers? In an earlier thread it was considered that the LC differential between smokers/nonsmokers is not as high as has been depicted due to detection/diagnostic bias. However, there is still a remaining differential. It was considered that the addition of other factors such as genetic, hormonal, environmental, could bump-up the predictive strength of this set of antecedents for LC. For aggressive cancers that can be fairly quickly fatal, a genetic abnormality is almost certainly in play, i.e., a cancer-prone group. Yet even within such a group, the predictive strength of smoking for LC is still fairly low (~25%). So there must be still other critical factors involved in the underlying processes.

Indeed, for some, smoking may be a contributing factor to LC. It cannot be the instigating factor. Its importance is lower down in a set of pre-conditions. Smoking might be 4th, 5th, 6th…. down the ladder of pre-conditions for LC. And this is how information should be presented to the public, particularly smokers. Such statements are very different to single-factor statements such as “Smoking causes LC” or “Smoking causes cancer”.

This above distinction is critical because, having started off on the wrong foot with smoking, the term “causation” is now flung about the medical/epidemiological literature with reckless abandon - and for phenomena that have far lower predictive strength than smoking. For example, SHS has a predictive strength for LC that is fractionally above 0% accuracy. Yet it is referred to as “causing” LC. In dietary epidemiology there are many antecedents that have a predictive strength that is barely above 0%. This fraudulent conduct promotes the idea in the public that Public Health is actually identifying “causes” and should have control over public policy. At best, lifestyle epidemiology is a pseudo-science improperly/fraudulently using the more potent terminology (e.g., causation) of the hard sciences. Yet over the last number of decades, it is a manner of producing agenda-driven propaganda, i.e., anti-scientific.

It is important to call into question such claims as “Smoking causes LC”, etc. because they are used intentionally and for inflammatory (denormalizing) effect. One of the best ways to see the damage done is to ask members of the public – particularly nonsmokers – what they understand by the claim “Smoking causes LC”. I would venture that many would have the classical understanding of “X causes Y” where, if X, Y will follow.


The antismoking context in which these claims are made also needs to be understood. Antismoking over the last century (early-1900s USA, Nazi Germany, currently) has essentially been eugenics-driven. Eugenics is a biological reductionist framework. Health is, therefore, reduced to an entirely biological phenomenon. Within eugenics there is the intent by an “elite” to engineer a “healthy” human herd, i.e., the cult of the body. There is a heredity/genetic and a behavioral/environmental component in eugenics. The latter covers antismoking, anti-alcohol, diet, and exercise. What would be considered physical fitness becomes the entirety of “health” in eugenics. Post-WWII, the thoroughly flawed heredity trees were dispensed with, replaced by genetics/genetic engineering and the emphasis shifted to the behavioral/environmental component, i.e., modern eugenics.

While in multidimensional frameworks, smoking is understood to have physiological, psychological, perceptual, behavioral, social aspects – many of them beneficial, biological reductionism has to account for the habit in entirely biological terms. Hence, it views smoking as only a useless, non-beneficial act that is entirely maintained by nicotine addiction. In eugenics, there are no positives to smoking. And over the last century-plus, there have been numerous claims of the “negatives” of smoking, mostly erroneous/incoherent. To eugenics, there are only “negatives” in smoking and no “positives”. When the eugenics elite dominate government health bureaucracies, smoking is condemned. Claims about smoking are catastrophized for their condemning (denormalizing) potential. People must quit the habit. The intent is to “help” people to quit the habit. If this initial “help” does not work, then the measures can become more coercive and draconian. In eugenics, people are not viewed as autonomous individuals worthy of honest information by officialdom. They are viewed as property of the State (the elite) that must conform to State edicts where propaganda is the main tool of “communication”.

Unfortunately, within a eugenics framework, people are reduced to their physical state, “disease potential” and whether suffered diseases are “approved” by the elite. In eugenics domination, smoking is deconstructed to every hated element. It is those that would so obsessively scrutinize smokers/smoking, those that are inordinately terrified and hateful of smoke/smokers that warrant scrutiny. Smoking might tell little about people. But, antismoking (and eugenics) tells much about people. It is those that would reduce their brethren to a smoking habit or a disease that are the dangerous minds. In slavery to their superficiality and character deficiencies, they will turn society on its head. The methodology of eugenics is to play on fear, bigotry, racism, tyranny. It typically brings out the worst in people. While people are utterly obsessed with their physical state, they pay no attention whatsoever to their mental state and its destructive potential. Eugenics domination can be considered a marker that societies have degenerated – again - into dangerous superficiality.

(It was noted that genetic abnormality may be critical in cancer. It is hoped that markers for such abnormality are NOT identified given the way a eugenics framework typically handles such information. Concerning those with particular disease/impairment, the eugenics approach is rarely/never curative, but exterminatory)


They also think of human society as a collective, with themselves as part of the leadership of the collective. For them, human society is an army. There are no individuals. Or individuality is incompatible with the obedience necessary for an army.

And, as far as I can see, their measure of health is simply longevity.


This is how the antismoking wing of eugenics addresses the issue, i.e., inflammatory propaganda.

Use strong direct wording such as
Smoking kills
Smoking is addictive
Smoking causes lung cancer
Smoking causes heart disease
Smoking damages your lungs
Smoking harms the fetus
Smoking hurts your children
Don't use statements that condone any
form of smoking, imply only a chance
of contracting disease, or attribute the
statement to a third party . Don't use :
"Don't smoke too much for health's sake . "
"Smoking may cause
"According to the government . . . . . "
From Working Papers in Support of the 8th World Conference on Tobacco or Health: Building a Tobacco-Free World
March 30 - April 3, 1992
Buenos Aires, Argentina
(See Godber Blueprint www.rampant-antismoking.com )



Could you test the graph on page 3 of the second link against your first?

I don't know how.


"AT ONE EXTREME were the people--mainly British--who pushed their way to open microphones'to say "I won't let them poison my air," and "If we'd been intended to smoke, we'd, have been given little chimneys."

"A fundamental principle" of ACS, said the Society'"s public information vice president, Irving Rimer, has always been that "smokers are people and most of them are very nice people and very responsible people"

His comments, at the close of a session on `Control of Smoking at Places of Work, met little enthusiasm from an audience who two days before had tried to boo and clap down a physician who disagreed with the Royal College of Physicians report on smoking.

He was trying to read an unscheduled paper on "'The Cigarette -- Enemy or Red Herring?" and it became obvious that he felt cigarettes were being used as a scapegoat for alleged dangers of diesel engine fumes."

The Cigarette - Enemy or Red Herring?

"The other theory is that the increase in lung cancer has been due to motor exhaust fumes; which are known to contain carcinogens, especially those of the diesel engine. I estimate roughly that the petrol engine is only about 6 % as dangerous as the diesel, and that if one adds.6 % of the petrol used to the diesel fuel consumed on the road's in each year, one gets a graph of the huge rise in carcinogenic pollution of the atmosphere in Britain in the last 50 years .

If the curve of the rise in male lung cancer mortality is plotted beside it, one can see that there is a close relationship between them.
I believe that this correlation is more than mere coincidence.
The diesel' theory needs to be thoroughly investigated' by a crash programme of research, and the cigarette theory needs to be checked and the figures on which it is based audited by independent statisticians.

The cigarette theory has been used as a red herring to distract attention from the horrible pollution of'the atmosphere by the diesel engine. all we've had up till now has been a flood of propaganda and the virtual suppression of all criticisim and discussion.

I appeal to the Fellows of'the Royal College of Physicians to have the courage to support a fresh and unbiased investigation.
Somebody dies of lung cancer in England and Wales every 18 minutes.

I believe that a complete mis-diagnosis of the cause of the increase in lung cancer has unfortunately been made, and that suffering humanity has the right to a second opinion."

Graph on page3


At some time between the 2nd (1971) and 3rd (1975) World [Eugenics] Conferences the antismokers took over. So at the 3rd World Conference it was Godber and the like-minded that dominated proceedings. It should be noted that Godber was not peculiar. His antismoking beliefs were typical of the eugenics “thinker”. All of his claims have been heard before. Smoking was condemned and to be banished from all public places. Smokers were referred to as just “addicts” – persons of no important consequence - needing to be put in their second-class place. The nonsmoker is the “superior” creature. Smokers should not be permitted to “contaminate” nonsmokers or lead children “astray”. It is moral fakery; a moralizing coming from a framework that is morally destitute.


(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand

But also in its way, a way of covering over of a much older medical tradition that we have almost forgotten.

Godber was trained in the new petrochemical medicine.

Remember how Doll was wheeled out repeatedly assured us that man-made chemicals were harmless?
Or at least he was in England, and I believed, even about asbestos, and lead in petrol!

That man lied to me all my life.

From a much older medical tradition.

Medicinal Smoke Reduces Airborne Bacteria
"This study represents a comprehensive analysis and scientific validation of our ancient knowledge about the effect of ethnopharmacological aspects of natural products’ smoke for therapy and health care on airborne bacterial composition and dynamics, using the Biolog® microplate panelsand Microlog® database.

We have observed that 1 h treatment of medicinal smoke emination by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs (havan sámagri = material used in oblation to fire all over India) on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 h in the closed room.

Absence of pathogenic bacteria Corynebacterium urealyticum, Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens, Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis), Kocuria rosea, Pseudomonassyringae pv. persicae, Staphylococcus lentus, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens inthe open room even after 30 days is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the medicinal smoke treatment."

"Work has implications to use the smoke generated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferousand medicinal herbs, within confined spaces such as animal barns and seed/grain warehouses to disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner."

Journal of Ethnopharmacology
All through time, humans have used smoke of medicinal plants to cure illness.
To the best of our knowledge, the ethnopharmacological aspects of natural products’ smoke for therapy and health care have not been studied.
Mono- and multi-ingredient herbal and non-herbal remedies administered as smoke from 50 countries across the 5 continents are reviewed.

Most of the 265 plant species of mono-ingredient remedies studied belong to Asteraceae (10.6%), followed by Solanaceae (10.2%), Fabaceae (9.8%) and Apiaceae (5.3%). The most frequent medical indications for medicinal smoke are pulmonary (23.5%), neurological (21.8%) and dermatological (8.1%)."

The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more efficient absorption by the body and lower costs of production. This review highlights the fact that not enough is known about medicinal smoke and that a lot of natural products have potential for use as medicine in the smoke form.

Furthermore, this review argues in favor of medicinal smoke extended use in modern medicine as a form of drug delivery and as a promising source of new active natural ingredients"

Validation of smoke inhalation therapy to treat microbial infections.

Braithwaite M, Van Vuuren
"In traditional healing, the burning of selected indigenous medicinal plants and the inhalation of the liberated smoke are widely accepted and a practiced route of administration."

"These results suggest that the combustion process produces an 'extract' with superior antimicrobial activity and provides in vitro evidence for inhalation of medicinal smoke as an efficient mode of administration in traditional healing"

Its modern interpretation

Cigarettes: An Alternate Dosage Form?
Complete with long list of Tobacco industry R&D links on medicated cigarettes.

Smokable" drugs' promise
Wed Jan 31, 2007

So, who taught us to fear the smoke?


I would be interested to see a plot of smoking prevalence in 1980 versus lung cancer incidence 2008.

What i would be interested to know is that when people talk of tobacco, what do they mean exactly.

Don't they add all kinds of crap to cigerets, the paper has chemicals added to it to control burning, the white paper is white because it was bleached etc.


I'll only talk about myself now. I smoke certain substances, i have indulged in a few a day.

I cycle to work, and after a period of this i physically started to notice a decline in lung capacity, i quite for 8 months (mainly due to money, and a lack of "suppliers" i could trust). I noticed an improvement within weeks.

Now i have started smoking it again, i smoke it during the week and again felt a decline. Now i have restricted myself to a few at the weekend, and again my lungs improve.

It's definatly doing something, whether it's something that leads to cancer, well i assume so and accept that risk, but even if not i am convinced it isnt doing my lungs any favours.

When I say tobacco, I mean just the plain shredded tobacco leaf as was demanded by British Law until 1970.

"Prior to 1970, the use of additives in tobacco products was prohibited without special permission from the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, under Section 176 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1952. This permission was given only within very strict limits and mainly in respect of flavourings in tobacco products other than cigarettes. The prohibition extended to the importation of tobacco products containing additives as well as a ban on the production of cigarettes with additives for export."

"The rise of additives in tobacco products is intimately linked with the strategy to reduce tar yields. The amount of tar and nicotine in smoke is measured by a standard smoking machine in which the cigarette is smoked with a fixed puff volume and frequency with tar and nicotine residues collected on a filter and weighed. Governments have insisted on reducing tar levels as measured by this approach, hoping that this would reduce tar exposure to smokers -- and therefore lead to reduced harm."

Low tar cigarettes and additives
"One of the prime justifications for the addition of artificial flavourings is to replace the lost flavour of the diluted smoke. This has in theory been done to facilitate the switch to low-tar. However, any hoped-for health benefits from low-tar cigarettes have largely failed to materialise."

As that article now needs authorisation, though it was previously open to the public, you can find more here.

The Origins of Light Cigarettes


Regarding the word 'cause', no, it's not wholly satisfactory when talking about diseases since no risk factor also causes disease and few diseases have one cause. So long as we all understand that what we mean is 'increases the risk of' we're okay. We talk about the sun rising in the morning but we wouldn't take someone to task on the phrase unless they were seriously arguing that the sun revolves around the earth.

On Frank's post, I think JB raises the crucial point. The most relevant graph would show prevalence some decades ago and compare it to current rates. Even that would be far from perfect. Ideally you would want the proportion of the population who has been smoking for, let's say, 30 years. I'm not sure such data are available. I don't know how well established cigarette smoking is in Iraq or Afghanistan and I also don't know how much we can trust lung cancer (or smoking) data collected by the Taleban or the Ba'ath party. Having said that, I'll do a little research and try to address the issue in my next post.

Chris Snowdon


Any chart that compares deaths/incidence per 10,000/1 million or some other number and then does not measure the smoking rate per the same number is not showing an association between smoking and disease.

Consumption per capita says nothing about the number of smokers or the amount they may smoke!!!!

The '20 year lag'is made by comparing apples to peanuts.

Also; if smoking 'causes' lung cancer, why do smokers and non-smokers get diagnosed with lung cancer at the same age??

Although never smokers were slightly older at lung cancer diagnosis than current smokers in two population-based cohorts (MEC and NHEFS), this difference was not observed in the majority of cohorts evaluated (NHS, HPFS, CTS, and U/OLCR; Table 2).

Gary K

Not quite sure how this fits.

Why is lung cancer rare in transplanted lungs whatever the smoking status of the donor?

(There have been cases reported recently though these were lungs that seem to have had a problem before they were used in a transplant)



I have heard that it could be the anti-rejection drugs.

"Other potential problems related to drug combinations and transplant surgery include bleeding (low blood platelet count), blood clots, interactions with other drugs and development of certain types of cancer.

While most new cancers in transplant patients are simple skin lesions, persons who take immunosuppressive medications are more prone to certain types of leukemia/lymphoma, sarcoma and skin related malignancy."

It seems things a body with a fully functioning immune system might fix routinely, could quickly grow unchecked.

"The first drug used for cancer chemotherapy did not start out as a medicine.

Mustard gas was used as a chemical warfare agent during World War I and was studied further during World War II.

During a military operation in World War II, a group of people were accidentally exposed to mustard gas and were later found to have very low white blood cell counts.

Doctors reasoned that an agent that damaged the rapidly growing white blood cells might have a similar effect on cancer.

Therefore, in the 1940s, several patients with advanced lymphomas (cancers of certain white blood cells) were given the drug by vein, rather than by breathing the irritating gas. Their improvement, although temporary, was remarkable"



Probability of NOT dying

Current smokers may have a higher risk of lung cancer as compared to never-smokers;but, smokers have 99.95% of never-smokers probability of NOT dying from lung cancer.

How can smoking cause lung cancer when smokers and never-smokers are diagnosed with lung cancer at the same age and a smoker has 99.95% of a never-smoker's chances of NOT dying from lung cancer??


In Table 2:

It shows that in the USA 20.9% of the 157,000 lung cancers/deaths occurred to current smokers and 18% occurred to never-smokers.

There are about 46 million smokers and the lung cancer death rate would be 32,813 per 46 million or 7.1/10,000.

Never-smokers have 28,260 deaths per 136 million never-smokers or a rate of 2/10,000.

Smokers are 3.55 times as likely as never-smokers to die from lung cancer. That is a 2.5 times increased risk.

Never-smokers have a 99.98% probability of NOT dying from lung cancer in any given year.

Current smokers have a 99.93% probability of NOT dying from lung cancer in any given year.

Since 99.93 is 99.95% of 99.98, smokers have 99.95% of never-smokers probability of NOT dying from lung cancer.

Gary K