Passive Smoking:The Answer Of Forces To The Misleading Explanations Of Ash On The Who Study

In its effort to minimize the blow of the WHO study on passive smoking, ASH has published an "explanation" on their site which, in pure antismoking doctrine, is a distortion of facts. The irresponsible alteration of reality to pursue a political agenda is an earmark of this organization, which through the decades has elevated misrepresentation to a fine art. The issue here is only one: THERE IS NO SIGNIFICANT RISK IN THE INHALATION OF PASSIVE SMOKE. PERIOD.

Because of that, legislation against smoking in public places is unjustified, illegal, and contrary to the right of the citizens, and must be repealed.

Moreover, the EPA and the enablers of public smoking prohibition must be investigated and convicted upon presentation of evidence of wrongdoing and data falsification.

RE: ASH Briefing: How the Sunday Telegraph and BAT got it badly wrong on passive smoking and why SCOTH and WHO agree.

ASH claims that the Sunday Telegraph "got it badly wrong" by saying that that WHO ETS study had been withheld from publication. However, this study has been much ballyhooed by the anti-smoking crowd, so when it fails to appear in a timely fashion, suspicion about its fate is justified. Given the many acts of fraud and concealment by the anti-smokers, the ability of the public to monitor the process is important. Remember, the information regarding its submission for publication did not get out to the public until after the Telegraph's article pushed them to disclose it.

We cannot even be certain that this information was released by BAT, rather than by someone at WHO or the IARC, who had to have been the source for the WHO internal memo in the first place.

ASH also falsely blames BAT for the headline, "Passive smoking doesn't cause cancer - it's official." At newspapers in this country, headlines are actually written by headline writers, not necessarily by the author of the story. Suffice it to say that these persons are employed for eye-catching brevity, not their accuracy.

It is ASH which is false and misleading by claiming that "These figures mean that non-smokers are 16% more likely to get lung cancer if their spouse smokes than if they live with a non-smoking spouse,"and by accusing BAT and/or the Telegraph of misinterpreting a statistical test applied to the results.

The correct interpretation is that "There is a 95% probability that the correct odds ratio is between the lower confidence limit and the upper confidence limit."The odds ratio given is not necessary correct. It is merely the logarithmic midpoint between the confidence intervals.

So, ASH's summary statement is pure deceit: "the study shows an increased risk of lung cancer of 16-17% to those who live or work in a smoky environment."[It did not demonstrate such a risk, because it is not significant.]

"Because of the relatively small sample size, when viewed in isolation it is possible that this result could have been achieved by chance and there to be [sic] either no effect or a substantially greater effect."[This is "only" the largest ETS study to date, therefore its results should be taken more seriously than the much smaller studies which the anti-smokers have been pleased to trumpet with the utmost certainly. Furthermore, "no effect" is within the confidence intervals, while a "substantially greater" risk is not.]

"However, the result adds to and is consistent with a large number of studies showing a 10-30% increase in lung cancer risk."[The BMJ "study" is actually the conglomeration of past studies, not an actual study. And it would be interesting to see how far down the lower confidence limit is pulled by the addition of this new study.]

However, this is all just quibbling over details. The real fraud in the anti-smokers' pseudo-science is their exploitation of confounding by other risk factors that increase lung cancer in non-smokers, including in the WHO study as well. In regard to ETS, this confounding is by lung disease of infectious origin.

In most studies that have examined the role of non-cancer lung disease, odds ratios were found that exceed the odds ratios claimed for ETS. It is a basic rule of epidemiology that larger risks should be considered before smaller ones. Yet the vast majority of ETS studies have not examined the role of lung disease at all. THEY ARE DEFECTIVE FOR THIS REASON.

Chlamydia pneumoniae infection has been found to increase lung cancer risk among smokers (Laurila et al. Int J Cancer 1997;74:31-34), odds ratio 1.6 (1.0-2.3). However, CP infection has either not been investigated in non-smokers, or possibly the results have been covered up, and only indirect evidence exists.

Alavanja et al. (Am J Epidemiology 1992;6(136):623-632), 432 lifetime nonsmokers v. 88 with no previous lung disease, found these odds ratios for specific, physician-diagnosed lung diseases, in the same Missouri population as the Brownson ETS study:

ASTHMA 2.7 (1.4-5.4)
chronic bronchitis 1.4 (0.7-2.5)
emphysema 0.7 (0.1-5.5)
pleurisy 1.3 (0.8-2.3)
PNEUMONIA 1.5 (1.0-2.1)
tuberculosis 1.0 (0.2-4.5)

Chlamydia pneumoniae infection is known to cause some cases of asthma and pneumonia, which could account for the association with those diseases. However, because the symptoms of the vast majority of CP infections are very mild, the extent of the involvement of this infection is certain to be under-reported without serological detection of antibodies.

Serologically-detected Chlamydia trachomatis infection has been found to have even higher odds ratios for asthma risk than Chlamydia pneumoniae (Bjrnsson et al. Scand J Infect Dis 1996;28(1):63-69). These odds ratios for asthma are as high as the odds ratios claimed for active smoking and lung cancer (current or recent C trachomatis v asthma this year, 13.9 95% CIs 3.0-64.8; ever asthma 7.7 95% CIs 1.8-32.2).

There could likewise be an even greater association between C trachomatis and lung cancer than with C pneumoniae. The mechanism of confounding would be the usual one, namely the socioeconomic similarities between smokers and passive smokers versus never-smokers.

This relationship should have been fully explored before the anti-smokers started making their pronouncements about the dangers of ETS. The anti-smokers' lack of curiosity and their stonewall about the importance of non-cancer lung disease in non-smokers' lung cancer is proof of their bad faith and lack of scientific ethics.

And, the tobacco industry's failure to investigate is proof of their stupidity and incompetence. They never have a clue what the anti-smokers are pulling on them, and the anti-smokers' portrayals of them as diabolically clever and accusations of concealing evidence are nothing but defamations, which would be appropriately directed at the anti-smokers themselves.

Courtesy of Carol Thompson
Smokers' Rights Action Group
P.O. Box 259575
Madison, WI 53725-9575
Phone: 608-249-4568

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