As we are told daily, every disease in the universe is caused by smoking. Just as soon as our heroes in public health can eliminate smoke then we will all be instantly immortal.

Except for one small problem….. Somewhat inconveniently for public health, diseases don’t fall in line with decreases in smoking. How can they tell us that smoking is the major cause of these things and boast about millions of lives saved wherever smoking bans are introduced while at the same time these diseases are hardly reducing or in some cases even rising?

During the last century enormous progress was made on medical treatment and social care and smoking rates in the Western world were reduced by some 70%, so why are so called "smoking related diseases" such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) still rising? and why did lung cancer and heart disease only begin to reduce after things such as the introduction of statins and angioplasty or environmental efforts to reduce industrial pollution?

Experts within tobacco control are well aware of this problem and rather than admit the possibility that something other than smoke might actually be causing disease they continue to ignore the obvious and make excuses such as – other things play a part but smoke is ultimately the cause; this symbiotic relationship is the new model, where for example, the presence of a virus only needs to be combined with a little bit of smoke to trigger illness.

The latest ‘study’ of this type is aptly titled "It takes two to tango: cigarette smoke partners with viruses to promote emphysema".

In the opening paragraph the author states "COPD is the only major disease whose contribution to morbidity and mortality continues to increase, potentially displacing stroke as the third major worldwide cause of mortality by 2020", but then rather paradoxically states in the same paragraph, "Cigarette smoke is the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease". To anyone who is not tainted by the lure of tobacco control money, the only possible conclusion from the fact that smoking rates have dropped by 70% over more than half a century yet COPD continues to rise is that smoking is not actually a "major cause". To a tobacco control expert of course that conclusion is not at all acceptable!

This paradox leads the author to finish his opening paragraph by stating "This stark reality forces us to recognize the limitations of current disease paradigms and to search for answers that go beyond the traditional ways of thinking about COPD." The first paragraph is followed by an examination of the failures of the current theories linking smoking to COPD and a suggestion that they need to be "revisited"; in doing so he puts forward a brand new theory that still leaves smoke as the culprit.

Roughly translated this all means that they put forward theories about smoking causing COPD and scared the public to death by broadcasting those messages, as absolute fact, throughout the world. The inconvenient knowledge that COPD is still rising has shown that those original theories were wrong so what scientists in tobacco control need to do is come up with a new one that explains the problem but still puts the blame on smoke.

And their movement refers to this as "the overwhelming scientific evidence" !

They are called tobacco CONTROL of course and their entire existence would be completely pointless if they couldn’t find something that needed controlling.

So what is this new theory that fits the facts? Well apparently cigarette smoke MAY – "co-opt some of the molecular signaling pathways involved in cellular sensing of environmental stresses, such as those triggered by starvation, radiation, or hypoxia, leading to progressive disruption of organ maintenance, with the undesirable activation of apoptotic and inflammatory responses that characterize the alveolar destruction observed in emphysema" and cellular stress signaling MAY – "interface with innate immunity in the promotion of disease caused by exposure to cigarette smoke."

Well that’s all well and good but the previous theories proved that when they use the word MAY, it just means they don’t really know and given the fact that this new theory still doesn’t explain why COPD is rising while smoking is falling there is a very good possibility that the term would be better expressed as "MAY OR MAY NOT" and it should at the very least be suitably qualified with a statement saying in an "unknown number of cases" because what is clear is that whether or not this new theory turns out to be any better than its predecessors all that can be concluded is that; it may or may not be accurate in an unknown number of cases and therefore it can’t be said that smoking is a major cause of the disease.

The author finishes by calling for further studies because of the -"potential importance of the interaction of cellular stress responses triggered by cigarette smoke with the innate immune response". So his theory may or may not be right and there is a need for further study to ascertain whether it is of any importance or not; yet the study is still given the title of "Cigarette smoke partners with viruses to promote emphysema" and is sent out round the world newswire services for the benefit of the health scare hungry media.

All this new theory really tells us is that they admit they were wrong when they said smoking causes emphysema but now they think that smoking MAY reduce the immune systems ability to fight the factors that really do cause it.

I MAY be tempted to remain sceptical.



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