[FoRK] Smoking

Zee Roe zero at rawbw.com
Wed Apr 13 10:39:30 PDT 2005



On Wed, 13 Apr 2005, Ian Andrew Bell wrote:

> On 13-Apr-05, at 8:06 AM, Zee Roe wrote:
>
> > I object to public health rules based on majority rules.
>
> How about public health rules based on, say, the opinions of a council
> of doctors and medical researchers and epidemiologists?  Oh I know, you
> just can't trust those bastards, what with them obsessing about our
> health and stuff all the time, like that big prick the Surgeon General.

I can't comment on how much of a jerk the SG is, never met him (her?). I
am pretty sure they've never come out with anything that says
unequivocally that cigarettes should be banned, just that cigarettes are
bad for you.  I don't think anyone would suggest otherwise.  I realize
that if they had their way, everyone would not be smoking, at that's
great.  However, until there is a compelling case to make cigarettes
/illegal/, which I definitely haven't seen (since we allow other forms of
self-destruction, as mentioned below), the logical leap has not been made
from 'bad for you, perhaps others' to a ban.

> MY statistics earlier (can't find them, too busy to try) were strictly
> for Lung Cancer deaths (they were around 40K-50K in the US per year).
> According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency,
> 105,000 Americans die annually from alcohol-related causes which could
> include everything from falls to drunk driving accidents to cirrhosis
> of the liver.  For comparison sake, the Surgeon General has long touted
> a CDC study that estimated that there were 365,000 tobacco-related
> deaths in the U.S.in 1990, 435,000 in 2000.  When the tobacco lobby
> produced their own study of tobacco-related deaths and filtered out
> some of the "bias" in the CDC-funded study, the number was still
> 203,200.  The truth is somewhere in the middle.  So you'd be wrong by
> at least a factor of two on that one.
>
> CDC studies on death due to obesity are similarly controversial, citing
> 300,000 deaths in 1990 and 400,000 deaths in 2000.  I'd say fatty food
> is probably running neck-and-neck with smoking.  This debate gets a lot
> of press.

Too much, probably.  I don't think the statistics above make me wrong,
though.  I admit to looking beyond stats on deaths to other societal costs
-- cigarettes probably lead to date rape / spousal abuse / ... with
significantly less frequency than alcohol.  Being obese (IMNSHO)
drastically reduces quality of life in a more immediate way than smoking.
It's probably true that heavy smokers can't run a marathon, but it's true
that very large people, for the most part, can't even do 1/26th of that.
So even if they don't die (or victims of alcoholics, or alcoholics
themselves...) that doesn't mean they aren't affected. Likewise for
smokers, of course, but I really think that looking solely at death is a
mistake.



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