Tuesday, 31 August 2010
It is part of the faith of anti-smoking authorities the world over that there is no safe level of secondary smoke. Google the phrase and read about it being quoted everywhere in the world. But inevitably the protest arose that 'no safe level' was scientifically nonsensical and represents only a value judgement on the act of smoking itself.
A measurable level of toxicity in the air can be dealt with. Air cleaning systems improve all the time: they are more sophisticated than creaking fans in the ceiling. But the anti-smokers have never wanted the problem to be dealt with rationally. Even though smoke is not as hazardous as other substances in the working environment it is not an industrial by-product, so can be excluded by means of prohibition and really because there is no safe level, only a ban will eradicate exposure. Any other toxin can be dealt with by calm efficiency, but ETS (secondary smoke) has magic qualities that allow it to evade effective control.
This piece provides an account of an OSHA measure of secondary smoke achieved by measuring nicotine only, rather than compounding it with measurements of formaldehyde and benzene, which form part of background pollution. Unfortunately the piece, though entitled 'OSHA sets safe level of second hand smoke', fails to link to OSHA itself, which is rather odd. Yes, it's from a pipe smoking web site but I found it informative.
This famous table ('The Dose Makes The Poison') gives a breakdown of toxins found in smoke, and their toxicity.
Surely it is essential to uphold the notion that all risks are measurable, and that only by establishing a safe level of any risk is it possible to deal with it. 'No safe level' implies that something kills on impact. Deadly substances have to be contained and isolated if contact with them presents a clear danger to human life. Secondary smoke has formed the backdrop of life in the licensed trade and informal social life and many workplaces for generations and clearly doesn't fall into this category, since our elderly people are living longer than ever.
Anyone who wants people to fear the impact of secondary smoke, when there are so many airborne chemicals resulting from the industrial-scale incineration of minerals, is guilty of shameless scaremongering, and enormous social and economic damage.
Monday, 30 August 2010
Patients, visitors and staff are all still smoking on site. The hospital spokesman recognises a need to restore smoking areas on compassionate grounds because of stress levels involved in being in a hospital environment – even for people who are 'receiving treatment themselves'. What a difference from the punitive approach adopted to all smokers adopted by both NHS Grampian and the Scotland Patients' Association.
The obvious solution to on-site smoking is a large comfortable, airy smoking room that will attract smokers away from the doorways. The law is an ass!
If anyone wants to advise the Scotland Patients' Association or NHS Grampian of these developments, contact details are here and here. English news stories don't always reach the Scottish public.
Sunday, 29 August 2010
Its consultation response document, Better Health, Better Care, shows awareness of a range of issues surrounding patient care, including the anxiety of patients and their relatives on entering hospitals, communication breakdowns infection control (leaking intravenous drips, for example, p 6), a culture of secrecy (p 8). On the face of it they seem to be on the patients' 'side', taking pains to point out what is clear to the patient, but sometimes less clear to medical staff, about the experience of being on the receiving end of NHS treatment.
Therefore the unimaginative approach of Chairperson Margaret Watt to NHS Grampian's ambition to turn its properties into a smokefree zone comes as something of a surprise. The proposals, to reiterate recent posts on this blog, include banning smoking on all premises, indoors and out, making the carrying of tobacco a disciplinary offence, and actually denying patients treatment if they refuse to co-operate.
Following a media storm, NHS Grampian took the decision to shelve implementation of the policy for six months. Their decision was driven by concerns that it would be hard to enforce different parts of the policy. Astonishingly the threat to withhold treatment from patients as a punishment if they failed to co-operate with the policy raised no protest from the Scotland Patients' Association. The trade union representative (Tommy Campbell from UNITE) did his bit by protesting on behalf of workers, but Margaret Watt said that she 'could not understand the delay'. 'It doesn't matter how bitter the pill is, you just have to swallow it and carry it out': unfortunately this advice ceases to be relevant when a policy has nothing to do with a specific clinical case and everything to do with following dogma.
Even courts do not punish people by withholding health care: should a nationalised health service be allowed to withdraw care from a patient for refusing to desist from smoking? Shouldn't a Scotland Patients' Association even be asking the question?
Just a week later, the BBC pointed out that more shops were failing test purchases in Lincolnshire.
Coincidence? Did the Grocers article cause alarm among supporters of legislation and get them looking for a story of uncontrolled youth tobacco purchasing? You decide.
I am in no doubt that underage sales occur, but the idea that hiding tobacco in shops will make them any less likely is completely out of the box.
Friday, 27 August 2010
Sheila Duffy can't see the problem with the display ban:
Throughout the debate over removing tobacco displays, a measure intended to protect young people from tobacco promotion, the tobacco industry has tried to divert attention away from the important health issues at stake by exaggerating fears based on unfounded claims.
The reality is that there is no substance to these claims. There is no reason to think that adult smokers who currently buy their product legally from responsible retailers will suddenly switch to illegal sources because the product is no longer on display. Smokers will be able to go on buying what they normally buy, where they normally buy it. Why would they suddenly go somewhere else?What about price?
'Putting tobacco under the counter will make smokers feel like they’re doing something illegal when they buy tobacco from a shop' [says a shopkeeper]. 'If they think that, they might as well get it from a smuggler who sells it at half the price I can.'There's also the stigma and the sheer bloody inconvenience, to say nothing of the fact that tobacco sales will slow down queues, to the (real or imagined) annoyance of other shoppers.
The English version of the story states that Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary, has been swayed by a rise in smoking rates in Canada since the display ban was introduced there. I hope the Scottish Health & Sport Committee is paying attention!
Sheila's attitude to the retail trade is extraordinary. It is part of her faith that tobacconists, who sell tobacco every day for many more hours every day than she spends working for ASH Scotland, rely completely on the manufacturers for knowledge of the tobacco trade. As for this:
This [the idea that a ban on displays would encourage the black market] looks to me like a classic case of tobacco industry smoke and mirrors. They spread misinformation and alarm amongst retailers, survey the concerns they create, and present the results as if they were genuine evidence.A direct description of the way the scare of Third Hand Smoke was created.
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Still, official enthusiasm for government-funded smoking cessation runs high. See confirmation of this conference that will run at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, in November. Free of charge, of course.
Yes in general I believe in public health free at the point of need. But clearly there is a danger with any guaranteed free service that somebody will abuse it. The government feels bound to give people free drugs, but big pharmaceuticals have now decided that the wealthy and well are better customers than the sick and impoverished. This perspective is enlightening. Or as Sheila Duffy points out, even though malaria kills people (generally at a much younger age than tobacco), 'mosquitos don't have PR agencies and expensive promotions budgets'. D'oh!
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Everyone uses it except Sheila Duffy, who puts the figure at 69 per cent. Well, since the Scottish Household Survey has found a 1 per cent drop in smoking prevalence, perhaps that's reasonable.
Monday, 23 August 2010
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Across the UK those who make and sell cigarettes have been fighting tooth and nail to overturn this legislation but the tide is running against them. Laws for smokefree public places started in a few small jurisdictions and rapidly spread across the globe.
- Oppose smoking bans
- Defend the freedom of choice
- Uphold real science, and condemn the epidemiological trash science used to justify suppression
- Fight for ethics in science, politics and in the media
- Advocate peaceful coexistence, civilized behaviour and social tolerance, or
- Fight for the survival of their businesses
ARE the tobacco industry when it comes to smoking, ARE the food industry when it comes to eating, ARE the alcohol industry when it comes to drinking, and ARE the oil industry when it comes to denouncing the global warming hoax!
We are seeing exactly the same process here, the only question is: Will the UK be one of the first major economies to implement a display ban or will it be the first to cave in to tobacco industry pressure and reverse a law that has already been passed by parliament?
Saturday, 21 August 2010
The Cranfield School of Management studied 170 companies who had used management consultants, and it discovered just 36 percent of them were happy with the outcome - while two thirds judged them to be useless or harmful. A medicine with that failure-rate would be taken off the shelves. [my emphasis!]
[the environmental officer quoted by the Staffordshire Sentinal] is equating the FPM 2.5 produced by cars, commercial high temperature incineration, and general industrial and chemical processes with the FPM 2.5 produced by the quiet low-temperature combustion of tobacco and pretending they are the same thing just because the particles are the same size. That's actually not much different than comparing a teaspoon of arsenic crystals with a teaspoon of sugar crystals and concluding they are equally dangerous to eat because the crystals are the same size ....
Finally, as noted above: FPM 2.5 is VERY disproportionately produced by tobacco burning at smoking temperatures. That's why the Antis have turned it into their holy grail for talking about "smoking pollution." It actually has nothing to do, all by itself, with any determination of the "danger" of the pollution involved except that such small particles, just like vapors, can go deep into the lungs.
Friday, 20 August 2010
1988 and the Piper Alpha oil rig goes up in a ball of flames killing 167 oil rig workers.
The fire is believed to have started after explosions at about 2230 BST (2130 GMT) on the Piper Alpha drilling platform, 120 miles (193km) off the north-east coast of ScotlandWe should all know by now that working offshore on an oil rig is dangerous and stressful work. Oil rig workers are like soldiers that are sent to a war zone for months at a time, cut off from their family and friends, under stressful conditions and working long, long shifts, never knowing what fate may throw their way. It's the kinda work that me and you would not, or could not do, we don't have the balls that rig workers have but we are happy to reap the benefits that comes from their long, hard labour as we stuff our over taxed petrol into our cars, we care not one jot how it got into that petrol pump we have in our hands!
Oil rig workers are paid handsomly for their long, dangerous toil, and rightly so. They are given, by their employers good subsidised food in onboard restaurants that are equivalent to any 5* eatery you may find in your high street. Who would deny these workers a little comfort in their working schedule eh? Not me, nor, I suspect, you.
Step up to the plate NHS Grampian who are not interested in their [oil rig workers] health and wellfare while they stressfully go about their working lives, but the fact that they get cheap cigarettes irks them so much that they are calling for a change in the law to deprive them of cheap smokes.
NHS Grampian today called for an end to cheap cigarettes for oil workers.Health bosses want workers on rigs and vessels offshore to be prevented from buying cut-price tobacco.And they urged the Scottish Government to extend new restrictions on tobacco sales to cover offshore.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Monday, 16 August 2010
The rationale for designated smoking areas was based on the stated premise that secondhand smoke is medically dangerous to nearby people who might inhale the fumes.
There is no question that secondhand smoke can be unpleasant; few nonsmokers want to sit in a cloud of tobacco dust or have tobacco smell on their clothing or hair. But is it dangerous to your health? A study of 35,561 spouses of smokers followed for 38 years published in the British Medical Journal in 2003 showed that second-hand smoke is an irritant, but does not cause life-threatening disease. Actually, "secondhand eating" may be more dangerous.
With it so far. But it continues:
When people with whom we are closely associated gain weight, such as a spouse, sibling, neighbor or friend, we are also at an increased risk of gaining weight. For example, if your friend becomes obese, you have a 177 percent increased risk of becoming obese. If your friend's brother becomes obese, your risk is still increased. The increased risk goes out to four degrees of separation.
Okay. But what happens if they lose weight? And why is your friend putting on weight if you're not putting on weight?
As usual with such absurdly focussed studies, this leaves more questions than answers.
Secondary smoke has allegedly left one thousand a year dead in Scotland and seventy-nine thousand in Europe, without us knowing with any certainty who any of these people are. It is nice that Dennis Gottfried points out that smoke is actually only an irritant, even if only to convey the idea that obesity is a more urgent problem than smoking these days.
If this is any indication of the quality of 'obesity-related science', it looks even more akin to witchcraft and/or guesswork than the 'science' of secondary smoke.
Friday, 13 August 2010
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
According to Dr. George, the FCTC is the first negotiated public health treaty under the auspices of the World Health Organisation. This treaty is evidence-based and commits to the highest standards of health care.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Monday, 9 August 2010
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Just prior to the smoking ban being enacted in 2007, I and other like minded people got together and set up an anti-smoking patrol watch in our local community. I have organised and run this watch with much success to date.
We gather photographic and camcorder evidence of anyone flouting the law of smoking in public places. We approached our local dentists and GPs, who then told us that anyone who smoked illegally would be refused treatment should their names appear on their patients’ lists. We also have the full support of our local police Superintendent – who agreed that this strategy would help in time to reduce smoking within our community. So far we have had no come back about Freedom of Information.
After several prosecutions we have seen the tide turning, but still need to remain vigilant on behalf of all our residents, after all it’s their health that’s at stake.
You have to remember that over 30,000 people are killed each year by SHS (second hand smoke), and this figure is rising year on year. We are still unclear about how many are affected each year by THS (third hand smoke), although there is good epidemiological evidence to show how dangerous it is to the health of young children.
I wrote to the then health secretary at the time Patricia Hewitt, who fully supported our efforts and asked to be kept up to date with our progress, which of course we did. I would like to see this kind of programme being rolled out across the country.
We are also supported by ASH UK, ASH Scotland, BHF and of course CRUK.
Dr Steven Johnson GP
Is there any other crime in the criminal justice system judged so adversely that it would merit the withdrawal of medical treatment? It is just not ethical for medics to pick on a specific group of (alleged) lawbreakers and deny treatment. I find it absolutely shocking that this comment has gone uncensored on the blog of a contender to the Labour Party leadership.
This story relates the intentions of NHS Grampian to treat smokers similarly – to punish them for flouting the legislation.
Withdrawing treatment on any other than clinical grounds must be considered very dangerous territory.
Saturday, 7 August 2010
Thursday, 5 August 2010
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Good news from NHS Grampian – a delay in its decision to implement its no- smoking policy for six months pending further consultations.
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
we can only ask them to respect our policy on smoking but if they say they don't respect it, and ask ‘What are you going to do about it?', then we have to walk away.
Monday, 2 August 2010
Update: Here is the recorded interview with Eddie Douthwaite. It was recorded today (Tuesday.)
Sunday, 1 August 2010
The date is uncertain but e-cigs look like going the same way as smoking in bars. This time over to Frank Davis.