Passive smoking and the salt mines
It has always been a puzzle to me as to why Hitler wasted millions of Reich marks on Cyclon B cyanide at Auschwitz-Birkenau, when all Adolf had to do to exterminate the Jews, Slavs and gypsies was to send them to the nearest smoke filled bar.
Not many people know it, but Hitler was the first person in modern times to ban smoking in public places and he also walks away with the caravan for first coining the phrase Passivrauchen—passive smoking.
The Ministry of Science and Education, and the Reich Health Office, produced posters depicting smoking as a habit of Jews, jazz musicians, Gypsies, Indians, homosexuals, blacks, communists, capitalists, cripples, intellectuals and harlots. Health professionals were sent to schools, terrifying children with tales of droopy penises and racial impurity.
While the ball was rolling in the Third Reich, Stalin was purging 20 million plus kulaks, and from 1928 scientists that did not fit in the Soviet ideology were either removed from their pots or dispatched to the salt mines. It would seem history is repeating itself.
Passive smoking is at worst a minor health worry—like walking down the high street breathing in traffic fumes—or is entirely harmless. The cat was out the bag in 2003 when the peer reviewed Enstrom/Kabat report was published in the British Medical Journal. It is the largest and longest study ever commissioned, lasting 38 years from 1960 to 1998, involved 114,000 Californians of whom 35,000 had partners who were smokers. The conclusions were: “The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.” And “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, primarily asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, has been associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, but the evidence for increased mortality is sparse.” Just in case it is crossing your mind the 38 years research was funded 95% by American Cancer Society (ACS) and 5% by tobacco companies.
The main protagonists are Herr Glantz and Comrade Thun—both are on the payroll for the ACS. Please note Enstrom based his research on Cancer Prevention Studies 1 and 2 (CPS1, CPS2), data supplied by the ACS. To begin with Glantz and Thun descended into ad hominem attacks on Enstrom/Kabat and questioning the accuracy of their data, supplied by them to refresh your memory!
Alison Tonks Associate Editor of the BMJ wrote in response to Glantz and Thun...
I feel quite embarrassed following the debate on this article. Many postings look more like a witch hunt than a scientific debate.
... and Richard Smith, the Editor of the BMJ, commented...
Fourthly, I found it disturbing that so many people and organisations referred to the flaws in the study without specifying what they were. Indeed, this debate was much more remarkable for its passion than its precision.
Also around that time Dennis Bray—who works for the Institute for Coastal Research, GKSS Geesthact, Germany—said...
“The paper examines silencing through a systematic examination of the "rapid responses" to a smoking study published in the British Medical Journal claiming that second hand smoke is not as dangerous as conventionally believed. Media coverage of the smoking study is also examined, as is the question of whether there is self-silencing by the media regarding doubts about the negative effects of passive smoke. The results suggest that the public consensus about the negative effects of passive smoke is so strong that it has become part of a regime of truth that cannot be intelligibly questioned.”
Now it gets dirty. Herr Glantz and Comrade Thun since 2005 have gone out of their way to have Professor Enstrom removed from his post at University Of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) by accusing him of scientific misconduct.
Also just in case Enstrom and Kabat come up with the “wrong results” again he has been denied any further access to CPS2 and ACS’ data [PDF].
This Soviet style (with a hint of McCarthyism) is now spread across the board where any dissent is treated with personal attacks, trashing of their work and telling all sorts of porkie pies that undermine legitimate science [PDF].
Professor Carl V Phillips, a Canadian Epidemiologist, also has had a knock at the door in the early hours of the morning and no doubt will be doing his bit for Saxo’s share price.
“The two we published, by James E. Enstrom and Michael Siegel, both deal with the issue of environmental tobacco smoke. This commentary adds a third story of attacks on legitimate science by anti-tobacco activists, the author's own experience. These stories suggest a willingness of influential anti-tobacco activists, including academics, to hurt legitimate scientists and turn epidemiology into junk science in order to further their agendas. The willingness of epidemiologists to embrace such anti-scientific influences bodes ill for the field's reputation as a legitimate science.”
“Enstrom cites the reign of terror over biology under Stalin as one example of politics trumping science. Though the Soviet case is rather extreme (we North Americans who dare question the scientific orthodoxy only have our careers threatened; not our lives, at least so far), it is not the most extreme. Many cultures were hobbled for centuries because of religious adherence to pseudoscience, and damage to people's health was one of the many results.”
(Space has prevented me from presenting a whole catalogue of 1984 tactics and suppressions of the truth. If you want more I can easily supply.)
In America, the general population have been brainwashed by the Surgeon General (scripts from Herr Glantz) to the level that very few people in America believe passive smoking is harmless and the new soundbite there is that there is “no safe level of passive smoke.”
Disturbingly most Americans have emerged from Room101 also believing that passive smoking is equally dangerous as active smoking. Epidemiology in the US is now demoted to the level of junk science and a nation has been lied to by big government, supposedly a democracy.