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Monday
Aug202018

Home thoughts

I was on the Stephen Nolan Show on Five Live last night.

I was invited, with several others, to discuss a new study that claims that 'Non-smoking adults have a higher risk of dying from serious lung disease if they grew up with parents who smoked'.

According to BBC News:

The researchers said childhood passive smoking was "likely to add seven deaths to every 100,000 non-smoking adults dying annually".

Now, I'm no mathematician, scientist or epidemiologist, but those figures suggest to me a very small increased risk (a point I didn't have to make - although I did it anyway - because Stephen Nolan did it for me).

The study certainly doesn’t justify calls to ban smoking in the home yet that is exactly how the results of the study have been interpreted.

Here are a few headlines:

Ban smoking in the home, say scientists (The Times)
Call for smoke ban in the home to protect children (Daily Express)
Cancer scientists say smoking should be banned in the home (Irish Sun)

As it happens, one of the report’s authors, Dr Ryan Diver, speaking to Nolan last night, said he didn't think smoking should be banned in the home.

He did however think that homes should be "smoke-free" which, you could argue, is the same thing.

Anyway the 'debate', as it often does, quickly descended into the usual bunfight that characterises Nolan's late night programmes.

And so, instead of Ryan Diver, who sounded quite reasonable, I found myself going head-to-head with someone called Vicki. Her name, voice and opinions sounded familiar. And then it clicked.

Two years ago we had a similar set to on Good Morning Britain. On that occasion we were discussing a proposal to ban on smoking in children's play areas and then extend the ban to public parks, zoos and theme parks.

According to her Twitter profile Vicki is a "multi-award winning blogger/vlogger and filmmaker" who goes under the name of 'Honest Mum'.

Vicki/Honest Mum not only thinks smoking should be banned in the home. In her opinion smoking should be prohibited everywhere.

By the time she came out with that we were already talking over one another so Nolan called time on our spat in order to bring in listeners.

I had intended to keep calm and not rise to any bait but, not for the first time, I came away from the programme feeling slightly dirty.

There’s a serious discussion to be had about smoking in the home but that wasn’t it.

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Reader Comments (9)

I know the feeling Simon. I usually feel goaded in media interviews and often think that is why I have been asked on and that is why I often refuse. They don't want to consider our side fairly, they just need to show the "villain" in the debate and have someone callers can attack for fun.

There is no discussion to be had on banning smoking in the home. It is a line we should not cross and using smokerphobic bullies to push the case is not right. What next? Food police in the guise of that judgemental smokerphobic mum checking people's fridges to ensure no fizzy pop is in there?

The study is again junk. Children of smokers, now the 7 (non smoking) adults they want us to believe get lung disease from smoking parents, were also exposed to many other factors including lead in petrol fumes and far more carcinogens from open coal fires than a wisp of tobacco smoke. Today's kids are also exposed to other harmful factors including perfect judgmental mum's traffic fumes if she drives and I am sure she couldn't care less who she harms if she needs her car, or needs to take a plane to America - the bloody hypocrite.

This is yet another bullying campaign using scaremongering misinformation and sanctimonious bullyng "mums" held up as Saints while smokers are painted as sinners who refuse to bow down at the alter of healthism and beg forgiveness for the sin of enjoying life.

It is remarkable that whether smokerphobic bullies want smoking banned in homes, pubs, cars, outside, there is always a junk study that miraculously turns up just after they have launched their campaign to back their cause and tighten the screws on smokers. Haters and judgemental snobs like that ghastly woman are then invited to play the pious holier than thou crusader saving other people's children who don't need nor want her interference.

This publc hate campaign must stop. The lying, disinformation, and junk studies designed to dehumanise and demonise smokers must be subject to more rigour and independent scrutiny and not sanctioned to use to incite yet more hatred against a minority group who when the issue is looked at fairly, can be shown to harm absolutely not one single person.

Harm is being done to smokers not by them.

Thanks again for what you do. I cannot imagine what would happen if you were not there to defend us. Perhaps we should keep a suitcase by the door.

Monday, August 20, 2018 at 10:03 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Incidentally, I was just on the JVS show on 3 counties Radio in defence of my right to smoke and not be bullied, coerced, forced or shoved into vaping and why I totally resent vapers pushing smokers into third class citizenship.

Just like you, I was goaded into losing my rag.

Monday, August 20, 2018 at 10:33 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Twenty years ago the WHO commissioned a study on ETS. Strongly praised at the outset for its size and methodology. It was to be the final word on the subject of ETS.

The results showed no significant correlation (risk) in all but one category. This was that ETS exposure in childhood was associated with a reduction in risk of over 20% for cancer in adult life.

Naturally the WHO tried to bury the results. It took a Daily Telegraph article to unearth them. At which point they had to publish after all (Boffetta et al 1998).

These people are not to be trusted and in any case, as you say, this latest scare story relies on ridiculously low correlations and doesn't even mention significance. I think it is a racing certainty that their figure of 70,000 subjects is a 'Trojan number' and so has no bearing on the strength or otherwise of the study.

Monday, August 20, 2018 at 13:45 | Unregistered CommenterTony

I should also have pointed out the obvious fact that 'correlation cannot imply causation'.

Monday, August 20, 2018 at 13:59 | Unregistered CommenterTony

What you do in your own home is your own business and nobody elses ! I certainly will not be bullied by these modern day puritans.

Monday, August 20, 2018 at 15:25 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

It is not surprising that anti-tobacco activists shout out dissent. After all the totalitarian curse is upon us once again. The zealots in tobacco control seek to impose their desire for prohibition on others. The use of false and exaggerated 'studies' is an example of propaganda.

The actual study in discussion here does not support banning smoking in a persons home; but then again the actual studies don't support indoor smoking of vaping bans either. The studies (or the presentation of their results) are manipulated to reach the desired result: prohibition.

The confrontation is staged by the anti-smoker extremists to further their cause. Discussion of the studies' merits gets in the way of the antismoker agenda. The news reports and pseudo-discussions are all part of the ruse. The extremist anti-tobacco ideology can't tolerate dissent. The reports on the exaggerated results are no more than ideological tracts. Dissent is viewed as heresy against their movement. Indeed, in this case your adversary's choice of the moniker 'Honest Mum' is designed to manipulate emotions.

As Tony as already noted the claims made in this study are exaggerated to the point of being false. The results (extremely weak) don't account for confounders and certainly fall far short of demonstrating causation. Indeed the study cited here claims that passive smoking is 'likely' to add 7 out of 100,000 additional deaths. That means an increase of 0.007% 'may' be attributed to passive smoke; then again it may not. Indeed it likely isn't as seen in decades of past studies notably Boffetta, et al.

This once again isn't science; it's pressure politics bent on imposing an ideological agenda. Rather than react to this manipulation of reality, it is time to actively push back against tobacco control's lies.

Monday, August 20, 2018 at 19:12 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

Iirc the stats in this study for adult COPD and heart trouble were 1.09/1.23, way too low to imply causality and likely due to bias and/or confounding. However, we should note that, ostensibly, the control group was also exposed to the same other environmental factors (traffic, etc) so that, per se, is not an effective argument.

Monday, August 20, 2018 at 21:05 | Unregistered CommenterWalt

To back up Tony, if it is true that smoke-free homes causes lung cancer then then banning smoking in homes will wipe out at a stroke any theoretical benefit from banning smoking in pubs. If it is not true that smoke-free homes causes lung cancer then it could also be true that smoke free pubs does not prevent lung cancer. They can't have it both ways.

It is also plausible that the children brought up in smoking households could be protected from lung cancer because house hold Radon exposure is generally accepted to be a risk for lung cancer and we also know from experiments on dogs that exposure to tobacco smoke reduces risk of lung cancer from radio-logically induced lung cancer. I doubt that this is the case, I would guess this reduced risk is an artefact of confounding just as all passive smoking studies almost certainly are.

And let us not forget that there is no correlation between tobacco control policies and reduced lung cancer deaths over the last century. They sole effect of tobacco control policies is to kill non-smokers because they are more likely to go to their graves with diagnosed primary lung cancer. Really, they do.

Anti-smoking kills.

Monday, August 27, 2018 at 12:29 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

Now I have my glasses on, my last post should have read

"The sole effect of tobacco control policies is to kill non-smokers because they are more likely to go to their graves with undiagnosed primary lung cancer."

Monday, August 27, 2018 at 12:42 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

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