The smoking issue / an essay by JOE JACKSON (fonte)

MY ARTICLES in the New York Times and Daily Telegraph ,protesting against smoking bans and antismoking hysteria,have attracted a huge amount of attention.Since this has
unfortunately become such a contentious issue,and since I ’m now constantly asked to
discuss it,I ’m going to take this opportunity to set out my position as clearly as I can,
without the ‘filter ’ of editors,,the time constraints of radio,etc.This essay was primarily
written for my website,but it can be freely downloaded,copied and circulated.
I ’m ‘pro-choice ’ on smoking,,not just because I want to smoke (I don ’t even smoke very
much)but also because I ’m concerned about certain worrying political and cultural trends.
The antismoking movement is on such a roll at the moment,and smoking has been so
thoroughly demonised,that some of what I have to say is bound to raise a few eyebrows.All
I can say is that my views are carefully considered and extensively researched.

A COUPLE of years ago I considered giving up my own moderate enjoyment of tobacco
because of the constant barrage of horrific statistics.But antismoking propaganda in the
USA (I was living mostly in New York)seemed so overblown,so hysterical,that I became
sceptical.So instead of giving up smoking,I started doing research.At first my mind was
pretty open;I half expected to find that smoking was even worse than I thought,and I
decided that,since I wasn ’t a hardcore nicotine junkie,I could live without it.Instead,I ’ve
been astonished,again and again,by how flimsy much of the antismoking evidence really is.
By now I ’m absolutely convinced that the dangers of smoking (and ‘secondhand smoke ’ in
particular)are being greatly exaggerated,for a number of reasons,many of which have less
to do with health than with politics,money and fashion.
People used to be guided by intuition,experience,observation,moderation,pleasure,
folklore,the testimony of friends and acquaintances,and their family history.Increasingly,
though,we ’re expected to be guided by government statistics.The problem is that so much of what we ’re told is politicised,out of context,out of proportion,or just plain false.The
bald statement ‘Smoking Kills!’ makes us sceptical right away,,since we can see for ourselves
that,in most cases,it doesn ’t.
One good example of this lack of balance and perspective is the way we ’re told that smokers
have a higher risk of lung cancer,without being told what the overall ‘baseline ’ risk is in the
first place.The statistics always sound alarming;we ’re told that smokers have a ‘600%
increased risk ’,for instance,because this sounds worse than six.Other sources (the majority,
it seems)insist that smokers are actually ten (1000%)times more likely to get lung cancer.
Others quote the pioneering studies of Sir Richard Doll who reckoned that 166 in 100,000
smokers die from lung cancer,as opposed to 7 in 100,000 nonsmokers,so you have a 24
times higher risk of getting lung cancer if you smoke.

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