HARDLY A WEEK is allowed to pass without some new scare story about
the perils of
passive smoking .One of the latest,based on an experiment
in an Italian garage,is that
tobacco smoke is more lethal than car exhaust fumes.Another was
that passive smoking is
even more dangerous than direct smoking.Meanwhile the number of
deaths attributed to
environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)has been variously projected from
hundred in an adult population of above 40 million!!
all the way up to 10,000 or even
12 ,000 a year.
As a lifelong pipe-man I have increasingly come to mistrust the
dogmatic vehemence with
which the stop smoking (SS)brigade recycle their denunciations of
passive smoking .
Certainly,my smoke may be irritating or even upsetting to sensitive
popcorn,perfume and garlic on crowded tube trains. But lethal? Despite
a barrage of media publicity,most non-smokers in my experience remain
unmoved by dire warnings that tobacco smoke massively diluted
in the atmosphere could actually kill them. It is this commonsense
implausibility that has goaded the tight network of anti-smoking
lobbyists ever more shrilly to demonise ETS and brandish
mounting estimates of its death toll.
But it was when the Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson trespassed
onto my territory
of economics claiming that the Irish ban on smoking in public
places was actually good
for business because takings had increased that I was emboldened
to question also his
scientific credentials.Now of course if that were true a ban,enforced
by tobacco control
officers ,massive fines and,ultimately,imprisonment,would
no longer be necessary.
Everyday market forces would lead publicans to exclude smokers as
a simple way to increase
profits. Instead there are well-vouched stories from the real world
that many Irish pubs have suffered a drop in trade of 15/25%in town/country
districts.At whatever level the Irish figures
eventually settle,this single sample of wishful thinking suggests
that zeal in such a noble cause as reducing smoking can lead even
our senior medical man to strain after evidence to
bolster his subjective preconceptions.
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