Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Billion Lives, My Take

OK, I'm jumping in on this because it's something that needs to be said.

Simon Clark posted an article today criticising the A Billion Lives documentary makers for using a stat on secondhand smoke.
It's ironic however that a trailer for a pro-vaping documentary should begin with the bold statement 'YOU ARE BEING LIED TO' (about the risks of e-cigarettes) before making the utterly bogus claim that "One hundred and sixty-five thousand kids die from secondhand smoke [pause] every year."
I agree with him 100% as I expressed on Twitter.

I've taken some flak for that but there is a distinction which needs clarifying.

Clark uses a very apt word in saying that SHS claims are "bogus". This is because they are exactly that, the product of bigoted imaginations and a deceitful campaign from anti-smoking organisations dating back decades.
The trouble with implementing smoking bans back in the nineteen-seventies was that smokers and nonsmokers got along well and did not want smoking banned. So few bans went into place. The thorny problems of general amity and social cohesion, operating under a widely sane perspective amongst the public, were addressed at the 1975 World Conference on Smoking and Health of the World Health Organization, held in New York city, under Chairman Sir George Godber, a British physician and health official. 
A policy of “fostering the perception that secondhand smoke is unhealthy for nonsmokers” (as described by Doctor Gary L. Huber et al., in Consumers’ Research, July 1991) was initiated by Godber at the conference, with a specific aim “to emphasize that active cigarette smokers injure those around them, including their families and, especially, any infants that might be exposed involuntarily to ETS."
To understand how this desire to make shit up resulted in a process which created such a ridiculous figure (how many of the 165k per annum have been named?), I can recommend you read Frank Davis and VGIF for some enlightenment.

Now, the argument goes that it's OK to use that particular statistic because it is recorded in newspapers (ironically by the same organisation which is lying about e-cigs, go figure) and so is hunky dory; that quoting 'public health' exaggerations on SHS back at them is a good tactic to employ. I disagree for one simple reason.

No-one, but no-one, has died from secondhand smoke - we even have court cases stating that it is fantasy - let alone 165,000 kids! It is wrong and should be called out as wrong whenever it is mentioned. Many of the problems vapers face are rooted in this mythical nonsense - when people see vapour, they get scared they will be poisoned and die because they have been conditioned to think that anything they can inhale must be dangerous ... when it's not. It is a tool that has been used by anti-smokers to circumvent the idea of free choice. The extremists in tobacco control still cling to the hope that this irrational and baseless fear will convince the public to hate e-cigs too. To use it in favour of vaping can only be self-defeating.

So why am I comfortable with the "billion lives" stat being used, I hear you ask. Well, it's because that is an entirely different onion. It is undoubtedly a tobacco control industry exaggeration too, but it is actually rooted in some basis of fact. Personally, I don't think that a billion smokers will die as a result of smoking before the end of the century - which is what is claimed - but many will. This is because (some would disagree, see these debates from 2010), it is true. We can argue about how many exactly - and a billion is almost certainly an exaggeration - but it has an element of truth about it.

In that case, it is perfectly acceptable to throw this stat back at tobacco control liars and ask them why - if they believe a billion people will die from smoking - they are determined to deter as many as possible from switching to something even the most absurd of their profession admit is far less harmful ... and doing so with outrageous lies.

That's what I believe the A Billion Lives documentary should be about and I fully support that premise. I wouldn't be able to if it regurgitated baseless bullshit which could serve to damage vaping in the long run too.

There, I said it. Flame away.

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