Re: Anyone willing to stand up for shisha?
As promised here's a decent ETS article. Many are far more critical so I posted this one as an example of a mainstream, moderate refutation of the whole second hand smoke pablum.
Smoking Out Bad Science
By Lorraine Mooney
Copyright 1998 Dow Jones & Co., Inc.
Wall Street Journal - European Edition (March 12, 1998)
For the past 15 years the anti-smoking lobby has pushed the view that cigarette smoking is a public health hazard. This was a shrewd tactic. For having failed to persuade committed smokers to save themselves, finding proof that passive smoking harmed non-smoking wives, children or workmates meant smoking could be criminalized. Last week the science fell off the campaign wagon when the definitive study on passive smoking, sponsored by the World Health Organization, reported no cancer risk at all.
But don't bet that will change the crusaders' minds. smoking, like fox hunting, is something that certain factions want to ban simply because they don't like it. It has slipped from a health crusade to a moral one. Today, National No smoking Day in Britain will be marked by demagoguery from the Department of Health, which has already set its agenda to ban smoking. The U.K. Scientific Committee on Tobacco or Health (SCOTH) report on passive smoking, due out Thursday, is headed by a known anti-tobacco crusader, Professor Nicholas Wald of the Royal London School of Medicine.
However, it is now obvious that the health hazard of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been knowingly overstated. The only large-scale definitive study on ETS was designed in 1988 by a WHO subgroup called the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC). It compared 650 lung-cancer patients with 1,542 healthy people in seven European countries. The results were expressed as "risk ratios," where the normal risk for a non-smoker of contracting lung cancer is set at one. Exposure to tobacco smoke in the home raised the risk to 1.16 and to smoke in the workplace to 1.17. This supposedly represents a 16% or 17% increase. But the admitted margin of error is so wide--0.93 to 1.44--that the true risk ratio could be less than one, making second-hand smoke a health benefit.
This is what anyone with common sense might have expected. After all, the dose makes the poison. But in 1988, IARC decreed mainstream tobacco smoke as a carcinogen, fully expecting that the second-hand product would have a similar, lower effect which would be capable of measurement by linear extrapolation. In anticipation of confirmation of this belief many countries have been adopting anti-smoking policies in the name of public health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has confidently stated that 3,000 Americans die annually from inhaling environmental tobacco smoke, and the state of California leads the pack with a total smoking ban in all public places enacted on Jan. 1, 1998. Although Iran did enact such a ban in 1996, this was overturned as unconstitutional. The Indian city of Delhi has a smoking ban and Britain is working toward one.
Before the IARC study, no other reliable study on ETS was available. For the effect of the modestly increased risk of ETS to be detected, the number of cases in the study must be very high in order to distinguish the effect from other background noise. Acting in the most unscientific manner, the U.S. EPA decided to pool results of 11 studies, 10 of which were individually non- significant, to arrive at a risk ratio of 1.19. As is always a problem with this kind of meta-analysis, the studies were all different from each other in various ways so that they were not measuring the same thing.
Last October, the British Medical Journal ran the results of a similarly flawed study by SCOTH's Mr. Wald claiming an increased risk of lung cancer from ETS of 26%. It was supported by an editorial and timed to coincide with noise from the anti-smoking lobby and a Department of Health press release, talking of "shocking" figures and alluding to innocent victims. The Wald report has been dismissed as a "statistical trick" by Robert Nilsson, a senior toxicologist at the Swedish National Chemicals Inspectorate and a professor of toxicology at Stockholm University. He says that there are so many unacknowledged biases in Mr. Wald's analysis that the alleged risk figure is meaningless. For example, Mr. Wald relies on data from the memories of spouses as to how much their dead partner used to smoke. Survey bias is often considerable, potentially far higher than the 26% estimate of increased risk, but this is not even mentioned by the authors. Mr. Nilsson also explains that Mr. Wald's meta-analysis has pooled data from non-comparable studies. His most stinging criticism is aimed at the BMJ editorial board, who he considers must be "innocent of epidemiology" to have allowed publication of the Wald paper in its existing form. Nevertheless the U.K. SCOTH inquiry into ETS due to report on Thursday, with Mr. Wald at the helm, will probably ignore the flaws of the Wald study and brand ETS a killer.
New Labour has done a U-turn on fox hunting. Will it do one on Thursday when SCOTH reports? Or will it ignore the best evidence and press on with public smoking bans? My guess is that two climbdowns in a month is one too many. It will remind us all this week that smoking is bad for you and eventually ban it in public.
THE DATA THAT WENT UP IN SMOKE
Risks From Passive Smoke Unfounded: WHO Study
by John Berlau
Copyright 1998 Investor's Business Daily
April 8, 1998
Californians can't smoke in bars. Why? Lawmakers in Sacramento think they're protecting the health of patrons who don't smoke.
But breathing secondhand smoke doesn't cause cancer. At least there's no proof of it.
That's not the politically incorrect propaganda of the smokers' lobby. It's the conclusion of a major study by the World Health Organization, a smoking foe. And it has the data to back it up -data that California bar and nightclub owners would no doubt like to get their hands on.
If they knew more about the study, that is.
Far from California, across the Atlantic, the British press has amplified the results of the WHO study. But you'd be hard pressed to find the story in the American media.
Overseas interest might be greater because WHO tracked 2,000 people in six European countries. But some suspect anti-smoking bias is behind scarce coverage here.
After all, the WHO study casts doubt on the Environmental Protection Agency's ''meta-analysis'' that called passive smoke a carcinogen and led to personal injury lawsuits. In effect, WHO found that nonsmokers breathing in a smoke-filled room are at no greater risk of developing lung cancer than they are breathing in a clear room.
WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer stated in its recent biennial report that the risk of lung cancer did increase slightly among those exposed to secondhand smoke at work, at home from a smoking spouse, or both. But none of these increases was ''statistically significant.''
This means that ''there's a good chance that there's no association whatsoever'' between passive smoke and lung cancer, said Michael Gough, a senior associate and program manager at Congress' now-defunct Office of Technology Assessment, which advised committees on scientific policy.
Gough, now director of risk and science studies at the free-market Cato Institute, can hardly be accused of being a tool of the tobacco industry. He directed OTA's landmark '81 study, which found that direct smoking was behind 30% of U.S. cancer cases.
''It's very clear that smoking is bad,'' Gough said. But passive smoke is a different matter, he adds.
WHO's findings, first reported in early March, have received wide coverage in British papers such as the London-based Sunday Telegraph. The full study has yet to be published because it is ''still in the process of peer review,'' said Enrique Madrigal, U.S. regional adviser to WHO for alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse.
But on this side of the Atlantic, most of the press has yet to lift the fog.
''There's no question'' that the American media would have jumped on the study's results if they had gone the other way, said Reason magazine senior editor Jacob Sullum, who wrote ''For Your Own Good,'' a critique of the anti-smoking movement.
Despite the scant coverage so far, observers say the study could weaken the case for smoking bans and passive-smoke suits.
The prospect may have prompted WHO, which has long crusaded against tobacco, to issue a press release headlined in all-capital letters: ''Passive Smoke Does Cause Lung Cancer; Do Not Let Them Fool You.''
The release conceded that the findings were not statistically significant, but said that results were ''very much in line with the results of similar studies both in Europe and elsewhere'' that show increased risk.
Skeptics agree that the results are in line with other studies. But they add that most other studies also show the risk of lung cancer is so small as to be scientifically meaningless.
When it pooled the results of several passive smoke studies a few years ago, the EPA had to double its margin of error in order to show a small, albeit statistically significant, risk.
''The bottom line on all the evidence on secondhand smoke and lung cancer is that it doesn't prove anything,'' Sullum said.
The link hasn't held up in court either.
Last month a Muncie, Ind., jury found that cigarette makers were not liable in the '91 lung cancer death of nonsmoker Mildred Wiley.
Lawyers for her husband, who brought the injury suit, claimed that Wiley contracted lung cancer through exposure to passive smoke at a veterans' hospital, where she worked as a nurse. She died at 56.
Upon hearing the verdict, ''I was just shocked,'' said Joseph Young, one of the plaintiff's lawyers. ''I thought that we were going to win. We've been working on this for six years.''
Young, who is considering an appeal, thought the case would be easier to win than direct smoking cases. How so? Wiley was a victim who did not assume the risk of other people's smoking, he explained.
But defense attorney William Ohlemeyer hammered away at the lack of scientific proof.
''On the news, the public doesn't hear the other side of the story or the entirety of the science,'' Ohlemeyer said. ''But in a courtroom, where you get the chance to tell both sides of the story, I was pretty confident a fair jury would find (that the scientific evidence was) very weak, very equivocal and just doesn't quite prove what people expected it to prove.''
Ohlemeyer latched onto the WHO study, getting an expert witness to walk jurors through the findings in the final days of the trial.
Michael Thomas, whose father smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and died of lung cancer at 49, was just the type of juror plaintiff's lawyers were aiming for when they argued that jurors should in effect send a message to tobacco companies.
But Thomas, a nonsmoker like the rest of the jurors, did not think the plaintiff's lawyers presented a convincing scientific case.
''The defense leaned a lot on the studies that had been done (that showed) that risks involved in terms of secondhand smoke were inconclusive,'' Thomas said in an interview. ''The plaintiffs didn't do enough to contradict that.''
In addition to lawsuits, the WHO study could play a role in state rows over smoking bans.
Some are up in arms because of a California smoking ban that has now extended to all bars as well as restaurants. Even lighting up in a cigar bar violates the law.
''You're starting to see an awful lot of civil disobedience,'' observed Kate Nelson, president of the California Licensed Beverage Association and owner of the Hollywood Palace, a 1,500-seat theater with six bars.
A bill recently passed the state Assembly to temporarily allow smoking in bars until a state regulatory agency comes up with a ventilation standard. It appears to be stalled in a Senate committee.
Nelson is hopeful that the WHO study will help her convince the public and lawmakers that the risks of passive smoke are overblown.
But she isn't holding her breath.
''People simply have it in their minds that cigarette smoke is the deadliest legal substance available,'' Nelson said.