San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Littleton Bans Smoking In Public

In a continuation of the ongoing war against evil smokers, the town of Littleton, Colorado recently enacted a smoking ban upon those poor smokers who decide to visit the downtown area.  No person may smoke within an arbitrary perimeter established around the central business district of the town.  Littleton joins the People's Republic of Boulder and Golden as the third city to enact a complete smoking ban.  Insofar as it is up to me, I will never visit downtown Littleton again.  I really get angry with people who suppress my freedom in the name of junk science and in support of politically correct causes.  Let's talk about this for a moment, shall we?
The ban, just like in the other two towns, also includes fake cigarettes, or vapes, as I believe they are called.  Vaping is the process of drawing on a device that looks like a cigarette but that only delivers a stream of water vapor laced with nicotine to the user.  Many people have used vaping as a means of giving up smoking altogether and many others rightly consider it to be a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.  Although the vapor that comes out of these mechanical devices is void of any of the known carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, the city council of Littleton deemed them a public health risk and banned them as well.  The only argument advanced by the council in support of the fascist-like ban on smoking was that second hand smoke is dangerous to all people at all times and in any concentration.  That argument is ridiculous and the city council members surely know that.
Many years ago the Surgeon General of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika issued a absurd and patently unscientific opinion that "there is no safe level of second hand smoke."  That statement has been seized upon by the smoke Nazis and used to justify all sorts of unjust campaigns against smokers.  Certainly there is some level of smoke concentration that is safe.  The mere fact that the SG felt the need to issue such a stupid statement clearly proves that the debate about cigarette smoke is not based upon science or scientific evidence.  Rather, it is based exclusively upon emotion and political correctness.  Asserting that there is no safe level of second hand smoke is one of the dumbest statements ever to come forth from a government bureau but it has become the mantra of the anti-smoking crowd.  When I hear an assertion like "there is no safe level of second hand smoke" I know I am dealing with a faith proposition based upon religious beliefs and not a scientific statement based upon scientific evidence. 
A reader of this blog sent me a link to a story that perfectly illustrates the idiocy associated with the second hand smoke argument.  The complete story can be found here.  Here is the gist of the argument made in the article: "Even though fewer U.S. teens are smoking, secondhand smoke remains a big problem for them, a government study found.  Nearly half of nonsmoking kids in middle school and high school encountered secondhand tobacco smoke in 2013, and rates were even higher among smokers. Earlier studies on teens and secondhand smoke in specific places, such as in cars and indoors, indicate that the problem has declined in recent years, but the new research suggests it's still affecting millions of kids. 'These findings are concerning because the U.S. surgeon general has concluded that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure' said lead author Israel Agaku, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
It isn't difficult to see where this argument is heading.  Although not specifically mentioned in the article, it is the parents of these poor, abused teenagers who are committed the sin of smoking and endangering the lives of their children.  The meaningless and inaccurate repetition of the SG statement that there is no safe level of second hand smoke exposure can, and probably will, be used by the smoke Nazis to go after the parents of those teenagers.  It is not too much of a stretch to prognosticate that some do-good career politicians will write a law, to protect "our" children, prohibiting smoking in the home when children are present.  The way the report is written I suspect personal automobiles will be subject to the ban as well. 
Let's cut to the chase.  I have cited these studies previously but they are the most scientific and controlled studies on smoking that I have been able to find.  The first is found at the Cato Institute and can be found here.   The Cato Institute story is dealing with the EPA's phony study declaring second hand smoke to be associated with lung cancer in non-smokers.  The EPA jumped upon the statement issued by the SG and conducted a "study" in which it determined that people who live with smokers die of lung cancer much more often than the general population.   Here, in part, is what was written about a crucial critical analysis of that study: "Judge Osteen determined that the EPA had 'cherry picked' its data and had grossly manipulated 'scientific procedure and scientific norms' in order to rationalize the agency’s own preconceived conclusion that passive smoking caused 3,000 lung cancer deaths a year. In addition, Osteen ruled that the EPA had violated the Radon Act, which was the agency’s authority for disseminating its 'de facto regulatory scheme' that intended to prohibit passive smoking. The agency responded, embarrassingly, with an ad hominem attack on the judge, not on the cold logic of his arguments.  As a result of the EPA report, many bans on smoking in public places have been introduced. One would think that any such ban would be based solidly on scientific studies of ETS exposure in public places. In fact, the EPA did not even evaluate the studies on smoking in public places. Instead, the EPA’s analysis was based on 11 U.S. studies that examined the risks of contracting lung cancer to nonsmoking spouses married to smokers, a different matter altogether. Yet none of the studies in the original sample reported a strong relative cancer risk associated with ETS."
The most thorough and rigorous study ever conducted on the direct impact of second hand smoke was conducted by the good folks at the SDA National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.   That study is referred to in this article, which is also well worth reading.  Writing about the study in Oak Ridge, the author asserts: "In a study spanning 16 U.S. cities, the U.S. Department of Energy researchers placed monitors on nonsmoking bartenders and waiters who worked in smoke-filled bars and restaurants to measure the amount of environmental tobacco. The conclusion was that the monitors detected minuscule amounts of tobacco products. (Jenkins, et al, 1999) The harm that might come from such minuscule amounts of exposure was calculated as 'none' to 'improbable harm'. The anti-tobacco forces have condemned this study because it was partly funded by the R.J. Reynolds Company. Later, a group of individuals visited the establishments and concluded that since they saw few individuals smoking, the study was flawed. In spite of this study being done by Oak Ridge National Laboratories, it was painted with a broad brush because of the funding from the tobacco industry."
The author also references the second hand smoke kills innocent spouses argument with this assertion: "Perhaps one of the better studies was published in the British Medical Journal by epidemiologist James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat (2003). Their study of 35,000 Californians showed that lifelong exposure to a husband or wife’s smoke produced no increased risk of coronary heart disease or lung cancer among the non-smoking spouses. As with most who oppose the anti-tobacco lobby, Enstrom was forced to defend his study on the basis that it had received funding from a tobacco company. The study was condemned as biased, even though it was published in a peer-reviewed journal, the statistics were not flawed, and the conclusions were sound."
Am I seeing a pattern here?  When the government commissions a study the results always uphold the company line that there is no safe level of smoke anywhere, any time and under any circumstances.  It is a wonder we are not all dead of lung cancer before the age of 20.  On the other hand, when tobacco companies foot the bill for studies conducted independently of the government anti-smoking bureaucracy the results demand the opposite conclusion. Who should be given the benefit of the doubt?
One thing I know for sure, "scientists" who draw their paycheck from the taxpayers are highly incentivized to come to conclusions the bureaucrats want to see.  That is the way they keep their jobs.  On the other hand, scientists paid by a tobacco company to do a one time study will get paid whether their results satisfy the tobacco company or not.  You make the call, who is likely to be less biased?
As the war on smokers continues I really have only one question about the ridiculous notion of deadly second hand smoke.  Please explain to me how cigarette smoke in the density of one part per trillion, or, alternatively,  in the density of .001 micrograms per cubic meter, can have a deleterious impact upon a person's health?  Even a child could tell you that there must be a level of second hand smoke that is not hazardous to a person's health.  Most people walking along the city streets of downtown Littleton will inhale far more particulates, of less than 2.5 micron in size, than they will inhale molecules of cigarette smoke.  During the winter, when the roads are covered with sand, the particulate inhalation will be even higher.  During the summer, when outdoor barbecues are pouring out tons of fat-fueled smoke, the total amount of smoke inhaled will vastly exceed that from people who might be smoking a cigarette while walking down the street.  Smoke from animal fat is known to contain countless dangerous carcinogens.  But logical consistency is the first thing to go out the window when a crusade is being launched.  Smokers are pariahs and non-smokers are free to abuse them to their heart's content.  Every society needs a class of people that everyone else is free to abuse.  In the SDA that class of people is smokers. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to grab a cigar and my lawn chair and set up one foot outside the boundary of the City of Littleton for a little smoke. 

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