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alt.smokers FAQ (1/2)

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- -----ALT.SMOKERS FAQ v.2.0 (March 3, 1999)-----
- -----             PART 1 OF 2             -----

              TABLE OF CONTENTS

... FAQ and alt.smokers described
... Brief history of smoking and Antismoking
... Health effects of smoking
... Secondhand Smoke (SHS)
... Chemicals in smoke
... Taxes, costs, 'saving the children'
... Smokers: why they smoke
... Antismokers: goals and tactics
... Dangers of the Antismoking Movement
... Big Tobacco
... Resources, Activism, and Thanks


This FAQ was organized and compiled by, with 
help from and approval by the regular posters to alt.smokers listed
at the end of the FAQ. Rev. 1.5 is available in the Archives.

This document is posted and maintained by

Copyright  1994-1999 by the alt.smokers editors and contributors, all
rights reserved. Redistribution of this document is hereby freely granted
so long as the document is redistributed in its entirety (here
interpreted as all text which were not automated generated by software
as part of the distribution process); in particular, with attributions
and this copyright notice. We would appreciate hearing about any
interesting redistributions.

The poster of this FAQ welcomes helpful comments and suggestions
intended to correct errors and omissions. To facilitate feedback,
followups to this article will be automatically mailed to the FAQ
maintainer rather than being posted on the newsgroup. While the FAQ
maintainer welcomes constructive criticism, s/he will not engage in
debate via e-mail. Comments and opinions intended to reach the
newsgroup as a whole should be posted as a new article and not as
a response or followup to this one.

All information here has been contributed with good intentions, but
none of it is guaranteed either by the editor(s), the maintainer(s)
or the contributors to be accurate.  The users of this information
take all responsibility for any damage that may occur.

New readers of the newsgroup should be aware of the fact that our 
group is often "invaded" by Antismokers seeking to  proselytize, 
disrupt, or generally just be obnoxious.  Usually the best  way
to deal with these people is to put them in your killfile if you have 
one or at least ignore the baits that they throw out.  Correcting some 
of the misinformation they sometimes disseminate is valid, but getting 
drawn into namecalling contests just aids their attempts at disruption.

The scope of alt.smokers is to discuss smoking and support 
smokers, who are being subjected to increased criticism, ostracism, 
and unreasonable taxes.  Major topics include social relations with 
non-smokers, antismoking regulation and taxation, and medical 
effects of secondhand smoke (SHS).  Other topics include
personal experiences, opinions on brands, and general discussion 
about the enjoyment of smoking.  This is NOT a  stop-smoking 
group, nor a group for those who wish to spew hate at smokers.  
Those who consistently post such material will be  considered in 
violation of the charter and their ISPs will be notified.


Smoking of various plants has been widespread in many cultures 
throughout history and throughout the world.  At times it was thought
to have healthful effects, and at other times, injurious effects.

One of the earliest well-known Antismokers was King James I who,
in 1604 issued his "Counterblaste to Tobacco" and called it "a custome
vile to the nose, and loathesome to the eyes".

In more recent times we saw widespread movements by groups such
as the Anti-Cigarette League of the 1920s which actually succeeded 
in getting legal prohibition of cigarette smoking in many US states.
As such prohibitions were overturned or ignored,  smoking greatly 
increased in the US and throughout the world in the 20th century.  
However, in the 1960s articles in medical journals and the popular press, 
as well as a prominent report by the US Surgeon General, cited smoking 
as a leading cause of lung cancer and heart disease.  This gave birth to 
activities which have grown from simple educational efforts seeking 
reasonable accommodations for those sensitive to tobacco smoke to a 
widespread propaganda campaign based on fear, social engineering, 
psychological manipulation and the control and distortion not just of 
science and the popular media, but of the English language itself.

This last point cannot be over-emphasized.  In articles and speeches
by Antismokers, the use of qualifying terms such as "may", "might",
"perhaps", "suggests", "possibly", etc., is all-pervasive.  The subtle
use of such qualifiers is to confuse and mislead the reader/listener. 
The Antismoking writer/speaker assumes that his audience will 'forget'
the qualifying terminology and believe the remainder of the message as
the gospel truth.  Smokers and their supporters must be ever vigilant in
recognizing these tactics and understand the Antismokers' true agenda:
to control the behavior and action of everyone around them, to make
everyone live and believe *exactly* as the Antismoker does.


The two most notable ailments that have been linked with smoking
are lung cancer and heart disease.  Statistically, smokers are at 
increased risk for both of these, though not as much so as some of 
the  propaganda out there would suggest.  

It is true that most smokers die of cancer or heart disease... but on 
the other hand, so do most nonsmokers.  Certain types of cancer or
heart disease are statistically more common in smokers or tend to 
appear at earlier ages, but again, not as much as some Antismoking
propaganda would suggest.

For example, while it is true that 85% or so of lung cancer patients are 
smokers or ex-smokers, the definitions used in deriving that figure would 
include well over 60% of the older population.  Lifelong smokers face a 5 
or 10% risk of lung cancer, higher than nonsmokers, but not the destined 
fate of smokers as is sometimes claimed.. Those in their 20s, 30s, and even 
40s who fret that every little cough is a sign of lung cancer can rest easy.
The disease is relatively unknown, even among heavier smokers, until later
in life.

It is statistically true that smokers, on the average, lose some years at
the tail end of their lives (though  politicians conveniently ignore this
when they argue for increased "health and medical cost" taxes on smokers.)
However, at least some of these deaths are due not to smoking itself, but
to the lifestyle choices that smokers make.  Smokers tend to eat fattier
foods, drink more alcohol, use more illegal drugs , and exercise less. When
such factors are taken into account the difference in life expectancy
between a  smoker and a nonsmoker decreases significantly. Genetics, diet,
and socio-economic status all can surpass moderate smoking in their
effects on our longevity.

Are we de-emphasizing the health risks here?  Not so much as they are 
generally over-emphasized  elsewhere.  Recent studies indicate that 
most people vastly overestimate the health risks of smoking. If one 
derives enough enjoyment from smoking it is not at all irrational to 
balance that enjoyment against the risks and continue smoking. On the 
other hand, those who smoke purely from habit might do well to 
give it up and enjoy the health benefits of not smoking.

- ----------- SECONDHAND SMOKE (SHS) -------------

Q: Hasn't the EPA determined that secondhand smoke (SHS) is  killing 
innocent people?  Why on earth would they lie about something like that?

A:  Since the 1960s most doctors  and public health organizations have 
believed smoking  to be a primary cause of lung cancer and pre-mature 
heart disease. Acting on this belief they urged everyone to give up smoking. 
It didn't work: people kept on smoking anyway.

In the early 1970s  radical Antismoking groups like ASH and GASP began
increasing pressure on mainstream health groups like the American Lung 
and Heart Associations .  Such groups had previously avoided efforts for 
widespread smoking bans as too authoritarian and lacking scientific basis.  
By the late 70s however, they realized that the public health goal of
reducing smoking was stuck: a new approach was needed.. While smokers
resisted pressure to quit for their own health,  a campaign promoting
peer and family pressures through fear of SHS might be more effective.

Early propaganda studies involved such bizarre situations as burning 10 
cigarettes in a 6.7m^3 chamber (i.e. a closed and sealed "walk-in closet").
The extreme optic and respiratory irritation of "nonsmokers exposed to  
smoke" was then publicized. More recent studies have looked for almost 
invisible increases in lung cancer risk among nonsmokers who live or work 
closely with smokers for 30, 40, or more years. The results of these studies
are rarely statistically significant, and don't address casual exposures in
public places. No effort is made to examine the effects of better
ventilation in offices or restaurants in order to establish safe levels of
SHS exposure.  Research is directed almost solely toward producing political
pressure for total bans.

Why is this?  Because the most effective way of reducing smoking in 
America is thought to be segregating smokers, turning them into social 
"lepers", and ultimately convincing even smokers themselves that they are
killing their children and co-workers.  Therefore, research studies designed
to "find" such effects are the ones that get funded.

In 1992 the EPA came out with a highly publicized "official" report claiming
a small but significant excess risk of lung cancer in those exposed to SHS on 
an intense daily basis for  periods of 40 or more years.   They declared that 
SHS was a human carcinogen  (that's what a "Class A" carcinogen is: 
Class A has nothing to do with any relative "degree" of carcinogenicity).

That finding was based on the results of 11 studies which had found  almost
 no scientifically significant evidence to support such a conclusion.  The EPA
derived the conclusion only by changing their normal guidelines and standards.
(for example, they lowered the standard  95% significance level to 90%.) 
On the basis of  this report, thousands of businesses and offices throughout 
the United States banned smoking in the 1990s .

In 1998 the EPA report was finally declared invalid in a federal court and its
conclusions were thrown out, though with much less publicity.

~~From: ~~
(Quote from Appeals Court Ruling Striking Down EPA Report.)
"In this case, EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before research had 
begun.... EPA disregarded information and made findings on selective 
information; did not disseminate significant epidemiologic information; 
deviated from its Risk Assessment Guidelines; failed to disclose important 
findings and reasoning; and left significant questions without answers. 
EPA's conduct left substantial holes in the administrative record. While 
so doing, EPA produced limited evidence,  then claimed the weight of 
the Agency's research evidence demonstrated ETS causes cancer." 

Q: What about the 400,000 people who are killed every year by smoking
and secondhand smoke (SHS)?  Where do they get those numbers from?

A: First, a common tactic of Antismokers is to mix numbers up with each 
other to make things appear as they wish.  Thus, a statement about SHS 
will often include the phrase "deaths from smoking and secondhand smoke"
and then go on to cite a huge number. That number is NOT derived from 
actual death certificates, but from a computer program called SAMMEC, 
and is largely a guesstimate of deaths among smokers from smoking itself.  
The propaganda trick is  making that number  prominent when talking 
about SHS even though it has almost nothing to do with SHS. 

Second, even the discredited figures used in the EPA report relating SHS 
and cancer were MUCH stronger than any evidence relating SHS to heart 
disease. The EPA did not even *try* to claim such a link. The "hypothesis" 
that there COULD be such a link is taken by many Antismoking activists 
and publicized  as an actual "finding".  This allows them to magnify the 
threat of  SHS to a figure many times higher  than even the EPA claimed.

In fairness, some recent research has begun to lend a tinge of credibility to 
a link between heart disease and SHS, but there has been no official 
determination that there is any basis for such a claim, and certainly no 
"finding" that normal social exposure to SHS poses any such risk . Indeed,
one of the largest and most recent international studies ever done (WHO 
Report 1998), actually found that children of smokers were  20% LESS 
likely  to get lung cancer than matched children of nonsmokers!

~~From: (Joe Dawson)~~
 From the US Dept. of Transportation's Dec. 1989 report ...
 For business passengers, flying 480 hours per year for 30 years
 ... the lifetime risk of premature cancer death expressed as number 
 of expected premature deaths per 100,000 flying cabin occupants -

  Ascribable to ETS                       :   .27
  Ascribable to in-flight Cosmic Radiation:   504 (East-West flights)

  Here we see that the risk from in-flight cosmic radiation is some
  1867 times higher than the risk from ETS. Yet the risk from cosmic
  radiation is routinely ignored, while that of ETS causes apoplexy,
  hysteria and scatological comparisons.

 ---------CHEMICALS IN SMOKE ----------

Chemicals surround us. Antismokers make speeches about the "4,000 
chemicals" found in tobacco smoke but never mention how many of 
them we ingest in similarly minute quantities in  everyday life.

~~From: Huber et al., "Smoke and Mirrors", Regulation:16:3:44 (1993)~~
  {speaking of chemicals mentioned in the EPA report on SHS}
  Formaldehyde is designated as a potential carcinogen. A cigarette
  delivers 20-90 micrograms in mainstream smoke and up to 700 micro-
  grams in sidestream smoke. By comparison, space heaters and gas ranges
  release 20,000 - 40,000 micrograms per hour. Formaldehyde is also 
  used extensively in wood finish, glue, fabric coating, insulation, etc.
  In mobile homes, concentrations have been measured in excess of 5,000
  micrograms per cubic meter. In 'non-sick' buildings, the typical level
  is 50 micrograms per cubic meter. Concentration in ETS is THE SAME --
  40-50 ug/m^3. The official "safe" level is 1,500 ug/m^3.

  Benzene and toluene are mentioned as potential ETS carcinogens. In
  humans they are associated with leukemia. Yet leukemia has not been
  linked to *active* smoking, much less to the highly diluted
  concentrations found in ETS. Gasoline is the primary source of
  benzene, toluene and related aromatics in the air. Also copy machines,
  glue, paint and the like. Typical concentrations in indoor air is 2-20
  ug/m^3. Again, the concentration in ETS is in THE SAME RANGE. 
  When filling your gas tank, you're exposed to concentrations 50-100 
  times that high. The "safe" level for benzene is 30,000 and for toluene
  375,000 ug/m^3 -- over a thousand times that found in ETS. <snip>
One of the cardinal rules of environmental toxicology is to identify
the specific chemical(s) of concern, because biological responses are
highly specific.  Everyone is exposed to potentially toxic or carcinogenic 
chemicals every day. Risk is not established by exposure  alone; it is 
established thru a dose-response relationship.

Using figures from the Federal Highway Administration and the
Surgeon Generals' Reports it is possible to compare the air pollution 
put out by smokers to that put out by drivers.

Driving an average car produces about 5 grams (g) of CO per mile, or 
300 g/hour. 20 cigarettes produce about 1 gram. Driving for 24 hours 
would produce (300g/h*24h) = 7,200 grams of CO while smoking a half
pack a day for 40 years would produce (40y*365d*.5g) = 7,300 grams.  

Thus, if you smoke a half pack a day for 40 years, you'll produce 
about the same amount of CO as one full day of driving. Remember
that the next time a driver accuses you of  "polluting their air".


If you're willing to believe the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 
the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) , or the Con-
gressional Research Service, smokers  MORE than pay their own way.

In a NEJM editorial (AP-NY-10-08-97):it states:
"Jan J. Barendregt and others from Erasmus University in the Netherlands
calculated that at any given age, health care costs for smokers are indeed 
as much as 40 percent higher than for nonsmokers. And if everyone quit, 
health care costs would plummet for a few years. However, nonsmokers live
an average of about seven years longer than smokers, and medical costs for
the elderly are high. So 15 years after everyone quit, total health care
costs would level off at about 7 percent higher for men and 4 percent
higher for women than they were before. "

And,  in  JAMA.( Manning et al, "The taxes of sin...", JAMA:261:1604
(1989)),  researchers found that smokers actually should get paid up to 
$1.28/pack by NONSMOKERS  to fully equalize the costs/savings ratio.

Finally, a Congressional Research Service study concluded that: "Midrange 
estimates ...  suggest net external costs from smoking in the range of 33 
cents per pack in 1995 prices,  an amount that by itself is too small to
justify either current cigarette taxes or the proposed tax increase. "

When arguing that tax increases are needed to reduce teen smoking, 
politicians conveniently ignore the fact that European taxes on cigarettes 
have always been FAR higher than  U.S. taxes; and their rate of teen 
smoking has ALSO always been higher.  If the real reason for federal tax 
increases was simply to price smokes out of the reach of teens they could 
easily have gotten them passed simply by offering to rebate the extra taxes 
back to adult smokers on their 1040 forms.  Did they make such an offer?  
Of course not. Saving the kids was never the real motivation to begin with. 
It was simply a lie, a smokescreen to steal our money.

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