Dear Professor Terence Stephenson and Professor Dame Sally Davies,
Let me introduce myself, I am Chairman of Freedom2Choose a pro choice smoking organisation, funded by its members. The ‘F2C’ organization does not receive a penny directly or indirectly from tobacco companies. I am also embarking on an PHD course to investigate levels of benzo(a)pyrene (BAP), the ambient existence in the atmosphere from cars, especially diesel, BBQs etc and compare them to levels of BAP from mainstream and second hand smoke (SHS). I am sure you are aware of the guanine to thymine transversion (genetic mutation(s)) that BAP has on the p53 gene.
The late Dr. Alvan Feinstein was a Yale epidemiologist who was sceptical of the harm of passive smoking and lung cancer. In a paper he wrote in 1993 in response to the EPA report, he quotes a colleague at the World Health Organization (WHO) who said “Yes, it’s rotten science, but it’s in a worthy cause. It will help us to get rid of cigarettes and become a smoke-free society”. (1)
The late Sir George Godber said at the WHO in 1975;- “..foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily to the smoke in the air.”
It seems that the British Medical Association (BMA) was caught out misleading the public on the concentrations of PM2.5 particles in cars. Stating that concentrations were “..23 times higher than in a smoky bar.” It was forced to retract the claim after an article appeared in the Canadian Medical journal by Becky Freeman and Ross MacKenzie stated: “We recommend that researchers and organizations stop using the 23 times more toxic factoid because there appears to be no evidence for it in the scientific literature.” (2)
“The BMA issued a correction on Thursday retracting the claim that research showed the levels of toxins in a car can be up to 23 times higher than in a smoky bar. Instead it said the risk in a car was 11 times greater. A spokeswoman said the mistake was due to human error, and it had made the amendment after becoming aware there was other research that disputed their original figure.” (3)
The medical establishment has laid out their store.
It is not only me that believes that you are deliberately and willfully misleading the public on the harm of passive smoking. While reducing smoking prevalence may have some medical merit, the corruption of science and medicine in the process is unforgivable. I hesitate to invoke analogies with Professor Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, (Stalin’s favourite) or Dr. Josef Mengele but I will invoke Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Von Hayek and his book The Road To Serfdom. His thesis was that authoritarianism leads to the politicisation and publication bias of science.
Your assertion that SHS causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) plumbs new depths. You either are ill-informed or simply grievously misleading us. Firstly how do you explain the connection that males are three times likely to succumb to SIDS, how come there was a dramatic reduction in SIDS when parents were advised to lay their infants on their backs? Most importantly how would you explain that in the UK from 1970 to 1988 SIDS deaths rose by 500% while smoking rates and by definition exposure to SHS, reduced from 45% to 30% of the population? (4)
In 2000 Professor Stanton Glantz of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) first began an assault on smokers over SIDS by claiming that 2,000 children were dying from SHS per year. He promptly received a letter from the American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance who implored: “The sensationalist heading for one of your recent Internet reports, ‘Smoking Parents Are killing Their Infants’ has gone too far. The fact is, researchers still not know what causes SIDS.. Insensitive generalizations about SIDS broadcast through print or the electronic media serve only to perpetuate the public’s misconceptions.. Your literature states that ‘kills more than 2,000 infants each year from SIDS.’ Any published figures are sheer speculation, guesses, not grounded in actual experimentation…we respectfully request that you adjust your message as SIDS is concerned.” (5)
Frankly you have exposed your shallowness in not keeping up with the latest medical papers. In 2010 Harvard Medical School funded by the National Institute of Health proved a constant in babies that died of SIDS and I quote: “The researchers found that serotonin levels were 26 percent lower in tissue from infants who died of SIDS than in tissue from the group of infants who had otherwise died unexpectedly. Measurements of tryptophan hydroxylase, an enzyme needed to make serotonin, also were 22 percent lower.” Here is more. (6)
“Science Daily (Feb. 2, 2010) — The brains of infants who die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) produce low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that conveys messages between cells and plays a vital role in regulating breathing, heart rate, and sleep, reported researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health.
In the same way that smoking with an RR of 2.72 (95% CI=1.36-5.46), statistically significant, was always thought to play a role in cervical cancer, it has been firmly established that humano papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, known as genital warts it is the sole cause of cervical cancer. The confounder here is that promiscuous, risk takers tend to smoke, which is not a correlation with smoking itself.
On asthma Professor Dame Sally Davies joins you in the junk science hall of infamy. On this I am can really write with impunity; – asthma and atopy are diseases in which smokers and those exposed to SHS have statistically reduced incidence.
Firstly in this paper published in the British Thoracic Society in 2004 it bemoans;- “Trends in asthma indicators from population surveys (prevalence) and routine statistics (primary care, prescriptions, hospital admissions and mortality) in the UK were reviewed from 1955 to 2004. The prevalence of asthma increased in children by 2 to 3-fold…” (7)
In 1955 adult smoking rates were over 60% of the adult population with few restrictions where and when you could smoke. Most children would be exposed daily if not hourly to SHS. Adult smoking rates in 2004 were 28% of the population yet asthma increased “2-3 fold.?”
Additionally the 2008 Mishra Paper, published in the American Journal of Immunology in 2008 found that; – “The results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE.” (8)
Nicotine stops asthma and atopy developing and reduces the symptoms in others, to trigger an asthma attack you need a protein and tobacco smoke contains no traces of protein. Any reaction to SHS is psychosomatic, some scientists believe asthma may be a psychosomatic illness in the first place!
The Swedish Hjern paper from 2001 was a three generational study of children exposed to SHS. (9)
“Methods: A cross-sectional study of present and former smoking habits in relation to atopic disorders from data on 6909 young and middle-aged adults (16-49 years) and their 4472 children (3-15 years) from the Swedish Survey of Living Conditions in 1996-97.
Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”
This New Zealand study confirms further. (10)
“MedWire News: Parental smoking during childhood and personal cigarette smoking in teenage and early adult life lowers the risk for allergic sensitization in those with a family history of atopy, according to the results of a study from New Zealand.
Writing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Robert Hancox (University of Otago, Dunedin) and colleagues explain that “the findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the immune-suppressant effects of cigarette smoke protect against atopy. The team found that the children of atopic parents were less likely to have positive SPTs at 13 years if either parent smoked (odds ratio [OR]= 0.55), although the significance of the association was lost after adjusting for confounders.
Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders.
The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens. “These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.”
They conclude: “The harmful effects of cigarette smoke are well known, and there are many reasons to avoid it. Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.”
On childhood exposure to SHS and lung cancer (LC), thirty-six studies have been conducted. Four suggest a non significant raised risk, 11 say a non significant protection and 21 the null hypothesis. The most (in)famous being the 1998 World Health Organization (WHO) Boffetta paper which was statistically significant in finding that children had a 22% reduction in LC. (12)
“ETS exposure during childhood was not associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio [OR] for ever exposure = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64-0.96). “
In conclusion at the risk of sounding discourteous and disrespectful, I can only conclude you people have left medicine and science behind, engaging in junk science politics. It is not noble to stigmatise, leperise, demonise an identifiable minority while at the same time causing smoking parents guilt, possibly grievous depression if they have suffered a SIDS death. I consider this to be abuse of the emotionally vulnerable by way of ill-informed propaganda and at worst, bare-faced lies.
5. Velvet Glove, Iron Fist A History of Anti Smoking. Pages 235/6 author Christopher Snowdon