Perspective

Damn those Puritans. There was only a little whisky in the house and it’s not possible to buy any after 10 pm so I am only just not legal to drive. I should be more prepared for nights like this. Although it’s hard to prepare for the unexpected.

I see that the Puritans are once more trying to deflect from the effects of traffic fumes. The radio recently was full of Volkswagen’s dodgy emissions trick and claimed that millions might be able to get compensation for respiratory illnesses brought about by breathing Volkswagens or some such thing.

At the time, I did wonder how any claim would stand up, since all respiratory illnesses are now solely caused by smoking.

Naturally the antismokers are incensed that someone is trying to muscle in on their territory. So in retaliation, we once more have the ridiculous claim that someone smoking in a car pickles the children in the back seat.

Second-hand smoke contains 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which cause cancer.

The average cigarette contains around 0.6 grams of tobacco, most of which is cellulose because it’s made of leaves. Let’s pretend there is no cellulose, no actual leaf matter, and that all of it is made of the 4000 chemicals that the pseudoscientists like to blab about.

Okay, that means there is roughly 0.00015 grams of each chemical present in a cigarette. Fifty of them cause cancer so we have 0.0075 grams of carcinogens.

That’s in a cigarette, not in the smoke. Most of the burned cigarette is ash, not smoke. Let’s pretend there is no ash and there is no absorption of any of these chemicals by the smoker. All the cigarette magically vapourises into child-destroying lumpy death smoke.

So now we have no leaves, no ash, no smoker, just a cigarette that is entirely a child-seeking death missile. 0.0075 grams of chemicals with big, nasty, child-biting teeth. Oh and none of it goes out of the open window either. None escapes through vents and none sticks to fabric or coats the interior of the car in any way.

I have a small car. I will underestimate its interior as being about 1.5 m by 2 m by 1.5 m. It’s a little bigger than that but I am not going to measure it now. Those measurements only give me 4.5 cubic metres but that does give me a cancer causing maximum of about 0.0017g per cubic metre. That assumes total vapourisation and no sticking to any surfaces and no escaping through windows or vents. Even so, it’s not much, is it?

Yet we are to believe that this is enough to eradicate the child species from the face of the planet. Even though they will get out of that car and breathe in the diesel fumes belched by buses and trucks. Which has no effect whatsoever because the computer has been programmed to say those fumes don’t exist.

If it’s all about tobacco, why does anyone care about vehicle emissions? They don’t cause any respiratory diseases. Smoking causes them all.

There are no children in my car and as far as I am aware, never have been. I check under the seats and in the ashtrays daily in case of a child infestation but so far, no sign of them.

It’s probably the smoking that keeps them away. In which case, I recommend it as a car fumigation device.

Routine application should keep your car child-free.

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17 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Years and years ago, I did a 6-week contract for a big bio-pharma testing lab in Harrogate (not naming names, but there’s only the one there) which was verifying a method for testing for cotinine, the breakdown metabolite of nicotine, in a person’s blood or saliva. Actually saliva is easier to process, and has the same amount of cotinine in it. Nicotine is a silly thing to test for, because the biological half-life is just minutes.

    Anyway, in a non-smoker like myself, you expect cotinine levels of about 10 to 30 picograms per ml of saliva. In a smoker, you expect levels of two or three hundred or more. In a non-smoker who lives with a smoker and inhales secondhand smoke, you expect cotinine levels of 20 to 50 picograms per ml.

    Basically, although a ciggy smells pretty vile to a non-smoker, even sitting next to a smoker and inhaling as much of their secondhand smoke as you can, you still aren’t inhaling much, and most secondhand smoke is much, much more diluted than that. A non-smoker sitting in an unventilated smoking room is going to get at absolute peak only about 0.5% of the smoke that a smoker gets.

    Smoking does damage health, and does cause some cancer. However, it isn’t all that poisonous and it took population-level statistics from the likes of Prof Richard Doll, working over thousands of people on long-term studies, to pin an effect on tobacco. By contrast mesothelioma from brown and blue asbestos (but not white asbestos, which isn’t carcinogenic) was a hell of a lot easier to spot. If pinning a definite carcinogenic effect onto burning tobacco was so difficult with people who have sky-high exposure to it, then the effects of secondhand smoke must be much, much less.

    A feature of all biological systems is noise. This as true of population-level disease studies as of anything else; you always have a base level of noise out of which you’re trying to pick an effect. This is why statistics are used; you’re trying to define the likelihood that this population is the same as that population, and scientifically you’re looking for a statistical level of certainty on the lines of 1% likelihood; that is to say you’re 99% certain that there is an effect. 95% certainty is also used, but this means that there’s a one in twenty chance of the effect being down to chance. 95% certainty was always frowned on as “You haven’t quite nailed that, have you? Go away and increase the sample size a good deal, see if the effect’s still there”.

    The effects of secondhand smoke are probably down there in the noise.

    Most likely, some clever clogs is doing the old, stupid extrapolation trick. If 10X causes this much cancer, and 5X causes this lower amount, then let’s extend this line backwards until we can extrapolate how much cancer the tiny amount of X causes. This is basically utter nonsense; biology doesn’t work like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such dilutions of those 4000 chemicals must be approaching homoeopathic levels, when, as everyone knows, the effects become stronger again. So logically* opening the car windows would intensify the 2nd hand effect…

    * I know, using “logically” with reference to homoeopathy – crazy, eh?

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  3. I sometimes wondered about the sudden, virulent anti smoking campaign that resulted in all the bans and demonisation. I wonder now just how long they have known about the danger of diesel fumes and particulates and if smoking was set up to take the fall in case they were sued? The evidence of years of second hand smoke is obvious, we are all living much longer despite growing up surrounded by it. I just don’t understand why people can’t believe the evidence of their own eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes indeed, Cherie. Frank D has also often alluded to the – ahem – “curiously convenient” timing of the start of the anti-smoking movement shortly after the commencement of atomic testing around the world. Whether it’s diesel fumes, good old-fashioned pollution, or radioactive fallout (or anything else which our great and good leaders either could or should have done something about, but didn’t want to) the sudden and rapid rise of the anti-smoking movement does have some suspicious rings to it both in terms of its timing and its intensity.

      But I’ve also often wondered whether the anti-smoking movement has been used as a sort of “testing ground” for the powers-that-be because they were interested to see how far they could go in actually changing people’s opinions and views on something, and thus manipulating their behaviour whilst allowing them to believe that their behaviour was still a matter of their own free will. In this respect, I guess it could just as easily have been any other commonly-undertaken habit, like drinking tea, or having a roast dinner on Sundays, or reading the newspapers. But then, when smoking was “chosen” as a handy scapegoat to cover for all those other ailments, the power-crazed in society simply couldn’t resist the temptation. And why not? Smoking had already been chosen as the nominated “disease-causer” to distract the masses from the real disease-causers, so perhaps it was just too good an opportunity to miss. Maybe they’d being thinking about demonising “something” ordinary and commonplace for some while; who knows what it would have been, had smoking not been dragged into the crosshairs in the way that it was?

      In this respect, they’ve probably achieved far greater success than they ever dreamed that they would. Not only have they succeeded in actually changing the way people think and what they believe simply by pumping lie after lie after lie at them over a long period of time, with a few hysterical soundbites here and there just to ramp up the fear-factor every now and again, but along the way they’ve learned what works (“for the sake of the cheeldren,” “the innocent bystander”) and what doesn’t (“smoking makes you fat” “smoking makes you ugly” “smokers stink” third-hand smoke, smoke drifting through solid walls etc), so that next time they want to change the public’s behaviour they can go straight to the jugular, missing out all the tactics that didn’t work before.

      They “cut their teeth” on smoking – now they’re equipped with a full, deadly set of very efficient knashers with which to attack any other aspect of human behaviour that they happen not to like with deadly accuracy and devastating effect. My money, personally, is still on drinking, although sugar, salt and junk foods are making a bit of a bid for the top slot. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the anti-smoking industry has given non-smoking consumers of all sorts of newly-disapproved substances and activities a whole lot more to worry about than smokers ever had to.

      Admittedly, they had the element of surprise on their side against smokers, which they don’t have against whoever their new “targets” might turn out to be (if those “targets” will only sit up and take notice, that is). But what they do have now, which they didn’t against smokers, is experience. The demise of social drinking (or salt in food, or sugar in coffee, or whatever) will, mark my words, be even swifter and more total than that of smoking because of this. And that should be a cause for concern for anyone, anywhere, who enjoys anything. Because if they can do it to smokers (and they have), they can do it to anyone – and, most importantly, they now know how.

      Liked by 1 person

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