Thursday, May 24, 2007

 

New Report: Governments not adequately managing our lives

Well, a paper was released today by “the influential Institute of Medicine” which concluded that government was way too involved in our lives and they should all just chill.

Yeah right!

No, sadly, this group of nanny-state cheerleaders predictably called on government to do more. Study: Tobacco Should Be Banned in Public Indoor Settings - washingtonpost.com

Of course no story about tobacco would be complete without the use of scare stats and the Post writer Christopher Lee obliges:

“Tobacco use causes 440,000 deaths every year, and second hand smoke contributes to another 50,000 deaths.”

That’s a total of 490,000 deaths. Using a 2004 death total of 2,398,343 calculates to 20% of U.S. deaths are tied to cigarettes. Standing alone, that means that second-hand smoke’s 50,000 deaths contribute to 2% of US annual deaths.

I’m sorry but that number is just too ludicrous to accept.

The EPA claims 3,000 deaths of lung cancer from second-hand smoke in a famous 1993 report. They based their conclusion on a review of a number of other studies and made their mind up from that. This report has been oft-criticized, even by people who want it to be right. A federal judge even got in the act of trashing the report. That study though has become a mainstay of anti-tobacco enthusiasts (and is obviously still available on line).

This 50,000 number though apparently comes from the California EPA and is cited in a 2005 report (page 10 of the PDF):

“Adding the mid-point of the ranges for lung cancer deaths and heart disease deaths, and including the SIDS point estimate, one can attribute about 50,000 deaths per year in the United States and 4000 deaths per year in California from ETS associated disease.”

It is that report that the Surgeon General refers to in its 2006 report on the dangers of smoking. Strangely, it does not cite another California (UCLA) study...perhaps because it did not support the Conventional Wisdom on the subject:

Conclusions The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed” Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98 -- Enstrom and Kabat 326 (7398): 1057 -- BMJ

Look, it is self-evident that smoking is not good for you. Even Ivy League-educated Barack Obama seems to know that. But it is a simple matter for a business owner to establish his or her own policies as to cigarette smoking on site without goverment meddling. Most had no problems doing so with cigars and I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt as to them knowing what’s best for their business. (Obviously there are some 90-day-a-year residents of Annapolis who disagree with me on this.)

Full disclosure: I do not smoke…beyond the occasional cigar. But I just find it an irksome mindset that so many across the political spectrum seem to believe that more government is the default answer to everything…well, except when it comes to national defense.

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