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Josh-D. S. Davis

Xaminmo / Omnimax / Max Omni / Mad Scientist / Midnight Shadow / Radiation Master

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Government vs Big Tobacco
Josh 201604 KWP
So, I have a new customer that's a big tobacco company. They are suit and tie, and allow smoking indoors, on-site. I think tobacco is stinky, but I have no other opposition to tobacco use. I'm all about freedom to do to yourself whatever you want.

HOWEVER, I was curious. I hadn't looked up stats recently. What are the absolute risks of smoking?

This was really hard to find out. Almost all of the material is "SMOKING IS BAD, UMKAY!" or "SMOKING KILLS! STOP SMOKING!". When I did find stats, mostly they were a bunch of stats from mixed sources that don't make sense together, and all relative to different things.

It seemed more like a witch hunt than anything else, with cancer.org, WHO, cancer.gov, various medical sites, and infinite quotes and references from PhD and MD sources.

Finally, on cancer.gov, I found a decent stat document. In surveys of healthy people, and a followup 12 years later, for ever 1.0 non-smokers that died, 1.88 smokers died.

Granted, more of the smoker deaths were from oral or lung cancers than for the non-smokers, and the cumulative risk is higher. Overall odds of getting lung cancer sometime in your life is 6.9%. If you smoke for 67 years, by age 85, you will have an 11% chance of dying from lung cancer specifically. You know, if you're still alive at age 85.

However, the overall risk of death from smoking is not even 2x. Flying a plane single-pilot (private pilot license) is 8 times as likely to die per mile than driving. Should we ban flight training because it's risky? What about strawberries? They're pretty risky, as are peanuts.

Supposedly, in the 70s, there was a push by the tobacco companies for legislation to encourage lower risk tobacco products. Without the legislation, the consumers simply chose the higher risk products because they liked them more. This legislation was stopped because the opposition's position was that there should be no tobacco use. This sounds a whole lot like the abstinence and prohibition movements.

Anyway. I don't like witch hunts. I don't like propaganda even though I bitch about things and want people to believe me because I'm the smartest person in the world, or so I think.

What I do like is absolute risk information, and I think everyone should be allowed to make their own informed decision. I'm okay with preventing the advertising and exposure of product to kids, but that's about it. I also think I should have the option of not being exposed to things that I personally don't like.

However, neither I nor anyone else has the right to go into someone else's home and say what they can and cannot do to themselves. Nor do I think there should be a government sponsored machine to push against an entire industry. Shock tactics and propaganda planning are not okay. Absolute risks, and details of those risks are proper. That's it.

As such, I find the anti-smoking propaganda to be just as offensive as stepping in spittle, or being in a smoky room.

Luckily, I don't have to be exposed to either very often, so I guess everything is okay.
This research-based rant has been brought to you by the letter C.

Hispanics, lowest smoking rates, and lowest lung cancer rates at 21.95 out of 100k.
National lung cancer incidence rates are 63.1 out of 100k.
Smoking accounts for roughly 85% of lung cancers.
Second-hand smoke accounts roughly for 20% of non-smoker lung cancers (3400/yr US)
2% of lung cancer is at age 45 or younger
30% is at age 65 or younger
Overall lifetime risk of lung cancer is 1 in 14.5


I know two people who have had lung cancer but didn't smoke.
I've not known anyone who got lung cancer who also smoked.
I've only known two people who died from smoking related illnesses, and it was emphysema when they were in their 70s and 80s.
About half of the people I have known who smoke heavily have persistent congestion.
When I was a kid my mom smoked, and I suffered bronchitis and allergies more often until she stopped.