My mind is reeling. I want this book: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist. I knew the anti-smoking movement was over-zealous, but the more I look into it, the worse it gets. Chapter 10 resonated with me the most, as this was the era I grew up in. The era of “there is nothing good about smoking”. Bad move trying to use that one on us. Seriously. Like Snowdon mentions in chapter 10, and as I have mentioned here before, I think it was precisely this “anti-smoking” lie that got me to try smoking in the first place. I was curious as to why someone would want to do something that was supposedly so vile. First attempt: gee, tobacco actually tastes good. First successful inhale: gee, smoking feels good- that’s why people keep doing it for long enough to get addicted.
Chapter 10 also has a pretty good run-down of all the junk-science that is used to link smoking to just about anything including AIDS. Yeah, AIDS. I didn’t believe that one until I read it. Maybe, just maybe it would be better to stick to research about things that tobacco could actually cause, than trying to demonize it further. This is like the smoking equivalent of “climategate” only less people know or seem to care.
What really got me was that there is little evidence to actually back passive smoking being bad. That’s right. All the smoking bans meant to “protect” non-smokers based on the fact that second-hand smoke is really bad are not based on good science. Good science involves accepting the results whether they go against what you previously thought or support it. But smoking science isn’t the only place that this occurs. And if science progresses through a series of paradigm shifts like Kuhn seems to think, one day another study will be done that says, hey- look here, passive smoking doesn’t seem to increase your risk of anything. Eventually what they will find is that the percentage of diseases caused by passive smoking are not decreasing, despite our decreased exposure. Or if those that believe in passive smoking are right, we will see a decrease. I actually think it would be funny if we saw an increase. Explain that one.
It is kind of like the time when they were sure that ulcers were caused by excess acid. The guy who proposed that gastric ulcers were caused by bacteria was laughed at. Ridiculed by the scientific community. So he took matters into his own hands. Much to his wife’s dismay, he drank a flask of the bacteria that he thought caused gastric ulcers. Sure enough, he developed ulcers. Luckily he had already figured out the concoction of antibiotics that need to be used to treat it. Faced with this evidence, the scientific community had to accept their research. So maybe one day, there will be shift away from this bullshit of passive smoking and I will see smoking lounges start cropping up around here again. Because quite honestly, an establishment should be able to choose whether they allow smoking or not. I’m all for keeping smoking as an “adult” activity and only allowing it in places that do not allow minors. No need to return to the days of smoke-filled restaurants.
I guess what bugs me most about all this, isn’t the smoking bans or the regulations. It’s that people are doing shitty work and calling it science. They are twisting their results to suit their needs. That’s not what science is about. We saw this with climategate too. Maybe climate change is occurring, but shame on the scientists that decided to fudge their data to make it fit their hypothesis. Something like climate change isn’t something that we are likely to collect enough data for over even the course of my lifetime. It is the type of research that needs to be ongoing and over long periods of time, because the earth is old. We are just a blip on the radar as far as the history of Earth is concerned.
All of this makes me more confident in my choice to take up smoking the pipe occasionally. Sure my oral health may suffer a little although if my dentist had her way I would never eat candy either. Sure I am probably increasing my risk of mouth, throat and esophageal cancer, although by how much, I cannot say because when I looked into that the research I found many different numbers. For the most part, research concluded that you do not significantly decrease your lifespan by smoking pipes or cigars, unless you smoke heavily (defined as 10 cigars a day or 20 pipes a day). Life is a giant game of risk vs benefit analysis. After analysis, I have determined that the benefit of pipe and cigar smoking far outweigh the risk. And to that I will smoke.