I was not going to include any content today, and just say: Read yesterday’s post, which is one of the most important posts that will ever appear in this blog. If you have already read it, read it a second time. Or forward it to a few people.
But as a bit of content: Yesterday I did an interview and was asked about whether the evidence really supports the health claims about environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). That ought to be tangential to this blog’s core topic, but it is relevant because the anti-THR liars are trying to claim that e-cigarette vapor is somehow similar to ETS. It is clearly orders of magnitude less potent an exposure. Unfortunately, if they can claim it is “only” three orders of magnitude less harmful than ETS, and they claim that tens of thousands of Americans die from ETS every year, then that would leave tens of people dying (50, give or take) if everyone switched to e-cigarettes. [For those not familiar with the term: Order of magnitude means a ten-fold difference, so three orders means multiplied or divided by 1000.] Small, but not as small as it should be.
The anti-THR liars realize that the overblown claims about ETS argue in favor of THR, and so are desperate to blunt that argument by making up claims about “second-hand vapor”. In this, they have turned debunking claims about ETS into somewhat of a THR issue. Granted, lies about the potency of ETS still do help the THR cause on net, but they are still lies (making this rather relevant to yesterday’s post).
Unlike anti-THR, which depends on lies, there is some truth claims about ETS. You would be forgiven for not realizing this, however, given the layers of lies that overlay the bits of truth. Without having to go into any detail, it is quite easy to see that the core claims are lies. Simply observe that the official numbers for how many people die from ETS have been creeping up over time. Pretty much all such numbers are based on the official US estimate, with other jurisdictions just scaling by the relative populations (ignoring entirely that exposure levels vary across places, to say nothing of differences in other risk factors that would affect the outcome — further evidence that everyone knows that the numbers are basically just made up, so why bother to try to adjust).
But while the estimate has been creeping up, American exposure to ETS has diminished dramatically due to smoking place restrictions, until exposure beyond the occasional whiff is almost limited to friends and families of smokers in the home. Indeed, the same people who claim to worry about ETS also claim that each layer of new restrictions saves thousands of people from dying from ETS. And yet, mysteriously, the death toll does not drop.
That is pretty much all you need to know to be sure they are lying.
A few technical points: The US population density has crept up while the number of smokers has stayed the same; in theory each smoker could now be exposing more people to ETS. But this has not been argued, and besides its impact would be dwarfed by the effects of bans — also, family size has gotten smaller and most ETS exposure now is within a family. It could theoretically be that they are claiming that 15 years ago, their estimates were low by a factor of two or so, and thus all those lives they saved merely cancelled out the correction of the error. But I have never seen anyone claim this. Indeed, I have pretty much never seen tobacco control people revise any claim that they have made in the past in light of evidence.