© 1999, Lauren A. Colby. Version 2.3
October, 2006“In Defense of Smokers” was written ten years ago. To this day, however, a week doesn’t go by in which I don’t receive emails about. Many correspondents ask if anything has happened in the past ten years to change the conclusions I reached in the book.
Well, many things have happened. When I wrote Defense, the Internet was in its infancy, and I didn’t have access to many facts and figures which have become available in the intervening years.
In those years, a Dutch friend of mine, Kees van der Griendt, managed to compile
some remarkable figures concerning smoking and life expectancy. Working with
data from the CIA Fact book and the World Health Organization, Kees complied
figures from 87 countries. His compilation, described elsewhere in this web site
under the caption “Smoking and Life Expectancy”, shows that some of the
countries with the
highest rates of smoking (Japan, Israel, Cuba and Spain, among others), have the longest life expectancies of any countries in the world. Clearly, if smoking was as deadly as its opponents insist, that wouldn’t be possible.
In 1998, the State of Minnesota brought a legal action against the tobacco companies, styled “Minnesota v. Tobacco”. The case never sent to trial but testimony was taken from experts for both the tobacco companies and the State. The experts stipulated that, although there had been many experiments with animals, trying to induce lung cancer by forcing the animals to inhale tobacco smoke, all the experiments had failed.
During the Clinton Administration, government grants were made available to various laboratories to continue with the animal experiments. Working with rats, especially bred to develop lung cancer, the experiments claimed to have induced larger numbers of tumors in rats which would always develop tumors anyway, by feeding the rats “tobacco specific” carcinogens in their drinking water. But all of the inhalation experiments continued to fail, and even the specially bred rats failed to develop any more tumors when forced to inhale tobacco smoke. Furthermore, the term “tobacco specific” was, itself, highly misleading. The carcinogens that were put in the drinking water weren’t unique to the tobacco plant; they were just nitrites, found in many plants and food sources.
In 2005, Mrs. Margaret McTear brought a lawsuit against the Imperial Tobacco Company, in England. She claimed that her husband had died from lung cancer, caused by smoking. The case was heard by a British Judge, Lord Nimmo Smith, sitting in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland. Judge Smith conducted a lengthy trial and heard large numbers of expert witnesses from both sides. Eventually, he issued a lengthy, 32,000 word decision. His conclusion? There is no conclusive evidence that smoking causes lung cancer.
Also, recently, there have been hospital studies showing that 60% of lung cancer patients were NOT smokers at the time their disease was diagnosed. But even that figure is too low because lung cancer victims from the “higher” non-smoking classes generally die at home, and not in the hospital. That was true of three friends of mine – all lifelong never smokers – who recently died from lung cancer, in their homes.
Unfortunately, the medical establishment in this country still clings to the notion that smoking is the principal cause of lung cancer. That’s a pity, because all research on the disease has come to a stop, in the mistaken belief that if only everybody would stop smoking the disease would disappear.