Anti-tabak ontkent mogelijkheden schadereductie
In George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ nemen op een bepaald moment de varkens de slechte gedragingen van de mensen over. Gedragingen waar ze zich juist tegen verzet hadden.
Hetzelfde lijkt te gebeuren met de anti-rokenorganisaties die steeds meer de methoden van de door hun verguisde tabaksindustrie overnemen. Wat ze de tabaksindustrie verweten doen ze nu zelf.
Junk science, bijvoorbeeld: onderzoek dat een van te voren vastgestelde conclusie moet bewijzen. Begin dit jaar publiceerden ze een onderzoek dat zou moeten bewijzen dat minder sigaretten roken niet betekent dat daardoor de schadelijkheid afneemt.
In bijgaand artikel beschrijft Steven Milloy hoe ze daarbij te werk gingen en waar de zwakheden liggen in de redenering van de onderzoekers.
As the smokers reduced the number of cigarettes smoked per day, statistically significant reductions in the levels of urinary NNAL and NNAL-Gluc were reported by the researchers.
“However, the observed decreases were generally modest, always proportionally less than the reductions in cigarettes smoked per day, and sometimes transient,” noted the researchers. Reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day, whether by 50 percent or by 75 percent, reportedly only reduced urinary levels of NNAL and NNAL-Gluc by about 30 percent.
The researchers suggested that the comparatively small reduction in urinary levels of NNAL and NNAL-Gluc compared to the reduction in cigarettes smoked per day may be due to the smokers’ “compensation” ― that is, dragging longer and harder on every cigarette.
“The results indicate that some smokers may benefit from reduced smoking, but for most the effects are modest,” concluded the researchers.
The University of Minnesota group, led by anti-tobacco activist-researcher Stephen Hecht (search), thereby teed up the study for its real purpose ― a broader attack on the notion of “harm reduction” with respect to tobacco use.
Harm reduction (search) is a strategy to reduce the incidence of smoking-related heath effects by getting smokers to smoke less, smoke “safer” cigarettes or transition to “safer” products such as smokeless tobacco (search).
Though harm reduction would seem to be a reasonable approach toward reducing the risk of smoking-related health effects ― at least for those who insist on meddling in the personal health and private lives of others ― anti-tobacco extremists oppose it. Their public posture is that harm reduction doesn’t work.
The University of Minnesota study was accompanied by a Journal of the National Cancer Institute editorial hailing its results and concluding that there are “certainly insufficient data to support the practice of encouraging smokers to pursue reduced smoking as a harm reduction strategy.”
That statement is demonstrably false.
Anyone who knows anything about the research on smoking and health ― and presumably that would include the authors of the study and editorial ― knows that the risk of smoking-related disease increases with the number of cigarettes smoked.
A good summary of such studies is presented in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 1993 report on secondhand smoke.
In trying to link secondhand smoke with lung cancer based on data concerning smoking and lung cancer, the EPA wrote, “A gradient of increasing risk for lung cancer mortality with increasing number of cigarettes smoked per day was established in [each of eight major studies].”
There is no question that fewer cigarettes smoked per day reduces lung cancer risk.
The University of Minnesota study does not change this fact for at least two reasons: (1) the researchers did not study the impact of reduced smoking on health and so cannot claim that it has no effect on health; and (2) what they did study (urinary levels of the NNK metabolites) may not even be biologically related to cancer risk in smokers and so may be utterly meaningless in terms of health consequences.