Friday, 17 September 2010

Letters to the Editor and the British Lung Foundation

I am delighted to see the link I included yesterday from Planet Politics reproduced as a letter in the Herald. Stuart Winton refers to 'another unintended - or perhaps ignored - consequence of the smoking ban': there can be few allegedly 'unforeseen consequences' of the smoking that were not actually easily foreseeable. 

Above Stuart Winton's letter appears a letter from a Dr James Cant from the British Lung Foundation. Below is a reply, reproduced with his permission from Dave Atherton of Freedom2Choose
Dear Doctor Cant,

I trust you are well
Let me get my conflicts of interest out of the way first of all. I am an Executive of Freedom2Choose a pro choice smoking organisation and my apologies for this strongly worded email. I read your letter in The Herald and are appalled at the levels of science and argument employed. While I accept the high risk of active smoking, 7 years early mortality, 86% of lung cancer and 90% of emphysema cases are smokers, the "science" on second hand smoke (SHS) presented by people like yourself insults the intelligence. It is not noble to mislead on the science to get more legislation passed.
Firstly on SIDS can you explain between 1970 and 1988 the incidence of SIDS rose 500% but smoking rates tumbled from 45% to 30% of the adult population?
Also can you explain why in 1950 when 66% of the adult population smoked asthma has tripled when not even 25% of the population smokes?
This paper from 2008 not only concludes that nicotine and hence active and passive smoking actually leads to less incidence of asthma and atopy, but gives you the aetiology too.
"The results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE."
These are the results of a Swedish paper and they are statistically significant.
"Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”
I have also reviewed the Royal College of Physicians report into childhood diseases and conclude "This level of publication bias in my opinion brings the RCP and its scientists into serious disrepute."
With respect Dr. Cant whether your position is more clerical and takes you away from the science may be a moot point, but I fear that the anti smoking lobby have returned science to a new Dark Age of alchemy and we the population will pay the price.
I look forward to your reply.
David Atherton
I hope that Dr Cant is able to respond to this. His letter is a thinly disguised bid for smoking restrictions in cars and homes (declaring that even moving to the next room to smoke won't protect your child, etc.) 

Incidentally I am pleased to see that Jill Pell is getting short shrift from many readers in the Scotsman following her unbelievable study findings that adults smoking outside pubs and workplaces has reduced the numbers of children being hospitalised for asthma by nearly one-fifth. (Would it really have taken a study to tell us that?)

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