Saturday, 8 January 2011

Smoking not a cause of health inequalities

ASH Scotland makes the astonishing discovery that poor people smoke more than wealthier people, and urges the Scottish Government to do something about it. That something is 'tackling tobacco addiction', because:
Deaths from heart disease are nearly five times higher in poorer areas, and cancer deaths almost twice as high. 
Smoking being the only thing that makes people ill. Not genetics, stress from chronically unstable living conditions, toxic working conditions – it's all caused by smoking. Top marks to Sheila Duffy for this observation:
Life expectancy, health problems, smoking rates and deaths from smoking are all markedly different between Scotland’s richest and poorest communities.
Bottom of the class for this:
To challenge health inequalities we must tackle smoking.
Suggested edit:
To bring down smoking rates we must tackle health inequalities and poverty.
Removing smoking and placing it with a cocktail of nicotine patches and whatever other illicit substance the poor might use to alleviate the worst stresses of poverty is not a route out of poverty. Smoking is a lifestyle choice/habit/addiction (whatever) associated with poverty rather than wealthier circumstances, and the best way to get the smoking rate down is to boost living standards.

Clearly this is contentious: everyone has a view about what causes poverty – what balance of circumstances and fecklessness brings people to living on the breadline. There are no easy answers.

However I can guess that ASH Scotland's sympathies would have been firmly behind Patrick Reynolds in the Al-Jazeera video, and agreed that the International Tobacco Growers Association should have been excluded from international tobacco discussions under the auspices of the World Health Organisation. In other words they have ideological sympathies with a set-up that excludes the poorest workers in the system from participation in high-level talks involving highly paid public servants and other personnel occupying influential positions in society. These talks discuss the banning of ingredients from tobacco, affecting the marketability of tobacco plants, leaving the farmers with no livelihood. Such is the sympathy of anti-tobacco for the need to alleviate poverty.


Anonymous said...

The hope maybe is that the Scottish people should be forcibly given anti smoking drugs like Chantix and then they will all commit suicide due to the side effects.
Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

If one were feeling charitable one could see ASH (Scotland et al) as a bourgeois post Victorian patrician group seeking to impose its will on society by regulating the 'deserving' and 'undeserving poor'-a situation many right wingers would no doubt support.
A less charitable view would be that they are bought and paid for. 'Why else would they continually push an antidote to nicotine ''addiction'' that uses more nicotine than is in cigarettes?' one might ask. A treatment that has an 80% failure rate, by the way.
So. I see ASH as (1)A driver for a return to Victorian patricianism.
Or (2) A stooge for the pharmaceutical industry.
Neither is acceptable to me.