05/12/09 Smoking Ban Vital For Youths?

Medical practitioners have once again displayed their stupidity and inability to learn. Doctors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have declared that a smoking ban is necessary to protect the young, with Dr Wael al Mahmeed saying “We need legislation, education and taxation”. [1]

I agree with all three points, but I think we have a difference in interpretation. This is my definition:

Legislation: Yup, people over a certain age can smoke, minors can’t, and only in permitted places which is up to the owner to decide.

Education: Absolutely. This would be informing people of the studies conducted about smoking, including showing the problems with the studies and what they really show. It also means explaining the benefits that have been found of smoking. After education, it is up to the person to choose to smoke or not.

Taxation: Sure, why not? Taxes are necessary to help our economy and our country, especially somewhere like the UK with the NHS and other taxpayer-funded organisations.

Here is what I suspect Mahmeed’s definitions to be:

Legislation: Smoking bans and smoker harassment.

Education: Brainwashing children and adults to believe smoking is responsible for almost every social and personal ill known to man.

Taxation: Raise the price of tobacco to be about 70% taxation, so the government makes a nice profit while ostracising its people.

So as you can see, the principles are quite different.

Then Mahmeed gives himself away, with a speech – in the UAE – which could have been drafted by ASH. First:

“If the price is increased it would cut the number of very young smokers.”

No it wouldn’t. Children will ‘borrow’ their parents’ cigarettes, club together to buy a pack, order online or just get from their friends – or, thanks to the government, the black market.

“There is evidence which links the risk of heart attack to the amount of tobacco someone smokes, so stopping smoking at any time will reduce the risk.”

I can see how Mahmeed has got this idea, but he is wrong. There are studies showing that – bias, badly organised and pre-concluded studies; but there is no evidence. Actually, all the data so far shows that heart attack incidence increases after a ban, which is a complete turnaround after years of steady decline.

‘Multiple studies in the US and Europe show that a ban on smoking in public places reduced the incidence of smoking and smoking-related diseases, said Dr al Mahmeed.’

True. But Mahmeed must be unaware that studies conducted by ASH, CRUK or the ACS do not consitute science and are good for nothing but jovial comedy. Any doctor with any credibility would be more than aware that any negative effects of tobacco smoking do not disappear overnight, if it takes decades for problems to manifest in a smoker then a ban will not stop that the next day. Besides, bans have led to an increase of smoking, they just smoke at home. So really, if the bans increase the rate of smokers, and the anti-smokers believe the bans also reduce smoking-related disease, what does that tell us? More smokers = less disease?

‘Meanwhile health authorities are spending significant amounts of their public health budgets on anti-tobacco campaigns, specifically targeting schoolchildren and young people. Smoking cessation clinics to encourage people to quit have also been introduced nationwide and individual municipalities have introduced their own bans.’

So in a global recession, countries are not learning from our mistakes but are blowing huge sums of money on a project which is proven to not work? Dr Mohamed Jaloudi obviously hasn’t heard the news yet, because he said that “It has been shown in other countries that a smoking ban in public places, in conjunction with anti-smoking campaigns, reduces the incidence of smoking”.

Some clarity and common-sense needs to be injected into this farcical totalitarianism, and I will do so now: A ban is not vital for youths, nor adults, nor babies. Bans do not reduce disease incidence nor smoker prevalence. They ruin economies, kill social lives and increase the jobless and homeless – they also have at least a handful of deaths to smudge their name, which is a handful more than second-hand smoke.

What is vital to youth is education – education that the anti-smoking movement is fraudulent, that second-hand smoke is not a threat to health, that not all scientists succumb to the hype, that not all studies find smoking dangerous. And what is also vital is these doctors and health practitioners being aware that bans have the opposite effect of their purpose, and that far from lowering smoking rates, they increase them whilst simultaneously driving up smuggling and illegal activities.

[1] http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091130/NATIONAL/711299902/1040/social_game_play.php

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