07/11/08 The Overwhelming Ignorance of the Medical Community

As can be expected the BBC has quite a large archive of articles on smoking.  One dated the 8th March 2008 caught my attention.  The article is entitled “Smokers ‘make their children ill'” and features quotes from Dr Steve Ryan, a medical director at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital.[1]

The reason the article caught my attention is because I was staggered at the level of either ignorance or lies within the medical community – I’ll leave the decision as to which it is to the reader. The first thing Dr Ryan says is that parents often lie about smoking near their children – raising the question ‘how does he know?’.  Instantly this smacks of him assuming they smoke around their children because they are suffering from an ailment that is supposedly linked to passive smoke – which in itself says that the ailments happen whether they are around smoke or not.

He inadvertently proves this by saying that “out of the 35,000 children the hospital treats every year, 2,000 are there because they have been exposed to their parents’ smoke”.  In real terms this means that a very small percentage of sufferers come from a smoking home – ‘victims’ of passive smoke is nothing more than him assuming the smoke exposure caused the problem. He then states that “between a quarter and a third of those suffering from certain conditions such as chest infections and asthma were the victims of passive smoking.” Again, this highlights that two thirds or three quarters of the children suffering from such conditions are from non-smoking households.  Given this, how exactly can Dr Ryan claim the minority from smoking homes have their conditions as a result of their exposure?

Luckily we do not need to assume his ignorance by piecing these irregularities together – he leaves no doubt by claiming that mothers who smoke are a higher risk than fathers who smoke! Once you’ve picked yourself off the floor from laughing, you must ask the question ‘how?!’. Surely a lit cigarette produces as much smoke as another, irrespective of whether a male or female is at the other end of it. Yet another eye-opening point is that smoke on the clothes is a problem too – admittedly he claims it is a “lower risk” but still, it is hard to take him seriously. Apparently the smell of smoke also causes illness…

We can always rely on ASH to spread more lies and misinformation, but even when they are telling the truth they still damn their own anti-smoking cause.  In the BBC article Amanda Sandford, from ASH, states that an estimated half of all children are exposed to smoke in the home – at first this seems harmless enough, but at closer inspection we realise that the figures still don’t tally up. How can 50% of children be exposed to smoke, a minority of children be admitted to hospital with certain illnesses, a further minority coming from smoking homes, yet the medical community conclude that smoking causes the problems?

I hope that this article will show people that just because someone is a doctor or other respectable person does not mean their word is gospel, and they are just as fallible as the rest of us.  The truth does always come out, but sometimes we need to read between the lines to get to it.

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/7284793.stm

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