The chairman of The International Coalition Against Prohibition (TICAP), Bill Gibson, filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act regarding deaths from smoking and second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure.The requested information was:
a) All information on the actual number of adult smokers in Scotland for the years 2005 -2009 and the source of the information, each years total to be shown.
b) All information on the smoking cessation rates in Scotland for the years 2005-2009 and the source of the information, each years total to be shown.
c) All information on how the smoking cessation rates were calculated.
d) All information on actual deaths in Scotland attributable to Second Hand Smoke otherwise known as “Passive Smoking” , “Sidestream Smoke” or “Environmental Tobacco Smoke” from the years 2000 – 2009
e) All information held on “Third Hand Smoke”.
For years it has been asserted by those in the pro-choice movement that the deaths attributed to smoking are essentially fabricated – there are no real bodies that have been counted, but rather the estimated figures are created through a certain set of paradigms, from computer programs to dubious classifications – such as lumping any death of a smoker as a ‘smoking-related death’.
The FOI response went a long way in officially validating this, by saying that “We hold no information about actual deaths due to passive smoking. It is not possible to give precise figures on deaths resulting from tobacco use. However, it is estimated that each year more than 13,000 people in Scotland die from smoking-related diseases”.
And of course, by defining certain illnesses as smoking-related ones, there is a lot of room for manouevere to classify any of those deaths as a result of smoking. The FOI response further explained that “The numbers of deaths attributed to passive smoking are primarily estimated from studies comparing the rates of deaths due to smoking attributable diseases among similar people who have not had such exposure.” Or, in other words, using the wholly unscientific method of turning statistics and mathematical figures into real-life dead bodies. Which, of course, is not the way the world works.
This also leads to the questions: Is a full-scale war against smokers warranted when the only supporting evidence is hypothetical numbers generated from even more estimated numbers? If policy-makers are confident enough that smoking kills enough people to all but prohibit it, where are all the bodies?