Second hand Smoke


From today's Unlinkable SCMP:

Your leader "Time for sparks to fly in the war on smoking" (January 6) clearly demonstrates the Post's activist agenda. It also explains why you so readily accommodate letters merely expressing personal dislike of tobacco - unlike, say, stinking tofu (smell), chicken feet (appearance) or rain.

When someone uses the phrase 'Activist Agenda' like this, I always picture them as some rampant conspiracy theorist, convinced that the world is in cahoots against them.

The issue is not your opinion but you sacrifice basic standards of due diligence to support your agenda.

1. You must know very well that Thailand does not prohibit smoking in bars and yet you are grouping it with New York City and California (not quite the US) and Ireland to imply critical mass significance.

2. There are no findings that remotely support your claim that "restaurants and bars have continued to thrive in other parts of the world" after smoking bans were introduced. This claim is contradicted by your own reporting and goes against common sense: any restaurant or bar wishing to ban smoking is free to do so and reap the so-called financial rewards. Can't we settle on voluntary action based on self-interest, then?

Some reports backing up the SCMP claim, found by a few minutes web-searching:

3. Elementary due diligence would reveal that a 10-year study by WHO showed no "statistically significant" health impact of secondary smoke. This was a major letdown for anti-tobacco activists. Not for long. If facts stand in the way, bury or twist them.

This is odd. A search on the WHO website gives a lot of results, among which is this FAQ: requently asked questions about second hand smoke.

This contains the illuminating paragraph:

There is clear scientific evidence of an increased risk of lung cancer in non-smokers exposed to SHS. This increased risk is estimated at 20% in women and 30% in men who live with a smoker (2). Similarly, it has been shown that non-smokers exposed to SHS in the workplace have a 16 to 19% increased risk of developing lung cancer (3). The risk of presenting lung cancer increases with the degree of exposure. The Californian Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) estimates that SHS causes 3000 deaths each year due to lung cancer in non-smokers.

This hardly sounds like an organisation that has researched something and found that it had no ill effects.

In 15 years in Hong Kong, I have not experienced a single complaint from non-smokers in restaurants or bars. What happened to tolerance? We all have likes and dislikes, but do not embark on "wars" to have others conform to them.


It's a sad fact of life that, if you go out to a pub in Hong Kong, you're going to come home smelling of smoke. Most of us non-smokers don't complain about it to smokers in the bar, because it's our choice to go to the bar.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on January 7, 2005 1:36 PM.

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