Sometimes the data doesn't tell the story you want. For years, evidence about the "danger" of second-hand smoke has been somewhat (wholly?) fabricated by policymakers and lobbyists. Now a new study confirms again that second hand smoke causes no damage.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, who tracked more than 76,000 women, found a strong correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, "but found no link between the disease and secondhand smoke." Jyoti Patel, MD, an expert quoted in the report, goes on to explain that while "passive smoking" may lead to problems like asthma or cardiovascular disease, ultimately "the strongest reason to avoid passive cigarette smoke is to change societal behavior." In other words: the best reason to fight other peoples' cigarette smoking is because you don't like it, not because it's hurting you.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has yet to update any of their data, reporting that, "secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year." The CDC's site doesn't cite any of the studies which conflict with these findings.
For some, the research is unsatisfactory proof. (Similar conclusions were drawn from a 1998 study by the World Health Organization, after all). Anti-smoke opinions have come out of the woodwork denying the JNCI's findings, competing with each other for the mantle of most scientifically-based. Nicely-named Redditor chiefconspiratard said: "Anybody that has even just basic scientific training knows that finding no link in a study that was not designed for secondhand smoke does not mean there is no link." In response, Chumbaniya posted that, "Anybody that has basic scientific training knows that the findings of a study and what is absolutely the truth 100% for real this time are not the same thing." We'll have to table this discussion until the next study is released—in the meantime, anyone want to step out for a smoke?
[Image: Flickr user Matthew Romack]