In the Sixtieth Year of the Anti-Smoking Stampede

Author: Søren Højbjerg
Article Published: 2011/04/14

In 1950, the first substantial post war antismoking statistics were published. They marked the starting point of a great stampede against smoking. Until now that stampede has lasted 60 years. Although it is showing signs of decay, it has not yet run out of steam.

The pretext for the antismoking stampede was, that by 'eliminating' smoking, lung cancer would be 'eliminated'. While smoking has certainly lost some of its former popularity in the 'western' world, lung cancer remains on the rise. In the United States, cigarette sales topped in 1981, with 636 billion cigarettes. While cigarette consumption has almost dropped to half of this figure, the same cannot be said of lung cancer. Lung cancer does not seem to mind whether people smoke or not.

Once a year the American Cancer Association publishes estimates of cancer figures. The 2010 estimates were released recently. Lets have a look at them here:  Cancer Facts and Figures 2010

Now there are two figures of interest. They can be found in on page 4, under the heading Respiratory system, Lung and Bronchus.

The first figure is the estimated number of new cases. This stands at 222,520 new cases of lung cancer. This number is slightly higher than last year.

The second figure is the estimated number of deaths. This stands at 157,300 deaths. This number is slightly less than last year.

This is a trend that has been on for a number of years. The number of new cases keeps rising, the number of deaths keeps dropping slightly. This can mean only one thing – that treatment of lung cancer is improving. And that no lung cancers are being 'prevented'.

The Magic of Numbers

The American Cancer Society is an instrument of propaganda and regimentation. It attracts vast amount of interest and awareness. It does so through the use of statistics and phrases to create the illusion that the American Cancer Society is providing useful service. One of these statistics is presented in this devious little graph:

Age-adjusted Cancer Death Rates, males

Take special note of the graph labelled "Lung and Bronchus". The number wizards at the American Cancer Society must be particularly proud of it. Notice how the graph has been in decline since 1990. It creates the illusion that the American Cancer Society is really doing a good job on lung cancer. It certainly does not give the impression that the number of lung cancers diagnosed will reach an all time high in 2010. From a demagogical point of view, it is an excellent graph. It completely obscures the fact that lung cancers have reached an all time high, and that no decline is in sight.


The only thing that the American Cancer Society is really good at, is getting peoples attention. The man on the street and the political demagogues in office have been brainwashed with the idea that smoking is 'the' cause of lung cancer. So great is their conviction, that almost nobody takes the effort to look at the actual numbers. Anybody who does is in for a big surprise. Lung cancer is on the rise, and has been so right since 1950. While cigarette consumption has dropped to almost half since 1981, lung cancer cases have almost doubled.

The American Cancer Society shovels in money by the truckload while the citizens get lung cancer in droves. Attention is the key word in understanding these facts.

The 30 Year Delay

An integral part of the antismoking stampede is to subject the masses to certain phrases. One of these phrases is the myth that there is a 30 year delay between smoking inception and the causation of lung cancer. This phrase is cleverly used to dismiss any claims pointing out the lack of correlation between smoking rates and lung cancer. This one phrase wipes out any meaningful discussion, at least as far as any period of less than 30 years is concerned.

Because cigarette sales have dropped considerably in the US since 1981, the myth of the 30 year delay stands to be busted next year. If there is no great drop in the number of new lung cancer cases next year, the 30 year delay myth is effectively dead. It is a fair assumption that there will be no such drop. There will also be no public outcry. The antismoking stampede will put forth new myths, new scare stories, and almost nobody will care about the previous claims.

Excellent Demagogy

The American Cancer Society must be given credit where it is due. They have the best demagogues that money can buy. They are very clever and experienced. They know all the nooks and corners of the human soul. These people can fool the masses into almost anything. They are great propagandists.

Unfortunately, lung cancer does not really care about demagogy. Lung cancer has no brain to wash. Lung cancer cannot be indoctrinated. This is of course the problem with demagogy. It cannot change the real world, only warp the mind of the individual.

The Halt

The antismoking stampede will come to a halt one day. That day is getting ever closer. Currently, one of two factors is slanted to end it.

One factor is contraband tobacco. Cigarette smuggling has reached enormous proportions in certain areas. Contraband rates of 50 % on cigarettes and 70 % on rolling tobacco are not unusual. This will make the 'war on drugs' look like a sunday school picnic. It has the potential to bring to the masses' attention that nothing useful has come out of the antismoking stampede.

The other factor is the uninterrepted rise in the number of lung cancer cases. It cannot continue unnoticed forever, that smoking cessation is not making a dent in the rise of lung cancer. At some point lung cancer will catch up with the antismoking stampede.

A lot of fighting remains before the antismoking stampede can be rooted out. Contraband tobacco and more lung cancer is what the future brings.

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