Making a case against ban on public smoking

So, the World Health Organization “tells Japan to ban public smoking” (April 9). Is this the same WHO that repressed a 1998 study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer on environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) which found “weak evidence of a dose-response relationship between risk of lung cancer and exposure to spousal and workplace ETS?”

Is there a conspiracy here? As a mild smoker I wanted to find out what, if any, danger I was causing to others. I googled the subject and was overwhelmed with anti-smoking propaganda which did not include any scientific references.

I persevered and found that most of the deaths attributed to passive smoking were spousal deaths. It seems you have to marry a smoker if you really want to die from smoking. Most of the rest were people who worked in very smoky environments. (Which really doesn’t happen anymore, at least not in Japan, the U.S. and Europe.)

I then found a report on the Forbes website which stated that an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that “a large-scale study found no clear link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer.” What? That’s the opposite of what the anti-smoking sites have been screaming at me.

I have always been skeptical about bans of smoking in open spaces. Do people really believe that being near a smoker in a park or public square represents a threat to their health? I don’t think so. I think they don’t like the smell. So should we ban overworked salarymen reeking of booze from our morning trains? Or sweaty lads straight from baseball practice? What is the difference?

Jeff Birtwistle

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.