Jeff Birtwistle’s letter “Making a case against ban on public smoking” in the April 16 edition is another flat-earther response to the dangers of secondhand smoke. It seems like he has googled “evidence” that secondhand smoke does not cause cancer, therefore Japan need not regulate smoking in public places, and the only ones who need worry are spouses of chain-smoking husbands.

This letter smelled like a pile of cigarette butts, so I took a closer look. The journal he quoted from also stated about the sample of the study that “it’s hard to say anything conclusive with such small numbers.” Great! One small study that got the results he suspected confirms that secondhand smoke does not cause lung cancer. It is also worth noting that the study did not mention any of the many other ill effects of breathing secondhand smoke, including asthma and cardiopulmonary disease.

Googling articles about secondhand smoke lets you cherry pick all sorts of results, and allows Birtwistle to put secondhand smoke on par with smelly salarymen. As for myself, I prefer to go with a study published in the prestigious Lancet, which found that 603,000 deaths were attributable to secondhand smoke in 2004.

When the WHO says it wants to ban smoking in public places, it is mainly talking about indoors. If smokers want to smoke, they shouldn’t breath their toxic fumes on others. Is that too much to ask? And please, leave the flat-Earth “a bit of smoke won’t hurt you” nonsense back in the 1960s, when tobacco companies could lie and get away with it, and don’t pass it off as “evidence.”


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.

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