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Blind Prejudice

23rd March 2009.

Signs that the NHS couldn't give a toss about the flimsiness of evidence they employ to discriminate against smokers have already been amply demonstrated by their willingness to banish smoking in the open air from hospital grounds, but Freedom2choose now have first hand photographic evidence that they are using a single, discredited, third hand smoke ‘study’ (not based on hard science, but opinions gathered in a small telephone poll) to instigate the most disgraceful prejudice against smokers.

A member of F2C recently had cause to attend the maternity section of the Royal Oldham hospital and was shocked to see the following sign displayed in the waiting room:




My initial reaction was, surely this must be a mistake? Surely the NHS couldn’t be adopting a policy of barring smokers from areas inside hospitals based on absolutely no hard scientific evidence at all? But then I came across this page on the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital website called: 

'Third Hand Smoke Risk to Kids' 


Which gives the following information:"Kids are put at risk by smokers even if they are in a different room or outside, researchers say."  And: "Poisons in cigarette smoke get stuck in hair and clothes. This means smokers carry the chemicals around. But less than half of smokers knew the risks of what scientists call 'third-hand' smoke."

And then the one and only highly publicised study itself is cited and presented as fact: "Experts already know that 'second-hand smoke can be dangerous. This is when other people breathe in smoke from soneone else's cigarette because they are in the same room. But now Professor Jonathan Winickoff, who did the study, says the toxic particles hang around even after the cigarette is finished. And they can be carried around on people's clothes and hair."

Jacob Sullum writing in the online Reason magazine describes the study thus:

“The genius of the study is that it tries to stir up alarm about third hand smoke without bothering to show that such trace levels of toxins and carcinogens cause any measurable harm to children (or to anyone else). Instead the authors simply assume that third hand smoke is dangerous and then do a survey to see how many people are aware of this "fact."

Anti-tobacco activist Michael Siegal writes:

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that exposures of this magnitude produce any significant health harm.”

So, we now find ourselves discriminated against on the basis of the results of one telephone survey. Quite how the NHS intends to police this is another question, but quite frankly, when their policies are based on unfounded opinion and blind prejudice it’s quite easy to see how this publicly funded, unaccountable monstrosity has got into the position of killing 72,000 of its patients per year.

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