Killing the Innocent

According to a study for the EU on smoking related deaths, “over 19,000 non-smoking adults die every year in Europe. This estimate only takes into account deaths from four diseases linked to passive smoking : coronary diseases, strokes, lung cancers and non malignant respiratory diseases…. These figures could be even higher if we took into account all age categories and all pathologies (including cancers, asthma attacks, pneumonia, bronchitis) but the study limits itself to adults exposed to passive smoking.

It’s a shocking indictment of laws that allow the smoking of cigarettes in public places. Just 25% to 30% of the adult population of most Western style economies are smokers. Three times as many innocent non-smokers having to change their lifestyles by avoiding fun activities like socialising in pubs and restaurants unless they wish to go home smelling of smoke, and after having ingested over 4,000 foreign chemicals and 40 different carcinogens.

Europe owes a great debt of gratitude to the Irish though, as they banned smoking in all public places and show a 94% success rate. The Norwegians have also banned smoking, while the UK is introducing laws on the 1st of February that will finally allow non-smokers to go out for the night without waking up in the morning smelling like rotten kippers.

Considering we live in democracies (well, sort of, but that’s another issue) it is strange it has taken so long for the law to look after the health of the majority. Is this the beginning of the end of addicted smokers killing the innocent? One can only hope so.

More info can be found here on the EUs special website about the problem.


2 comments on “Killing the Innocent

  1. I wondered if you drive a car and, if so, are you concerned about the pollutants from cars which non-car-drivers (some pedestrians) end up inhaling?

    A non-smoker and non-driver.

  2. Thanks for your concern and for taking the time to post. These are important questions.

    Last summer, there was an interesting experiment conducted by a scientist from Bristol University on just this question.

    A cyclist travelled from the countryside on the edge of the City of Bristol towards and into the city centre. She used main roads and carried a backpack with a mobile gas pollutant measuring device. As she cycled, the backpack recorded the levels of Carbon Monoxide she was exposed to and sent the periodic readings to a computer wirelessly. The readings were then analysed and recorded as colour coded dots along the map using GPS coordinates to ensure accuracy.

    Over the whole route the Carbon Monoxide only hit unhealthy levels when the cyclist was stuck behind a large diesel engined lorry; all the other traffic (typically for the UK, 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol engined cars) had little discernible effect.

    It’s widely accepted that the particulates in diesel fumes are some of the worst direct traffic pollutants, with many of them having been proven to be carcinogens. Diesel engines may have slightly less effect on global warming due to their better efficiency but I really don’t understand why they are cheaper in most Euorpean countries than petrol due to the other damage they do. In Europe, only Switzerland seems to recognise this and so taxes the fuel more highly to reduce demand. Trucks are banned from using the roads over the weekend and after 8pm at night. I always refuse diesel engined hire cars and try to take the more fuel efficient petrol engined cars when possible.

    In the UK a big part of the traffic problem dates back to the early 1960s when Mr Beeching tore up most of Britain’s railways and encouraged local councils to get rid of their electiric tramways and trolley busses. Had these been kept, as they were in many European countries, traffic pollution would probably be a lot less today.

    I’m not against cars though, in fact I rather enjoy them, and recognise they are needed. But there are healthier ways to deliver kids to school than by 4.5 litre monster 4×4 SUVs, especially if the driver is also a smoker and fills the cabin with a second tranche of carcinogens.

    Our kids deserve better, don’t you think?

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