Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nobody died of passive smoking

Well that must be the way to read the response from the Commission to a question from Godfrey Bloom. The question was based on a link to an article by Dave Hitt I found on the Joe Jackson website.

The question went something like this,

by Godfrey Bloom (IND/DEM)
to the Commission

Subject: Environmental tobacco smoke

According to the Commission Green Paper 'Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level' (pdf) (COM(2007)0027), more than '79 000 adults' die in the EU per annum from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).

This claim is the driver behind the proposals by the Commission to bring in a binding directive later this year to enforce smoking bans in workplaces.

Given that the impact of such a directive will be considerable, both economically and
socially, could the Commission please name three or four people who have died from ETS within the European Union in the last two years?

Which is a bit cheeky but I think makes the point.

The answer finally arived on the Parliament's last working day before the summer recess,

Answer given by Ms Vassiliou
on behalf of the Commission

The Green Paper 'Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level" , refers to the estimates of mortality attributable to passive smoking in the EU reported by Smoke-free Partnership in Lifting the Smoke-screen: 10 reasons for a smoke-free Europe . These estimates are based on the international evidence on the level of risk posed by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and the estimated proportion of the population exposed rather than individual cases of deaths due to passive smoking. The nature of the epidemiological evidence on all risk factors, be they chemical or other, is such that it does not allow to identify the victims at individual level but only populations.

The Commission is now considering several possible policy options including a possible proposal for a Council recommendation as a follow-up of the Green Paper.

The Impact Assessment currently being carried out will provide a basis for the final policy choice. It will also provide further information on the impact of exposure to ETS on health.
That appears to be a No, I think, we cannot. Everything is based on nmodels and estimates. Not the real world. A pathetic answer that fails to deal with the fact that thousands of people will be amde jobless and a way of life, that is pub, bar and club culture will be destroyed. Why? Because they want to, not because they have any scientific evidence.

However the Commissioner's answer may in fact be something to do with a little known case at the Civil Service Tribunal. This, the junior partner of the European Court of Justice, gave a judgement on what is known as the Labate case.

The applicant, Mrs. Kay Labate, widow of former European Commission official Mario Labate, on her own behalf and on behalf of her husband's estate, contests the Commission's decisions refusing to recognise the lung cancer of her husband as an occupational disease.

Mr Labate was an official with the Commission for 29 years, during which time he was exposed, according to the Applicant, to a large amount of secondhand tobacco smoke. He was declared permanently invalid following the discovery of the lung cancer which subsequently led to his death. He submitted a request for recognition of the illness as an occupational disease.
Ah so they wouldn't want to admit to passive smoking being the cause of death or they would get by any number of claims. That would affect the Commission's own bottom line as the compensation paid could be punitive. Sure enough look at the Commission arguement,

While acknowledging Mr Labate's exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and finding no other cause for his lung cancer, the Medical Committee in its decision nonetheless stated that it could not establish with certainty the connection with his professional activities. The Commission accordingly denied the request, following the finding by the Medical Committee that the connection between the disease and Mr Labate's professional activities was not sufficiently established.
The judgement states quite baldly

"The claims for compensation submitted in the letter of 25 October 2007 by Mrs Labate are dismissed as manifestly unfounded"
So either we are all going to die of passive smoking (Ref. the upcoming smoking at work directive) or we are not(see Labate judgement).

This seems to be a case of the Commission having its cake and eating it, or maybe filling its pipe and smoking it.


Anonymous said...

Is Godfrey Bloom still an MEP?

Bob Feal-martinez said...

This is a massive dent in the EU/WHO claims about passive smoking. This needs to be widely circulated to show once and for all that ETS/PS is a fallacy. And yes he is

Free Niche Market Ideas said...

smoking should be banned.

Stew said...

fnmi - it bloody is banned, you tart.

Gawain Towler said...

Well in a sort of 'in the workplace' sort of way. But coming to a car, home, street near you soon.

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