Robert Dow: There’s no proof so lighten up and let smokers enjoy their habit

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IF I suggested that a single cigarette smoked in a car a) causes more “secondary” smoking than a whole evening in a pub; b) is more dangerous than funnelling exhaust fumes into the car and that c) opening a window has no effect, you’d laugh in my face.

The British Lung Foundation would have you believe that.

The mounting hysteria of groups trying to prevent smoking goes beyond invasion of personal choice to near persecution.

ASH Scotland promotes the eccentric view that alluring packaging attracts children to smoking.

Really? With stark “SMOKING KILLS” logos emblazoned on them?

I’d bet most begin by sharing cigarettes among friends.

In any case, they can’t ask for them until the age of 18.

Critical to the anti-smoking lobby case is the danger from “passive” smoking. So why the concern over the social costs of our growing elderly population; the very people who failed to be killed off by it?

Retired people like myself grew up exposed to smoke at all hours: at work, in cinemas, buses, pubs, phone boxes and at home.

Many smoked in bed, leaving others breathing in the deadly fumes all night, yet no slaughter ensued.

But the campaigners’ main weakness is the defining feature of the research programmes cited, claiming to provide convincing proof of their arguments. They offer no details, such as the survey size.

Well, I know one that does. Two researchers – James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat, both determinedly anti-smoking – investigated the effects of passive inhalation for the American Cancer Society, analysing data of 118,000 Californians over a 30-year period.

When results indicated no significantly increased risk of cancer or heart disease – however intense or prolonged the exposure – they were promptly dismissed.

I find it frankly weird that the government allows the sale of a substance it insists will kill the users. However, smoking is not only a legitimate habit but one which brings pleasure to many.

It’s time to end the witch hunt.