Saturday, 13 February 2010

We have a winner!

In a highly competitive field, this week's hypochondriac is Shawn, posting at Woman's Day. Shawn gets extra points for gullibility, hysteria and stupefying scientific ignorance.

It's about time this issue is addressed. If you can smell a smoker after they have smoked, there must be harmful nicotine present.

Nicotine is harmful? Really? Because that's not what the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency thinks:

While the risks to health from smoking tobacco are well established, a body of evidence is emerging that suggests that nicotine, while addictive, is actually a very safe drug.

But you were saying...

I'm also worried about fourth hand smoke. 

That doesn't exist either, but carry on.

This happens when a smoker urinates and the nicotine finds its way into the water supply...

Hang on - you just made that up!

...such as this:

AP probe found traces of meds in water supplies of 41 million Americans

From that link: "To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe."

Why should my family be exposed to the nicotine from smokers due to something as basic as needing a glass of water?

Why won't someone think of the children? Shawn's invented a whole new health scare here. Alright, it's only a hunch and it's based on a fundamental ignorance of toxicology, but you can't be too careful. This man (woman?) has a family, dammit.  

Look, the government needs to look into this because it's not right to harm others by choosing the filthy weed over common sense. 

Hey, you can't be the centre of the world! I'm the centre of the world! 

As Shawn says, all we need here is a bit of common sense. Like this, for example...

Smokers should have to urinate in a separate system or something so as not to pollute the earth and harm others.

That would only involve designing, financing and building a new sewage network in every city in the world. Is that so much to ask?

Well done, sir (or madam). A true classic of the genre.


Ben said...

Come on, you made that up, didn't you?

Grandad said...

That has to be a send up! Either that, or I have to go back to peeing in the bushes.

subrosa said...

Thought I was reading satire there VG but I think this chap is serious.

Honestly why don't all the smokers congregate in Scotland - the Scots non-smokers/objectors could take their place in England - that's a solution.

In fact Scotland would get a good deal, because once we were independent we'd have the neat cigarette tax to fund our NHS.

Frank Davis said...

Is it nicotine that provides the aroma of tobacco? I don't know. Since tobacco produces a variety of odours, (e.g. the Ducados I bought in Spain back in November) I suspect that it's a lot more than just nicotine. In fact I have the notion (just a faint memory) that pure nicotine is a colourless, odourless liquid.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Subrosa may have a point, but as the SNP show even stronger bansturbatory tendencies than any other party, I won't hold my breath.

Although by holding my breath I would of course be protecting other people from second or third hand smoke :)

Apart from that, excellent find.

Angry Exile said...

Fourth hand smoke?

This happens when a smoker urinates and the nicotine finds its way into the water supply...

He's taking the piss.

Well someone had to say it :-)

Anonymous said...

He's a nutter !
I think Shaun should get the "nutter of the year" award.
No the "nutter of the epoch" award.

westcoast2 said...

Don't tell him tomatoes contain nicotine, who knows what will happpen.

Leg-iron said...

Frank - no it's not nicotine that gives tobacco its flavour. if it was, Electrofag (which is just nicotine) would taste and smell the same without having to add flavourings.

Well, this creepy weirdo can't blame me for polluting the water system. None of mine gets into the sewage works.

It's all in the basement in little jars.

Non Smoking said...

smokers and their lethal residues are everywhere. so -

join and show that you care!

Michael J. McFadden said...

In terms of dancing in the daisy fields with the nutters, it's not just Shawn that's out there. This is a trend that has been growing for at least the last ten to fifteen years: incrementally boosting the craziness and fear of the general population in order to increase societal pressure on smokers. Ten years ago the Antismokers denied they were engaging in DeNormalization (although you could find it in some of their less public literature/statements) but today, they're quite open about it. Why? Because they've conditioned the populace to accept it as not only existing, but as desirable.

Four years ago a Dr. Matt came out with a study showing that nicotine was deposited on the floors of smokers' homes "where babies crawl." At that point I posted analyses around the web showing that the babies would have to crawl something like 50,000 miles and lick their grubby little palms clean every six inches of the way in order to be exposed to a single cigarette's worth of nicotine.

One year ago Winickoff (?) put out a study that was actually just a survey asking people if they worried about taking a child into a room "where people had been smoking previously." Despite the clear opportunity for confusion with secondhand smoke, Winickoff went on at length about the "deadly poisons in thirdhand smoke" as though he'd actually done some sort of study of it. The news media lapped it up, with the NY Times blathering irresponsibly on exposing babies to "radioactive Polonium 210, used to kill a Russian KGB agent two years ago." I examined THAT claim in depth in the comments to Dr. Kabat's analysis at:

where I showed it would take a floor-licking baby 2.74 *TRILLION* years to get a similar dose.

And now this study comes out, full of difficult to follow mathematical/chemical analyses and makes similar scary claims. BUT the authors left one fatal flaw easily exposed: the base element they were using in their research, Nitrous Oxide (HONO) was set at what they called a "high but reasonable level" of SIXTY parts per billion (ppb). In reality the studies they used to justify that setting show that the expected level in homes is FOUR ppb. They exaggerated by a whopping FIFTEEN HUNDRED PERCENT to get their figures!

And the news media flocked to it like flies to a corpse: in the last few weeks I've probably seen at least a half-dozen instances in supposedly responsible media where they just off-handedly mention the "threat from secondhand and thirdhand smoke" as though it were a long-established truth.

The daisy fields are getting crowded out there....

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Anonymous said...

Yay us smokers are going to get our own water cycle! I'm sure Shawn is working on the details right now...

Surely this is satire?


Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

Many years ago, when I was a recent PhD graduate looking for work I did a 6-week contract for Covance the bio-science testing company up in Harrogate. The job was to help develop a way of quantifying the amount of the nicotine metabolite cotinine in the saliva of test subjects. The reason for using the metabolite as opposed to nicotine its self is simple: in humans, nicotine is very rapidly metabolised to cotinine and people never ingest enough nicotine to swamp the metabolic pathway.

As I recall, the average non-smoker has about 15 to 30 picogrammes (thousand millionths of a gram) of cotinine per ml of saliva or blood, someone who spends much time with smokers is at about 50 or 60, and a smoker reads up in the hundreds. Apart from tobacco, other solanaceous plants like tomatoes contain trace levels of nicotine so you never, ever get a zero reading (unless the experimental method is broken somewhere).

So, from this you can take home the following:

1) Smokers excrete negligable amounts of nicotine as they metabolise most of it to cotinine.

2) Smokers ingest way more nicotine than non-smokers standing right next to them, on the order of tens or hundreds of times as much. This means that if nicotine is evenly distributed in the smoke (not a given, but let's assume it is) then a non-smoker in a room full of smokers isn't being exposed to much smoke at all.

3) The effects of secondhand tobacco smoke are likely to be so small that other environmental factors like radon, vehicle fumes and genetic variation will swamp these effects. The only reason non-smokers detect tobacco smoke so readily is that the stuff absolutely honks if your sense of smell isn't bombed out by repeated exposure to it, and people have a much better sense of smell than is ordinarily supposed.