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To challenge — indeed, refute — the above beliefs, we have Unlucky Strike by Duke University neurobiology professor John Staddon. In this book, he shows that the conventional wisdom about smoking is almost completely mistaken. Staddon is neither an industry flack nor an apologist for smoking. He’s a scientist who can’t tolerate the misuse of science and specious arguments that anti-smoking zealots use to get their way.
His first target is the belief that smoking is a societal issue. “Quite apart from any supposed ‘rights’ of smokers, smoking is not in fact bad for the common good. Smoking is a private health problem, not a public health problem,” Staddon writes. Anti-smoking advocates will declare that statement to be nonsense because there’s proof that smoking lowers life expectancy, which certainly makes it a social, public health issue. That conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise, Staddon argues. A longer lifespan may be better for each individual (or maybe not — people make many trade-offs that might decrease their longevity), but the abstraction called “society” is not necessarily better off just because the people who comprise it are living longer.
His first target is the belief that smoking is a societal issue.
This is the biggest weapon on the anti-smoking arsenal, but Staddon shows that smoking does not in fact add to total medical costs. The problems smoking causes are mostly “fast-acting killers” that reduce the much greater costs of lengthy treatment for other, inevitable, health problems.
Smokers are making a trade-off — an increased risk of severe medical problems at an earlier age in exchange for the enjoyment they get from smoking. The latter point almost always is overlooked by those who want to stamp out smoking. Many smokers report that they find it relaxing and that it helps them concentrate.
He is similarly disdainful of the widely accepted statement that there is no safe exposure level to smoke. There is no scientific evidence for that claim and, Staddon points out, it’s impossible to see how such an assertion ever could be proved. Human beings, he observes, have lived with some smoke in their environments since the beginning of time, so it’s just not credible to maintain that we must now go to extraordinary lengths to get rid of every wisp of tobacco smoke.
The researchers found that from age 20 to 56, obese people racked up the most expensive health costs. But because both the smokers and the obese people died sooner than the healthy group, it cost less to treat them in the long run.
On average, healthy people lived 84 years. Smokers lived about 77 years and obese people lived about 80 years. Smokers and obese people tended to have more heart disease than the healthy people.
Cancer incidence, except for lung cancer, was the same in all three groups. Obese people had the most diabetes, and healthy people had the most strokes. Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on.
The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000.
“Obese men rack up an additional $1,152 a year in medical spending, especially for hospitalizations and prescription drugs, Cawley and Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University reported in January in the Journal of Health Economics. Obese women account for an extra $3,613 a year. Using data from 9,852 men (average BMI: 28) and 13,837 women (average BMI: 27) ages 20 to 64, among whom 28 percent were obese, the researchers found even higher costs among the uninsured: annual medical spending for an obese person was $3,271 compared with $512 for the non-obese.”
Making the cost impact all the more troubling is the fact that, unlike smokers, obese people tend to live almost as long as those who keep their weight under control. ”Smokers die early enough that they save Social Security, private pensions, and Medicare” trillions of dollars”, said Duke’s Eric Finkelstein. “But mortality isn’t that much higher among the obese.”
originally posted by: bigfatfurrytexan
a reply to: FurvusRexCaeli
Once upon a time "public behavior" was someone simply doing something outdoors.
Therein lies the problem: when humans want their constructed "society" to usurp the planet that was here already. Its bad enough that I am part of the only species that has to pay to exist. No other species on Earth is summarily enslaved into a lifelong trade of labor for baubles.
But now, even just being outdoors is considered "public", and therefore subject to the whims of a collective desire for "society"?
No thanks. When "society" can avoid pumping oil and radioactive waste into the oceans en masse...society will possibly have a moral leg to stand on.