Tuesday, October 10, 2006

E-Mails From An Irish Journalist

We have great pleasure in reproducing these e-mails from Irish journalist, researcher, friend and fellow pro-choice activist John Mallon. John wrote to The Central Statistics Office of the Irish Republic in order to discover what actual statistics were actually available on deaths from smoking related illnesses. What did he discover? Read on.

E-Mail 1


Having read yet again the statistic from the Office of Tobacco Control that 7,000 a year die in Ireland from "smoking related illness", I decided to query the "Central Statistics Office" here and get the actual figures. These are my questions with their response underneath. It is informative indeed when pro ban politicians throw around scary stats, to know that there is no formal foundation for them. What the answers from here tell us is that there is NO PROOF in Ireland that anyone has ever died from smoking, much less ETS. It might be worth looking at the stats in your own areas:

(Next, we see the questions posed by John and the answers he received.)

I am researching figures and statistics for a project around smoking in Ireland (only). What I am seeking is accurate mortality figures for smokers. Your data suggests that you collect "cause of death" among other things. It would help me greatly if you could let me know:

Q1. Is smoking ever listed as a cause of death?

A1. Smoking is frequently mentioned on death certificates. However, our data are based on recording the 'Underlying Cause of Death', according to the World Health Organisation International Classification of Diseases, version 9 (ICD-9), and Smoking will never be picked as the Underlying Cause of Death. The death will be recorded as due to Lung Cancer (e.g), or whichever cause is also mentioned on the death certificate.

Q2. Is there any separate register of smokers and from it, how they died?

A2. Not that I know of.

Q3. Is there any accurate mechanism to show smoking related deaths.

A3. No, for the reasons mentioned above. We can give you data on how many people each year die from Lung Cancer, Ischaemic Heart Disease, and other causes which 'may' be linked to smoking. However we don't currently have figures on how many of these deaths were among smokers. You can find estimates of deaths due to smoking at http://www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/hstat02.pdf?direct=1 (pages 51 and 52), a publication produced by the Statistics section of the Department of Health and Children.

Q4. Is there a listing of deaths from "environmental tobacco smoke"?

A4. Not that I know of.

Q5. The other statistic that I have been having difficulty is the percentage of our people who do smoke. I cannot remember if it was a question on the census form but, do you have any figures on this.

A5. You can find information on percentages of smokers in pages 93 and 94 of the Department of Health and Children publication linked to above. These refer to 1998.

Joseph Keating
Vital Statistics
Central Statistics Office
Skehard Road
Tel: +353 21 453 5121
Fax: +353 21 453 5555

I thank you in advance for any hard facts you can furnish,

John Mallon

E-Mail 2

When we asked John if we could use his e-mail for this blog, he replied:

Be my guest but, more importantly, I suspect if you check the same data in the U.K. I believe you will find that (shock horror), there are no figures AT ALL from independent sources that actually show a single death from smoking. And, of course, there has not been a single verified death from ETS. Smoking "contributes" to illness and death but is not solely responsible for it.

ETS is merely an irritant.