Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Thirdhand smoke: the lie that won't die

Bizarrely, the Daily Mail has today decided to resurrect the thirdhand smoke myth...

Is that nasty ash-tray tang that lingers on car-seat fabric, curtains in homes and the clothes of the nicotine addict strong enough to damage other people's health?


According to some experts, third-hand smoke, as it is known, is as dangerous to health as the fumes billowing directly from a pipe or cigarette, particularly for babies and children.

Actually, no experts have ever said that because there is no evidence whatsoever for it. They have only surmised that people might be less inclined to smoke in their house if they believed that 'thirdhand smoke' killed.

The warning came from a paper produced in the respected journal Paediatrics earlier this year.

Much, much earlier this year. At the start of January in fact, and it was thoroughly debunked at the time, even by the Mail's own columnists, so why on earth is the Mail reporting it nine months later?

I won't go into the reasons why 'thirdhand smoke' is such a silly scare, as I have done so before. See Beyond Belief.

It must be a very slow news day.

(Note for those outside the UK: The Daily Mail is notorious for peddling health scares. A full list of all the things it says cause cancer can be seen at the excellent Kill or Cure? website.)


Unknown said...

Regurgitation, Regurtitation, Regurgitation I believe one of our esteemed leaders once said before he moved on to sainthood. It certainly couldn't have been Education, Education, Education.

When will it ever stop, one wonders.

handymanphil said...

I asked Winikoff why there were any people alive since the invention of fire as "3rd hand smoke" began that same day-he refused to answer so I can only surmise that he wanted his moment of world media attention, got it and then retired back to his batcave!

Unknown said...

Indeed, slow news day. Quite amazing really, because the Mail are normally first to jump on the 'IT KILLS YOU!' bandwagon with vigour. Their science correspondence takes a leaf out of this book.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Chris, you move around a bit about in the world of journalism. Why not, perhaps in a roundabout way, try and ask the reporter why she wrote this article and why it appeared now. Perhaps she'd had it stored away since the third hand smoke nonsense first came out.

vincent1 said...

I gave up the Daily Mail Chris, it was bad for my health, it just loves scaring people to death.
They could do with a copy of your book, they need some education!