March 5th, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

Who, Exactly, Does Tobacco Kill?

When I was a little kid, some doctors actually recommended smoking as a cure for what we now call acid reflux disease. When I was a teenager, we were being told that smoking was killing tens of thousands of people per year. Now, despite that fact that a lower percentage of people smoke than ever before, we're being told that it's 440,000 people per year just here in the US. Wow, when did cigarettes get so much more lethal? Oh, wait, they didn't. What changed is how they calculate that figure. Did you ever wonder where that number comes from? It's not like anybody has "killed by cigarettes" on their death certificate. So how do they decide which deaths to blame on tobacco? And more importantly, how certain are they that those people would have lived any longer than that if they hadn't smoked? Collapse )