By Calvin Palmer
The media loves scare stories and if they involve smoking so much the better.
The latest one emanates from an Australian professor who claims a link between smoking and the potentially deadly meningococcus bacteria.
Professor Robert Booy alleges people who smoke are prime candidates for carrying this bacteria in the back of their throats, which can then be passed to children through family cuddles and kisses.
Booy, the director of research at the National Centre for Immunisation and Research at The Children’s Hospital in Sydney, says one in 10 children who go on to develop the rare meningococcal disease will die from it.
Passive smoking isn’t the only smoking risk to children,” said Booy. “Smokers carry more germs like meningococcus, so normal family cuddles and kisses can pass on dangerous germs, even if smokers only smoke outside.”
But smoking outside does not reduce the increased threat posed by meningococcus.
“This is another good reason for smokers to quit, not just smoke outside,” he said.
“Although it is rare, meningococcal disease can be serious and up to 10 per cent of patients can die.”
The key word in Booy’s missive is “rare”.
What is more surprising is that such a learned man makes assertions without resorting to any evidence, no matter how suspect it may or may not be, to back them up.
Booy is simply exercising his power as a high priest of medicine and takes it upon himself to dictate how the rest of us should lead our lives. And a compliant media swallows his every utterance and those of others like him as the gospel truth. Why?
Throw into the mix the claim that children are not only at risk but might also die and once again smokers are depicted as the pariahs of society.
Yet why is it that if tobacco is so dangerous, it is widely available throughout the world?
If this danger is so profound, why do governments not ban tobacco instead of raising taxes on it to swell their coffers and in the case of state governments in the United States reduce their budget shortfalls.
Seems like society cannot have it both ways; on the one hand demonizing smokers and then on the other using them as a lucrative source of revenue so the rest of the population can escape tax increases.
Is Prof Booy really talking medicine here or just plain prejudice?
[Based on a report by the Melbourne Herald Sun.]