Ooh! Ain’t it Wonderful!

Is smoking harmful, or isn’t it? Or is it, perhaps, good for you? In particular, the weighty question needs to be considered: is there any connection between passive smoking (breathing cigarette smoke-polluted air produced by other smokers) and dementia?

A headline in an online publication called ‘Care Appointments’ says: ‘[The University of] Wolverhampton secure (sic) funding to assess impact of passive smoking on dementia.’

Specifically, £153,976 – a nice round figure – has been secured to study the ‘Impacts of Environmental Tobacco Smoke on Incidence and Outcomes of Dementia’. The study will be led by one Professor Ruoling Chen from the University’s Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, no less.

The plan, it seems, is to study groups of old people with and without dementia to see whether passive smoking increases the risk of getting it, and, if someone is unfortunate enough to suffer from dementia, whether passive smoking makes the course of the disease better or worse. Of course it is possible, though I doubt it, they may find that passive smoking is protective against dementia or that dementia patients fare less badly as a result of cigarette smoke exposure.

I can tell you now that this study will be a complete and utter waste of time – to say nothing of a waste of £153,976. Here’s why:

Whatever Professor Chen and his colleagues discover, what are they going to do with the result? If passive smoking is bad for dementia we shall have yet another reason to add the already existing numerous compelling reasons for stopping smoking, and, indeed for banning tobacco. And in the extremely unlikely event that they find smoking is good for dementia, what then? Should  everybody consider taking up smoking to prevent dementia or reduce its severity?

The opportunities for research of this kind are endless but we already know more than enough about the harmful effects of smoking. The £153,976 would be better spent on lobbying for the cigarette factories to be closed down.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

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