This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
My dad was 74, I think, when he died from Emphysema. He wasn't at that time a smoker. He had been a heavy smoker for most of his life though. It takes a while to get you, and being smoke-free for a few years doesn't allow you to escape. I say this to show that linking COPD with current smoking rates may not be the whole story.
So, anyway, what DO the smokers die from, as opposed to the smoke-free? The figures must tell us something. Smokers vs non-smokers life expectancies would be good too. To make your case (which I doubt, but let's see whether it can be proven) maybe a pie chart of cause of death for each group per decade might show us something. (Without getting into the difference between true c-o-d and what ends up on the death cert.)
You raise an interesting conundrum; how to communicate a rebutall of the 'Anti's' diatribe. For me, your conclusions make a lot of sense, but they can only be seen as logical if you state the use of some additional qualifying reference. As Adrian Camp suggests, “you need to develop your figures and data before you can make your point”. If I may be so bold, my analysis of your (our) problem, is that we can do much better, in terms of communications, if we present our data and queries in compliance with the rules of the (sadly) now old-fashioned Debating Society.
To that end, I would offer as the best qualifier in defense of smoking, a reference to the workings of our Immune System, (as outlined in my Post on 26 Oct. --- Re Carbon “With special reference to Carbon Smoke”). To me, any reasonably intelligent person who looks at the 'how the what and the why' of the Immune System, quickly comes to the conclusion that it only serves one purpose: our Survival. Through its bio-chemical mastery, it does so much more than organising our bio defense systems; it surprisingly influences our subconscious and concious brain, effectively setting in train all of our emotional responses in order to seek sustenance, i.e. the 'feel good factor'.
You asked for a peer review, and here, I would make another observation: the term 'Peer Review' has now been irrevocably sullied because it is always used to support 'consensus science', and these terms have now become synonymous with the modern form of Sophistry, Dissembly, and Dissimulation. So if we truly want to defend our viewpoint, we should avoid their terminology like the plague, if we continue to parrot their nonsense, albeit with scorn and derision, we play right into their hands; they love it, they control the ajenda! I believe that we should take the ajenda into realms that they cannot follow by expressing only the true numbers, the true physical facts, the true laws of physics etc.. We should sideline them by refusing to address the 'fireman's rag'. We only confront the 'firemen' who hide behind the rabble.
Here is pointers in this direction:-
Take the medical man who lends spurious authority to epidemiology scams: by confronting a doctor with questions like, --- When you are in charge of a patient who is seriously ill in hospital, why do you instruct the nursing staff be careful with visitors, particularly visitors that could create mental stress? He or she will inevitably say something like this, “The patient is fighting for his life, his body's defenses are at a low ebb (means his immune system is flat-out repairing the damage), any unnecessary stress reduces his chances of recovery.” We may then ask the doctor, Do you see this advice as an extension of your Hippocratic Oath? The response will most certainly be, “Yes, the care of the patient is my paramount responsibility”. So when you give advice on medical matters outside of the normal patient doctor relationship, say, on immunization against a perceived biological threat, or, the banning of long ingrained life-style habits, irrespective of the effects on a person's health and well- being, do you have the right to suspend your duty of Care thereby removing the 'patient's' freedom to choose? --- Silence! Anything they say will be interpreted by most people as, “you are a doctor, not God! I do have some human rights”.
I trust that you find this constructive, Gary, we are true Peers in that we share the common ground of searching for 'the truth and nothing but the truth'. The anti lot are 'peepers' as in, to peep through a keyhole. They suffer from a form of myopia brought about by their self inflicted Tunnel Vision.
Good luck, David