This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
I must be a little dense.
Aren't both JamesV and GaryK basically arguing the same side of the story?
Good flame fest without a lot of flames though. A prime example of why discussing such topics in a Bar with a beer in your hand is infinitely better than doing it in a web forum.
Of course we need to find a bar where smoking is allowed so James can puff on his pipe with adequate enough ventilation that I don't get all the carcinogens in the smoke while I eat my egg sandwich with bacon on white bread with mayonnaise.
Somehow both of us will manage to leave the bar without dying.
Gary seems to be arguing that smoking your own cigarettes doesn't cause lung cancer, which I am not arguing. The Washington/Minnesota thing has to be a prize entry for the "how many logical fallacies can I fit into one statement" contest. I forgot to mention that comparing any 2 of 51 states gives you 1275 potential comparisons. Some of those comparisons will fit any preconceived notion you care to choose. That's why it's important to specify in advance what you are comparing, and between which areas/states/people etc. There will be at least one state with both a higher smoking rate and longer life expectancy than another, for example, and I am surprised we weren't treated to it. Finding that out post-hoc doesn't tell us anything at all.
More interesting would be that people today probably believe that our environment is far far worse than it used to be.
Hence all the concern about particulates etc.
Interestingly, ARIC tells us that back in the 60s winter particulates in urban areas were around 250micrograms/m3,
Today they say the levels are around 40microgams/m3. More generally the particulate levels elsewhere range to about 10micrograms/m3.
To me that is a significant reduction (I must say I miss the semll of coal smoke on a winters morning walking in the hills past the various cottages with their chimneys smoking away. Fortunately there are still a few enthusiasts running steam trains where the authentic steam and coal experience can be revisited.
Don't get me wrong, we do need sensible measures to control our pollution and yes smog was bad for you. But it wasn't exactly decimating the population.
There is much excitement about shipping pollution but according to one source shipping particulates in the highest intensity amount to 1-2micrograms/m3.
Now I can't vouch for any of these figures, but I think the overall message is clear; we are being made icnreasingly paranoid about less and less.