Passive smoking causes lung cancer. This idea has been taken as gospel by anti-smoking campaigners, and probably the average person on the street. However, long-term studies show a different result.
First there was the 1998 WHO report after a 7-year study, where they found “no association between childhood exposure” to second hand smoke and lung cancer risk and a statistically insignificant association between “risk of lung cancer and exposure to spousal and workplace” second hand smoke.
Then there was the study by fierce anti-smokers Enstrom and Kabat, who followed a cohort of over 118,000 Californians from 1959 to 1998, and found “no significant association for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke”. In addition, they concluded that “results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality”, although there could still be a small effect, and that “exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.”
Now another study of 76,000 women found “no link between [lung cancer] ad secondhand smoke”. The only category of women where “exposure showed a trend” i.e. was not statistically significant towards increased risk was those who lived with a smoker for 30+ years. One of the rationales behind the European smoking bans were that smoking in pubs and clubs harm the workers. Few people make a 30+ year career out of working in pubs and clubs.
So why the bans and the hysteria? Smoking is widely seen as a nasty, filthy habit. That might be true, and I personally enjoy the fact that I can go to a gig and not come out smelling of stale smoke. However, it does not excuse whipping up a huge moral panic and depriving not only people of choice, but also infringing property rights. Scientific evidence about the harm of passive smoking is, to put it mildly, inconclusive. However, government-funded “charities” and other busybodies care little for evidence if it is not on their side.