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The New Era Black Lung Lie

It has been a quiet time on these pages, not through lack of things to write about, but more a lack of time to actually put finger to key.

Y’see, this campaign was released a few days ago – just in time for the typical “New Year Resolution” shenanigans – and of course, the accompanying video received rather a lot of attention.

The imagery above, and the accompanying video, bring back stark memories of the “black lung” propaganda; images of which can still be seen on cigarette packs as part of the gore-porn that adorns them.

You know, this one:

Except for one, teeny tiny, fatal flaw. Smokers lungs do not look like that.


“I have examined thousands of lungs both grossly and microscopically. I cannot tell you from examining a lung whether or not its former host had smoked.”


Dr. Victor Buhler, Pathologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City

According to the press release:


Public Health England (PHE) has released a new film showing the devastating harms that come from smoking, and how this can be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette or using another type of quit aid.

The film has been released as part of PHE’s Health Harms campaign, which encourages smokers to attempt to quit this January, by demonstrating the personal harm to health from every single cigarette.

“Devastating harms” eh? Except that the lung, along with a few other organs in the human body, are remarkable at self-healing; given time. One cigarette every hour or so will not demonstrably provide devastating harm. That isn’t to say that smoking is entirely harmless, because it isn’t. But don’t let an inconvenient fact get in the way of a good scare story:


Almost half of lung transplant patients were given the lungs taken from heavy smokers, with one in five coming from donors who had smoked at least one packet of cigarettes a day for 20 or more years.

Despite this, new research shows that those people given the lungs of smokers were just as likely to be alive up to three years after transplantation as those who had organs from non-smokers. In some cases, they had improved survival rates.

Donor lungs from heavy smokers appear safe for transplantation

Smokers lungs being used for transplant. From a biological point of view, being able to use lungs that have been exposed to the various constituent parts of cigarette smoke is a good thing. Remember, the lung is a remarkable self-cleaning organ.

Unlike the ridiculous experiment in the video. Smokers lungs aren’t made from cotton wool; which as anyone can tell you is a highly absorbent material, so will suck in anything.

But this is how Public Health England et al operate. Exaggerated propaganda to scare smokers into doing what they want them to do. I’ve said it before, vaping is not a stick to beat smokers with, yet that is exactly what PHE are doing. Again.

The results of the demonstration visually illustrate the stark contrast between the impacts of smoking and vaping. Research estimates that while not risk-free, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.

Of course, that’s the whole point isn’t it? Yet another taxpayer funded campaign to bully, stigmatize and shock smokers into quitting. I highly doubt that this campaign will have the kind of effect that PHE want, and a majority of smokers will treat this campaign – and PHE – with utter, and deserved contempt.


Around 2.5 million adults are using e-cigarettes in England, and they have helped thousands of people successfully quit – but many smokers (44%) either believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking (22%) or don’t know that vaping poses much lower risks to health (22%).

It is rather sad that so many smokers don’t believe that vaping is a reduced risk, and to correct that perception among the populace is a laudable goal. Yet there’s a right way, and a wrong way to do so. The video, and accompanying campaign is more propaganda than a means to educate.