© 1996, Lauren A. Colby. Version 2.3
Has California's Anti-Smoking Campaign Reduced Lung Cancer Rates?
California authorities have recently claimed that, as a result of their anti-smoking campaigns, there has been a marked reduction in lung cancer death rates (LCDRs) in California. No doubt, there's been a reduction, but I suggest that it's entirely unrelated to smoking!
The CDC website contains a massive amount of anti-smoking propaganda. Every so often, however, they slip up and post something that contradicts their own message.
On the site, there are some maps, showing lung cancer death rates for different parts of the country. There is a caveat attached, declaring that the maps will no longer be available after June 21, 2001. However, somebody evidently slipped up and failed to delete the maps, because, as of early December, 2001, they were still there.
The first map purports to show LCDR's for "white males" during the time period 1950-1969. The only other map posted for males is for Black males, which leads me to believe that any male who was not "Black" was classified as "White" (because, back in 1950, the government had not yet begun to classify people as "Asian", "Hispanic", "Native American", etc.).
What we see are the areas with high LCDR's shaded in red and those with the lowest LCDR's shaded in blue. Practically all of California is red or pink. All of Florida is red or pink. The area around New York City is deep red.
The next map shows LCDR's for "white males" for the years 1970-1994. Here it is:
Note that there has been a remarkable change! The parts of Florida around Miami have turned blue. The area around New York City has turned blue. The area around Los Angeles, CA (the smog capital of the world) has turned blue. Most of northeast Texas is red, but the areas along the border with Mexico are blue.
The CDC would have us believe that in the blue areas, fewer people are smoking cigarettes. There is, however, another explanation, which I believe to be more logical. All of the blue areas are areas where there has been a heavy Hispanic immigration.
It is well known that the lung cancer rate in American Indians is very low. Like Asians, they seem to possess a genetic resistance to the disease. The Hispanics who have immigrated into the blue areas are descendants of the same ancestors as our Native Americans. Thus, the changes in demographics more likely account for the changes in LCDR's than do any other single factor.