Recently, a report commissioned by the Royal Society for Public Health concluded that smoking should be banned in many outdoor areas of the UK. The report cited the statistic that 1,500 babies’ lives had been saved in the last 8 years, since smoking was banned in all enclosed public areas and workplaces. However, in just 1 year (2013) during that time, 185,331 babies were killed by abortion. Public opinion on smoking is changing rapidly for the better, but not on abortion. Why not?
Firstly, the statistic is shocking. 185,331? 1,500 babies saved by the smoking ban is a brilliant stat, but is dwarfed by the number deliberately killed during abortions. When I tweeted this stat, I lost count of the amount of favourites and retweets I received. People don’t know the shocking truth. 185,331 in one year. Ouch.
So why is there such a paradoxical difference in public opinion of these two issues? Cigarettes are now widely seen as anti-social, evil and harmful to children. This is due to successful public health campaigns, drugs to assist people to stop, and the ban on smoking in workplaces (including pubs – for a non-smoker, this was initially very annoying as your mates kept going outside for a cig, but now it’s much more pleasant for everyone). Now, I’m not for one second saying that this is a bad development, but I grew up around cigarettes – many of my family smoked and I even remember teachers smoking in the school playground while on duty! This was normal and it hasn’t done me any harm!
However, the public health benefits in reducing smoking are huge. Smoking increases Carbon Monoxide in the blood, thickening it and hence raising blood pressure and strain on the heart. It also coats the lungs in tar, the same chemical that we make our roads out of, and we all know that it can cause cancer. I remember once reading in a medical textbook (part of my degree is medical sciences) that a doctor who spent all of his/her time trying to convince and help people to stop smoking, would achieve more “Quality Adjusted Life Years” (QALYs) than any doctor, whatever speciality. This means that they would essentially make a more positive difference in people’s lives. Second hand smoke is also an issue, and I can remember having real problems with this while working in a bar during a summer while at University. The smoking ban has been an unequivocal success and I’m not having a go at that!
What really annoyed me about the recent report though was the difference in numbers. 1,500 babies saved from stillbirth over 8 years is seen as a great success, which I suppose it is, but simple numbers show that abortion is a much greater danger to our children, and that’s why we must fight it. 185,331. Remember, this is a much smaller country than the USA (53 million people in England in 2011). That’s Wembley twice, and then some! People passionately fight for legislation and restrictions on smoking, which is great, but the pro-life lobby have to be 1000 times more passionate* by my calculations. The numbers are truly shocking and heart-breaking. This major public health issue (smoking) is truly eclipsed by what I see as the horror of abortion and that just sounds ridiculous. But it’s the truth.
*988.432 times more passionate for maths geeks like me!