Where there's smoke...

(Jul 24, 2010)

Amongst its other claims to fame, Scotland produced one of the earliest prominent anti-smoking campaigners - our very own King James VI was an early opponent of tobacco consumption and smoking:

"A custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs"

King James VI & I, A Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604)


Fans of historical fact will note that when King James wrote this he had also become King James I of England and Ireland.  Unfortunately, the king's Scottish subjects didn't listen to him, then or now, and Scots have a higher incidence of smoking than other parts of the United Kingdom:

"In 2003, 26% of British adults aged 16+ smoked cigarettes…

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Tags: smoking, lung cancer, Scotland

Cause and effect

(Nov 5, 2009)

Examining past trends in cause of death can be very instructive.  However, in some quarters it has become popular to try to extrapolate trends in causes of death to create a forecast of future mortality rates.  This has a superficial appeal: using a more-detailed breakdown of mortality data feels like it should result in a better-quality forecast.

However, extrapolating trends is tricky because some important causes of death are driven by the same underlying factors.  For example, smoking increases mortality due to heart disease and numerous cancers.  This means that trends by cause of death are not independent, and forecasting correlated time series is problematic.  Furthermore, some causes of death…

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Tags: cause of death, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer

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