Skip to comments.Killing the passive smoking debate
Posted on 06/29/2006 7:34:44 AM PDT by ZGuy
Secondhand smoke debate over. Thats the message from the Surgeon Generals office, delivered by a sycophantic media. The claim is that the science has now overwhelmingly proved that smoke from others cigarettes can kill you. Actually, debate over simply means: If you have your doubts, shut up!
But you definitely should have doubts over the new Surgeon Generals report, a massive 727-page door stop. Like many massive reports on controversial issues, its probably designed that way so nobody (especially reporters on deadline) will want to or have time to read beyond the executive summary. That includes me; if I had that much time Id reread War and Peace. Twice. But the report admits it contains no new science so we can evaluate it based on research already available.
First consider the 1993 EPA study that began the passive smoking crusade. It declared such smoke a carcinogen based on a combined analysis (meta-analysis) of 11 mostly tiny studies. The media quickly fell into line, with headlines blaring: Passive Smoking Kills Thousands and editorials demanding: Ban Hazardous Smoking; Report Shows Its a Killer.
But the EPAs report had more holes than a spaghetti strainer. Its greatest weakness was the agencys refusal to use the gold standard in epidemiology, the 95 percent confidence interval. This simply means there are only five chances in 100 that the conclusion came about just by chance, even if the study itself was done correctly.
Curiously, the EPA decided to use a 90 percent level, effectively doubling the likelihood of getting its result by sheer luck of the draw.
Why would it do such a strange thing? You guessed it. Its results weren't significant at the 95 percent level. Essentially, it moved the goal posts back because the football had fallen short. In scientific terminology this is know as dishonesty.
Two much larger meta-analyses have appeared since the EPAs. One was conducted on behalf of the World Health Organization and covered seven countries over seven years. Published in 1998, it actually showed a statistically significant reduced risk for children of smokers, though we can assume that was a fluke. But it also showed no increase for spouses and co-workers of smokers.
The second meta-analysis, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2002, likewise found a statistical significance when 48 studies were combined. Looked at separately, though, only seven showed significant excesses of lung cancer. Thus 41 did not.
Meta-analysis, though, suffer from such problems as different studies having been conducted in different ways the apples and oranges conundrum. What was really needed was one study involving a huge number of participants over a long period of time using the same evaluation.
We got that in the prestigious British Medical Journal in 2003. Research professor James Enstrom of UCLA and professor Geoffrey Kabat of the State University of New York, Stony Brook presented results of a 39-year study of 35,561 Californians, which dwarfed in size everything that came before. It found no causal relationship between exposure to [passive smoke] and tobacco-related mortality, adding, however a small effect cant be ruled out.
The reason active tobacco smoking could be such a terrible killer while passive smoke may cause no deaths lies in the dictum "the dose makes the poison." We are constantly bombarded by carcinogens, but in tiny amounts the body usually easily fends them off.
A New England Journal of Medicine study found that even back in 1975 when having smoke obnoxiously puffed into your face was ubiquitous in restaurants, cocktail lounges, and transportation lounges the concentration was equal to merely 0.004 cigarettes an hour. Thats not quite the same as smoking two packs a day, is it?
But none of this has the least impact on the various federal, state, and city agencies and organizations like the American Lung Association for a very good reason. They already know theyre scientifically wrong. The purpose of the passive smoking campaign has never been to protect non-smokers, but rather to cow smokers into giving up the habit.
Its easy to agree with the ultimate goal, but inventing scientific outcomes and shutting down scientific debate as a means is as intolerable as it was when Nazi Germany proved the validity of eugenics.
Science by decree.
Well, I for one am glad it is a minority smoking causing second hand smoke death as opposed to the exhause from all the automobiles we were told did it.
What would you think they would say if it were the Vatican laying down the law like this?
I suspect they wouldn't but it also looks like they're never going to see how totalitarian they look at this.
I will support a ban as soon as cars are banned and sick people in public are banned. I'm tired of breathing their filthy secondhand germs. No one has a right to put my life in danger by going in public breathing germs into my airspace. Sick people in public kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people every year.
Decree by pseudoscience and back door liberal/democrat/communist machination. How sad that the minority anarchists get their way.
It wasn't that long ago that "eggs" were dangerous for us to eat.....then a "new study" determined that was not the case at all, eggs are actually good for us.
If you shout a lie loud enough and long enough it will be taken as Truth TM.
I'm looking for the day when gubmint studies have to justify themselves. I know, don't hold my breath!
Well, duh, of course the smoke contains carcinogens -- we already knew that. The reality is that almost no one has ever gotten a significant exposure through the second-hand pathway.
There is no safe level of breathing vehicle fumes.
There is no safe level of saturated fat consumption.
There is no safe level of sugar.
There is no safe level of Driving.
There is no safe level of drinking.
There is no safe level of prescription drugs.
There is no safe level of life.
I like what you both said. And I think it's the fault of Liberals that we have to be so p.c. as to allow people to perpetrate their crap on the rest of us.
What does it mean, the snout of the camel is in the tent?
This whole clean air thing is a crock. Our ancestors in England, Europe or where ever spent their darkness hours in smoky huts with only a hole in the roof as a chimney. A bit over a 100 years ago cities like London had "fog" that was mostly coal and wood smoke, plus all the dirt of having horses and oxen as the prime movers.
The point is, mankind has lived for thousands of years around more polluted air than today and survived to the point there are almost 4 billion of people. The air today in the USA is almost as pure as air in an Intel chip fab clean room.
Smoking Out Bad Science
For the past 15 years the anti-smoking lobby has pushed the view that cigarette smoking is a public health hazard. This was a shrewd tactic. For having failed to persuade committed smokers to save themselves, finding proof that passive smoking harmed non-smoking wives, children or workmates meant smoking could be criminalized. Last week the science fell off the campaign wagon when the definitive study on passive smoking, sponsored by the World Health Organization, reported no cancer risk at all.
But don't bet that will change the crusaders' minds. smoking, like fox hunting, is something that certain factions want to ban simply because they don't like it. It has slipped from a health crusade to a moral one. Today, National No smoking Day in Britain will be marked by demagoguery from the Department of Health, which has already set its agenda to ban smoking. The U.K. Scientific Committee on Tobacco or Health (SCOTH) report on passive smoking, due out Thursday, is headed by a known anti-tobacco crusader, Professor Nicholas Wald of the Royal London School of Medicine.
However, it is now obvious that the health hazard of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been knowingly overstated. The only large-scale definitive study on ETS was designed in 1988 by a WHO subgroup called the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC). It compared 650 lung-cancer patients with 1,542 healthy people in seven European countries. The results were expressed as "risk ratios," where the normal risk for a non-smoker of contracting lung cancer is set at one. Exposure to tobacco smoke in the home raised the risk to 1.16 and to smoke in the workplace to 1.17. This supposedly represents a 16% or 17% increase. But the admitted margin of error is so wide--0.93 to 1.44--that the true risk ratio could be less than one, making second-hand smoke a health benefit.
EPA: Environmental Propaganda Agency
"The Environmental Protection Agency jiggered the facts to push its notion that passive smoke causes cancer. The EPA's dishonesty was recently laid bare in court. But this was too late for thousands of businesses and towns that responded to the EPA's junk science by passing anti-smoking measures."
"In '93, the EPA released a report on secondhand smoke. It claimed that evidence showed that environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS, is a Group A carcinogen. Secondhand smoke causes cancer in humans, said the EPA."
"Highly respected scientists questioned the EPA's findings. But the big-government crowd and health storm troopers gleefully waved the report in lawmakers' faces. They demanded that something be done. "
"Soon, airlines, offices, restaurants and even bars declared smoking verboten. Smokers effectively became lepers. All based on bad science. "
"Tobacco companies sued. The result? U.S. District Judge William Osteen issued his 92-page ruling against the EPA on July 17. Some of its findings:"
* "EPA failed to comply with the procedural requirements set forth by Congress."
* "EPA failed to comply with the requirements" of the Radon Research Act, which it used to conduct its ETS research.
* The EPA's indoor-air quality commission "did not include individuals from industry or representatives from more than one state," as required by law.
* "Using its normal methodology and its selected studies, EPA did not demonstrate a statistically significant association between ETS and lung cancer. . . . Instead, EPA changed its methodology to find a statistically significant association."
* "EPA began drafting a policy guide recommending workplace smoking bans before drafting the ETS Risk Assessment."
* "Rather than reach a conclusion after collecting information, researching, and making findings, EPA categorized ETS as a 'known cause of cancer' in 1989."
* The EPA's "administrative record contains glaring deficiencies."
* "EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun."
* The EPA "adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the agency's public conclusion, and aggressively utilized the (Radon) Act's authority to disseminate findings to establish a de facto regulatory scheme intended to restrict plaintiffs' products and to influence public opinion."
* "EPA disregarded information and made findings on selective information. . . . (The EPA) failed to disclose important findings and reasoning, and left significant questions without answers."
In short, the EPA lied."
For anyone (including myself, yes an admitted smoker) who compares these zealots as nazis I simply need remind all to one of Hitlers many decrees (in his nanny-state efforts to protect his Aryan population ) by banning smoking in Nazi Germany.
PS. Before all of you non-smokers jump all over this, PLEASE, know that if any of you enjoy an occasional Big Mac (with fries) or Twinkies, or anything else which "do-gooders" deem "unhealthy," YOU, are next!!!
First will be "taxing" these unhealthy goodies; thereafter, the banning, thereof. Count on it.
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