Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Secondhand Smoke: The Phantom Menace

We received an excellent column from Dr. John Dunn, a physician from South Texas, who says the American Cancer Society should re-check the "facts" they've been spreading about the effects of secondhand smoke.

Of course, we know the ACS's true agenda has nothing to do with secondhand smoke. They want to ban smoking altogether, and they're chipping away at the issue through smoking bans, "for public health reasons," they say.

We call this back-door prohibition.

Here is the column from Dr. Dunn, which pokes holes in the pro-smoking ban argument:

I can say with confidence that second hand smoke may irritate some, but it does not kill. Those claiming thousands of deaths from second hand smoke to the Dallas City Council and the public are deceitful for a political goal.

I have been a Texan for 22 years, and a physician specializing in emergency medicine for 36 years. I am familiar with the public health science on second hand smoke.

Public health studies cited by the American Cancer Society and the Surgeon General claim thousands of deaths result from second-hand smoke. These are weak, cherry-picked studies. Their supporters compound the deceit by ignoring studies by the World Health Organization (Buffetta 1998 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute), Stranges, 2006 in Archives of Internal Medicine, and Enstrom 2003 in The British Medical Journal – all of which show no effect from second-hand smoke.

In science, one study that disproves a scientific theory is more important than a pile of studies that are slightly positive. Anti-smoking advocates and fanatics ignore that basic rule and ignore any study they don’t like.

They are propagandists, not scientists.

The crusaders are willing to do and say anything about second hand smoke, including making public statements about thousands of deaths from second hand smoke. Those claims are diverse and duplicitous—they are lies. Second hand smoking, even for the spouse of a smoker is one cigarette or less per day—which has no effect. The second hand smoke scare is a phantom menace conjured up by the High Holy Church of Smoke Haters to support the anti-smoking crusade.

Smoking Bans violate the Texas tradition of minding your own business. If the City Council thinks it has a role in telling people how to live, they should get a Divinity Degree and find a congregation. Folks in Dallas can easily avoid second hand smoke, and employment in a bar or restaurant is voluntary. Smoking is legal. Avoiding smoke is easy.

John Dale Dunn, MD, JD

Policy Advisor American Council on Science and Health, NYC, and the Heartland Institute, Chicago.

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