If you're fed-up with government intrusion into our private lives (alcohol, tobacco, weight or so-called obesity, etc.) especially the nonsense and destruction surrounding smoking bans, then discuss/fight smoking bans at the FORCES tavern or go directly to their FORCES homepage. Another great forum, UK based though, is The Big Debate with a sister site for Freedom to Choose.
Below is a letter that I sent to the IL Representatives concerning a statewide smoking ban.
To: All members of the Illinois House of Representatives
Subj: Amendment to HB0246; Smoke Free Illinois Act
CC: Governor Rod Blagojevich, Senator John Cullerton, Dr. Clement Rose, Harold Wimmer, and Dr. Andrew Rauh
Dear Illinois State Representatives,
When considering HB0246, I urge you to take stock of the following factors:
(1) Economics—For a variety of reasons, smoking bans are very bad for the economy. Many states try to recoup the losses by raising tobacco taxes despite advice to the contrary from economists.
(2) The public image of relying on junk science—As the scandals of antismoking funded research come to light, the negative impact on both science and politics is nontrivial.
(3) The political climate (voters)—The climate is changing rapidly. Now that the antismoking frenzy has wreaked havoc on many economies and bred suspicion of charities, voters—smokers, nonsmokers, "closet" smokers—are increasingly making their displeasure known in the political arena.
I also urge you to weigh the social problems associated with ostracizing and vilifying smokers, which pertain to both economics and public relations albeit indirectly. All of these points are outlined and discussed below. If you would like to follow the hyperlinks, then please follow the links onhttp://www.stahlheart.com/Legislature.html . At the very least, please read the concluding paragraph.
20 Fields East
Champaign, IL 61822
A recent article by Martiga Lohn, Associated Press (February 18, 2007), "State smoking bans putting pressure on coffers" is well worth your attention. Take a look at the poor economics of smoking bans in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty – July 2003, vol. 53, no. 7, which concludes with "This approach [of bans], in addition to being morally destructive, is bad economics as well." A recent article (posted March 14, 2007) puts it into very plain language on WorldNetDaily in "I’ll do it…if I can smoke." A variety of compilations and studies show the effects, usually deleterious, to various businesses—with the noticeable exceptions of large chains, fast food restaurants and pharmaceutical companies. You should also recall that Prohibition was followed by the stock market crash of 1929, which was followed by The Great Depression—and these cycles are connected.
One of the primary supporters of the antismoking push forSmokeLess States is (or was) the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Note that according to the Foundation’s website, "Robert Wood Johnson devoted his life to public service and to building the small, but innovative, family firm of Johnson & Johnson into the world's largest health and medical care products conglomerate." According to How Products Are Made :: Volume 3: Nicotine Patch, "In early 1996 the FDA approved a patch containing nicotine for sale without a prescription. The first brand to be marketed under this new Over The Counter (OTC) regulation was Johnson & Johnson's Nicotrol®." Also, from a Europa press release dated 11/12/2006, "The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Pfizer's consumer healthcare business ("PCH") by Johnson & Johnson ("J&J"), subject to conditions. The Commission found that the proposed transaction as initially notified would give rise to competition concerns in three product areas: topical dermatological antifungals in Italy, daily-use mouthwash in Greece and nicotine replacement therapy ("NRT") products in the EEA." Not surprisingly, the suspicions are mounting, as evidenced by this blog from a nonsmoker, "Smoking bans: Good public policy? Or simply a great pharmaceutical marketing plan?", which is dated February 23, 2007.
One interesting quote from aguest column in the Philadelphia Inquirer written by RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, "We need to tax cigarettes high enough to make smokers (especially kids) think twice about what it costs to smoke. Pennsylvania smokers are taxed about only half ($1.35/pack) what their neighbors in New Jersey are ($2.58/pack)." Now, unreasonable taxation is coupled with government intrusion limiting business rights and personal freedom--and all of these measures are justified by "health studies" biased by antismoking fanaticism primarily funded by pharmaceutical interest, i.e., drug money.
PARTIAL DISCLAIMER: The 2004 stock holdings of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation included quite a bit ofJohnson & Johnson common stock. However, following the money trail (from pharmaceutical companies to smoking bans) can prove tricky and the connections of the Board of Directors for RWJF to Johnson & Johnson can be difficult to ferret out. Moreover, the role played by some charitable organizations and the pro-ban organizations in various states to lobby (because laws prevent lobbying on the part of certain entities) is difficult to ascertain with any degree of precision. Also, indirect advertising—such as the American Cancer Society advocating nicotine replacement therapy and drugs, and number 4 of Surgeon General’s quit smoking campaign, "Get Medication and Use It Correctly", advocating nicotine patches among other things—is a cloudy issue. An interesting note is the evolution of the American Cancer Society’s position on nicotine, "Many people mistakenly think that nicotine is the substance in tobacco that causes cancer. This belief may cause some people to avoid using nicotine replacement therapy when trying to quit. While nicotine is what gets (and keeps) people addicted to tobacco, other substances in tobacco are responsible for its cancer-causing effects. There is some early evidence from lab-based studies that nicotine may help existing tumors to grow, but whether these results apply in people is not yet known and more research is needed." Nicotine wasn’t considered carcinogenic until drugs, such as Chantix along with Zyban, were available for smoking cessation—but now we have "early evidence" of a nicotine/cancer connection and the American Cancer Society screaming for more funding of "research"? Although the money trails can be tough to follow, you can follow the links in this letter to see the serious economic problems of smoking bans and antismoking hysteria.
Take a sobering look atSave Ohio Jobs :
The smoking ban in Toledo, Ohio has had a severe economic impact. The loss to the general economy and jobs has been dramatic. We are determined to prevent that from happening to the city of Cleveland.
After researching the Toledo, Ohio fight, I thought we had the antis. But, alas, they realized their old argument that business would increase was no longer viable because of Toledo, they decided to use the 'level playing field' trick!
Is this really what you want for the Illinois economy?
(2) The public image of relying on junk science
For beginners, see The Scientific Scandal of Anti-Smoking by J. R. Johnstone, PhD, and P.D.Finch, Emeritus Professor of Mathematical Statistics.
To get an idea of how badly science has become tainted by the antismoking movement, I encourage you to become familiar with a long-term study by Enstrom and Kabat, "Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98" (British Medical Journal, vol. 326, 17 May, 2003). The study concluded, "The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed." Also from the Results section, "No significant associations were found during the shorter follow up periods of 1960-5, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-98." More importantly, become familiar with the reaction of the American Cancer Society (ACS) to the publication. Enstrom responded by creating the Scientific Integrity Institute. Enstrom is a nonsmoker and says that the data for his research came from the American Cancer Society. He also says--with some estimation involved due to inflation over the years--that about 90% of the total funding came from the ACS, about 5% from the UC Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, and about 5% from the Center for Indoor Air Research (a tobacco industry source). Yet, the study is criticized and often dismissed on the grounds that it was tobacco-funded. (More likely than not, the antismoking groups cut funding when the results went the wrong way and the researchers looked elsewhere for funding to finish the study.) As for the American Cancer Society, in addition to a violation of a standard embargo on media reports to an upcoming release of an academic article, "The ACS decided in February 2004 that scientists who receive financial support from the tobacco industry will be barred from receiving grants from the ACS as of July 1, 2005….Those who follow issues of research and grant making said the decision of a major supporter of scientific research to adopt a litmus test in deciding who gets grants could have ramifications that extend far beyond the debate over the ethics of accepting research sponsorship from the tobacco industry. I have gone from being an investigator who was once entirely supported by ACS grants to an investigator who cannot even apply for an ACS grant." At one point, a letter was sent from antismoking guns to the University of California Vice Provost for Research (among other hotshots) attempting to bar tobacco industry funded research. Fortunately, in a February 2005 Nature Medicine article, the UC Vice Provost for Research, Lawrence Coleman, had the horse-sense to state, "Academic freedom must be absolute or no one has it." Finally, in 2005, the UC Academic Senate adopted a strong resolution supporting the right of UC faculty members to accept research support from any source that adheres to UC policy. It almost sounds like a happy ending.
Enstrom quotes Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, who is a tobacco control researcher, as telling JAMA (Journal of the Amerian Medical Association), "We're really risking our credibility [as public health professionals or officials] by putting out rather absurd claims that you can be exposed briefly to secondhand smoke and you are going to come down with heart disease or cancer. People are going to look at that and say that's ridiculous." From Siegel’s blog , in reference to criminalizing smoking in the presence of children in the home (as a form of child abuse), he says, "I am deeply disturbed by this alarming turn of events in the anti-smoking movement." The question here arises that, if secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is lethal, then wouldn’t the first order of business be to protect involuntary passive smokers, i.e., children? Yet, the smoking bans have thus far been geared toward behavior modification in adults to protect other adults--adults who can choose where to drink, dine, work, socialize, etc…. This is a BIG clue that experts in the pro-ban business never really believed in the dangers of ETS.
Bear in mind the articles "Warning: the health police can seriously addle your brain" and "Second-hand Smoke is Harmful to Science." You would do well to take a look at a group of students’ "Report on the misuse of science in the administrations of George H. W. Bush (1989-1993) and William J. Clinton (1993-2001)," indicating that young people are also wise to the scientific…foibles. Referring to an Executive Order to ban smoking in all federal buildings, justified by relying on a 1992 EPA report, Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders, the students’ report says:
However, prior to [the President’s] executive order, the cited report was subject to review by the House Committee on Agriculture (July 1993), the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (July 1993), and the Congressional Research Service (November 1995). Each determined that the procedures taken by the EPA in producing their report were scientifically questionable and perhaps politically motivated. The report was also subject to a lawsuit filed by six tobacco companies in early 1993.
Of course, the World Health Organization (WHO) has done some serious backpedaling over some recent reports. The Telegraph published an article exposing one study. The then-editor of the Telegraph, Dominic Lawson, wrote a commentary in The (London) Independent, Feb 17, 2006. This commentary from across the Great Pond refers to the Enstrom/ACS mess and, more interestingly, the WHO study:
At that time, when I was editor of The Sunday Telegraph, the paper, under the headline "Passive Smoking Doesn't Cause Cancer - Official", revealed that the WHO had initially kept under wraps the results of its latest research into passive smoking in seven countries, which showed not only that there was probably no link between passive smoking and lung cancer, but that it might even have a protective effect.
Action on Smoking and Health - but not, interestingly, the WHO - made a formal complaint, on grounds of inaccuracy, to the Press Complaints Commission. After an exhaustive investigation, lasting several months, the PCC rejected the complaint.
Another study was reported in the press concerning (direct) smoking and an at-best-iffy association with myocardial infarction, but only a copy of the article, "Study casts doubt on heart 'risk factors' " by Aisling Irwin, Science Correspondent, can be found. The research of direct smoking has been equally addled. Exposing the unhealthy propaganda, Lauren A. Colby wrote a book, In Defense of Smokers, back in 1999. Many people have asked him whether anything has changed since he wrote his book. In his 2006 Epilogue, he does discuss some changes. For example, three of his friends have died of lung cancer. All were life-long nonsmokers. Given the actual lack of correlation in overall studies between ETS and lung cancer, one can’t help but wonder how so many nonsmokers—some exposed to ETS and some not—are contracting lung cancer. We have Colby to thank for finding the lost 1964 Surgeon General’s report, showing that occasional smokers were actually in better health than nonsmokers; the full report can be found here. (If smoking has become more deadly since 1964, then one can’t help but wonder what the difference between tobacco prior to 1964 and modern tobacco is. This is actually an interesting question that will undoubtedly be investigated as the scientific scandals unfold.) This leads to the most devastating part of the antismoking "science." Specifically, all of the resources squandered on antismoking could have contributed to actually and honestly researching diseases.
If tobacco smoke contains "known carcinogens," then why aren’t all smokers dropping like flies? This should be especially true under the contemporary social conditions of requiring smokers to smoke outdoors even in inclement weather, shoving smokers into grossly overcrowded lounges (evidently, ventilation is optional), foisting chest X-rays on smokers at every chance, constantly telling smokers that they’re killing themselves (the "witch doctor effect"), and so on. (Where inclement weather is concerned, I wonder how many smokers have caught pneumonia as a result of antismoking policies.) Yet, nothing is investigated. In Steven Milloy’s Secondhand Smoke Scam," we learn, "The National Cancer Institute, for example, gave Glantz $600,000 to "study" tobacco industry lobbying on the state level. Just what kind of cancer research is that?" Jonathan M. Samet M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, was also awarded $600,000 "to research reducing the risks of second hand tobacco smoke globally" by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, which by the way was initially funded by tobacco money gained in a Dade County lawsuit. (NOTE: The obscene sum awarded to flight attendants is preposterous, especially now that we have "Mortality from Cancer and Other Causes among Airline Cabin Attendants in Germany, 1960–1997," American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 156, No. 6, which states on p. 564, "We found a rather remarkably low SMR [Standardized Mortality Ratio] for lung cancer among female cabin attendants and no increase for male cabin attendants, indicating that smoking and exposure to passive smoking may not play an important role in mortality in this group. Smoking during airplane flights was permitted in Germany until the mid-1990s, and smoking is still not banned on all charter flights." This study came from the Department of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, School of Public Health–WHO Collaborating Center, University, Bielefeld, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany.) Yet, no question of bias is made as to Samet’s role in the Surgeon General’s reports concerning ETS in the same way that research partially funded by the tobacco industry is questioned or dismissed. The monies involved to specific individuals are staggering, and the professional and social perks of coming to the "right" conclusions are weighty.
From the American Medical Association, "In total, for FY2006 the states have allocated $551 million for tobacco prevention, a small increase from FY2005 funding of $538.2 million, but barely one-third of the $1.6 billion minimum the CDC recommends." As Mr. Milloy rightly asks, just what kind of science is this? A recent study of over 40 million MediCare hospitalization records paint a sorry picture of hospital safety. Dr. Joseph Mercola’s comments on the study include, "if the gap between high and low performers in terms of hospital safety wasn't as steep, some 200,000 safety problems and 34,000 Medicare patient deaths would've been avoided, at a savings of $1.7 billion." And this is only the Medicare patients’ treatment. If we could improve hospital safety, we’d have our $1.6 million to thoroughly trash the economy with antismoking propaganda—and we’d have $100 million leftover to throw a big party! (Or, we could blow it all on hats!) How ridiculous do things need to get?
Many moons ago, a statistician did honestly question the curious correlation between lung cancer and smoking. His name was Ronald A. Fisher and he was one of the great statisticians of the twentieth century. The pertinent question to subjects in an observational study concerning smoking was, "Do you inhale?" Although this might sound like an odd question at first, we have only to remember a recent President who "did not inhale." The surprising result of Fisher’s follow-up to a previous study included:
The fact, however, and it is a fact that should have interested Hill and Doll in 1950, is that inhalers get fewer cancers. and the difference is statistically significant. Should not these workers have let the world know, not only that they had discovered the cause of lung cancer (cigarettes), but also that they had discovered the means of its prevention (inhaling cigarette smoke)? How had the [Medical Research Council] the heart to withhold this information from the thousands who would otherwise die of lung cancer?
The value of Fisher’s curious discovery has never been exploited, but the politically-motivated and erroneous conclusions of Hill and Doll haunt us still. Tobacco clearly has a devastating effect on some people, while it doesn’t seem to affect others and seems to have a protective (homeopathic or innoculating?) effect on others still. We all know the George Burns type, such as Jeanne Louise Calment who quit smoking in her teens—her 100+teens—and died a few years later at 122. (The reason she quit was that she had become too blind too light her cigarettes and was too embarrassed to ask anyone to do it for her. I doubt that she used Nicotrol®.) One of the factors attributed to her longevity was lack of stress, which doesn’t seem to apply to most smokers today. Is there any chance of allocating at least some of the tobacco-control money into learning what the correlation between smoking and lung cancer really is? We might discover something truly valuable about the disease. We might find ways of identifying and treating terminal illnesses without always resorting to dangerous/expensive drugs and radiation. But, no, according to the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (vol. 81, No. 1, Spring 2007, pp. 312-334) As Depressing as It Was Predictable? Lung Cancer, Clinical Trials, and the Medical Research Council in Postwar Britain, "In recent years lung cancer specialists have complained that due to stigma resulting from the association of the disease with smoking, theirs is a neglected field."
The problems created in research by antismoking interference are too numerous to list here. When confronted with these problems and findings of actual research, most people can only resort to a humble disclaimer of bias in all scientific research. Personally, I am greatly saddened by the loss of confidence in science. However, for the State Legislature, public policy based on bad science—such as claiming that ETS is a class A carcinogen or banning smoking in federal buildings based on a faulty EPA report—is sure to spell legal and public relations problems; see "The Second-Hand Smoke Charade" with respect to the Osteen ruling and "Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq" with respect to how well-received an anti-smoking campaign was in Iraq. (In that second article, the American assigned to head the anti-smoking campaign turned out to be a closet smoker! I knew there was humor in politics!) A quote from The Citizen, Auburn NY, "Nonprofits are all smoke and mirrors" indicates possible legal problems of pro-ban charities, "They are also misusing their tax-free nonprofit status to lobby for anti-smoking legislation. This could be crossing over into possible legal and ethical issues." In any event, the junk science behind smoking bans is quickly coming to light, and the public image of those who rely on junk science to promote poor economics is very bad indeed.
I encourage politicians to avoid smoking bans like the plague, especially when 25% of Americans say that they are smokers. In the recent social/political climate of ostracizing and demonizing smokers, we can safely say that the percentage of "secret smokers" has probably been fairly high. Moreover, many anti-ban articles, letters and studies have been written by nonsmokers, most of whom feel that the bans are a frightening form of government intrusion. I was most struck by a letter from a nonsmoking veteran who was appalled at the erosion of freedom. See a rather humorous if caustic Australian commentary, "Fags: It Ain’t So Black And White," which comments on the Wu-Williams study (China; 1990), "the most heavily populated study of all, rather hilariously showed that ‘passive smoke’ actually reduced the incidence of lung cancer." Anti-ban campaigns, such as FOREST and FORCES and The Smokers’ Club and Freedom to Choose and NYC CLASH and…et cetera, are multinational and ubiquitous. Most of these anti-ban groups are preparing for litigation. More than that, a new political party has formed in Scotland to repeal the smoking ban. The economics and science of (1) and (2) are rapidly being exposed, and those factors have an impact on voters. Existing bans are being whittled away on Constitutional grounds and by popular demand. Some bans never see the light of day, " Va. and Md. Reject Ban On Smoking: Lawmakers Loath To Force Businesses" by Rosalind S. Helderman and Ann E. Marimow (February 24, 2006).
Clearly, the political climate for smoking bans is certainly changing. Smoking bans are far more popular with politicians than with citizens—and the bans are very unpopular with businesses. The recent City Council election in Champaign clearly indicates that voters are displeased with the recently enacted smoking ban. The voters have spoken once, and I guarantee that they’ll do it again—especially in the Heartland where people value their neighbors over junk science and foolish politics.
(*) Social difficulties
Above all, smoking bans and antismoking hysteria tend to engender divisive attitudes and hostile relations between citizens (and even between family members; see "The Little Puritans" by Bob Morris, NY Times, March 11, 2007). If I were to believe antismoking propaganda, then I would believe that nonsmokers never feel the need to wash their hair or clothes unless they’ve been to a smoky bar or restaurant. Similarly, I would believe that smokers wish to be engulfed by smoke while eating and drinking. It’s a safe bet that smokers are actually are fans of proper ventilation and nonsmokers are just as hygiene-savvy as anyone. If this type of miscommunication continues, then we can expect more serious confrontations later. For years, people have been comparing the current antismoking movement to the corrupt antismoking movement in Nazi Germany; seeSmintair and BMJ and LColby and Nicotine Nazis and The Socialist Movement for a start. Rather than incur the wrath of such divisive measures, you would be well advised to leave the fighting to the dogs. Even the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation appears to be weakening its antismoking agenda and concentrating more on obesity. (Not enough smokers are dying prematurely, so they need to start blaming the lifestyles of other people now.) Frankly, as someone who has never had a weight problem, I’m not looking forward to whatever the "overweight police" have in mind either. On the other hand, Phillip Morris has been very compliant with antismokers…until now. The company now states, among other things:
In 2005 and 2006, Philip Morris USA did not lobby or participate in any coalition activity related to smoking restrictions, although we shared our position when asked. Moving forward, we have decided to engage on this issue with legislators and other interested parties when we believe we can help shape reasonable measures to regulate smoking in public places. For example, there are many states where additional restrictions on public place smoking are warranted so that people can more readily avoid being around secondhand smoke. However, we believe that total bans on indoor smoking fail to respect the comfort and choices of both non-smoking and smoking adults. Consistent with our position on this issue, we will engage with stakeholders where appropriate to work toward developing reasonable solutions.
I wish we had the time and space to cover the morehumorous aspects of antismoking hysteria in science, the media and politics. However, I am sure that you have many other weighty issues before you. I know that the anti-tobacco movement has been very vocal and powerful. Given the scientific shenanigans of antismoking guns, we can’t be surprised when one stamps his foot and declares, "THE DEBATE IS OVER!" Naturally, no antismoker would want us to scrutinize their procedures, statistical adjustments, data culling or anything else. I remind you that modern thinking discourages debating, arguing or compromising with children who throw hateful-tantrums; we simply give them a Time Out until they can behave themselves. (I also recommend Dissecting Antismokers' Brains by Michael J McFadden. It’s very illuminating.) Just remember that the free market provides both smokers and non-smokers with drinking and dining options that suit their preferences, and I am quite sure that we can rely on ventilation and common courtesy to keep people (voters) happy. Above all, take a lesson from Mme Calment, whose longevity was most likely due to reducing stress in her life and keeping a good humor about herself. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of your health is right between your ears—but a little yoga doesn’t hurt!
…further investigation seems, however, to have degenerated into the making of more confident exclamations, with the studied avoidance of the discussion of those alternative explanations of the facts which still await exclusion. Is not the matter serious enough to require more serious treatment?—Ronald A Fisher
This research tells us that physicians treating patients for smoke inhalation should be aware that one of the chronic effects of smoke inhalation, air-trapping, seems to be more severe in non-smokers.
—Gerald Abbott, MD, director of chest radiology at Rhode Island Hospital,Award-Winning Study At Rhode Island Hospital Studies The Station Fire Survivors (April 12, 2007) [NOTE: Shouldn’t nonsmokers be paying higher taxes for the extra medical treatment they need?]