It is very interesting when a news story writer describes the push for fire-safe cigarette legislation in New York State as an “anti-smoking” bill.  By all concerned accounts, it is an anti-fire bill, or so we are led to believe. With the stroke of this writer’s pen, most likely by mistake, the truth slips out. And thus the anti-smoking agenda which is at the root of this bill is exposed by this Freudian slip. No matter how much the members of the anti-smoking community would like you to believe that fire reduction is their main concern by pushing this bill, it has less to do with that than it does finding another way to reduce smoking by force. Yes, this is an anti-smoking bill, not anti-fire, and an attempt at making the product less pleasurable to those that smoke in the expectation that smokers will quit. The smoke-free society think tank occupants are alive and well. Under the guise of fire safety, this bill is their latest endeavor in imposing their will on the unsuspecting public. While this is playing out they continue to promote their smoke-free society campaign in other areas. It is time their propaganda machine is ground to a halt and I intend to wield the monkeywrench that can do that. This is only brushing the surface of the anti-smoking zealots’ quest and I’ll get back to this later.

When their original attempts at getting people to quit smoking didn’t seem to be producing the results they would have liked, they devised a new scheme. This scheme involved scaring non-smokers into believing they were being harmed by second-hand smoke (SHS), also referred to as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), thus creating an army of concerned citizens to do their bidding. They couldn’t have asked for more! Non-smokers, believing their health was in jeopardy, making those who smoked around them to feel guilty and quitting because of it. Voila! Greater success in striving for a smoke-free society was achieved through so many voices they never had before and never could have advanced their goals without them. This new and improved attack on smokers was sheer genius except for one problem that is going to come back to haunt them. It’s based on lies, exaggeration and propaganda. It involves groups and individuals who believe they “know better” and will stop at nothing to promote their morally righteous encroachment on this lifestyle choice.

First, it should be explained who “they” are. The anti-smoking forces consist of the health organizations both government and privately funded. They consist of researchers whose jobs depend on government grants. They consist of groups formed by private citizens who believe it is their duty to infringe on the liberties of others in order to “protect” the average citizen because they “know better.” They consist of politicians and prominent public figures who are able to attain the media’s attention through their familiar faces or professional status. Lastly, they are the media themselves who control what it is you are informed about. Scare tactics sell newspapers. People are prone to be attracted to drama. It’s human nature. It is also human nature to believe lies that are told long and loud enough, especially when no opposing views or facts are made available for comparison. “They” are exaggerating smoking risks and outright lying to the public about the danger of second-hand smoke. Another fitting term bestowed upon them by smokers’ rights groups is “Nannies.” It is about time they were confronted for the sake of freedom of choice and the right guaranteed the public to be left alone in those choices.

Any study ever produced about the dangers of second-hand smoke was based on the science of epidemiology. Epidemiology has to do with observed rates of disease in particular small populations, not future risks to all beings. In other words, statistics. It was once as it sounded - strictly a study of epidemics. It’s been so successful at controlling infectious disease it nearly put itself out of government-funded business. If you don’t know, I will tell you now that government funding has become what sustains the various agencies and that includes all the health agencies that use epidemiology in their research. Hence, in order to remain in business and keep their jobs since achieving their original goals they have reinvented epidemiology to include lifestyle risk factors such as diet, obesity, drinking, smoking, etc. Epidemiology is now whatever it says it is. Using this approach researchers can manipulate the statistics to arrive at any conclusion they set their mind to.

Epidemiology relies on establishing relative risk factors. Relative risk is what they come up with when studying the association between two things. It is the statistical chance of what may happen when “X” impacts on “Y”. Luckily for us they have at least kept to a standard in defining relative risk outcomes. It is well established in the field of epidemiology that a study producing a relative risk greater than 3.0 shows a strong association. A relative risk between 2.0 and 3.0 shows a weak association. A relative risk between 1.0 and 2.0 shows a very weak association and an even 1.0 means no association. Anything under 1.0 is considered to show a positive, rather than a negative, effect. Imagine that!

To further underscore this standard, Marcia Angell of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has said, “As a general rule of thumb we are looking for a relative risk of 3 or more” before accepting a paper for publication.

In fact, esteemed epidemiologist Ernst Wynder (former head of IARC) even said that relative risks less than 3.0 are suspect ["Workshop on Guidelines to the Epidemiology of Weak Associations," Preventative Medicine, 1987, pp.139-141].

Robert Temple of the Food and Drug Administration said, “My basic rule is if the relative risk isn’t at least 3 or 4, forget it.”

Even further, The National Cancer Institute explains, “Relative risks of less than 2 are considered small and are usually difficult to interpret. Such increases may be due to chance, statistical bias, or the effect of confounding factors [other possibilities] that are sometimes not evident.”

With this quick lesson in epidemiology in hand, I will now tell you what the accounts you’ve heard about regarding second-hand smoke have omitted from print because you wouldn’t know what they meant anyhow. This works to their benefit. It is so much easier to just interpret their findings into simple words so the simple-minded readers (their idea, not mine) can be led like sheep. Well, their words screamed out “Second-hand Smoke Linked to Cancer.” What they failed to include was that their research produced a relative risk factor between the two of 1.19! Yep, they found a link all right. A link considered by their own standards as very weak and likely due to chance, statistical bias, or the effect of confounding factors that are sometimes not evident (you’d be interested to know that they found a causal link between milk and lung cancer with a relative risk factor of 2.14! According to them, milk is worse for you). Ah, but I hear you mumbling about the dozens of reports you’ve seen published in the newspapers or heard on T.V. that all insist on this link (sans the relative risk factor) being very serious. Those studies are studies of studies, otherwise called meta-analysis. Everyone is having a grand old time creating research and writing papers based on everyone elses papers, all of which have arrived at statistically insignificant relative risks. It’s one big happy party except no one outside the clique has ever been invited. Keep in mind that epidemiology is statistical and statistics is not science. When describing epidemiology as a science these days, it is a term used very loosely. These researchers aren’t concerned about their conscience, especially when fighting to remain employed, and really don’t care whether an association is fact or fiction, as long as they’ve found one. Relying on their very own standards of showing associations it should be noted that more than 75 percent of the epidemiological studies fail to link second-hand smoke with cancer. The remaining studies rely on weak statistical associations without reliable exposure data and almost no control of major confounding risk factors. The reason you don’t know about these other studies is because scientific journals, particularly those in public health, are extremely reluctant to waste space on research that doesn’t show something. When confronted, these researchers will ask you to prove that second-hand smoke does not cause cancer. The trick there is that no one can prove something is “not”. It can only be proven that something “is.” And they have by no stretch of the imagination proven that SHS causes cancer. Any study involving something other than SHS that has shown a weak correlation is either dismissed or played down by these same researchers. Smoking bigotry is behind this disparity in study significance.

This brings us to the granddaddy study of them all. The one that was the straw that broke the legislative backs and caused smoking bans to be implemented in order “to protect” the poor defenseless nonsmokers from us horrible, toxic-spewing smokers. I refer to the 1993 Environmental Protection Agency report that was the cement used to shut out smokers from the comfort of their offices and their favorite restaurants and the beginning of politically correct discrimination. Many groups have become legally protected under the umbrella of the Hate Crimes Bill so there was all this pent up hate just waiting for a new target to relieve the pressure. Lo and behold and to their great pleasure “smokers” were thrust into the public’s waiting arms and they were given all the permission they could possibly hope for to demean and harass us. At last! An acceptable form of discrimination. But I digress. This EPA report, which by the way is also based on epidemiology, was touted by the health nazis and repeated in the press as the greatest study of evil ever to be borne. What the media failed to give more than a 30 second spot was a Federal Court ruling in 1998 that, after five years in the court system, invalidated and vacated anything in that report that had to do with ETS. Yes, it was the tobacco companies who brought suit but it was a federal magistrate, Judge William Osteen of North Carolina, that swung the gavel down on the head of these liars. Before you start nodding your heads as if you’ve discovered something fishy about a tobacco state judge ruling against the EPA, you should know that on several other occassions this same judge has ruled against the tobacco companies. Even as far as agreeing that the FDA should have control over tobacco. Judge Osteen was also not the only one to denounce the EPA’s findings. Other research groups, including the Congressional Research Service which is an arm of Congress, printed their own comments on the flagrant disregard for scientific standards and procedures the EPA used to arrive at their findings.

There were many things wrong with this study. I will spare you a point by point evaluation of the manipulation that occured and simply quote from Judge Osteen’s ruling:

“In this case the EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun; excluded industry by violating the [Radon] Act’s procedural requirements; adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the Agency’s public conclusion, and aggressively utilized the Act’s authority to disseminate findings to establish a de facto regulatory scheme intended to restrict Plaintiffs, products and to influence public opinion.” (emphasis mine).

“In conducting the ETS Risk Assessment, disregarded information and made findings on selective information; did not disseminate significant epidemiologic information; deviated from its Risk Assessment Guidelines; failed to disclose important findings and reasoning; and left significant questions without answers. EPA’s conduct left substantial holes in the administrative record. While so doing, produced limited evidence, then claimed the weight of the Agency’s research evidence demonstrated ETS causes cancer.”

“Gathering all relevant information, researching, and disseminating findings were subordinate to EPA’s demonstrating ETS a Group A carcinogen.”

The saddest and most pathetic chapter in the EPA story is that the anti-smoking groups still cling to this report like a life raft. They will still tell you that ETS is a Group A carcinogen. The court has said they have proven no such thing. They tout the EPA figure of 3000 people dying from SHS every year nation-wide. Guess what? They have already been caught red-handed in their lie and that included this figure. Ask them to prove it. Tell them you want to see the documentation. They have none. They made it up. The ability to estimate ETS related deaths using statistics is an impossibility and there are no compiled human medical record data that can support death or illness in nonsmokers exposed to ETS. It is part of the lie but since no one questions them, they continue to repeat it. You hear them quote the EPA report all the time when in fact it is null and void.

Even if we were to use the now defunct EPA report as a basis, all that they had shown was that in comparison to the annual natural rate of lung cancer among nonsmokers which is 10 cases per 100,000 nonsmokers, they had come up with a risk assessment that said exposure to ETS increases this rate to a little less than 12 per 100,000 nonsmokers. That is less than a difference of 2 people! With that little a difference it is easy to see how any risk was likely arrived at by chance. Most assuredly because epidemiology cannot eliminate all the variability among humans and not forgetting that they manipulated the study to begin with.

While the Osteen decision was busy not making headlines in newspapers that the general public would see, a World Health Organization subgroup called the International Agency on Research on Cancer released what is considered the largest ever and best formulated study on ETS. The research ran for 10 years and included 7 European countries. The study concluded that no statistically significant risk existed for nonsmokers who either lived or worked with smokers. In effect, WHO found that nonsmokers breathing in a smoke-filled room are at no greater risk of developing lung cancer than they are breathing in a clear room. To their even greater horror the only statistically significant number they arrived at was a slight decrease in the risk of lung cancer among the children of smokers. In other words, they found smoking around children to have a protective effect. No lie! Wait, did I say they released this report? Sorry, they concluded their research and then quickly buried it. Here was an agency that conducted honest research expecting the results to back up previous (phony) claims about ETS but when the opposite occurred they hid it. The British press caught wind of it and hounded them for weeks until they finally relented and released the results.

It is possible to measure actual exposure to ETS by having test subjects wear devices that pump air through filters. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory did just that using 173 nonsmoking people who work as wait staff and bartenders. You know, the people the anti-smokers are very concerned about “protecting” and attempting to extend smoking bans to bars due to that concern just like California did in 1998. It concluded that this group of people are exposed to far less second-hand smoke than the public presumes. The Oak Ridge lab’s measurements were considerably below air quality limits established for workplaces by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In fact, less than one-sixth of OSHA’s maximum allowable level was detected. The exposure for these workers, who are constantly in smokey environments, amounts to the equivalent of six cigarettes per year. One every two months. This amount poses absolutely no harm to health.

Even the American Council on Science and Health, as hysterically anti-smoking as any other group, concludes that ETS is, at best, “a weak risk factor for lung cancer among nonsmokers.”

You will never see any of these reports I’ve mentioned or others that have found no link between ETS and cancer because it would be detrimental to the larger picture they are trying to paint. That picture is to manipulate the public to attain their glorious smoke-free society and anything goes in order to accomplish that. The benefit outweighs the facts in their puritanical minds. Whether you smoke or don’t smoke, that should make you angry. This is an exercise in behavior modification and any lifestyle choice can be next.

I have finally arrived back at the new call for fire-safe cigarettes. Again, while proclaiming cigarette related fires to be causing all sorts of death and destruction, they conveniently leave out the fact that the National Fire Data Center reports, “The incidence of such fatal fires is higher among those who are under the influence of alcohol and most smoking-related fire fatalities have some connection to alcohol consumption.” Will they confront alcohol’s relation to fires? What about all the fires started by candles? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander as long as you’re concerned about preventing fires. Even just one preventable death is their goal, is it not? Candles can be outlawed for use in the home as easily as cigarettes can be reinvented to the dismay of the consumers. But of course many people use candles for religious purposes and politicians certainly wouldn’t want to appear anti-religious. The inequity in singling out one product out of concern for safety speaks volumes about what the real intent is. And that is finding another method of forcing people to reduce or quit smoking because it is “what is best for us.”

Lastly, I’d like to touch on the oft mentioned “it’s for the children.” Sorry, but I’d like to point out that any issue where our children are "used" in order to win a point is in itself a very weak case instigated by the morally corrupt. As parents it is your responsibility to look after your children. The government and the anti-smoking fanatics overstep their bounds when they think it their responsibility to protect children by infringing on the lifestyle choices of adults. They are using your children as excuses to unfairly play on the sympathies of the public. They are using your children to promote an atmosphere of hate towards smokers. By “hiding” smoking from the eyes of children you are inferring to them that smokers are a despicable group of people. Furthermore, knowing that their SHS claims are flimsy at best, what better than to invoke the chant of The Innocent Children to put a stop to anyone who may challenge them.

In an October 11, 1995 New York Times article Dr. Charles H. Hennekens of the Harvard School of Public Health said, “Epidemiology is a crude and inexact science. Eighty percent of cases are almost all hypotheses. We tend to overstate findings, either because we want attention or more grant money.”

It is this runaway train called epidemiology under the control of the self-righteous, self-serving nannies that has led to all these smoking bans that do not even leave room for compromise. No matter how much you believe it can’t happen in New York City the anti-smoking groups are pushing to expand current bans to include bars and all restaurants and the New York City Council is listening. They have no conscience in that their lies have a negative financial impact on tavern and restaurant owners. They deny establishment owners the right to run their own private businesses the way they see fit. Besides wresting control from these control freaks what would be so unaccomodating if each business could decide whether to allow or not allow smoking or provide separate well ventilated sections?

There is enough evidence to challenge the current bans in court and to keep new ones from being implemented. If these researchers were subpoenaed to court their claims would never stand up under oath on the witness stand. Financing a case like this is the only thing standing in the way of initiating a suit of this nature against these puritans. It is true that the best defense is a well-funded defense. NYC C.L.A.S.H. is working to make it possible in the near future.

There are three smoking issues smokers will agree on. First, smoking is a risky habit. Second, children should not smoke or be allowed to purchase cigarettes. Third, cigarette smoke can be an annoyance to some nonsmokers and compromise should be what both groups strive for. Well, one could only hope for the third item but we are dealing with a segment of society whose self-esteem depends on their ability to control others. Anti-smokers have no desire to compromise. They have no interest in accomodating smokers in any way whatsoever. They do not practice tolerance or contemplate compromises. The phrase “live and let live” means everything the anti-smokers are not. Anti-smokers have been documented to have hysterical fits in the presence of fake cigarettes. They routinely claim a sense of smell for their own which rivals that of a bloodhound. But that is not the worst. The worst it that they claim to have The Truth. They, and only they, know what is best for you and will ride roughshod over your lifestyle, your habits, your pleasures and your rights to enforce this vision. Think of the Catholic Inquisition killing people to save their souls and you get an understanding of the anti-smokers’ mindset. They will not accept smoking zones because they want the whole world to be smoke-free. And once they have succeeded with your cigarette and cigar they will come after your brandy, your SUV, your steak and any other pleasure in your life.

The second-hand smoke issue is a scam. That being the case, as an adult who chooses to smoke because the pleasure outweighs the risk, the same as parachustists who enjoy that jump, I’m not about to stand around and let the anti-smoking propaganda continue to breath life uncontested. If I did that, I’d be guilty of holding the door open for these nannies to regulate what I eat next (they’ve already started on that road). Nonsmoking readers should be likewise concerned. Actually, you should be scared.

They can claim to have The Truth all they want.  Demand the facts.


Note:  An edited version of this article was printed in the Op-Ed section of the Brooklyn Skyline on June 13, 2000