FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 30, 2006
Contact Audrey Silk, NYC C.L.A.S.H., (917) 888-9317
SECONDHAND SMOKE: THE DEBATE ISN'T OVER
On June 27, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona unilaterally decreed that the debate about secondhand smoke was over. "That's a statement spoken more in the way of parent-to-toddler ('Because I say so') or dictator-to-subjects ('Because I rule so') than a national health advisor to a free and inquiring public," said smokers' rights advocate Audrey Silk," though I don't seem to remember his debating the subject at all. His conclusions were foregone. In fact," she said, "he testified to congress a few years ago, and was rather famously quoted as favoring an outright prohibition of tobacco." (1)
Silk, the founder of NYC C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment), whose members include smokers and civil libertarians, says that none of the many scientists or scientific reporters who disagree with the Surgeon General about the "danger" of secondhand smoke, have been suddenly struck dumb. "None of them changed their minds. They didn't think it was dangerous on Monday, June 26, and none of them thought it was dangerous on Wednesday, June 28. Science," Silk insisted, "doesn't succumb to official fiats."
A personal bias on the part of the Surgeon General has been startlingly reflected in his public appearances as well as in the Executive Summary of his Report and the press release that touts it. In all three cases, what's been sold to the public as "fact," is provably not backed by the contents of the Report. (2) "Statements to the effect that even passing contact with smokers is a ticket to slow death (or even loonier, quick death) are paradigmatic propaganda-- a tilt at the Big Lie. It's disappointing, " Silk observes, "that a high-ranking public official has preferred to promote civil divisiveness and hate and to sacrifice science as the means to his own agenda."
The Report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, issued Tuesday from the Surgeon General's office, isn't really a new report, as his office itself admits. It's a rehash of old studies-- themselves widely criticized and highly controversial-- very carefully selected to support the "correct" conclusion that secondhand smoke is a risk to health and to insure the continuing jihad against smokers.
And a lot of its wilder statements aren't merely "debatable," but easily proven wrong. "For instance," Silk expands, "the notion that there's "no safe level" of secondhand smoke is just scientific nonsense that any objective scientist would be more than glad to debate." Silk suggests OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the agency that determines what exposure levels are safe, might be called as the first witness, since every known constituent ever measured in secondhand smoke has been shown to fall far below what OSHA considers a "risk."
Then too there's the strange pronouncement that filtration and ventilation-- which dispel industrial toxins from the factory workplace air, and automobile exhaust from indoor parking garages-- can't tackle secondhand smoke.
"Bottom line," Silk continues, " is that people willing to buy this incredible new Report-- and to buy it without debate-- must be willing to ditch science, not to mention common sense and the actual living experience of the entire 20th Century in order to feed their bias."
The debate can't be stifled. The real science begs for an ear.
(2) "Surgeon General's Communications Misrepresent Findings if Report..." Siegel, Tobacco Analysis News & Commentary, http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/2006/06/surgeon-generals-communications.html
NYC C.L.A.S.H. is a grassroots smokers' rights organization dedicated to advancing, promoting and protecting the interests of adults who choose to smoke cigarettes and is well-established with the media. Among other efforts, C.L.A.S.H. has sued NY State and City in Federal Court over the smoking bans. ### www.nycclash.com