Today, I am issuing what I consider to be the definitive challenge to TobaccoScam: Either provide the evidence to back up ASH's assertion that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure increases the fatal heart attack risk of nonsmokers to the same level as active smokers, or else apologize to me for having improperly suggested that I am criticizing anti-smoking organizations for no valid reason.
In lieu of an apology, I would also settle for a simple acknowledgment that ASH's statement is inaccurate and misleading and should therefore be corrected.
Here is the specific statement that I have been criticizing, as it appears today on ASH's web site:
"Even for people without such respiratory conditions, breathing drifting tobacco smoke for even brief periods can be deadly. For example, the Centers for Disease Controls [CDC] has warned that breathing drifting tobacco smoke for as little as 30 minutes (less than the time one might be exposed outdoors on a beach, sitting on a park bench, listening to a concert in a park, etc.) can raise a nonsmoker's risk of suffering a fatal heart attack to that of a smoker."
I am challenging TobaccoScam, as well as other advocates and anti-smoking groups which have attacked me for criticizing what I believe are highly deceptive public communications, to provide evidence of each of the following:
1. Please document that the CDC has warned that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure increases a nonsmoker's risk of suffering a fatal heart attack to the same level as that of active smokers.
2. Please provide the scientific evidence to back up the assertion that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure increases a nonsmoker's risk of suffering a fatal heart attack to the same level as that of active smokers.
I will report back here on Thursday with any and all evidence that I receive from anti-smoking advocates or groups in support of ASH's public scientific claim.
The Rest of the Story
Now is the time to end the games that are being played. It is time, finally (after 2 years, I might add), to address the scientific substance of ASH's claim and to lay aside personal attacks and character assassinations. It is also time to stop diverting the issue by pretending that I am arguing something different than what I am.
I am not, and have never, challenged the notion that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure could potentially trigger a heart attack in someone with severe coronary artery disease. For God sakes - eating a hamburger has been shown to cause similar changes in platelet activity and endothelial dysfunction as secondhand smoke - and could therefore be claimed to potentially trigger heart attacks.
That is simply not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is whether ASH's statement is valid or not.
Is there, or is there not, solid scientific evidence that a nonsmoker who is exposed to secondhand smoke for 30 minutes is at the same risk of a fatal heart attack as an active smoker? Yes or no?
If there is, then I need to apologize for making an invalid criticism of ASH's statement. (And I have to say that given the seriousness of my allegations, I am very interested in carefully considering any and all evidence that is presented to me. I simply will not continue to make these criticisms if there is evidence that I am wrong).
If there is not evidence that a nonsmoker who is exposed to secondhand smoke for 30 minutes is at the same risk of a fatal heart attack as an active smoker, then ASH is wildly deceiving the public and the scientific integrity of the tobacco control movement is in serious question. (And TobaccoScam owes me an apology).
Which is it?
Stay tuned. I'll report back on Thursday.