Thursday, December 13, 2007

Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails Still Claiming that Smoking Kills 340 Young People Every Day

Despite having been made aware of the absurdity of its claim nearly two months ago, Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails is still stating publicly on its web site that smoking kills 340 young people a day, or 124,000 young people each year.

As of this morning, the web site continues to state: "Smoking Kills About 340 Young People A Day."

This statement appears inside a warning box, similar to movie ratings, which states: "SK-340 - Viewers Strongly Cautioned."

The SK-340 is apparently a rating that Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails devised to warn movie viewers that smoking kills 124,000 young people each year.

The Rest of the Story

That smoking kills 124,000 young people a year should come as a great comfort to smokers in their 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70s. Since the total death toll from smoking is estimated to be about 420,000 per year, this means that only about 300,000 of those deaths occur among these older folks, as opposed to more than 400,000 as previously believed.

I don't see any way that Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails can defend this statement. It is not just misleading, it is blatantly false.

If the tobacco industry were making such a blatantly false statement, anti-smoking groups would be calling on the offending companies to immediately retract it. Should anti-smoking groups not also be terribly concerned about untruthful statements that they themselves are making?

The organization has claimed that it has to wait until the web developer is available before any change can be made. Interestingly, however, it seems to me that a fancy introduction was added to the web site in recent days. If I'm right about that, then why was a web developer available to make that change, but not the change in the apparent lie on the web site?

Where is the web developer, and where has he or she been for the past 7 weeks? Vacationing in Tortola?

The story is beginning to sound a little fishy. Although I'm still open to the possibility that the web developer has been lying on the beaches of Cane Garden Bay for the past 7 weeks, sipping Coronas, doesn't it at least seem like Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails has failed to make this a priority?

If I had an untruthful statement on my web site of which I was aware, I would remove it immediately - like...within minutes. OK - let's suppose that I didn't have access to the web page but had to work through an off-site web service. I would demand that the change be made right away. It's hard to imagine that I would allow the false statement to remain for 7 weeks.

By the way, when I informed Dr. Glantz about this statement (since it is apparently based on his data), his response was that he advised the group to ignore me. In other words, he apparently had no problem with the use of a false statement for a "good" purpose.

I suspect that there's something more going on here than simply a long-vacationing web design service. But if I'm wrong, please tell me how I can get a job with them. I'd love to spend two consecutive months in Tortola during this time of year.

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