Monday, January 07, 2008

Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control Established to Bring Public Health Principles Back Into Tobacco Control; Website Unveiled Today

I am happy to announce that I have established a new organization - the Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control - and today I am unveiling the web site:

The Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control is dedicated to ensuring the ethical and honest practice of tobacco control by anti-smoking organizations in the U.S. It aims to help ensure that efforts to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality are sustainable by a movement that can remain credible and effective into the future. Its premise is that the anti-smoking movement is increasingly becoming more extreme, getting out of control, going too far in its agenda, and losing its solid public health basis. The tactics being used by many anti-smoking organizations have become questionable, including misleading and deceiving the public, improperly attacking individuals, and improperly using kids to promote a political agenda. The agenda itself has become less and less public health-based; it now include efforts to deny employment to smokers, treat smoking parents as child abusers, and ignore basic issues of individual privacy and autonomy to coerce smokers into adopting healthier behavior.

In order to restore the movement, the Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control hopes to highlight the tactics currently being used, bringing these tactics to public attention in order to hold public health groups accountable to their primary constituency: the public.

As I describe on the web site: "The Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control was founded by Dr. Michael Siegel, a physician with 21 years of experience in tobacco control who recently became disillusioned by the direction in which the anti-smoking movement is going. He has published numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers on the health effects of secondhand smoke, cigarette advertising, and evaluation of tobacco control policies, which have appeared in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, the Journal of Marketing, and the American Journal of Public Health. He has testified in 7 tobacco control cases, including the Engle case which resulted in a $145 billion verdict against the tobacco companies. He has testified in support of smoke-free workplaces at over 100 local and state hearings throughout the country."

The Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control web site serves to compile and organize the various streams of commentaries that have appeared on The Rest of the Story over the past 34 months. I have published over 900 commentaries. The sheer volume of these posts makes it somewhat difficult for an interested reader to find exactly what he or she is looking for. Although there is a search function on the blog, it is not all that easy to find all the commentaries on a particular issue, for example.

The Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control web site is organized so that the reader can very easily research a particular issue and can quickly obtain a list with links to all the relevant commentaries on that issue. For example, if someone is interested in the issue of employer discrimination against smokers, one need only click on the relevant button and one is brought to a web page containing a summary of the issue and links to my commentaries about numerous companies that have implemented such policies.

Pages are available that pertain to each of the following topics:
It has become clear to me that taking my concerns to the tobacco control movement itself is pointless. The groups are not interested in listening to any criticism, dissent is not allowed in the movement in the first place, and there has been little interest in correcting misleading or false statements or discontinuing unethical tactics. Therefore, it is now time to take these issues outside of the movement: to the public.

I believe that the public has a right to know the truth behind tobacco control news and events. The public has the right to accurate information about smoking and secondhand smoke. It also has the right to accurate information about proposed tobacco control policies.

Right now, it is not clear that the public can obtain unbiased and accurate information from anti-smoking groups. There needs to be a source for the public to obtain the "rest of the story," and in an organized fashion. There needs to be a way of holding anti-smoking groups accountable to the public.

The Center for Accountability in Tobacco Control aims to serve, in part, as such an information source. Most importantly, it aims to hold tobacco control groups accountable to the primary constituency they are supposed to be serving: the public.

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