Thursday, September 09, 2010

Anti-Smoking Group Lying to Public in Attempt to Get Smoking Out of Movies

Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, an anti-smoking group which runs the web site - which aims to get smoking out of movies - is lying to the public in support of its policy objectives.

The group claims on its web site that: "Smoking kills about 340 young people a day."

According to Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, then, smoking kills more than 124,000 young people every year. Obviously, this is not true.

The Rest of the Story

While the initial posting of this false claim might be written off as a simple mistake, it has now been nearly 3 years since I first notified the organization of the "mistake." At this point, the false claim has transformed from a simple mistake to an outright lie.

Why? Because for 3 years, the group has knowingly been feeding false information to the public.

The group's initial explanation - that the false claim cannot be fixed because the webmaster is on vacation - is now beyond belief. While I could believe a three month vacation perhaps, a three year vacation is ridiculous. Moreover, the website is clearly maintained by a webmaster, as the site now has a fancy introduction which could only be produced by a professional web designer. Clearly, the organization could change the false statistic if they really cared about doing so.

I find it ironic that much of the basis for tobacco control is the premise that the tobacco companies have been communicating misleading and inaccurate information to the public for many years. Interestingly, there are few examples of outright material misrepresentations of facts by the tobacco industry. Mostly, the examples are those of misleading portrayal of information. But here, we have an example of outright dishonesty. I would argue that the statement in question is not merely misleading; it is demonstrably false. It is a lie.

Do we really need to stoop down so low, below the level of even the tobacco industry, to make our points to the public?

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