Tuesday, November 22, 2005

FORCES International Accused of Being a Tobacco Industry Tool

My post on the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) public assertion that FORCES is a tobacco industry ally and front group was incomplete. I failed to mention that in a separate document, ANR appears to me to accuse FORCES of simply being a tool that is mobilized by the tobacco industry to fight smoke-free ordinances, and that despite its accusation that FORCES is a Big Tobacco front group, ANR admits that there is no evidence showing that FORCES is financially supported by the tobacco industry.

In the document, entitled "What to Expect from the Tobacco Industry," ANR states: "Tobacco companies seeking to have the appearance of local grassroots support will try to identify and mobilize smokers in opposition to smokefree air proposals. ... Keep your eyes and ears open for the following groups in your community. If you are concerned about other groups, contact ANR for assistance in uncovering any potential tobacco industry ties. ... FORCES International, www.forces.org, often sends action alerts to generate noise in opposition to smokefree laws. They typically cite tobacco industry-funded research or messages. Although there is no direct evidence showing that FORCES is supported financially by the tobacco industry, it frequently parrots industry arguments and material."

The Rest of the Story

The implication is that FORCES is simply a tobacco industry tool for opposing local smoke-free ordinances. If FORCES shows up in your community, you can be sure that Big Tobacco is in town. It appears to me that ANR is suggesting that the connection between FORCES and the tobacco industry is definitive, because only if you are concerned about other groups do you need to obtain assistance from ANR in "uncovering any potential tobacco industry ties."

For the longest time, I assumed that FORCES was funded by Big Tobacco because of ANR's assertion. I also believed ANR that FORCES was simply a tool of the tobacco industry. It was only when I took the time to myself examine the evidence that I realized ANR was misrepresenting the facts in what I became convinced was an attempt to mislead people into thinking that FORCES was nothing other than a front for Big Tobacco.

But ANR admits not just that the evidence on whether FORCES is funded by Big Tobacco is inconclusive, as I stated yesterday, but that there is no evidence that FORCES is funded by Big Tobacco.

I've heard of evidence-based public health, but this is the first I've heard of no-evidence-based public health.

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