Thursday, March 16, 2006

Anti-Smoking Groups Refuse to Correct, Clarify, or Retract Fallacious Claims; Reward Being Offered

Although I have been quite critical of several anti-smoking groups - including Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and SmokeFreeOhio - for making completely fallacious scientific claims, I recognize that sometimes organizations can make mistakes, especially in interpreting scientific studies and I acknowledge that I myself have from time to time made statements that needed to be clarified.

The important thing is being able to acknowledge the mistake, apologize, and correct it.

Unfortunately, weeks after first reporting ASH's fallacious claims and days after reporting SmokeFreeOhio's fallacious claims, as of the publishing of this post, those public statements (ASH; SmokeFreeOhio) remain unchanged.

As a reminder, ASH's fallacious claims are that 30 minutes of exposure to drifting tobacco smoke increases a nonsmoker's risk of a fatal heart attack and actually increases that risk to the level of a smoker. SmokeFreeOhio has a number of fallacious claims, but the main ones are that 20 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of a heart attack in nonsmokers and reduces the ability of the heart to pump, and that 120 minutes of exposure increases the chances of suffering a fatal or catastrophic arrhythmia.

The Rest of the Story

I issue a challenge to ASH and SmokeFreeOhio to correct or retract their fallacious claims and apologize for misleading the public.

The first organization to do so will receive a prize: a $100 donation to their organization to help support their work and to acknowledge the character that it takes to admit and correct a mistake.

If both organizations correct their statements or retract them, and apologize for the misleading and inaccurate communications, then I will provide the prize to both organizations ($100 to each, not a shared prize).

It's worth $200 of my own money to help ensure that the scientific claims that we are making in tobacco control are accurate and to get these problems corrected so that they do not further threaten to undermine the credibility of the movement.

Good luck to both organizations. The world is watching; certainly the tobacco companies are - I'm sure they will be very curious to see what decisions these organizations make in terms of correcting or not correcting their fallacious scientific claims.

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