Tuesday, August 01, 2006

SmokeFreeOhio Accuses SmokeLessOhio of Deception; Still Fails to Correct Deception of its Own

According to an article in today'’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, SmokeFreeOhio is accusing SmokeLessOhio of using deceptive communication in an effort to recruit individuals to sign a competing ballot initiative. SmokeFreeOhio'’s initiative is essentially a widespread smoking ban in workplaces, including bars and restaurants, while SmokeLessOhio'’s intiative, supported by R.J. Reynolds, is a much less restrictive proposal.

According to the article: "“The group pushing for a statewide ban on public smoking says petitioners for a counter issue are misrepresenting themselves and the anti-smoking proposal in order to collect signatures. Representatives of SmokeFree Ohio say petition circulators for the pro-tobacco side have falsely told voters that the SmokeFree Ohio issue would prohibit smoking in cars and homes. SmokeFree Ohio also says canvassers for the competing issue claim they represent SmokeFree Ohio and ask for signatures to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, when their petitions would actually allow smoking in those places. The pro-tobacco group, calling itself SmokeLess Ohio, is scrambling for 323,000 signatures by Aug. 9 to reach the November ballot. Backed by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and beverage retailers, SmokeLess Ohio seeks a constitutional amendment that would overturn local smoking bans . . .

Jacob Evans, spokesman for SmokeLess Ohio, said confusion stems mainly from circulators who carried petitions for both sides. SmokeLess Ohio pays workers $1 to $2 per signature and has told them to represent the issues accurately, he said. '‘Where we've been aware of [misrepresentations], we've tried to correct it,'’ said Evans."”

The Rest of the Story

I think it'’s entirely appropriate for SmokeFreeOhio to bring to the public'’s attention any deceptive communications being used by its opponent to try to mislead people into signing the competing ballot initiative. But I'’d feel a lot better about SmokeFreeOhio'’s accusations if they themselves demonstrated that they have an interest in presenting accurate and non-misleading or deceptive information to the public in their own communications.

As I pointed out yesterday, SmokeFreeOhio continues to spread myths about the acute cardiovascular health effects of secondhand smoke even though they were notified months ago that these claims were scientifically unsupported. Here are SmokeFreeOhio'’s own deceptive and misleading communications:

1. 5 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure makes the heart work harder to pump blood because of narrowing of the aorta.

2. 20 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure reduces the ability of the heart to pump.

3. 20 minutes of secondhand smoke puts a nonsmoker at elevated risk of a heart attack.

4. 30 minutes of secondhand smoke contributes to hardening of the arteries by narrowing arteries and restricting blood flow.

5. 30 minutes of secondhand smoke induces changes in fat metabolism that could lead to heart attacks and strokes.

6. 2 hours of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause fatal or catastrophic arrhythmias.

I have already debunked (or is it debunkified?) these claims elsewhere (debunked here; debunkified here).

It is very deceptive to the public to lead them to think that a mere 5, 20, 30, or 120 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke on a single occasion causes narrowing of the arteries, restricted blood flow, reduced heart pumping, fatal and catastrophic arrhythmias, heart attacks, hardening of the arteries, and death.

I suggest that before SmokeFreeOhio continues to accuse others of deceptive public communications, that it take some time to fix their own deceptive communications to the public. One has to display accuracy of one's own before having credibility in challenging the accuracy of others.

No comments: