Thursday, June 28, 2007

30 Minutes of Secondhand Smoke Equals Clogged Arteries - Final Answer; TobaccoScam Decides to Stick with Deception

In response to my challenge to correct its misleading website (page 1; page 2), TobaccoScam has apparently decided not to do anything. The web pages remain the same, with no changes, corrections, documentation, or clarifications.

It appears, then, that it is TobaccoScam's intention to inform the public that:
  • 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure causes clogged arteries;
  • 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure cause arteries that are as damaged as an active smoker's;
  • 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of an immediate heart attack; and
  • 20 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure is the equivalent to actively smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.
The specific claims are as follows:

"30 minutes exposure = smoker's arteries"

"Thirty minutes of secondhand smoke compromises a non-smoker's coronary arteries to the same extent as in smokers."

"20 minutes exposure = smoking a pack a day"

"Twenty minutes of breathing secondhand smoke at levels similar to those measured in bars activates blood platelets involved in the clotting process as much as it does in pack-a-day smokers. These activated platelets increase the chances of heart attack or stroke."

"30 minutes exposure = stiffened, clogged arteries"

"All of these effects not only increase the long term risks of developing heart disease, but also increase the immediate risk of heart attack."

The Rest of the Story

I have been trying to give all the anti-smoking groups the benefit of the doubt for a long time now (at least 18 months), and despite the fact that there has been no response to my pointing out the many misleading scientific claims that are being made, I have clung to the hope that perhaps this misrepresentation of the science was just a series of innocent mistakes, oversights, or careless errors.

At this point however, it is impossible for me to any longer cling to that belief.

Instead, it appears to me that at least some of these claims are the result of a deliberate attempt to deceive people.

The fact that TobaccoScam and the other organizations that were informed earlier this week about the misleading nature of their claims about the acute cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke apparently decided not to alter these claims suggests to me that they have made a conscious and deliberate decision to maintain the deception of the public. In other words, this is not just the result of a careless mistake or oversight, but instead, represents a deliberate attempt to convince the public that these specific scientific assertions are true.

That is - these groups actually want the public to believe that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure clogs your arteries.

They actually want the public to believe that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke increases your immediate risk of a heart attack.

They actually want the public to believe that 20 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure is as damaging as actively smoking one pack of cigarettes per day.

It is thus my opinion that these groups actually want the public to believe scientific facts that are not true. That is, by definition, deception. And this is then, by definition, intentional deception of the public.

I apologize, but no more Mr. Nice Guy. Now it's time to play hard ball. Because these groups, by violating the most basic ethical principle of public health communication, are risking the credibility and reputation of the entire tobacco control movement.

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