Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Salvo of Articles Directing Public Attention to the Widespread Misrepresentation of Science by Anti-Smoking Groups

Today, I highlight three articles - one from a scientific journal, one from a newspaper, and one from a magazine - which expose the misrepresentation, by anti-smoking groups, of the scientific evidence about the acute cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke.

1. POST #1: In his commentary published today in the journal Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations, Dr. Carl Phillips, a professor at the University of Alberta and an editor of the journal, warns that "Anti-tobacco activism may be hazardous to epidemiologic science." The commentary accompanies two pieces - one by me and one by Dr. James Enstrom - which highlight the anti-tobacco movement's attack on researchers who dared to publish findings which could be construed as unfavorable to the movement.

2. POST #2: In an article in the current issue of Skeptic magazine, Sidney Zion highlights the absurd claims that anti-smoking groups are making about the acute cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke.

3. POST #3: In an op-ed piece published today in the New York Post, Jeff Stier - associate director of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) - highlights the misrepresentation of the acute effects of secondhand smoke by a large number of anti-smoking groups.

The Rest of the Story

I and The Rest of the Story blog played a substantial role in bringing this issue to media and public attention. The New York Post piece is based largely largely on my article published this week in Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations. The journal itself today published a commentary which highlights not only my own story, but a similar story of Dr. James Enstrom, whose character has also been attacked by anti-smoking activists because he produced results unfavorable to them. Sidney Zion's article is based heavily upon his interview with me, in which I revealed the widespread misrepresentation of the science about the acute cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke and the fanatical agenda that has recently been adopted by many tobacco control groups.

It is exceedingly difficult to get this story out to the media and to the public. It is thus very satisfying to have such a salvo of public attention to this important issue within a single week.

While my hope would be that the tobacco control groups take a step back and re-examine the public statements they are making, I am well aware that will not happen. The end is the only thing that matters. While it is intolerable for the tobacco companies to lie to the public, it is perfectly acceptable for anti-smoking groups to mislead the public, as long as the end goal is a good one. You can't lie to sell cigarettes; but it is OK to lie if it is for the children.

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