Monday, March 24, 2008

March Tobacco Control Madness: Brackets Announced for Most Ridiculous Secondhand Smoke Health Claim Tournament

In honor of March Madness, I am running my own tournament, complete with regions and brackets, to determine the anti-smoking organization champion for most ridiculous secondhand smoke health claim.

In order to be eligible for the tournament challenge, an anti-smoking group must be currently making a public claim about the health effects of secondhand smoke that is patently false on its face or else severely misleading. Currently making a claim means that the claim is present on the internet at the time of the start of the tournament and that it has not been retracted, corrected, or changed publicly and visibly.

Progression through the tournament will be determined by reader voting. The final winner will be announced on April 7, the same day that the NCAA college basketball tournament champion is crowned.

The tournament starts with the top 16 entrants for the most inaccurate health claim. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will whittle the field down to just one champion.

There are four regions: East, South, Midwest, and West. There are 4 anti-smoking groups per region. The first round consists of eight contests: two games per region. The winners of the two contests in each region face off to determine who will represent each region in the Final Four. Then the finalists in the East and South meet, as do the finalists in the Midwest and West.

Here are the regions and brackets:


United States Surgeon General's Office (Washington, DC)


Action on Smoking and Health (Washington, DC)

According to the United States Surgeon General's Office: "Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer."

According to Action on Smoking and Health: "Even for people without such respiratory conditions, breathing drifting tobacco smoke for even brief periods can be deadly. For example, the Centers for Disease Controls [CDC] has warned that breathing drifting tobacco smoke for as little as 30 minutes (less than the time one might be exposed outdoors on a beach, sitting on a park bench, listening to a concert in a park, etc.) can raise a nonsmoker'’s risk of suffering a fatal heart attack to that of a smoker."

Smoke Free Gwinnett Coalition (Lawrenceville, GA)


St. Louis University Tobacco Prevention Center (St. Louis, MO)

According to Smoke Free Gwinnett: "Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes experience hardening of the arteries."

According to the St. Louis University Tobacco Prevention Center: "Arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide, Plutonium 210 and a host of other poisons are in secondhand smoke."


American Cancer Society (Atlanta, GA)


Louisiana Public Health Institute (New Orleans, LA)

According to the American Cancer Society: "Immediate effects of secondhand smoke include cardiovascular problems such as damage to cell walls in the circulatory system, thickening of the blood and arteries, and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or heart disease, increasing the chance of heart attack or stroke."

According to the Louisiana Public Health Institute: "Comparing the effects of active smoking and secondhand smoke, researchers found that chronic exposure to secondhand smoke is about 80% as harmful as smoking a pack of cigarettes per day."

Coalition for a Healthy and Responsible Tennessee (Nashville, TN)


Audubon Area Community Services, Inc. (Owensboro, KY)

According to the Coalition for a Healthy and Responsible Tennessee: "The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke changes blood chemistry and increases the risk of heart disease in non-smokers."

According to Audubon Area Community Services, Inc.: "As little as 30 minutes of secondhand smoke can lead to hardening of the arteries in nonsmokers, Japanese researchers reported at an American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in November."


Smokefree Air for Everyone (Columbia, MO)


Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)

According to Smokefree Air for Everyone: "After 20 minutes, blood platelets look like a pack-a-day smoker's, making your blood "sticky" and contributing to stroke causing blood clots."

According to Indiana University: "Exposure to second-hand smoke for just 30 minutes can rapidly increase a person's risk for heart attack, even if they have no risk factors. The smoke, which contains carbon monoxide, causes blood vessels to constrict and reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood."

Central Iowa Tobacco-free Partnership (Des Moines, IA)


Clean Air For Everyone (C.A.F.E.) Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

According to the Central Iowa Tobacco-free Partnership: "Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes experience hardening of the arteries."

According to Clean Air for Everyone (C.A.F.E.) Iowa: "Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes experience hardening of the arteries."


Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails (Sacramento, CA)


Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (Berkeley, CA)

According to Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails: "Smoking Kills About 340 Young People a Day."

According to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights: "Just thirty minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart damage similar to that of habitual smokers. Nonsmokers' heart arteries showed a reduced ability to dilate, diminishing the ability of the heart to get life-giving blood."

Tobacco Free Coalitions of Clark County and Skamania County (Stevenson and Vancouver, WA)


City of Laredo, Texas

According to the Tobacco Free Coalitions of Clark County and Skamania County: "As little as 30 minutes of secondhand smoke can lead to hardening of the arteries in nonsmokers."

According to the City of Laredo, Texas: "After 120 minutes of breathing secondhand smoke, the risk of an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can itself be fatal or trigger a heart attack increases."

Anyone who wishes to challenge the qualification of an anti-smoking group listed above for the tournament is welcome to do so. In order to submit a challenge, you simply need to defend the statement being made by the group and provide some scientific evidence to support your contention that the statement is accurate and not severely misleading. So far, none of the anti-smoking groups have produced any evidence to support a claim of ineligibility of any of the above anti-smoking groups for this tournament. However, I am always open to scientific debate over the validity of these claims.

Results of these contests will be announced one round at a time, so please make your selections for the first round only at this time. The winners will be announced later and voting opened for the next round at that time.

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