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Don’t believe anti-smokers

Do the activities of the anti-smoking industry have the tambre of civilized political discourse? Or have many in the anti-smoking industry taken on the tone of the true believer and the faithful? It seems that, one is not allowed to question any of the statistical conclusions of the anti-smoking industry. Claims are presumed accurate a priori and numbers are quoted over and over again in a Stalin-esque effort to create truth through repetition. Let’s look at these numbers with a new and skeptical eye before we start using the police forces of the state to make criminals of our brother and sister citizens.

The World Health Organization study – The WHO – did a seven-year study of the effects of ETS. In March, 1998, they released a press report titled “Passive Smoking Does Cause Lung Cancer, Do Not Let Them Fool You.” (available here: who.int/inf-pr-1998/en/pr98-29.html ) Further down they state: “passive smoking causes lung cancer in non-smokers.” They highlight it with italics. The very next paragraph states: “The study found that there was an estimated 16-percent increased risk of lung cancer among non-smoking spouses of smokers. For workplace exposure the estimated increase in risk was 17-percent. However, due to small sample size, neither increased risk was statistically significant.”

Yes, that’s right. The World Health Organization issued a press release stating that their study showed that ETS causes lung cancer in non-smokers, then in the very next paragraph they state that “neither increased risk was statistically significant.” If it’s not statistically significant, basically that means you can’t say or know for sure if you measured any real effect or not. That’s what that means!

Yet, the anti-smoking industry continues to use this study as a way of justifying their demand that the government control the lives of business owners and private citizens! It is as though the very clear statement made that the study did not show any statistically significant increase in risk is just avoided and ignored. The results of their own study are inconsistent with their claims and they know it, yet they continue to make the claim anyway. That is pure scientific charlatanism – it’s a flim-flam that shouldn’t be allowed to pass unquestioned and certainly shouldn’t be a basis for public policy.

Chris Salmon

Eagle-Vail

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