Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Chris Salmon

I wish Mr. Menconi’s crusade was merely a “stunt,” as Don Rogers put it. I believe it’s much worse than that. Mr. Menconi uses the tools of the propagandist and avoids any actual facts or real scientific proof of his claims. Rather than show actual risk, he wants to use “scary” made up relative risk numbers – a typical propagandist’s tool. Like so many in the anti-smoking industry, Mr. Menconi expects his readers to accept his claims prima-facie, without anyone actually questioning that his statements might be false. He doesn’t use any actual studies or evidence to prove his case. he merely makes claims and statements that he expects everyone to just “believe.” The whole rhetoric of the anti-smoking industry has the tone of the religious fanatic and the true believer. He’s worried about “protecting the children” from secondhand smoke. I am much more worried about protecting children from people like him! I believe we should be teaching children how to think with an scientific, educated, critical mind and why we should never just accept claims that are made by anyone, particularly when the claims are used to justify why our freedoms should be further restricted by government force. For instance, the EPA study (the oft-used claim of “3,000 deaths per year”):In 1993 the EPA issued a report with claims including that Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) caused 3,000 deaths per year. The results of the study were announced before the study was finished. Science where results are pre-ordained, is not science. Unfortunately for the EPA, after it had already announced results, analysis of the data at a 0.5 significance level and a 95 percent confidence level included a relative risk of 1. To state in plain English, the results showed “we are 95 percent confident that there is no increased risk.” Yes, that is what that means. So what to do? The results were already announced. Simple, the EPA doubled its margin of error, lowering the confidence level to 90 percent and finding a relative risk of 1.19. That is, they can now say that “we are 90 percent confident that there is a risk of 1.19 due to ETS.” In other words, 19 percent more risk than without spousal exposure to second-hand smoke. (That was the study population – it had nothing to do with bars and restaurants, by the way!) In epidemiology, generally a relative risk of 2.0 is necessary to postulate a cause-and-effect relationship. Less than that is considered within statistical noise levels and not reproduceable. Some scientific publications, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, will not accept studies with less than a relative risk of 3.0 for publication. More plainly, even after hand-picking only studies which aligned with their goals, then doubling their margin of error to fudge the numbers, the EPA was unable to come up with a statistically significant relative risk for ETS from this study!Yet, the anti-smoking industry continues to use this study as a scary way of creating imaginary death numbers to show that the crusade against the minority of smokers in the population is morally justified. Again, the numbers are fudged to match pre-ordained conclusions that justify the actions of the anti-smoking industry. Again, the actual results are ignored and yet the claims are still made as though the results of their own study are meaningless. There is a willingness to discard scientific methods and study results that conflict with the agenda of the anti-smoking industry.Here is the actual EPA study the anti-smoking industry so frequently use to justify their war on private property and freedom. I think citizens interested in this controversy should read the real reports, not take things third hand from Mr. Menconi who got it second hand from the various well-funded anti-smoking corporations out there.http://oaspub.epa.gov/eims/eimscomm.getfile?p_download_id=36793Chris SalmonEagle-VailVail, Colorado

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