Thursday, June 29, 2006


Anti-smoking activist, Michael Siegel, takes on the Surgeon General's press release, fact sheet, and comments on the report released yesterday. Apparently, the conclusions in the 727 page report weren't sensationalist enough for the Surgeon General, so like his leader, he embellished the report with his own conclusions. Keep in mind, Siegel wants to ban smoking indoors and such. However, he doesn't see any reason for a government official to lie or mis-state the scientific evidence.

In fact, after reading the press release, I was fully expecting to find in the report some conclusions and supporting documentation related to an acute heart attack risk and increased lung cancer risk associated with brief secondhand smoke exposure. I was shocked to find that there was no mention of such a relationship; no conclusions, no documentation. Instead, the report appropriately presented the scientific evidence of acute effects of secondhand smoke on vascular function as supporting the biologic plausibility of the observed effects of chronic exposure on heart disease. There was no suggestion in the report that a brief exposure does or even could increase heart disease risk. Nor was there any suggestion (much less scientific evidence) that a brief exposure is enough to cause lung cancer.

Unfortunately, I'm forced to reach the conclusion that tobacco control organizations are simply unable to accurately communicate secondhand smoke science to the public. They are widely distorting the science to create a more sensational and emotional impact on the public. When this phenomenon goes all the way up to the level of the Surgeon General's office, you know you've got a serious scientific integrity problem.

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