Monday, 7 February 2011

American public health charity calls for moderation in tobacco education

Although the USA largely subscribes to the idea that passive smoking kills, the American Council on Science and Health (like Michael Siegel) criticises more extreme claims made by other public health bodies. It takes the following example (which also typifies the kind of claim often criticised by Michael Siegel), claiming that it risks rendering all tobacco education too incredible to be taken seriously.
The report states, “[T]here is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and that smoke causes damage immediately to the cardiovascular system. Even low levels of tobacco exposure lead to disease and death, including heart attack, stroke, weakened immune system, and asthma attacks.” 
 “Has the Lung Association damaged its credibility in making such a dramatic, unqualified assertion?” asks Dr Elizabeth Whelan of ACSH, not for the first time. This body does not shrink from criticising the Surgeon General's report, which includes similar claims about secondary smoke, and calls for a zero tolerance policy towards tobacco smoke:
Upon reading this statement, ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross is left wondering whether basic toxicology and cancer-causation principles were considered in the drafting of the Surgeon General report. “Whether indirect exposure to tobacco smoke leads to disease is a matter of dose — the amount of smoke it takes to trigger adverse health outcomes such as heart disease or cancer — but the question of dose-response and exposure levels never made it into the report.” 
ACSH stops short of recommending spending much time exposed to tobacco smoke, but their suggestion to observe dose:reponse principles could be well observed by other bodies, especially in the United States, where they take the concept of third hand smoke seriously. University of Berkeley, California, scientists have pretty much dispensed with any such principles in their study of third hand smoke, as tobacco researcher and author Chris Snowdon writes here.

Noting that ASH Scotland has managed to set up an anti-smoking conference offering Learning Outcomes in (for want of a better expression) anti-smoking propaganda, I wonder how long before Scottish National Certificate qualifications are issued in Junk Science for being able to describe the damage to children from third hand smoke? What an outcome that would be for a small country with a proud educational record.

Or perhaps we will start to take science seriously again instead!


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Education and income, but not employment, were associated with equally large differences in smoking prevalence in Hungary in the 25-64 age group. Among men, smoking initiation was related to low educational level, whereas smoking continuation was related to low income.

Pat Nurse MA said...

I think when you say "anti-smoking" you really mean "anti-smoker". The war on tobacco has moved from the industry to the consumer.

Perhaps by pointing this out by using the correct terminology to explain their hate might just strike a chord that this propaganda is becoming dangerous.