Last September Jonathan Leake wrote a story Heart attacks plummet after smoking ban in which he stated:

The ban on public smoking has caused a fall in heart attack rates of about 10%, a study has found. …

The research into heart attack rates in England is being led by Anna Gilmore of Bath University. “There is already overwhelming evidence that reducing people’s exposure to cigarette smoke reduces hospital admissions due to heart attacks,” she said.

Gilmore’s research is incomplete and she emphasises the final results for England will not be published for several months.

Action on Smoking and Health, which linked to Leake’s story, carried this correction the next day:

We have heard that the figures reported in the Sunday Times yesterday (and now circulating elsewhere) are not based on any research conducted to date.

The impact of the smokefree legislation on heart attacks is being analysed by Anna Gilmore and team at Bath but they have no final results yet.

Their findings will be available next year in time for the three year review of the legislation.

Leake’s story remains uncorrected at the Sunday Times.

Comments

  1. #1 generalsn
    February 21, 2010

    It’s just more “sky is falling” hype to promote smoking bans.

  2. #2 Charlie
    February 21, 2010

    What? The last line you quote from the Sunday Times is “Gilmore’s research is incomplete and she emphasises the final results for England will not be published for several months.”

    Hence ASH’s statement merely corroborates what Leake wrote about the progress of the study so far, although Leake is also in a position to report a direct quote from Anna Gilmore, “There is already overwhelming evidence that reducing people’s exposure to cigarette smoke reduces hospital admissions due to heart attacks.”

    Unless Anna Gilmore denies making that statement or one very similar, and also denies the 10% figure, your post amounts almost to confabulation. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised – you’re clearly conducting a personal war against Leake the fury of which seems to have affected your reason.

  3. #3 davidp
    February 21, 2010

    I’m confused.

    “Scared to Death” by Booker and North (the latter being a common source for Leake, it would seem) says that “passive smoking is a health risk” is bogus.

  4. #4 Lucas McCarty
    February 21, 2010

    Charlie, the article says:

    “The ban on public smoking has caused a fall in heart attack rates of about 10%, a study has found. …”

    ..and

    “The research into heart attack rates in England is being led by Anna Gilmore of Bath University. ”

    ..followed by that quote attributed, probably truthfully, to Anna Gilmore, but placed cynically in order to support the assertion that research had at the time been done.

    What was the point in Leake’s article? How could anyone claim it was informative? I’m going to guess that this is a ‘dog whistle’ article and the comments for it are saturated with idiots that got the message and are now in a huff over things unsaid. Oh, there are.

  5. #5 Stephen Clements
    February 21, 2010

    Tim, I have to agree with Charlie. Despite the incredibly poor standard of Leake’s work, your posts feature Leake a little too regularly for my liking (that wouldn’t be the case if he wasn’t an utter twit, admittedly).

    By all means, have a dip at the dipshyte, but it’s looking a little too personal for my liking. You’re better than that. Keep up the great work, though.

  6. #6 Jeremy c
    February 21, 2010

    I think I understand tim’s strategy. The denialists get their mistruths and lies into the mainstream by constant recirculation. I think this is a good experiment to see if this technique can be applied to get the reverse outcome. However, for it to be successful you have to target how these things get ‘re’circulated around the web and then into the media. I.e. its not a useful technique against someone like Monckton as he is the source not the ‘carrier’. Instead it seems Tim is targeting the ‘carrier’ amd I am interested to see what the outcome will be e.g. in a few weeks whenever anyone googles Johnathon Leake or any of the subjects he writes about these posts by Tim might come up first.

    The deniers have been using it as a tactic in their ideological war and it works for them.

  7. #7 DavidCOG
    February 21, 2010

    Tim,

    Keep up the analysis on Leake, et al – it’s extremely valuable – and entertaining!

    Here’s something I wrote in the Guardian comments a few days ago:

    > [Editors and journalists] should also be providing hard, investigative journalism on the ringmaster Deniers: Watts, Plimer, Monckton, McIntyre. Let’s look at their track record for accuracy and honesty. What are their affiliations and sources of funding? And it needs to be done over and over again. These people are dangerously misinforming the public and they are still being quoted by journalists.

    That applies equally to the journalists who are spreading the disinformation that originates from the alpha deniers.

    It’s evident that journalists are failing us – even from the credible press, so we need blogs like this to step up.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s much appreciated.

  8. #8 Mike
    February 21, 2010

    I think the Leake stories are informative.

    Remember, this is the guy who harbours no reluctance in overtly accusing scientists of fraud and dishonesty, while making up the evidence as he goes – and he does it for a living. That puts Leake pretty much at the bottom of the food chain. He deserves more ridicule than is possible to dish out to him.

    I personally think The Onion should make a permanent character out of him. There would be plenty of material to use.

  9. #9 stewart
    February 21, 2010

    Using Google Scholar, I didn’t see anything under her name on the topic in the last 6 months. However, I did see some good news on the topic, not from the UK but from the US. Here’s the link; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2693058/
    And yes, I’m sure Tim is doing something with this. It’s interestign how many of Leake’s sources on the climate story are also on the opposite side of this story. Why are they ‘trustworthy’ for climate change, but appropriately ignored on this topic?

  10. #10 Nick
    February 21, 2010

    Charlie@2 Gilmore,Leake implies, is clearly expecting similar figures to the Scottish study..but as she says,the study has not found anything yet. Yet Leake has decided on a figure and announced that the Gilmore study has found it,then later contradicted himself! I think the audacity of bullshitters like Leake has got you off balance,mate.

  11. #11 Boris
    February 21, 2010

    “you’re clearly conducting a personal war against Leake the fury of which seems to have affected your reason.”

    I don’t think this is personal. Do you think journalists who make mistake after mistake and misquote after misquote should be left alone to misinform? Or do you think their mistakes should be pointed out?

    Your continued defense of sloppy and misleading reporter is disquieting to say the least.

  12. #12 Fran Barlow
    February 21, 2010

    Googling Jonathon Leake didn’t result in any Deltoid references until the top of the second page. The first was taken up with his own material or the Sunday Times.

  13. #13 Jeremy C
    February 21, 2010

    Its an experiment Fran. Give it time.

  14. #14 https://me.yahoo.com/a/uWoBlbVxh8YF2pH.uv9oB3RN8ESiz6UCDMw-#47029
    February 22, 2010

    Have you seen the study by NBER researchers which found that heart attacks rates are just as likely to increase as to decrease after the imposition of smoking bans. The study, CHANGES IN U.S HOSPITALIZATION AND MORTALITY RATES FOLLOWING
    SMOKING BANS, concludes:

    “U.S. state and local governments are increasingly restricting smoking in public places. This paper analyzes nationally representative databases, including the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, to compare short-term changes in mortality and hospitalization rates in smoking-restricted regions with control regions. In contrast with smaller regional studies, we find that workplace bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction
    or other diseases. An analysis simulating smaller studies using subsamples reveals that large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a workplace ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature.”

    The researchers further suggest:

    “We also show that there is wide year-to-year variation in myocardial infarction death and admission rates even in large regions such as counties and hospital catchment areas. Comparisons of small samples (which represent subsamples of our data and are similar to the samples used in the previous published literature) might have led to atypical findings. It is also possible that comparisons showing increases in cardiovascular events after a smoking ban were not submitted for publication because
    the results were considered implausible. Hence, the true distribution from single 23 regions would include both increases and decreases in events and a mean close to zero, while the published record would show only decreases in events. Thus, publication bias could plausibly explain why dramatic short-term public health improvements were seen in prior studies of smoking bans.”

    Smoking ban opponents have long suspected that the cities chosen for smoking ban heart attack studies were cherry picked. For instance, the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association warns on its website:

    “Researchers can deliberately sift through enough small local jurisdictions with smoking bans to find a few aberrations in heart attack rates and then claim that elimination of exposure to secondhand smoke will dramatically reduce incidents of heart attacks. Please don’t be taken in by misleading claims based on very select data samples.”
    http://www.ilba.net/cgi-bin/ILBA/info.pl?domain=info&name=SmokingBan

    Someone needs to look into this! Please find the NBER study attached.

    Sincerely,
    http://keepstlouisfree.blogspot.com/2009/09/smoking-bans-have-no-effect-on-heat.html

    Link

    A similar smoking ban heart attack study by David Kuneman and Michael McFadden reached the same conclusion five years ago.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/9679507/bmjmanuscript

    Read a little Reason: As with the 2006 surgeon general’s report on secondhand smoke, the press release goes farther than the report itself, which in turn draws conclusions that are not justified by the evidence it presents. The judgment about the effectiveness of smoking bans is based on 11 studies that looked at heart attack rates in eight jurisdictions after smoking bans took effect. “None was designed to test the hypothesis that secondhand-smoke exposure causes cardiovascular disease or acute coronary events,” the report concedes. Furthermore, “only two of the studies distinguished between reductions in heart attacks suffered by smokers versus nonsmokers.” Even so, the report concludes that smoking bans reduce heart attacks, at least partly by reducing nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke.

    To accomplish that impressive feat, the report underplays two major problems with attempts to measure the impact of smoking bans through observational studies. First, in recent decades there has been a general decline in heart attack rates, driven mainly by improvements in preventive medication and treatment. A decrease in heart attacks seen after a smoking ban takes effect could be part of this pre-existing trend. One way to address that possibility is to use comparison jurisdictions that do not have smoking bans but are otherwise similar, a precaution most of these studies did not take.

    Second, random variation means that some jurisdictions with smoking bans are bound to see significant drops in heart attacks purely by chance, while others will see no real change or significant increases. The largest study of the issue, which used nationwide data instead of looking at cherry-picked communities, found that smoking bans “are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases.” Furthermore, “An analysis simulating smaller studies using subsamples reveals that large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a workplace ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature.”

    That study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in March, suggests that publication bias can explain what the IOM panel describes as the “consistent” results of the studies it considered (meaning that they all found drops in heart attacks, although the magnitude of these decreases varied widely, from 6 percent in Italy to an astonishing 47 percent in Pueblo, Colorado). If a researcher runs the numbers for a particular jurisdiction and finds no impact from a smoking ban, he is not likely to write up that result, especially if he supports smoking bans as part of the effort to reduce tobacco-related disease. Even if he does submit an article describing his findings, it is not likely to be published, not just because of an anti-smoking bias but because negative results are perceived as boring.

    The NBER paper was mysteriously excluded from the IOM report, even though the authors say they bent over backward to compensate for publication bias by looking for relevant data that did not appear in medical journals. They also ignored analyses that found no declines in heart attacks following smoking bans in California, Florida, New York, Oregon, England, Wales, and Scotland. The omission of the Scottish data is especially striking because they contradict one of the 11 studies included in the IOM report, showing that a decrease in heart attacks during the first year was exaggerated and in any case disappeared the following year.

    The report is slippery in addressing the biological plausibility of attributing immediate, dramatic reductions in heart attacks to smoking bans. For example, the study of Helena, Montana (the one that started it all) found a 40 percent drop in heart attacks within the first six months of the city’s smoking ban. As I’ve said before, it is simply not possible that the smoking ban caused that big a drop so quickly, unless the CDC and the American Heart Association are wildly off in their estimates of the heart disease caused by smoking and secondhand smoke, respectively. If smoking and secondhand smoke together account for about 25 percent of all heart disease deaths, a smoking ban could not cause a 40 percent reduction in heart attacks even if everyone in the city immediately stopped smoking.

    For some reason (a convenient error, I assume), the IOM report describes the utterly implausible 40 percent reduction in Helena as a 16 percent reduction, as part of an attempt to show that bigger declines were found in the studies with longer follow-up periods. (Most of the studies had follow-up periods of a year or less.) What the comparison of studies actually shows is that the most dramatic results were found in the studies with the tiniest samples (e.g., Helena , Pueblo, and Monroe County, Indiana), where random variation would be expected to have the biggest impact.

    Although the authors work hard to make patently ridiculous claims seem plausible, they never settle on an explanation of how, exactly, these reductions in heart attacks are accomplished. When people stop smoking, their heart attack risk declines gradually over several years, and it’s hard to see why the heart attack risk in people exposed to secondhand smoke would fall any faster. Given a lack of information about individual exposure patterns in studies of secondhand smoke and heart attacks, the report says, “the committee could not determine whether acute exposures were triggering acute coronary events, chronic exposures were causing chronic damage that eventually resulted in acute coronary events, or a combination of chronic damage and an acute-exposure trigger led to the increased risk of acute coronary events.” But if the impact of a smoking ban is seen within six months (or two, as in one of the Italian studies), the only possible explanation, since heart disease takes years to develop, is that the ban prevents heart attacks in people who would otherwise keel over from acute exposure.

    Who are these people? The report acknowledges that people with severe heart disease are most vulnerable, but it also intimates that perfectly healthy people might drop dead from a heart attack after spending a half-hour in a smoky bar. “The risk of acute coronary events is likely to be increased if a person has preexisting heart disease,” it says, implying that even people without pre-existing heart disease take their lives in their hands by grabbing a drink in a bar where smoking is allowed. At the same time, the report concedes “there is no direct evidence [as opposed to suggestive laboratory results] that a relatively brief exposure to secondhand smoke can precipitate an acute coronary event.” No kidding. Not to put too fine a point on it, but where are the bodies? The sort of immediate effect they are talking about should be readily apparent. Yet the committee cites no reports of people, whether sick or healthy, having heart attacks after brief exposures to secondhand smoke.

    Assuming that smoking bans do reduce heart attacks, that result could be due to declines in smoking, declines in secondhand smoke exposure, or some combination of the two. The report settles on that last explanation, even though only two of the 11 studies bothered to distinguish between smokers and nonsmokers. The authors do concede that, given the paucity of the data, “it is not possible to determine the magnitude of the effect that is attributable to changes in nonsmokers compared with smokers.”

    Likewise, because of the limitations of the studies and the wide variations between them, the report says, “the committee has little confidence in the magnitude of the effects and, therefore, thought it inappropriate to attempt to estimate an effect size.” Michael Siegel, a Boston University public health professor who was one of the report’s reviewers, notes that “if you can’t even estimate the magnitude of an effect—if you have no confidence in even providing an estimate—you are hardly in a position to conclude that there is a significant effect of smoking bans on heart attacks, an effect which exceeds random variation combined with the known secular decline in heart attack rates.” Siegel faults the authors for a “sensationalistic” approach, especially as reflected in their attempt to “scare people into thinking that they could drop dead from a heart attack from a brief tobacco smoke exposure.”

    The main goal of this project, which was commissioned by the CDC, seems to have been producing a document that could be waved around at city council meetings and state legislative hearings. If so, the authors have succeeded. “The evidence is clear,” says CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “Smoke-free laws…prevent heart attacks in nonsmokers.” Although the IOM panel said it would be reckless to estimate the impact of smoking bans on heart attacks, Frieden (an avid smoking ban advocate when he was New York City’s health commissioner) is willing to go there. “These findings suggest that tens of thousands of heart attacks could be prevented each year,” he claims. “States and communities that do not have comprehensive smoke-free laws could have significant cardiovascular health benefits by doing so.” Neal Benowitz, a member of the IOM panel, insists that “smoking bans need to be put in place as quickly as possible,” because “the longer we wait, the more disease we are accepting.”

  15. #15 Adrian
    February 22, 2010

    I am intrigued by the detail given by #14.

    However, my suspicions are raised by a report on the effects of second hand smoking written by economists, and published by an economic bureau, as opposed to several studies on the topic published by Medical Scientists in peer-reviewed journals. Most of these ‘science-based’ studies find an opposite effect to the economists.

    For example, a more recent paper (Declines in Acute Myocardial Infarction After Smoke-Free Laws and Individual Risk Attributable to Secondhand Smoke – by James M. Lightwood & Stanton A. Glantz in Circulation 120, pp1373-1379, October 2009) concluded that “Passage of strong smoke-free legislation produces rapid and substantial benefits in terms of reduced acute myocardial infarctions, and these benefits grow with time”. The study is all the more convincing because the data was gleaned from studies in 5 different countries.

    I do not think it coincidental that the recent ‘climategate’ affair and subsequent feeding frenzy by anti-AGW lobbyists is being seen as an opportunity by other groups to revisit their favorite ‘anti-science’ topic. I wonder how long before someone complains about their freedom having been stomped upon because of the ban on CFCs!

    Nice work Tim. Keep it up!

  16. #16 stewart
    February 22, 2010

    Yes, interesting detail in #14, but somehow lacking detail at the same time, posted by a Yahoo ID number and not a person. We have a winner!

  17. #17 Harald Korneliussen
    February 22, 2010

    “For instance, the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association warns on its website” … wait a minute! Why would an alcohol lobby group have any opinion on this? Perhaps for the same reason Philip Morris ought to have an opinion on DDT? This copypasta stinks of willful misreading and the usual tricks.

  18. #18 https://me.yahoo.com/a/uWoBlbVxh8YF2pH.uv9oB3RN8ESiz6UCDMw-#47029
    February 22, 2010

    A letter I found:

    I’m Robert E. Madden MD, FACS. I am also a non-smoker. HOWEVER I am a passionate opponent smoking bans. Most of the opposition to the smoking bans has been based upon economic factors such as loss of business revenue, even closings. My opposition is due to loss of individual freedom and abuse of scientific fact.

    I am a practicing chest surgeon, a teacher and a former cancer researcher. I am also past president of the NY Cancer Society. I will not tell you that smoking is harmless and without risk, in fact one in eight hundred smokers will develop lung cancer. Asthmatics should avoid tobacco smoke. What I will say is: 1) it’s a personal choice and 2) so called second smoke (ETS) is virtually harmless. One may not like the smell but it has not been shown to cause cancer, even in bartenders. If people do not like the odor then they may go elsewhere. Those who support the ban have no right to deny 24% of the adult population their enjoyment of a popular product based on dislike, possibly hatred of smoking. This attitude is that of a bigot, akin to anti-Semitism or racism.

    To me the most offensive element of the smoking bans is the resort to science as “proving that environmental smoke, second hand smoke, causes lung cancer”. Not only is this unproven but there is abundant and substantial evidence to the contrary. It is frustrating, even insulting, for a scientist like myself to hear the bloated statistics put out by the American Cancer Society (of which I am a member) and the American Lung Association used to justify what is best described as a political agenda. Smokers enjoy smoking. Most non-smokers are neutral. Anti-smokers hate smoking. It is this last group that drives the engine of smoking bans. Smoking sections in restaurants, ventilated bars and the like have been satisfactory and used for years. To those who choose to smoke they do so at their own risk. To those eschew smoking let them patronize establishments whose owners prohibit smoking. To impose a city wide or a state wide ban is to deny people of their rights.

    Respectfully,
    Robert E. Madden, M.D

  19. #19 https://me.yahoo.com/a/uWoBlbVxh8YF2pH.uv9oB3RN8ESiz6UCDMw-#47029
    February 22, 2010

    [Long cut and paste deleted. Just post a link if you must –Tim]

  20. #20 Adrian
    February 22, 2010

    #18 (who is apparently also #14 & #19)

    At the risk of seeming to repeat myself, Dr. Madden is one of many doctors (if his credentials are indeed factual and if he still believes this statement from who-knows-how-long-ago) who are simply behind the times with research on the harm caused by tobacco.

    The letter you found is one of opinion and, therefore, of no impact on the now irrefutable science that smoking (including second hand smoking) is detrimental to health. His figure of 1 in 800 smokers developing lung cancer is behind the latest research that shows more than a 17% risk of lung cancer in male smokers (i.e. more than 135 in 800), slightly less for females. His claim that second hand smoke has not been proven to cause cancer is equally unsupported by science.

    There is additional evidence about other disease risks and even some (developing) evidence that “third-hand” smoking carries some risk (tobacco smoke residues left on clothes, skin, furniture etc).

    Put simply, get over it, smoking is bad for you (and bad for me if you smoke near me).

  21. #21 P. Lewis
    February 22, 2010

    Of course, siren MDs may be right, and they are entitled to their opinions.

    But whilst MDs can be right, they can also be wrong. A high-profile UK case involving a physician’s discredited Lancet paper on a putative link between MMR and autism and bowel disease is testament to that. Weighed against that single case, was overwhelming epidemiological evidence to the contrary from elsewhere in the world.

    Moving on to the second-hand smoke issue, the interested reader should perhaps first consult the Wikipedia entry and the NCI for a general overview of the fors/againsts. And then for an in-depth assessment there is the Surgeon General’s report (executive summary) and the IOM’s
    Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence
    .

  22. #22 https://me.yahoo.com/a/uWoBlbVxh8YF2pH.uv9oB3RN8ESiz6UCDMw-#47029
    February 22, 2010

    Passive smoking doesn’t cause cancer-official By Victoria Macdonald, Health Correspondent ” The results are consistent with their being no additional risk for a person living or working with a smoker and could be consistent with passive smoke having a protective effect against lung cancer. The summary, seen by The Telegraph, also states: ‘There was no association between lung cancer risk and ETS exposure during childhood.’ ” And if lawmakers need additional real world data to further highlight the need to eliminate these onerous and arbitrary laws, air quality testing by Johns Hopkins University proves that secondhand smoke is up to 25,000 times SAFER than occupational (OSHA) workplace regulations.

    then we have the epa study of 1992 that was used to call shs/ets a carcinogen,which was tossed as junk science by a federal judge. then we have the cherry picking of the sg2006 report on shs/ets yet again referring back to the junk science epa report.

    Now we find that shs/ets is 94% water vapor and air and there are still no deaths attributable to second hand smoke of the 50,000 claimed……even surgeon general carmona couldnt name any and said that those numbers were computer generated on the SAMMAC system……….

  23. #23 https://me.yahoo.com/a/uWoBlbVxh8YF2pH.uv9oB3RN8ESiz6UCDMw-#47029
    February 22, 2010

    Since 1981 there have been 148 reported studies on ETS, involving spouses, children and workplace exposure. 124 of these studies showed no significant causal relationship between second hand smoke and lung cancer. Of the 24 which showed some risk, only two had a Relative Risk Factor over 3.0 and none higher. What does this mean. To put it in perspective, Robert Temple, director of drug evaluation at the Food and Drug Administration said “My basic rule is if the relative risk isn’t at least 3 or 4, forget it.” The National Cancer Institute states “Relative risks of less than 2 are considered small and are usually difficult to interpret. Such increases may be due to mere chance, statistical bias, or the effect of confounding factors that are sometimes not evident.” Dr. Kabat, IAQC epidemiologist states “An association is generally considered weak if the relative risk is under 3.0 and particularly when it is under 2.0, as is the case in the relationship of ETS and lung cancer. Therefore, you can see any concern of second hand smoke causing lung cancer is highly questionable.” Note that the Relative Risk (RR) of lung cancer for persons drinking whole milk is 2.14 and all cancers from chlorinated water ranked at 1.25. These are higher risks than the average ETS risk. If we believe second hand smoke to be a danger for lung cancer then we should also never drink milk or chlorinated water.

  24. #24 A. Lurker
    February 22, 2010

    Ha! One toot on the dog whistle, and out come the dogs!

  25. #25 Jeff Harvey
    February 22, 2010

    I am afraid Dr. McFadden, that your arguments cut no ice with me. The fact is that you are ignoring the 70% of the population that does not smoke, or do their views count? I do not smoke and I think that the smoking ban in restaurants in Holland where I live (legislated in 2008) is a positive development. Safe or not (and I think that the inhalation of nicotine smoke certainly can have deleterious effects if a subject is exposed to it for a prolonged period) I, and many of the 70% of non-smokers should not have to put up with the smoke exhaled by 30% who are helplessly addicted to tobacco and its allelochemical, nicotine.

    Let me suggest a hypothetical scenario for you. I go into a restaurant with a bicycle horn. Every five minutes, I toot the horn loudly, because I like to. The horn makes a loud noise which infringes on the pleasure of the others in the restaurant who would otherwise prefer not to have to listen to the horn, which otherise does not have harmful effects on anyone’s health. It is just annoying to the others sitting in the restaurant. You can be assured that I would be thrown out of any restaurant were I to toot this horn. I may feel that it is my right to sound the horn, but this right infringes on the rights of the others who do not want me to do it.

    Bingo. Therein lies the rub. My freedom of expression to toot a bicycle horn which annoys other customers is curtalied by the views of the majority in the restaurant who would prefer that I did not do so. What is any different about smoking? If 70% of the population do not want people to light up in restaurants, then should not the majority prevail?

    You appear to be a libertarian whilst neglecting to think about the rights of the majority. This is a classic tragedy of the commons scenario. I am all for individual freedom if it does not impact the freedoms of the majority. In that sense, libertarian (me, myself and I) philosophy is fine if we all live on otherwise uninhabited islands. But we don’t. One person’s freedom to smoke infringes on an other person’s freedom not to want to inhale their exhaled smoke. You go on about risks. There are no health risks from my tooting a bicycle horn in a restaurant, but I certainly would be told to stop doing it or leave. Why is it any different with smoking, with its far more undesirable side-effects?

  26. #26 Neil
    February 22, 2010

    Jeff Harvey – the answer lies in the fact that you don’t need to buy a new bicycle horn every five minutes.

    I’m sure if your bicycle horn *did* dissapear in a puff of smoke every time you honked it, thus requiring you to buy a new one before honking again, there would be all manner of *doubt* and *debate* over the actual irritatiance of bicycle horn honking. Indeed, to be an anti-horn-honker would be akin to being Hitler!

  27. #27 guthrie
    February 22, 2010

    THe other reason for looking into Leake is to illustrate the adage about when living in glass houses don’t throw stones. If just one journalists previous work shows misinterpretations, confusion and possibly even outright lies, how come they get to pillory the IPCC for a handful of good faith errors yet remain outwith the fray themselves?

  28. #28 Adrian
    February 22, 2010

    To the guy who has a very long name ending in 47029.

    Your ability to trawl the internet for factoids that support your ideas is impressive. Now if you could spend a little time researching 1: your sources, their reliability and age and 2: some actual science, you’d be even more impressive.

    Put your noggin to work effectively!

    Note that the RR of male smokers developing lung cancer is in the ball-park of 23.3 and, regardless of your nice “quotes” about the RR of lung cancer for persons drinking whole milk and all cancers from chlorinated water ranked at 1.25 (perhaps you’d like to share your understanding by explaining what these studies addressed as “relative to what”), the silly idea that just 148 reported studies on ETS have been published since 1981 demonstrates just how out of date this nonsense is.

    With just a little work (PubMed, rather than Google), I can count 162 studies on ETS (involving spouses, children and workplace exposure) published since JANUARY 2008 and, based on the abstracts alone, I see they ALL demonstrate various degrees of harm. We now also have modern techniques such as MRI that can show us actual damage in the lungs of ETS-exposed children. The data and the evidence keeps on mounting and your information is lost somewhere in the 1980s.

    Mind-you, I did like Adam and the Ants.

  29. #29 https://me.yahoo.com/a/uWoBlbVxh8YF2pH.uv9oB3RN8ESiz6UCDMw-#47029
    February 22, 2010

    Let’s take the most recent NIH 11th report on carcinogens.
    http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/eleventh/pro
    Contains these statements on page 1.
    “A meta-analysis found an overall increase in risk of 20% for exposure to environmental tobacco smoke from a spouse who smokes.”
    “Three population-based (Brownson et al. 1992, Stockwell et al.1992, Fontham et al. 1994) and one hospital-based (Kabat et al. 1995) case-control studies addressed potential systematic biases.”

    When one actually reads the THE 1st paper they refer to.
    http://www.ajph.org/cgi/reprint/82/11/1525
    These statements appear.
    “In general, there was no elevated lung cancer risk associated with passive smoke exposure in the workplace (not shown in table). Only lifetime nonsmokers showed a slight increase in risk at the highest quartile of workplace exposure (OR = 1.2; 95% CI = 0.9, 1.7).“(pg.1527)
    “Exposure of MORE (my emphasis) than 40 pack-years’ duration increased the risk of lung cancer among nonsmokers by approximately 30%.(OR of 1.3).”(pg.1527)
    When the spousal data is broken down by exposure level (table 2 & 3 pg.1528) it shows an increased risk ONLY for the highest quartile. For exposures less than 40pack/yrs any risk disappears.
    I’ll repeat that.
    For exposures less than 40pack/yrs any risk disappears.

  30. #30 https://me.yahoo.com/a/uWoBlbVxh8YF2pH.uv9oB3RN8ESiz6UCDMw-#47029
    February 22, 2010

    And what about Kabat. It’s even worse.
    http://www.data-yard.net/science/ets_lung/kab
    Pg 147
    “In surveying existing epidemiologic studies of environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer in non smokers, several areas of inconsistency should be noted ….”
    Other studies including those by Janerich et al and the present study show NO evidence of association with spousal smoking.”

    This is the best ‘overwhelming’ evidence that SHS causes cancer?
    And please don’t bring up ACS ‘fact sheets’ or the SG 2006 report cause they all refer back to this and EPA 1993.

    Better yet, lets use plain english for a moment.
    Two REAL doctors, MD and all, very recent comments.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch
    Yup the EPA ‘cooked the books’ on it’s research.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3826939.stm
    “In 2001, he riled the anti-smoking lobby after appearing to downplay the risks from second-hand smoke.
    In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, he said: “The effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn’t worry me

  31. #31 Richard Simons
    February 22, 2010

    Yahoo 47029: Why should I be expected to put up with someone else’s drug addiction problem?

  32. #32 Hank Roberts
    February 22, 2010

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/20/tobacco-eu-regulation-lung-cancer

    There’s a reason they call it smoke and mirrors.

    —–

    Letters
    Tobacco companies set up smokescreen over lobbying activity

    Reading Chris Proctor’s claims that British American Tobacco supports ­evidence-based public health regulations and “transparent” consultation processes is like peering into an alternate universe (Letters, 16 January). Our paper, which he refers to and is publicly available at PLoS Medicine, shows that BAT reshaped EU policymaking procedures to expressly prevent such regulation and did so by recruiting a series of more credible partners to front its campaign and obscure its involvement (Tobacco corporations lobby to hamper passing of EU health laws, say academics, 12 January). It does not, as Proctor misleadingly claims, outline who should be allowed to voice an opinion to policymakers.

    Our study is just the latest contribution to a giant mosaic of evidence that demonstrates the tobacco industry has consistently attempted to manipulate science and policy, which has left the industry’s reputation as a credible partner in policymaking in tatters. Proctor’s letter should therefore be seen as another attempt by BAT to regain its seat at the policy table to stymie any regulatory intervention that could ­genuinely reduce tobacco use.

    Dr Anna Gilmore, Dr Gary Fooks, Dr Katherine Smith University of Bath, Dr Jeff Collin University of Edinburgh

    • It is ironic that, in response to the paper showing how BAT, working behind the scenes, shaped the framework to prevent effective health regulation of secondhand smoke and tobacco advertising, BAT’s chief scientist protests that the company supports transparency. BAT, like the rest of the industry, is anything but transparent. Indeed, last year, US courts of appeal upheld a massive verdict that the major cigarette companies, including BAT, created an illegal racketeering “enterprise” to defraud the public. Most important, the courts found that the racketeering activities were continuing and likely to continue in the future.

    The PLoS paper shows the corrosive effect that the tobacco companies have not only on health, but also on the very process of governance.

    Stanton Glantz

    Professor of medicine, University of California San Francisco

    • Milton Friedman once wrote: “Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their shareholders as possible.” Lung cancer, the world’s leading cause of cancer death thanks to tobacco industry marketing, was a rare disease just 80 years ago. Chris Proctor’s Orwellian talk of being an active “stakeholder” in future regulation is nothing more than his company’s bidding to ensure that any form of regulation which has the slightest chance of further reducing demand will be quietly eviscerated.

    Professor Simon Chapman

    School of public health, Sydney University

  33. #33 Steve Reuland
    February 22, 2010

    This is pretty funny, a post tangentially about second-hand smoke manages to bring forth a tobacco lobby spam bot.

    Tim, tell me you didn’t do that on purpose in order to prove a point.

  34. #34 Adrian
    February 22, 2010

    Mr. 47029

    Just before I get bored with stating the obvious, you should try to complete your sentences – “A meta-analysis found an overall increase in risk of 20% for exposure to environmental tobacco smoke from a spouse who smokes. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke from spousal smoking or exposure in an occupational setting appears most strongly related to increased risk”

    AND:

    “Three population-based (Brownson et al. 1992, Stockwell et al. 1992, Fontham et al. 1994) and one hospital-based (Kabat et al. 1995) case-control studies addressed potential systematic biases…….The potential for publication bias has been examined and dismissed (CEPA 1997), and the reported absence of increased risk for lung cancer for nonsmokers exposed only in occupational settings has been found not to be the case when the analysis is restricted to higher quality studies (Wells 1998). Thus, factors related to chance, bias, and/or confounding have been adequately excluded, and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is established as causally related to human lung cancer.”

    Then you should read A LOT MORE of the recent papers (not one or two from almost 20 years ago) and stay away from YouTube or Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs for your scientific information.

  35. #35 Adrian
    February 22, 2010

    And by the way, Mr. 47029, this is simply an argument you can NOT win. Tobacco smoking (and chewing) causes diseases that include cancer and cardiovascular disease. If you believe otherwise, you are deluding yourself. Sorry!

  36. #36 Gene
    February 24, 2010

    Mr. 47029 is undoubtedly one “harleyrider1978″ (his most used alias–google him or his text), who in his spamming has lately taken to printing the Madden letter, sometimes without any intro at all, as if the good doctor had posted it himself.

    All very typical of this mad spammer.

    There’s a tiny band of 6 or 7 pro-tobacco fanatics (harleyrider and “generalsn” are here already) who spend their days and nights swarming every article on smoking, trying to minimize the ravages of tobacco use and the need for regulation. Every smoking report gets the same denials from the same spammers. They deluge message boards, trying to drown out dissent.

    (Wikipedia does a good job documenting the truth behind hr’s BS in “Industry-funded Studies and Critiques”: http://tinyurl.com/yhrmxub)

    This fanatical fax-blasting, if used by other advocacy groups, will destroy local boards.

    Many sites have stopped posting harley’s boilerplate tripe, so then he moves to one of his aliases; I hadn’t seen the yahoo id before, but the text is the same boilerplate.

  37. #37 Adrian
    February 24, 2010

    Hello Gene,

    thanks for the ‘heads-up’. It is infuriating to see such nonsense perpetrated by an ignorant few and I guess I took the bait. Shan’t bother with Mr. 47029 or harleyrider1978 again as he (or she) obviously doesn’t want to learn anyway.

    As someone else commented above, it is ‘interesting’ how quickly a blog post primarily concerned with climate science reportage is turned into a tobacco lobby spamfest at the slightest mention of second-hand smoke. Perhaps Tim knew the effect this would have in advance and wanted to demonstrate the close connection between the two anti-science campaigns.
    If this was the case, it was a stroke of genius!

  38. #38 Parrotlover77
    March 4, 2010

    I’m kind of confused how ‘Leake is a Douche and Makes Shit Up’ has devolved into ‘ZOMG smoking ban is useless and secondhand smoke is good for you.’

    I, for one, don’t care if the heart attack rates and lung cancer don’t go down, but still support the vast majority of smoking bans. There’s more too it than that.

    For example, those with asthma I’m sure appreciate that they can go to more restaurants now without suffering an attack (smoking/non-smoking sections are a joke). Heck those of us that just don’t like stinky shirts after going out appreciate it. I’m not allowed to contiunously fart in your face while you eat, why do you have a right to force me to breath something that stinks just as much (if not more)?

    So anyway, interesting study and definitely important if there is a positive correlation. But if not, so what? Let the science speak. There’s no point in making shit up about it.

    So, yea, Leake continues to be a douche.

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