De kritiek op het Helena-onderzoek, waarin met een soort nep-wetenschap werd aangetoond dat het aantal hartaanvallen acuut daalt na het instellen van een rookverbod, is dit weekend door het British Medical Journal (BMJ) gepubliceerd. Het Helena-onderzoek werd, een jaar nadat het met veel bombarie in de pers werd gebracht, in dit wetenschappelijke tijdschrift gepubliceerd en oogste al meteen veel kritiek.
We zijn benieuwd of er nog officieel op deze nieuwe kritiek gereageerd gaat worden door super-anti Stanton Glantz van de University of California of dat de bezwaren zoals gewoonlijk weer genegeerd gaan worden.
In brief, when a database of figures literally 1,000 times larger than Helena was considered and analyzed, the theoretical 30 to 50% post- ban drop in heart attacks simply disappeared. It was not reduced… it was eliminated altogether. The figures and the work involved are not hidden from public view and examination but are fully open through public government records and the straightforward and simple analysis of those records. Can the same be said of the Helena data?
The data for such states as New York was not yet available at the time of the Helena study, but the data for California has been readily accessible to researchers for years. It is hard to imagine that the Helena researchers never examined those figures and were simply unaware that there was a large and significant source of data that directly contradicted their conclusions. For them to have neglected even mentioning such data in their study presentation seems unfortunate to say the least. While California’s figures may not be as “pure” as Helena’s due to the more gradual phase in of the smoking bans there, it was certainly quite clear that there was no massive drop in heart attacks resulting from those bans. Not only did the much touted study in Helena fail to directly show anything at all about secondary smoke, it promoted conclusions based upon a very small sample while ignoring the easily available public data based upon a far larger sample. Tobacco companies have long been accused of promoting and funding selective research. Is the Antismoking Industry equally at fault?
The Helena researchers were challenged in earlier responses to acknowledge the conflict of interest that stemmed from the orientation of the funding sources for much of their work. Researchers in this field have generally refused to acknowledge such conflict despite the fact that their livelihoods often depend upon consistently producing research pleasing to organizations that have an openly declared agenda of promoting such things as smoking bans. It is unlikely that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or the American Legacy Foundation would continue regular funding of any researcher who consistently designed and conducted research showing the relative harmlessness of secondary smoke in well-ventilated situations.
Stanton Glantz and others have actively urged universities to eschew any research funded by “Big Tobacco.” (6) The Enstrom/Kabat study brought forth a wave of pressure against publishing such research. (7) Perhaps it is time for Antismoking funding to be considered as being in the same boat as Big Tobacco funding.