Dat zijn de kwalificaties die Elizabeth Whelan, directeur van de American Council on Science and Health, meegeeft aan de moderne anti-rokenbeweging. In een artikel op de site van de organisatie beticht ze de anti-rokers van bedrog, manipulatie en regelrechte leugens, met name als het over meeroken gaat.
Hiermee stapt ze in het voetspoor van Michael Siegel, de dissidente anti-rokenwetenschapper aan de Universiteit van Boston. Ook Whelan concludeert, net als Siegel, dat de anti-rokenbeweging door deze groteske overdrijving, haar eigen graf aan het graven is.
“…. anti-smokers are becoming increasingly unscientific, arrogant, absolutist, and intolerant of dissenting views”
Sure, exposure to cigarette smoke has all types of negative acute effects, including increased risk of earaches, inner ear infections, asthma, upper respiratory ailments, and more. No argument about that. And it smells nasty, makes your clothes and hair stink, and can ruin a perfectly nice dinner (ACSH did a report in 1999 on the limited but real effects of secondhand smoke).
But anti-smokers can’t let it rest at that. They claim that even transient exposure to secondhand smoke causes everything from breast cancer to heart disease.
A few egregious examples: a leading tobacco researcher made the improbable claim that the smoking ban in Helena, Montana resulted in a 40% decline in heart attack admissions in a six-month period after the ban. “We used to think that heart disease came after years of exposure” said Dr. Richard Sargent, an anti-smoking Montana physician, who then went on to argue that even short-term exposure to exhaled smoke can damage the heart: “if you go into a restaurant for a sandwich, if you go into a bar for a beer, and you get exposed to a heavy amount of secondhand smoke, you’re just as at risk for a heart attack as a smoker.”
Sargent, vice chairman of the Montana Tobacco Advisory Board, noted that secondhand smoke has “an acute, rapid effect on the heart…[T]hirty minutes of exposure doubles your risk for the next forty-eight hours.”
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights makes similar claims: “even a half hour of secondhand smoke exposure causes heart damage similar to that of habitual smokers. Nonsmokers’ heart arteries showed a reduced ability to dilate, diminishing the ability of the heart to get life-giving blood.”
Give me a break.
While being exposed to cigarette smoke for hours a day for many years certainly could have negative effects, it is unacceptable to use such exaggerated claims to justify a ban on smoking.