Het werd onderhand tijd: de propaganda uit de anti-rokenlobby wordt in de pers steeds kritischer bekeken. Alleen al in de laatste week verschenen er een vijftal artikelen die kritisch ingaan op de (on)wetenschappelijke uitspraken die door die groepen worden gedaan over de acute effecten van meeroken voor niet-rokers.

Aanjager van die persberichten is de weblog van Dr. Michael Siegel, waarin al enige tijd analyses worden gedaan op de ‘onderzoeken’ van de anti-rokenlobby. De onderbouwde kritiek van Dr. Siegel richt zich vooral tegen de beweringen (met bijbehorende ‘junk-science’) over de directe effecten van rookverboden op het aantal opnames voor hartaanvallen in ziekenhuizen. Beweringen, die in Nederland onder andere ook door de Hartstichting in de media worden verbreid.

Bij niet minder dan de BBC (altijd een trouw volger van de berichten van de anti-rooklobby) verscheen vandaag een kritisch artikel over de bewering dat in Schotland sinds de invoering van het rookverbod het aantal hartaanvallen met 17% was gedaald. Het artikel laat aan de hand van pas verschenen objectieve cijfers van de Engelse gezondheids-autoriteiten zien dat deze bewering niet terecht is omdat er al jaren, ook buiten Schotland, een trend is van een verlaging van 4-7% per jaar. De 17% is niet uit deze cijfers te herleiden en lijkt dus ‘gefabriceerd’. 

Michael Siegel heeft nu de anti-rokenorganisaties opgeroepen de beweringen te bewijzen of publiekelijk te herroepen en spijt te betuigen.

En de anti-rokers reageren zoals ze dat altijd doen: ze vallen de boodschapper aan en niet de boodschap. Ondertussen worden schielijk de teksten op webpagina’s afgezwakt. Gelukkig is er nog de wayback-machine die internetpagina’s archiveert.

De anti-rokers zijn in ieder geval in de VS in het defensief gedwongen. Nu Nederland nog…

For years, Boston University School of Public Health Professor Dr. Michael Siegel has been skeptically questioning a particularly ominous allegation regarding the dangers of secondhand smoke. According to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) and other groups, “Even for people without [certain] respiratory conditions, breathing drifting tobacco smoke for even brief periods can be deadly. For example, the Centers for Disease Controls [CDC] has warned that breathing drifting tobacco smoke for as little as thirty minutes (less than the time one might be exposed outdoors on a beach, sitting on a park bench, listening to a concert in a park, etc.) can raise a nonsmoker’s risk of suffering a fatal heart attack to that of a smoker.”

It is ironic that after decades of unscientific claims by the tobacco industry, this time it is the anti-smoking groups being accused of distorting the science.

The industry-funded Tobacco Institute denied the harmful consequences of smoking and did a great disservice to public health. Today, however, it’s the “good guys,” the anti-smoking advocates, who may be spreading disinformation by overstating certain risks. And because Dr. Siegel sees this exaggeration as a threat to the very credibility of the public health community, he wants to put an end to it.

In a recent study he published in the journal Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations, Siegel alleged that some groups are wildly inflating the health risks of exposure to second-hand smoke. In doing so, they tarnish the very credibility that the public-health community must have in order to save lives.

Let’s be clear: Siegel is no friend of Big Tobacco, despite some claims made by the anti-smoking activists. In fact, he’s a vocal opponent of smoking and a supporter of smoke-free workplace rules. Nor does Dr. Siegel consider secondhand smoke a good thing. After all, there is evidence that long-term, high-dose exposure increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack. And there is speculation that even short-term exposure may be unsafe to those with severe coronary artery disease. But the evidence does not support the claim that more than 100 groups are wantonly making — which is that acute but transient exposure increases heart-attack risk in healthy individuals.

Secondhand Smoke Exaggerations Challenged (Huffington Post)

It looked like a vindication of the smoking ban in Scotland – in little more than a year, the heart attack rate had been cut by almost a fifth. But look at official figures, says Michael Blastland, and it just doesn’t stack up.

It was dramatic research that made headlines everywhere. A 17% fall in the number of heart attacks in the year since Scotland stubbed out smoking in public places.

Startling – if true.

Few questioned the research when it was revealed two months ago. Politicians trumpeted the numbers as vindication of a policy introduced a year earlier than in England. Journalists obediently followed suit.

The most arresting finding was that heart attacks among non-smokers had apparently fallen even faster than smokers, suggesting that passive smoking was often to blame.

Then a week ago, with rather less fanfare, routine statistics on hospital activity were published by the official source for health data in Scotland, as they are every year, this time including the time since the ban.

These show a fall in heart attacks for the year from March 2006 – not of 17%, but less than half as much at about 8%.

What’s more, taking out the recent trend, this is halved again. Heart attacks have been falling steadily for some years now. The percentage falls in the three years before the ban were 5.1%, 4.7% and 5.7%. So the fall since is still bigger than the trend would lead us to expect, but bigger only by about three or four percentage points – an improvement, but retreating fast from the magnitude of 17.

The latest release also makes clear that even an 8% fall in heart attacks is not unprecedented. There was another, larger drop between 1999 and 2000 of about 11% (see chart).

The facts in the way of a good story (BBC)

Oh, my. I guess Boston University professor Dr. Michael Siegel won’t be getting invited to the “right” dinner parties in towns like Newton and Brookline, where whiffs of secondhand smoke are equated with a release of Ebola virus.

Siegel has just published a heretical paper in the journal Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations analyzing the purported effects of secondhand smoke. Siegel – the kind of doctor who can cure you, not the Dr. Kissinger type – writes that “there appears to be no scientific basis for claims that brief, acute, transient exposure to secondhand smoke increases heart attack risk in individuals without coronary disease . . . that it can cause atherosclerosis, that it can cause fatal or catastrophic cardiac arrhythmias, or that it represents any other significant acute cardiovascular health hazard in nonsmokers.”

This flies in the face of the received wisdom that 30 minutes’ worth of secondhand smoke can cause heart attacks and strokes, wisdom that is prompting some cities to consider outdoor smoking bans. Siegel allows that brief exposure to tobacco smoke does affect heart rate and circulation, but the effect wears off within hours, or sometimes immediately. “I am a very strong proponent of workplace smoking bans,” Siegel says. “But outdoors, where people can move around, it is not a substantial public health problem.”

Guess what? Even though brief exposure to secondhand smoke poses close to zero public health risk, Siegel writes, “a large number of anti-smoking organizations are making inaccurate claims that a single, acute, transient exposure to secondhand smoke can cause severe and even fatal cardiovascular events in healthy nonsmokers.” Well, duh. That’s because the anti-smoking lobbies aren’t in business to promote public health; they’re in business to stay in business.

Among the targets of Siegel’s scorn are Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, Action on Smoking and Health, TobaccoScam, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Even for people without . . . respiratory conditions, breathing drifting tobacco smoke for even brief periods can be deadly,” is a typical remark found on the website of ASH.

Siegel, a respected if now despised scientist in his field, has been pummeling the anti-tobacco movement on secondhand smoke for several years in his blog, tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com. A spokesman for Tobacco-Free Kids declined to discuss Siegel: “We don’t want to say anything to categorize him in any way.”

Where there’s smoke…there’s Dr. Siegel (Boston Globe)

Siegel daagt uit
Reactie van super-anti Stanton Glantz: Op de man en niet de bal spelen

Wijzigen van pagina’s (Uit de comments van de Siegel weblog):

Quite interesting.

Yesterday I
pointed out where TobaccoScam was claiming a 60% reduction in heart attacks in Helena. I cut and pasted the direct comment in my response. Today, I noticed the web page was updated removing the 60% claim. You can view the original page via the wayback machine at

http://web.archive.org/web/ 20070…ondhand_iih.cfm

This was one of the pages Glantz directly linked to in his message to his disciples. I found it curious when he quoted this message he stopped short of the last sentence in the paragraph which exaggerated the claim of Helena to 60%.

The original paragraph read:
Breathing secondhand smoke for just thirty minutes affects blood and blood vessels, including the vital coronary arteries, as much as being a smoker. Two hours of secondhand smoke exposure compromises control of the heart beat, boosting the risk of irregular beats (and sudden death) or a heart attack. Because of these effects, someone in a restaurant who has a heart attack when secondhand smoke is in the air will be more likely to have a heart attack. When Helena, Montana implemented a smokfree policy in restaurants and bars (and workplaces), heart attacks dropped 60%

The paragraph now reads

Breathing secondhand smoke for just thirty minutes affects blood and blood vessels, including the vital coronary arteries, as much as being a smoker. Two hours of secondhand smoke exposure compromises control of the heart beat, boosting the risk of irregular beats (and sudden death) or a heart attack. Because of these effects, someone in a restaurant who is at risk of a heart attack when secondhand smoke is in the air will be more likely to have a heart attack. When Helena, Montana implemented a smokefree policy in restaurants and bars (and workplaces), heart attacks dropped. Reductions in heart attacks averaging about 25% have been observed in Helena, Pueblo, Colorado, Bowling Green, Ohio, New York State, Piedmont, Italy, Ireland and Scotland when smokefree laws went into effect.

If you will notice, the quote “someone in a restaurant who has a heart attack” has been modified to say “someone who is at risk of a heart attack”

Interesting that this is the quote abert used, and not the original quote which glantz used in his reply to his disciples. Abert comments quoted after it has been altered by the authors, and then attempts to say see clearly they were talking about people at risk, when at risk was not in the original paragraph.

I wonder if the footnotes also suddenly appeared?

It would appear tobaccoscam authors are reading this blog and fixing their pages as arguments are made on their content. But isn’t it a day late and dollar short?

Clearly up until it reached national media attention, the authors saw little reason to correct an obvious exaggeration of the Helena results, but now under scrutiny for exaggerations are quick to fix.

This is just another example of activists stretching results in order to bolster their argument to support of their cause.

Before this study was ever published our out of peer review, press releases (
Science by press release) were issued claiming a 60% reduction. By the time this made publication, this number was reduced to 40%. However the following google will show you just how prevalent the exaggerated claims were propagated.

http://www.google.com/custom? q=H…25+heart+attack

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  • "Es ist schwieriger, eine vorgefaßte Meinung zu zertrümmern als ein Atom."
    (Het is moeilijker een vooroordeel aan flarden te schieten dan een atoom.)
    Albert Einstein

  • "Als je alles zou laten dat slecht is voor je gezondheid, dan ging je kapot"
    Anonieme arts

  • "The effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn't worry me."
    Sir Richard Doll, 2001

  • "Een leugen wordt de waarheid als hij maar vaak genoeg wordt herhaald"
    Joseph Goebbels, Minister van Propaganda, Nazi Duitsland

  • "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
    Mahatma Gandhi

  • "There''s no such thing as perfect air. If there was, God wouldn''t have put bristles in our noses"
    Coun. Bill Clement

  • "Better a smoking freedom than a non-smoking tyranny"
    Antonio Martino, Italiaanse Minister van Defensie

  • "If smoking cigars is not permitted in heaven, I won't go."
    Mark Twain

  • I've alllllllways said that asking smokers "do you want to quit?" and reporting the results of that question, as is, is horribly misleading. It's a TWO part question. After asking if one wants to quit it must be followed up with "Why?" Ask why and the majority of the answers will be "because I'm supposed to" (victims of guilt and propaganda), not "because I want to."
    Audrey Silk, NYCCLASH