Kansas Watchdog.org is a pro-smoking web page which I recently checked out for the first time. The specific article of interest is Smoking Ban Advocate Says Some Claims Just Smoke by Paul Soutar, posted on February 20, 2010. It’s a well-prepared article featuring video testimony given during a recent hearing by supporters of a Kansas statewide smoke-free air bill, which reportedly has just received final approval.
MoGASP: Please see comment below from Paul Soutar for correction that KansasWatchdog.org is NOT a pro-smoking blog.In the video, Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Health Director and Kansas State Health Officer appointed early last year, quotes from a study released in September 2009 by the Kansas University Medical Center. He stated: “Communities that pass a strong (smoke-free air) law see their heart attack rate decline by 17% in just the first year.”
Seventeen percent is wrong: the number has since been corrected by the authors, Dr. David Meyers et al, to 8%, which is apparently in the normal range seen in communities without any such laws in effect.
To back up his claim of erroneous testimony, Paul Soutar quotes Dr. Michael Siegel’s criticism in his blog titled Error Disclosed in Meta-Analysis of Smoking Bans’ Effect on Heart Attacks: Will Anti-Smoking Groups Report the Error? published December 16, 2009. The criticisms made by Dr. Siegel appear to be valid, and show why it’s critically important for smoke-free air advocates to ensure that their data is solid.
A report by the Institute of Medicine committee released last October, titled Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence, received widespread coverage and was quoted by some in St. Louis to support Proposition N. I decided against following suit after reading persuasive criticism of the report by Dr. Siegel on his blog, posted October 21, 2009. There is already so much damning evidence against SHS that we absolutely don’t need to use any even remotely questionable data.
Paul Soutar’s blog is followed by a number of comments from pro-smoking activists. One of them, called “Pam,” who writes extensively and has had comments accepted on the mogasp blog, included the following:
THIS study says if you quit smoking you have a 80%-90% chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes. http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/01/04/diabetes.smoking.risks/index.html
I checked out the above link and found a rather different message conveyed by the authors of this study, thanks to what Pam had omitted to quote:
“People who quit smoking are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes after they kick the habit, most likely due to post-quitting weight gain, a new study has found.
Experts caution, however, that the benefits of quitting smoking — including a lower risk of heart attack and lung cancer — far outweigh the risk of developing diabetes, which can be treated with diet, exercise, and medication.” [Emphasis added.]
Just another example of deliberately skewing the data to suit an agenda. I submitted a response which concluded:
What U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, stated in 1986 still holds true today:
Nonsmokers should be protected from secondhand smoke, and smokers should be helped to quit.
Martin Pion, President, Missouri GASP