Hannegan continues SHS deception

The on-line St. Louis Post-Dispatch permits readers to air their views by having a Comments section following every story. Mr. Bill Hannegan is a prolific poster to those sections. What concerns me is the reliability of his reference material.

When I first became involved in the SHS issue, as a scientist I felt compelled to give the tobacco industry the benefit of the doubt when they published any study or rebuttal in a newspaper ad. I quickly learned that their aim was not to further the truth about secondhand smoke but to obscure it, and create doubt on the subject.

Mr. Hannegan seems intent on following in their footsteps. A good example is his repeated reference to the controversial study Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98 by Enstrom & Kabat published in the British Medical Journal in 2003. Contrary to many other peer-reviewed studies this concluded that there is no causal relationship between SHS and coronary heart disease and lung cancer in exposed non-smokers.

In a previous blog American Heart Association and KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE! team up(?!) I noted both the American Cancer Society’s strong condemnation of the misuse of its data by Enstrom & Kabat, and the criticism from many scientists on the BMJ website, including one from Jayant S Vaidya, University College London, Dept of Surgery, titled Flawed study from the outset

Today’s Post-Dispatch has a story by reporter Margaret Gillerman on page B1 As Clayton goes no smoking, others might follow, some believe

Bill Hannegan was quick to post an on-line comment ( July 12, 2009 12:59AM CST) accusing Clayton’s mayor and aldermen of not giving “serious consideration to the air filtration systems that Clayton restaurateurs had installed to protect employees from tobacco smoke exposure, even though the Clayton aldermen knew that Surgeon General Carmona admitted in his report that such systems might adequately mitigate the risks of secondhand smoke in restaurants.”

This statement is simply untrue, as I verified by checking U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard H. Carmona’s most recent report on SHS: The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, published in 2006. In his Preface to the report Dr. Carmona writes:

Restrictions on smoking can control exposures effectively, but technical approaches involving air cleaning or a greater exchange of indoor with outdoor air cannot.

Chapter 10 is devoted to the subject Control of Secondhand Smoke Exposure which draws the following conclusions on page 649 on how to provide protection from SHS, with the most relevant to this discussion bolded:

1. Workplace smoking restrictions are effective in reducing secondhand smoke exposure.
2. Workplace smoking restrictions lead to less smoking among covered workers.
3. Establishing smoke-free workplaces is the only effective way to ensure that secondhand smoke exposure does not occur in the workplace.
4. The majority of workers in the United States are now covered by smoke-free policies.
5. The extent to which workplaces are covered by smoke-free policies varies among worker groups, across states, and by sociodemographic factors. Workplaces related to the entertainment and hospitality industries have notably high potential for secondhand smoke exposure.
6. Evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry.
7. Evidence suggests that exposure to secondhand smoke varies by ethnicity and gender.
8. In the United States, the home is now becoming the predominant location for exposure of children and adults to secondhand smoke.
9. Total bans on indoor smoking in hospitals, restaurants, bars, and offices substantially reduce secondhand smoke exposure, up to several orders of magnitude with incomplete compliance, and with full compliance, exposures are eliminated.
10. Exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke cannot be controlled by air cleaning or mechanical air exchange.

Once again it’s very clear that opponents of smoke-free air don’t care how they bend or subvert the science. They are true disciples of the tobacco industry and its long history of denial and subversion of public health.

6 responses to “Hannegan continues SHS deception

  1. What an excellent rebuttal of Bill Hannegan’s blog comments, which distort and falsifies the research record on second hand smoke dangers.

  2. I’ve seen Bill Hannegan’s posts on several forums. Bill always posts info that is at best partially true. Bill knows darn well that Enstrom has been condemned many times for hiding the fact that he had been heavily financed by Philip Morris and other tobacco companies for years. Yet Bill continuously forgets to mention this in his many posts in many newspapers and forums.

  3. Smoking pollution is a major problem all across the country, and I am glad to see that people are finally starting to look into fixing it.

  4. Funny since the latest study headed by Michael Thun backs Enstrom up. While you can see a clear increase of lung cancer rates for smokers as the rate of smokers increase, the rates for nonsmokers has remained unchanged since the 1930s regardless of exposure.

    What causes the disease in nonsmokers is not known, though researchers suspect genetic susceptibility combined with exposure to cancer-causing substances like asbestos, radon, certain solvents and other people’s tobacco smoke.

    Here is the actual study.

  5. I’m not sure that the previous post is the “latest study”. There was a CDC study released in Jan 09 that Micheal Thun commented on. “This study is very dramatic,” said Dr. Michael Thun, a researcher with the American Cancer Society.

    “This is now the ninth study, so it is clear that smoke-free laws are one of the most effective and cost-effective to reduce heart attacks,” said Thun, who was not involved in the CDC study released Thursday.

    Smoking bans are designed not only to cut smoking rates but also to reduce secondhand tobacco smoke. It is a widely recognized cause of lung cancer, but its effect on heart disease can be more immediate. It not only damages the lining of blood vessels, but also increases the kind of blood clotting that leads to heart attacks. Reducing exposure to smoke can quickly cut the risk of clotting, some experts said.

    And there was another one that I saw just today published in a highly respected medical journal.

    Conclusions: Secondhand smoke exposure is associated with worse early prognosis following acute coronary syndrome. Non-smokers need to be protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.


  6. Those heart attack studies are highly disputed by many world renowned people.
    The Pueblo study from your article
    Dr. Michael Siegel

    A new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation, Congressional Budget Office, University of Wisconsin, and Stanford University is the first to examine the relationship between smoking bans and heart attack admissions and mortality trends in the entire nation . . .

    1. “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.”


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