P-D Editorial 9/13/2010: “Quelle surprise! Our view * Clearing the air of a secondhand smoke screen.”

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The following St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial appeared a couple of weeks ago but is highly pertinent, especially in view of the developments of the past week, during which MoGASP conducted undercover measurements at the Double D Lounge with a view to putting Bill Hannegan’s claims of super air quality in that smoking venue to the test.

Below is a photo taken in the back portion of the Double D Lounge where a pool table and dart boards are located. On the ceiling are mounted two large smoke eaters, one nearest the camera, the second at the far end. Seated in the foreground are three young women, two holding cigarettes. The photo was taken on Saturday, September 25, 2010, shortly before 10:00 pm.

Rear section of DD’s Irish Pub & Karaoke, formerly the Double D Lounge,
with two ceiling-mounted smoke eaters


Were we doing anything underhanded? Not as long as the test adhered to strict scientific standards, which was the case.

Below are three of Hannegan’s comments, posted on the Post-Dispatch’s website on September 9 following a story by Post-Dispatch reporter, BLYTHE BERNHARD, titled “Study: Venues with smoking have more nicotine in air,” published that day:

Bill Hannegan said on: September 9, 2010, 1:05 am
I challenge the Wash U ETS researchers to test the air at the Double D Lounge, a St. Louis County bar featuring five of the most powerful air purification systems ever made running 24/7. These units remove all the components of secondhand smoke from bar air. If the air at Double D Lounge is found to be have a substantial amount of nicotine, then I’ll concede their point.

Bill Hannegan said on: September 9, 2010, 1:19 am
“Purification systems can remove the appearance and odor of smoke, but not all of the small particulate matter that can reach the lungs.” The air purification machines at the Double D Lounge remove all the components of secondhand smoke, including the smallest particles.

Bill Hannegan said on: September 9, 2010, 8:49 am
Newstchuck, we would be very interested in having the air of the Double D Lounge tested.

Comments by Hannegan like the above helped persuade MoGASP to conduct Indoor Air Quality tests about which Hannegan is now apparently crying foul.

Below is the editorial, evidently sparked in part by Hannegan’s comments:

Quelle surprise!
Our view * Clearing the air of a secondhand smoke screen.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial
Monday, 9/13/2010

As St. Louis voters prepared to cast their ballots on clean indoor-air laws last fall, opponents trotted out a familiar argument:

“Modern filtration systems have all but eliminated the dangers of secondhand smoke, ” wrote Bill Hannegan, who headed a group opposing the smoking bans, in a letter to the Post-Dispatch.

It’s a seemingly compelling argument with an interesting provenance.

Unfortunately, it is not true. Washington University researchers measured nicotine levels in 10 bars and 10 restaurants in St. Louis County. Their results were released last week: Places that allow smoking had 31 times more airborne nicotine than those that don’t.

Fully half of the establishments tested had ventilation systems. The ventilation systems didn’t help.

Bars and restaurants with ventilation systems actually recorded higher nicotine levels than restaurants and bars with no ventilation systems. Researchers suggested that may be because of the ventilation systems “recycling the air back into the same space.”

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers – the people who sell, design and install ventilation systems – wouldn’t be surprised at the results. The group issued a statement in 2005 saying that ventilation systems cannot protect against secondhand smoke.

A Tufts University study of restaurants and bars with state-of-the-art ventilation systems reached the same conclusion in 2006. That same year, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona reported that filtration systems don’t work.

A 2008 study on nicotine levels in 10 St. Louis bars reported that indoor air pollution levels in bars that allow smoking were six times higher than in those that did not.

Notice a pattern here? Mr. Hannegan doesn’t. He told Post-Dispatch reporter Blythe Bernhard last week that he’s not willing to concede the point.

It turns out that the idea that ventilation is the solution to secondhand smoke came from the tobacco industry. We are shocked. Shocked.

A 1988 strategy document prepared by the Tobacco Institute, an industry front group, laid out the rationale: “The argument of ‘freedom of choice’ with regard to workplace smoking is becoming increasingly difficult to sell. The concept of ‘indoor air quality’ (with an emphasis on science) has much more credibility and will draw a wider audience.”

That document is among thousands that became public after attorneys general from 48 states settled a lawsuit against the tobacco companies in 1998.

The Tobacco Institute’s report set out a strategy to “promote ventilation as the best solution to all indoor air-quality problems, including smoking.”

At about the same time, Philip Morris was launching its “ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) Strategy.” Its goal, according to another confidential document, was to use “clean-air technology as a means of promoting smoking tolerance.”

The document lays out plans for downplaying the risks of secondhand smoke, as well as a plan of attack on what the company calls “‘politicized’ science.”

It’s no surprise that 20 years later, addicts and apologists are using the same playbook in their rear-guard defense of smoking. The surprise is that anyone would pay attention to them.

After all, since those strategic smokescreens first were dreamed up 22 years ago, 9.5 million Americans have died from tobacco-related causes.

12 responses to “P-D Editorial 9/13/2010: “Quelle surprise! Our view * Clearing the air of a secondhand smoke screen.”

  1. Hmm…
    From the Ban the Ban Wisconsin blog:
    “Corey Lawson (and member of the Smoke-Free St. Louis Coalition) had initially opened “rBar” as a non-smoking establishment, and had to close it because of lack of business. Also, a source in St. Louis has informed us that Corey is admitting that he is installing air filtration technology to address the health risks of secondhand smoke in his bar. In other words, this member of the Smoke-Free St. Louis Coalition believes that modern air filtration does indeed filter out the “dangerous” chemicals in secondhand smoke. We’ve also heard rumblings that the American Cancer Society is getting nervous because air filtration is becoming well-known and supported, and the St. Louis press is turning on the anti-smoking movement. Nervous? Why? If air filtration works, shouldn’t the ACS be supporting the installation of these air-cleaners?
    http://banthebanwisconsin.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/big-news-update-on-rbar-in-st-louis/
    [mogasp: 962 characters total]

  2. Correction of my initial post:

    Mr. Pion,

    First, you conducted the tests against the what you knew to be the wishes of the owner. I never wanted the air tested without her permission and cooperation. She should have posted a sign at the door forbidding testing equipment in her establishment. But by your behavior detailed in the RFT article you clearly knew she didn’t want you there without me and would have thrown you out if she had caught you.

    A fox should never be in charge of a chicken coop. I asked that the air of DD be tested by a neutral independent air quality testing firm. You are an extreme partisan in favor of smoking bans and should never be solely in charge of any test concerning smoking bans, especially if no witnesses are present to verify what you actually did and what equipment was used. I had to take James Repace to the woodshed a few years back over such crappy sneak tests. You knew how I felt about them!
    http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/stories/2007/11/19/editorial2.html

    Bill

    [mogasp: 978 characters total]

    • Your comment makes several questionable or untruthful assertions, e.g. you wrote “you clearly knew she [the bar owner] didn’t want you there without me” but the RFT article came out AFTER the test, so how could mogasp have had this foreknowledge? You had also invited Wash. U. to test this lounge recently.

  3. No, I invited Wash U to pay for a test by an independent air quality testing firm. If Wash U did any testing, we would watch them the whole time. Such observation was not possible with your clandestine test.

    • Mr. Hannegan, You wrote:

      “I invited Wash U to pay for a test by an independent air quality testing firm.”

      Can you provide anything in writing to back up this claim? All I’ve ever read that you’ve written is that you were challenging WASH. U. to test it.

  4. “A report on the air quality at the Double D Lounge by an independent air-quality testing firm would be a fair measure of the effectiveness of such machines to remove smoke from bar and restaurant air. Until such a test occurs, the Post-Dispatch should withhold judgment concerning the effectiveness of air purification technology.”

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_a342ce0b-39d0-5d27-a1f0-f5d44160e3b5.html

  5. Replying to Bill Hannegan’s October 1, 2010 at 5:00 am comment:
    “You are an extreme partisan in favor of smoking bans and should never be solely in charge of any test concerning smoking bans …. I had to take James Repace to the woodshed a few years back over such crappy sneak tests.”

    mogasp: It is the norm to make clandestine tests in such venues as casinos, restaurants and bars that do not otherwise permit such measurements. In addition, James Repace provided this response:

    “As far as the Pennsylvania casino tests being “crappy”, as charged by Mr. Hannegan, they were published in a peer-reviewed national scientific journal (see ref. below). In contrast, Mr. Hannegan strangely expects his unscientific comments to be accepted at face value. He claims that air cleaning can control secondhand smoke. Let him state clearly what concentration of smoke he measured at what smoker density and what ventilation rate before and after his air cleaning apparatus was installed, how he measured it, and what reduction in exposure, dose, and risk was achieved. Hand waving doesn’t do it, Mr. Hannegan. As far as the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco (PACT) press releases go, an error was made in the original press release and was corrected a day later. The paper based on my casino study was later published*. If Mr. Hannegan has a problem with that paper, he should write a letter to the editor and get it published. Put up or shut up, Mr. Hannegan.”

    *Secondhand Smoke in Pennsylvania Casinos:
    A Study of Nonsmokers’ Exposure, Dose, and Risk
    James L. Repace, MSc
    Am J Public Health. 2009;99: 1478–1485. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.146241

  6. In the October 29, 2007 comments section of Michael Siegel’s blog, I posed this query:

    “Can anyone explain the contradictory Repace Pennsylvania air quality test results? This force of the initial 1771 death toll number was felt in Kansas City as they considered whether to exempt casinos from a smoking ban. Now it looks like the number was made up, and then changed to a more plausible 300. Do we have a pure fraud here? Did Repace ever test the air. I am beginning to wonder if the air of the Casino Queen was ever tested as well, since the ALA stealth tests yeilded similar results.”

    Bill Godshall reponded:

    “Yes. I informed Repace that the 1771 projected deaths appeared way too high (per my knowledge of tobacco smoke pollution mortality risks), which prompted him to recheck the calculations and to correct the error.”

    Sounds like more than just a typo in the press release!

    http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/10/national-tobacco-control-conference.html

    [mogasp: 961 characters total]

  7. Dave K (David W. Kuneman)

    Well, if ventilation and filtration did not work, it would be impossible for workers in any profession where substances are ommitted into the air to work indoors. This includes cooks, painters, research chemists, microbiologists, doctors and nurses in infectious disease wards, ..the list goes on and on. It would also be impossible to remediate radon problems in public and private buildings.

    The behavior of gasses, vapors and solids suspended in gasses , is well understood, if the substrate velocity exceeds the diffusion rate, the substance can be ventilated. This is also the defining principle of gas chromatography, which is an extremely well understood and reliable laboratory technique used in laboratory analysis.

  8. ““Yes. I informed Repace that the 1771 projected deaths appeared way too high (per my knowledge of tobacco smoke pollution mortality risks), which prompted him to recheck the calculations and to correct the error.”
    ………….
    Now that smoking bans have passed, there will be no more deaths…..correct? Isn’t that what the Nicoderm (RWJF) grant recipients told us all?
    …………….
    http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2007/02/smoking-bans-good-public-policy-or.html

  9. Where does Mr Repace gets his funding? Specifically, who for the “Secondhand Smoke in Pennsylvania Casinos: A Study of NonSmokers’ Exposure….” And the study was on the risk of what? Cancer, heart disease, asthma? If the study proved that you can smell smoke if someone is smoking, well, that certainly does not take a rocket scientist!
    Repace has recieved a fortune in grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who hold tens of millions of shares of Johnson and Johnson stock. J&J sell Nicoderm, Nicorette, Nicotrol, and Nicoderm CQ. Repace and his “high tech” testing equipment will produce the desired results EVERY TIME for J&J!

    A House Committee, this week had the FDA and J&J testify under oath. When the FDA Rep was asked if Johnson and Johnson employees now worked at the FDA, and vice versa, he said, “oh, yes, they do”. The EPA will be the next agency to be outed for being in bed with J&J, and Mr Repace may explain about his complicity with J&J.

    Was it while he was with the EPA??
    It amazes me what these people will do for grants. And then they have pro ban fanatics who actually believe it!

  10. Ah yes mogasp, again with the policy statement written by known antismoking activist. Samet.
    “The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers – the people who sell, design and install ventilation systems – wouldn’t be surprised at the results. The group issued a statement in 2005 saying that ventilation systems cannot protect against secondhand smoke.”

    And what research did the ASHRAE do to come up with this policy. And on what dose response curves was it based on? We patiently await for proof that there is no safe level. Or at least proof as to what a safe level is. Policy statements are not a replacement for sound science. If you have no sound science to back you up I would have to agree with OSHA
    http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=24602

    Marshall P. Keith

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