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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.
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:
Our view * Clearing the air of a secondhand smoke screen.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial
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.