The Finalists in Dr. Siegel’s 2010 “Lie of the Year Award”

Dr. Michael Siegel

Dr. Michael Siegel is a professor in the Community Health Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health. He has just released his list of 10 finalists for this year’s “Lie of the Year Award” and invites readers to vote for their favorites.

Missouri GASP is not among them so we’re happy to list those who are!

Click on 2010 Lie of the Year Award Finalists for details. Below are descriptions, quoting from Dr. Siegel’s more extensive blog.
1. Free & Clear

The Lie: The Quit for Life Program produces a 45% smoking employee quit rate.

The Rest of the Story: Consumers are not told that the quit rates reported on the site are known to be inaccurate (and likely to be exaggerated). This is a program sponsored jointly by the American Cancer Society and Free & Clear.

2. United States Surgeon General’s Office

The Lie: “Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease and could trigger acute cardiac events, such as heart attack.”; (2) “Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer.”

The Rest of the Story: It’s untrue that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease. Luckily, it takes many years of exposure before the process of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can occur. Fortunately as well, inhaling the smallest amount of tobacco smoke does not lead to cancer.
(See also mogasp’s blog:
https://mogasp.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/is-u-s-surgeon-general-benjamin-exaggerating-1-cigarette-exposure-risk/)

3. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights

The Lie: “there are virtually no health disparities between active and passive smoking.”; (2) “The risks of heart disease associated with secondhand smoke are twice what were previously thought and are virtually indistinguishable from those associated with active smoking.”; (3) “Just thirty minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart damage similar to that of habitual smokers.”

The Rest of the Story: ANR’s claim that there are virtually no health disparities between active and passive smoking is a lie. If it were true there would be tens of thousands more deaths from secondhand smoke.

4. Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy, University of Kentucky College of Nursing

The Lie: “Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack. … In 20-30 minutes, fat and blood clots build up in the arteries, increasing the chance of heart attacks and stroke. After 2 hours of secondhand smoke exposure, the heart rate speeds up and leads to abnormal heart rhythms (which can lead to death).”

The Rest of the Story: Both of these statements are outright lies. You don’t get a build up of fat and blood clots in the arteries in just 30 minutes. (Read Dr. Siegel’s blog for a description of what actually does happen.)

5. Florida Department of Health

The Lie: “Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes experience hardening of the arteries.”

(Referencing the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001. This is one out of a long list of statements of fact but this one is not.)

The Rest of the Story: Obviously, this claim is a lie. It is impossible for a person (even an active smoker) to develop hardening of the arteries in just 30 minutes.

6. Maricopa County Department of Public Health

The Lie: “Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes experience hardening of the arteries.”

The Rest of the Story: Just as with the lie from the Florida Department of Health, the study used to support this claim is also the Otsuka study published in JAMA in 2001. However, once again, that study did not show that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes experienced hardening of the arteries.

7. Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails

The Lie: “Smoking kills about 340 young people a day.”

The Rest of the Story: According to Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, then, smoking kills more than 124,000 young people every year. Obviously, this is not true.

8. FDA Center for Tobacco Products

The Lie: “research has found that children are especially attracted to and begin using tobacco products very early because of all kinds of pressures and motivations, including access to cigarettes that have candy-like characterizing flavors, such as mint, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, and strawberry.”

The Rest of the Story: I challenge the Center for Tobacco Products to name a single brand of (such flavored) cigarettes that was smoked by a significant number of youth during the past four years.

9. FDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Lie: “Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers. These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers.”; “Flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction. FDA’s ban on these cigarettes will break that cycle for the more than 3,600 young people who start smoking daily.”

The Rest of the Story: It is demonstrably false that flavored cigarettes are a gateway to cigarette smoking, that they contribute significantly to addiction of youths to tobacco, that the tobacco industry uses these flavored cigarettes to hook children, and that the FDA ban on candy-flavored cigarettes will have any impact whatsoever on youth smoking. (This is with the exception of menthol, the one flavoring which is actually used by the tobacco companies to hook kids, but which is exempt from the flavoring ban.)

10. American Cancer Society

The Lie: “The American Cancer Society, along with the broader public health community, fought the tobacco industry for more than a decade to get this historic legislation passed.”

The Rest of the Story: The statement is simply not true. The biggest supporter of the FDA tobacco legislation, and a contributor of enormous lobbying expenditures in support of the bill, was none other than Philip Morris, the nation’s largest tobacco company. Why does the American Cancer Society have to continue to lie like this? Why are they seemingly incapable of telling the American people the truth: that Philip Morris supported this bill?

3 responses to “The Finalists in Dr. Siegel’s 2010 “Lie of the Year Award”

  1. How can I not respect you for this post?

  2. mogasp: We venomously disagree on the smoking ban and I firmly believe that science is on my side, the low relative risk and the use of meta analysis back up my points. But I have to commend you for your integrity. You are willing to expose that which is clearly junk science. I have been a follower of Dr Siegels blog for quite some time and he knows that although we disagree I admire him for his integrity.

    [mogasp: Thanks, but why does a disagreement have to be venomous?]

  3. [mogasp: Thanks, but why does a disagreement have to be venomous?]
    When one takes weak statistics to control a minority of society. In a free society a person has a right to engage in risky behavior and business has a right to cater to that behavior. Bars would not exist if that were not the case.  People like you want to to take the risk on alcohol but want to deny others the risk of smoking.  The fact is that in a free society there is freedom  of choice.  If in a free society the majority truly waned smoke free the market wold adapt. But the anti smokers demand smoke free and hope the market will adapt.
    The bottom line is that smoking vs non smoking has always been an an option but people like you demand that everyone cater to you.  The bad thing is that  not you but people like you bastardize science to further you cause.  The fact is that the majority of the non-smokers don’t care and people like you are counting on that to pass laws that would deny businesses to cater to the minority. Marshall Keith

    [mogasp: Your Comment was too long as submitted and has been edited down, plus your full name was omitted. Please remember to add.]

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