Friday, November 30, 2007

The American Cancer Society and the 16 Cigarette Claim

The American Cancer Society promoted the Illinois smoking ban to the public, and strongarmed the Illinois legislature, with an entirely misleading claim that can still be found on their website:

"One 8-hour shift in a smoky workplace is equivalent to smoking 16 cigarettes."

These are trick numbers. All the ACS is really saying is that a certain chemical is present in secondhand smoke and hardly present in actively inhaled smoke. So it takes 16 cigarettes actively smoked to equal the exposure to this one chemical a nonsmoking bartender receives after 8 hours of work in a smoky bar. Does this mean that a nonsmoker becomes nearly a pack a day passive smoker by taking a job in a smoky bar? Hardly. The actual smoke a bartender breathes in the smokiest bar as measured by total tobacco specific particles equals at most 1/5 of a cigarette per 8 hour shift or 1 cigarette per 40 hour week. The average bartender breathes merely a 10th that much smoke.

Of course, affordable air filtration machines can reduce these fractional smoke exposures to near zero. The Chicago smoking ban, which precipitated the statewide ban, offered an exemption for any smoking-allowed business that could make its indoor air cleaner than the air outdoors. This air filtration exemption is the reason the Chicago ban passed 46-1. Chicago businesses and aldermen knew that air filtration companies could fit any venue with sufficient air filtration measures to make the indoor air of any smoking establishment cleaner than Chicago air.

"Any public place or place of employment otherwise subject to this Chapter whose owner or operator can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the commissioner of public health and the commissioner of the environment, that such area has been equipped with air filtration or purification devices or similar technologies as to render the exposure to secondhand smoke in such area, notwithstanding the fact that smoking may be occurring in such area, equivalent to such exposure to secondhand smoke in the ambient outdoor air surrounding the establishment. The commissioner of public health and the commissioner of the environment are jointly authorized to promulgate regulations specifying what types of technologies, when and if available, and taking into account any applicable Federal and/or State standards, satisfy the requirements of this paragraph."

Not surprisingly, the ACS made sure that this air filtration exemption did not survive in the statewide smoking ban.

1 comment:

  1. Bill's analysis is excellent, though it shows sadly just how insane the antismoking movement has become. Even with a provision that the air indoors in a smoking establishment is CLEANER than the air OUTDOORS they STILL complain.

    It just goes to show that their real goals have nothing at all to do with clean air and/or workers' health. The real goal is always, and simply, anything possible to limit smoking and make smoking more difficult and uncomfortable for the smoker so that he or she will quit.

    Social engineering has finally found a home.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
    Mid-Atlantic Director, Citizens Freedom Alliance, Inc.
    Director, Pennsylvania Smokers' Action Network (PASAN)
    web page: