Monday, January 14, 2008

Dr. Michael Siegel upbraids Campus-Community Alliances for Smoke-Free Environments (CASE)

Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Siegel today severely rebuked Campus-Community Alliances for Smoke-Free Environments or CASE, an antismoking group working to keep the Columbia smoking ban in place, for the false claims put forward on the CASE website. Here are a few sentences of Dr. Siegel's chastisement of CASE:

According to CASE: "The same half hour of secondhand smoke can cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which leads to heart attacks and strokes." This claim appears on the organization's "Get the Facts" web page. Unfortunately, if you want to get the actual facts, you'll have to turn somewhere other than this web page. Because 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure cannot possibly cause atherosclerosis. Even in active smokers, it takes many years of tobacco smoke exposure before hardening of the arteries occurs. You cannot develop atherosclerosis in 30 minutes! This claim is so blatantly false - on its face - that it is really hard to imagine that CASE actually believes the statement is true.The research article upon which this claim is based demonstrates that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure increases platelet activity. Somehow, the facts got lost in the translation. Instead of stating that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke activation causes platelet activation in nonsmokers, CASE instead embellished this to state that 30 minutes of smoke exposure causes hardening of the arteries. Unfortunately, the embellishment changed an accurate scientific finding into a false representation of the science.

I have to wonder if Mayor Hindman and the Columbia City Council would have voted to impose a smoking ban on the bars and restaurants of Columbia if groups like CASE had given them the straight story on secondhand smoke two years ago.