Friday, August 22, 2008

Smoke-Free St. Louis City declines challenge by John Pretzborn of Fox 2 News!

John Pertzborn of Fox 2 News asked me to debate Smoke-Free St. Louis City on his morning news show. I told John yes but warned him that Smoke-Free St. Louis City would never take me on. I had been trying to call them out for months with no luck. John called me later and said, "You called that one right!" You can see in the video of the newscast that John Pertzborn was not too happy that Smoke-Free St. Louis City had refused the challenge.;jsessionid=AE32787F05DDECCE52A7A6756647866D?contentId=7255243&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1

I would like to have warned Smoke-Free St. Louis City on the show that their smoking ban would increase the St. Louis drunk driving fatality rate and cause low-income St. Louis City children to breathe more secondhand smoke. Both unintended effects are unacceptable.

But I think Smoke-Free St. Louis City is smart to duck me. Clearly the doctors they recruited for the news conference don't know what they are talking about. That is pretty typical for physicians not specially trained in epidemiology. One of my best friends from high school became a pulmonologist and head of internal medicine at a major St. Louis hospital. When I tried to organize a scientific case to present to the St. Louis County Council against Odenwald's 2005 smoking ban, I called my friend to ask about the 1998 WHO Study and the 2003 UCLA Study. He hadn't heard of either. But he did say that it usually takes 20 to 30 years of active smoking before someone became his patient. His attitude toward smoking bans and secondhand smoke was: "Well, maybe people shouldn't be smoking anyway!" My friend would not have fared well in a debate. Neither would the Smoke-Free St. Louis City doctors!

By the way, Jason Vander Weele doesn't sound like a St. Louisan. Where is he from?