Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guzy in The St. Louis Beacon on secondhand smoke.

I loved Guzy's column back when he wrote for the Post. I just found him again in The Beacon. He has some stinging words for the Pueblo smoking ban study the Post lauded as justification for a strict St. Louis smoking ban:

"Remarkably, the researchers in the Pueblo study neglected to discriminate between smokers and non-smokers among their heart attack victims. By failing to isolate the independent variable (secondhand smoke inhalation), they render measurements of the dependent variable (heart attack rates) meaningless because they can never demonstrate that the former caused the latter to occur. This is the kind of fundamental methodological flaw that will get you thrown out of the 6th grade science fair.

Indeed, Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health reports that smokers comprised about 26 percent of the population in Pueblo County in 2002 and less than 21 percent in 2005. That's 5,000 fewer smokers per 100,000 people. As it's widely understood that smoking is horrible for the health of the smoker, couldn't the decline in active smoking just as easily explain the decline in disease?"

Guzy finishes his column:

"As of this writing, the only thing we can say for sure about secondhand smoke is that it stinks. And so do the research methodologies of its critics."