Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kansas Health Officials Caught

On Feb. 10 I alerted the Health and Human Services Committee of the Kansas House that the KU heart attack study had been corrected. I didn't know that doctors were using it uncorrected in testimony that day. I explained the correction at length to Rep. Slattery. I don't think he was too happy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Letter to Lake St. Louis Aldermen

Dear Lake St. Louis Aldermen,

I wanted to let you know about new research that might affect your decision concerning a smoking ban for Lake St. Louis.

First. the Kansas University study which found that smoking bans are associated with a 17% decline in heart attack rates has officially been corrected by the researchers. They admit having made a huge mistake. Their correction has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The new number is 8%, not different than the average national decline during the period studied.

Secondly, in October a major heart attack study was published in the European Journal of Epidemiology. The study found no association between heart attacks and smoking bans. Please find this study, ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SMOKING BANS AND INCIDENCE OF ACUTE MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION, attached to this e-mail. Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health says of this study:

"Importantly, this published study was not considered by the Institute of Medicine committee which reviewed this issue and released its report in October of last year. It was also not considered in published meta-analyses on this topic. Because of the high sample size of this study, it is likely that inclusion of this study in the previous meta-analyses would have negated their results."

Thirdly, a comprehensive, national study is about to be published which finds that smoking bans do not affect heart attack rates, mortality rates or rates of hospitalization in communities that impose them. The study was conducted by researchers from the Rand Corporation, the University of Wisconsin, Stanford University and the Congressional Budget Office. Please find this study attached. It is currently being circulated as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Lastly, economist Dr. John Tomlin has published a study finding that smoking bans do indeed hurt the hospitality industry. In a Forbes Magazine article, Dr. Tomlin explains that previous studies, mostly conducted by health professionals, not economists, were flawed. But when real economists study smoking bans, they find economic harm. Please find Dr. Tomlin's study attached.

For the sake of Lake St. Louis businesses, I hope this information might influence you to reconsider Alderman Pellerito's push for a strict smoking ban. Since the health concerns of secondhand smoke have clearly been overstated and the economic harm understated, perhaps you have more latitude now to consider an "over 21" exemption or an air filtration exemption. I fear a smoking ban will do to Lake St. Louis establishments what a Federal Reserve economist found the Columbia smoking ban did to Columbia establishments. After the first year, bars were down 11 percent and restaurants that serve alcohol were down 6.5 percent. Most establishments cannot sustain those sort of losses.


Bill Hannegan