Scientific Claims

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Comments on their scientific claims[edit]

The Claim: Smoking Bans lower the amount of hospital admissions for heart attacks (AMIs)[edit]

The Truth:

Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, thoroughly analyzed a series of anti-smoking studies that have spread like bad weed over the last few years in unsuccessful attempts to prove that smoking bans have immediate effects in reducing heart attacks. The conclusions of these studies were extremely important to the Tobacco Control Industry because of the support they gave to the mantra of "no safe level of tobacco smoke" and to the immediate health benefits of smoking bans. As a body, these studies have failed miserably to support the conclusion that smoking bans lower the number of heart attacks, yet they are continuously used as a propaganda tool to convince politicians and the public that the economic losses and social havoc caused by bans everywhere they are implemented are worth the costs.

The Claim: Smoking Bans lower the amount of smokers in a country[edit]

The Truth:

Smoking rates after smoking bans
  • Ireland (Ban started March 2004, [1])
2003 28%
2006 29%
2007 29%
2009 31%
  • Scotland (Start: March 2006[2])
2006 25%
2007 26%
2008 25%
2009 25%
2010 25%
  • Wales (Start: April 2007[3])
2007 24%
2008 24%
2009 24%
2010 23%
  • England (Start: July 2007, NHS data [4][5])
2005 24%
2006 22%
2007 21%
2008 21%
2009 21%
  • France (Start: January 2008, [6])
2006 33%
2009 33%

While it is true that reasonable public health campaigns against smoking did well in lowering the number of smokers, they stopped being effective the day they became a ruthless war against smokers themselves.

Very few people like to be bullied and shamed into compliance for the betterment of the collective we and this is exactly what public health has been doing to smokers in the last decade through smoking bans and other extreme campaigns and policies.

The unintended, albeit predictable, consequences are that smoking rates have been more or less stagnating and even increasing [7] [8] [9] [10] [11][12] in most countries ever since public health went from respectfully educating the people to brow-beating them into complying with its dictates.

The Claim: Smoking Bans cause no damage to the hospitality industry[edit]

The Truth:

In reality, government-mandated smoking bans have significant damaging impact upon the hospitality industry. The type and amount of impact differ from one segment of the industry to another, but all will feel a negative influence from such government interference in their free commerce. Antismoking advocates argue that such bans are both good and necessary, despite any negative impact, because of a significant negative impact to the health and safety of workers who are "forced" to work in environments where people are smoking.

We will look at two aspects of this argument: (A) the "forced to trade their health for a paycheck" argument; and (B) the evidence of health effects from the levels of normal exposure itself.

A. Forced to work[edit]

Antismoking advocacy groups will almost always show up at legislative hearings with a model young mother (preferably widowed) with young children who works as a waitress, bartender, or hotel/casino employee. To emphasize the point of the vulnerability of the person and their family the children may, if old enough, be present in the legislative chambers, or, if not old enough for that, then a blown-up photo of the mom and her kids will be displayed.

The testifier will note that this job is the ONLY job available to her for various reasons and that she is distressed because it will likely soon kill her and leave her children as orphans simply because she needs to earn money to feed them. In reality of course, there are usually many waitress type jobs available in voluntarily non-smoking establishments and at least a modest selection of bartending jobs also so available. No one is "forced" to work at one of these jobs in a Free-Choice job atmosphere long enough to have any legitimate health concerns even if the claims of the disputed EPA Report were valid (as will be discussed further in Section (B)).

The job limitation problem may be somewhat more valid in two cases:

First, if the job is at a casino. There is usually not as wide a selection of job opportunities in voluntarily smoke-banned casino facilities since the impact of banning smoking is so extreme in the casino setting and since there are usually a very limited number of casinos within commuting distance of anyone seeking employment. Additionally the worker may claim that the high pay available at a casino is necessary for the welfare of her children. HOWEVER: given the movement within the casino industry to voluntarily designate significant amounts of their floor space as non-smoking, and the likelihood that most work managers will seek to allocate their work resources in ways that reduce the tensions and concerns of their employees, it is unlikely that there would be many instances of objecting employees being "forced" to work in smoky conditions.

Second, if the hospitality job is in a small town with only one or two bars, restaurants, or diners, it is possible that work options would be limited and that the available jobs are all in Free-Choice smoking environments. This sort of situation is rare enough that it should be considered in the same light as jobs "forcing" employees to work in a situation servicing customers outdoors under the sun. Yes, there will be some cases where employees may object to being forced to risk malignant melanomas from such employment and who feel that the "partial protection" provided by awnings or sunscreen are not adequate to their desires or needs (the "needs" come into real play in the case of individuals suffering various degrees of xeroderma pigmentosum or milder sun sensitivities); but such situations, just as the "forced" smoking situations, are rare enough that blanket legislation is a poor choice of remedy.

B. Health risks of work exposure[edit]

The health risks of working in a smoking environment for most people were best outlined in the EPA Report of 1992. The EPA concluded, correctly, that the putative risks in terms of heart disease were not well-based enough to state a real concern about workplace exposure. More research has taken place in the last 20 years of course, but the heart disease link has remained less strongly supported than the link to lung cancer – a link the EPA estimated to offer a relative risk of 1.19 over the course of a 40-year work exposure, and which translates, assuming a base nonsmoking lifetime risk of about 0.5%, into a lifetime's increased risk of 1 in a thousand.

There are two things that need to be noted about this claim:

  1. The EPA numbers have been heavily criticized and disputed. Two excellent examples of that can be seen in the CRS Report on Environmental Tobacco Smoke and in the Osteen detailed decision in Federal District Court. In brief, the CRS analysis has never been substantially criticized, and the Osteen decision, while voided due to a legal jurisdictional technicality, has never had its substance disputed.
  2. EVEN IF the EPA's figures were true and accurate, they were derived from studies examining lung cancers that had their origins mainly in the years stretching from the 1950s into the 1970s. That was a period of time in which smoking in poorly ventilated workplaces without the benefits of either modern directed ventilation technology or modern and sophisticated air filtration equipment was available. The levels of smoke exposure in such workplace environments were likely anywhere from ten times to a hundred times what would normally be considered acceptable in today's work environments. Thus, EVEN IF the EPA estimates were valid, the excess increased risk to someone working 30 or 40 years in a smoking environment today would be on the order of one lung cancer for every 400,000 to 4,000,000 worker-years of exposure.

C. Economic damage to the hospitality industry and beyond[edit]

Antismoking advocates usually look to economic research published in medical journals rather than economics journals when justifying their claims that smoking bans do not hurt the hospitality industry. In addition, the researchers carrying out these studies usually have a long and solid history of careers primarily or at least quite heavily based upon grants and payments for producing work specifically in support of tobacco-control objectives such as smoking bans. While results regarding the restaurant and hotel industry are somewhat unclear, particularly in the longer term, the negative impact upon the alcohol-led pub/restaurant industry and the casino industry is much more pronounced and well-supported by true economics research carried out by actual economists and presented in economics journals and venues. Rather than go into an extended discussion of the arguments as to why such damage occurs, it is probably best to let the facts of the studies speak for themselves. To this end we will link here to two primary resources that will, in turn, link to a number of subsidiary resources:

  1. the economics damage page created by Missouri researcher David W. Kuneman and hosted at the website
  2. A list of studies done by “PhD Economists” showing economic ban damage compiled by Bill Hannegan of “Keep St. Louis Free!”

The above resources should serve to adequately counter the claims by antismoking advocates that smoking bans cause no economic harm to the hospitality industry. The main economics damage study examined in the Kuneman SmokersClub link actually examines long term multiplier effects extending over a period of a decade and covering almost a dozen states. While the authors (Dave W. Kuneman and Michael J. McFadden) never sought publication for this study it is arguably one of the best ones out there in terms of its size, scope, simplicity and easy data verification.