An important study by Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University’s School of Public Health points the finger at the well-intentioned campaigns of Action on Smoking and Health, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and New York City’s Department of Health.
In a study published this week (Oct. 21) in the journal Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations, Siegel warns that these groups are wildly inflating the health risks of exposure to second-hand smoke. “In doing so, they tarnish the very credibility that the public-health community must have in order to save lives.”
Siegel who is a vocal opponent of smoking and a supporter of smoke-free workplace rules, is a leading member of the tobacco-control community. His very stature as an opponent of Big Tobacco is what compelled him to publish his findings that some groups are harming the movement’s credibility by overstating the dangers of short-term exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
Certainly, there is evidence that long-term, high-dose ETS exposure increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack. “But the evidence does not support the claim that more than 100 groups are wantonly making:… that acute, transient exposure to ETS increases heart-attack risk in healthy individuals.” (my emphasis.)
This suggests that we have enough to worry about with the war in Iraq and the subprime mortgage crisis. What about the poor folks in Southern California inhaling smoke from the forest fires 20 miles away? The air we are forced to breathe will always have its perils, but we needn’t exaggerate them.