c. Stewart, NYC CLASH, 2003



The War on Smokers
The Anti-Smoking Movement


"Quick and Dirty," 
says Elizabeth Whelan

"Attack the Messenger," 
says Stanton Glantz

Toss the Jargon
(everyone says it)


The EPA Report: 
Lung cancer and Secondhand Smoke

(Understanding the Jargon)

Heart Disease
Secondhand Smoke
(53,000 "Deaths")



Cigarette constituents 
in the air (OSHA standards)

Table 1: 
constituents, charted

Anti-Smokers sue OSHA...
and say "Never mind."


What else is in 
restaurant air.

"Cooking the Books," a restaurant study

Bartenders' "exposure"

Cotinine as a measure 
(of what?)


For it: The facts

Against it: The Prohibitionists





The EPA's 1993 report has not only been the basis for most of the contentions about secondhand smoke, but also the basis for most of the legislation that's crept across the land.

Virtually all subsequent "studies" have been based on, or incorporated, the findings, the premises and the statistics from that report.

The "body-count" (3000 a year from lung cancer) is a computer-generated estimate  (there are no bodies) based on the statistical conclusions of that report. The computer was fed with controversial (see Whelan "QUICK AND DIRTY") stats and had to work with what it was given. This is elsewhere known as GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out).

It's assumed that this report is unvarnished, unquestioned, unquestionable and universally accepted Truth.  That assumption is incorrect.

In 1994, a Congressional inquiry into the EPA and its methods, specifically as these related to the Agency's dealings with secondhand smoke, concluded:

"The process at every turn has been characterized by both scientific and procedural irregularities. Those irregularities include conflicts of interest by both Agency staff involved in the preparation of the risk assessment and members of the Science Advisory Board panel selected to provide a supposedly independent evaluation of the document."

The EPA, by this method (and others to be explored) had concluded ETS was a Class A Carcinogen.  But when the matter got to court, an anti-tobacco federal judge, after interviewing a range of scientists for 4 years, called the EPA report that had reached this conclusion an outright "fraud" and overturned (invalidated, vacated) that conclusion and the report it rode in on.

Among things he said in his final judgment:

"The Agency disregarded information and made findings based on selective information... deviated from its own risk assessment guidelines; failed to disclose important (opposing) findings and reasoning; and left significant questions without answers."

Further, he added:

"Gathering all relevant information, researching and disseminating findings were subordinate to EPA's demonstrating ETS was a Group A carcinogen... In this case, EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun;  adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the Agency's public conclusion, and aggressively utilized the Act's authority to disseminate findings to establish a de facto regulatory scheme... and to influence public opinion... While so doing, [it] produced limited evidence, then claimed the weight of the Agency's research evidence demonstrated ETS causes cancer." 
- US Fed Court Decision #6:93CV00307, July

And boy did it ever "influence public opinion" and lead to "regulation" --neither of which are synonymous with sound science. 

The Wall Street Journal called the judgment "scathing." 

Nor was Judge Osteen the first or only objective source to scathe the EPA

The US Congressional Research Service, after analyzing the EPA's report concluded that:

"The statistical evidence does not appear to support a conclusion that there are substantial health effects of passive smoking.... Even at the greatest exposure levels....very few or even no deaths can be attributed to ETS." 
-Environmental Tobacco Smoke And Lung Cancer Risk," CRS, Nov. 14, 1995

A US Department of Energy Report, not only found serious and telling flaws in EPA's methodology, but went on to demolish the underlying studies, additionally quoting EPA's prior critiques (prior to the EPA's finding them useful) of these very same studies!  According to this report, the vast majority of the studies EPA later used as part of "proof" that ETS was carcinogenic had been earlier dismissed, by the same EPA, as being either statistically or methodolog-ically flawed. 
- "Choices In Risk Assessment," US DOE, Sundia Nat'l Labs, 1994

The Australian Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, officially rejecting the EPA report because:

"The [study] results set out in tabular and statistical form did not support the claim of risk."
- Federal Focus, Vol VIII, NO. 11, 1993

There are (literally) volumes of material we could offer that would minutely dissect and contradict EPAs findings and  put their stats into perspective. 

We can only point out here (as we will again later) that among what Osteen called "the important (opposing) findings" that EPA "failed to disclose" were the findings of the largest extant study ever done up to that point (Brownson et al, 1992) funded by the National Cancer Institute. Had these findings been included in their final analysis, EPA's entire premise would have sunk.

The questions may arise as to why the Osteen decision had so little public influence.  The answers may lie in two (perhaps not unrelated) things.

It got little publicity. (The NY TIMES buried it on page 23. Bottom.)

By 1998, when the decision came down, the "influence on public opinion" was a fait accompli.  Everyone already "knew" that ETS killed. Already-on-the-books laws had been based on it. Careers had been built on it.  Mortgages were paid with it. Money was rolling in to scientists and many others via taxpayer grants.  And the media, as well as the pundits of every stripe, were already out on the limb. 

And nobody, ever, likes to have to say "Ooops!"

Another little-publicized study  was conducted by the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC) part of the World Health Organization (WHO). The research ran for 10 years and covered 7 European countries.  No matter how it's spun (and it has been) the study concluded there was no statistically significant risk for non-smokers who either lived with or worked with smokers. In fact, the only numbers it arrived at that had actual statistical significance, showed a slightly decreased lung cancer risk in later life among the children of smokers. 
-"Multicenter Case-Control Study Of Exposure To Environmental Tobacco Smoke And Lung Cancer In Europe," Bofetta Et Al, Journal Of The NCI, Vol 90, NO.19, October 7, 1998

The Wall Street Journal covered the release of the WHO report thus: (3/19/98)


"For the past 15 years the antismoking lobby has pushed the view that secondhand cigarette smoke is a public health hazard. This was a shrewd tactic. For, having failed to persuade most committed smokers to save themselves, they could use proof that passive smoking harms wives, children and co-workers to make the case for criminalizing smoking.

But the science fell off the campaign wagon two weeks ago when the definitive study on passive smoking, sponsored by the World Health Organization, reported no cancer risk at all.  Don't bet that will change the crusaders' minds.  The anti-smoking movement, after all, has slipped from a health crusade to a moral one.

It is now obvious that antismoking activists have knowingly overstated the risks of secondhand smoke."

And now comes the capper. 

A new (2003) study with an impeccable provenance-- the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study (CPS1)-- shows the same results as the WHO study, and with no room for wiggle, spin or ambiguity. 

Focusing on 35,561 never-smoking Californians married to smokers, who were followed by the Cancer Society for 39 years (1959 to 1998), the tabular results not only--and absolutely -- showed no lung cancer risk whatsoever but actually showed a slightly lower risk than expected among the general never-smoker population.

These results held for both men (0.75 @ 95% confidence) and women (0.99  @ 95%), held both before and after the results were mathematically adjusted for seven relevant confounders, and further, showed no dose response trend (the risks did not grow with the amount of exposure.) (*)
-"Environmental Tobacco Smoke And Tobacco-Related Mortality In A Prospective Study Of Californians, 1960-98," Enstrom & Kabat, BMJ 5/17/03

This ought to, definitively, put the matter to rest. 

Except among those who are hopelessly committed to a social agenda.

(*) To understand the jargon we've just tossed around, we urge you to read our HOW TO READ A STUDY