EPA REPORT: SECONDHAND SMOKE AND LUNG CANCER
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
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
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."
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
The US Congressional Research Service, after analyzing the EPA's report
"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
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
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
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)
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
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.
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
The Wall Street Journal covered the release of the WHO report thus:
SMOKING OUT BAD SCIENCE:
"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
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
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.) (*)
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