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Click here for ad as it appeared on Aug. 16, 2007

NYC C.L.A.S.H. Opposition Statement
to Proposed Smoking Ban in Cars

NYC Councilman 
Proposes Smoking Ban in Cars

The limitations of ad space make it difficult to express Dr. Michael Siegel's viewpoint in full.  It's here that we hope to satisfy the ethics of transparency. 

You'll find a large compilation of his opinions on the issue (smoking bans in private vehicles) below, from which the ad was crafted.

Dr. Siegel writes specifically on this event:
New York City Council to Consider Bill to Ban Smoking in Cars Carrying Minors

Please visit his personal blog, The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary, for more.

It is really the fact that the science is no longer important that concerns me the most personally. Possibly this is because I view myself first and foremost to be a scientist and to pride myself on scientific integrity.
Anti-Smoking Movement in its Current State is Not Sustainable

In my view, the current anti-smoking movement is in an unsustainable state. Because it has transformed from a true grassroots social movement that was based in science and premised on the notion that it was presenting the truth and fighting the lies of the tobacco industry to a fanatical crusade in which the science doesn't matter and in which the truth is being distorted, leaving far less of a demarcation from the historical tactics of the tobacco industry, the foundations of the movement are unstable.
Anti-Smoking Movement in its Current State is Not Sustainable

The evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful to children does not trump all other arguments.  [T]he arguments being used to support car smoking bans to protect children's health are faulty. It is a lot of rhetoric, but very little substance.
Bangor Car Smoking Ban Proponents Tout New Law As Placing Health of Kids Above Bad Habits of their Parents and Concerns for Civil Liberties

If we are willing to interfere with parental autonomy to make decisions regarding health risks to which their children are exposed, then we should be willing to regulate exposure of kids to fast food and a host of other health hazards and not only to secondhand smoke. So the same reasoning that would justify the imposition of a ban on smoking in cars would also justify regulations on many other health-related risks to which parents expose their children.  Smoking around children is being singled out as a behavior that is morally unacceptable; all other parental behavior that exposes children to health risks is not morally unacceptable - it is merely a health risk.  Why this distinction? Why this inconsistency? The answer, I believe, is that anti-smoking groups have increasingly been turning the smoke-free movement from a public health movement to one that is essentially a moral crusade.
Bangor City Council to Consider Car Smoking Ban Tonight

The justification for banning smoking in cars to protect children would also justify policies banning all sorts of other behaviors by parents. I don't think the anti-smoking groups understand the concept of parental autonomy - that parents are given the autonomy to make decisions regarding health risks that children are exposed to. Harm is a different story. But when it comes to risk - we give parents great freedom. And so we should!
Michael Siegel | Homepage | 01.08.07 - 9:58 pm | #

I think what we're seeing here is the hatred of smokers that I have sensed in a number of extremist anti-smoking groups increasingly over the past months.
Michael Siegel | Homepage | 01.09.07 - 12:10 am | #

- it's moralizing, it's about hatred of smokers, punishing them, and not tolerating their autonomy to make decisions regarding their own children, like the rest of us do every day.
Michael Siegel | Homepage | 01.09.07 - 10:44 pm | #

Once we as a society decide that we are willing to invade the privacy of personal space (homes and cars) and interfere with parental autonomy in decision-making merely in order to address behaviors that increase the risk of illness, we have removed the last barrier from the complete intrusion of the government into all aspects of our personal lives. There is hardly anything that we do, or a decision that we make, that does not in some way affect our health risks. Every aspect of our behavior, and every decision we make, could (and should) be subject to government regulation once we break down this barrier of invading privacy and removing autonomy regarding behaviors that merely affect health risks.  I do think that this is largely an effort to moralize against smokers. I can think of no other parental behavior that puts children at a small increased risk for illness that the Bangor City Council has banned. Why single out smoking in cars? It does make you think that this is largely an effort to simply send a message to smokers. But why not send a message to parents who feed their kids fat-laden french fries every day?
Bangor City Council Bans Smoking in Cars with Children

[T]here is a difference between risk and harm, and it is critical for anti-smoking advocates to understand that distinction.   [I]t could be that anti-smoking groups are promoting smoking bans in cars merely as a stepping stone to home smoking bans. If that is the case, then the anti-smoking movement is at least consistent and sincere in its desire to protect kids, but it is willing to cross the line into regulating private behavior in the home to merely reduce the risk of illness. That is a dangerous concept. We don't want to go there.
Newspaper Editorial Supports Smoking Bans in Homes; As Car Smoking Bans Spread, Concern Over Intrusion into the Home Should Jolt Anti-Smoking Groups

[S]moking around kids is merely a risk - it does not necessarily cause harm. It is possible for secondhand smoke not to result in asthma, ear infections, or upper respiratory infections among one's children.  I do NOT view smoking around children as a form of child abuse. And it is also why I do not believe that bans on smoking in cars and homes with children are justified.
Michael Siegel | Homepage | 01.22.07 - 1:39 pm | #

Most children who ride in a car in which a parent is smoking for a short period of time will not develop an ear infection or an upper respiratory tract infection. What these laws are doing, then, is protecting children from a relative small risk of relatively minor harm.
Trading Small Risk for Severe Harm: Why Criminalizing Parental Smoking in Cars is a Terrible Idea

Back in the old days, we had to back up and support our scientific claims. It must be fun to be an anti-smoking practitioner today. You can basically say anything you want and you don't have to justify it or back it up. I think I entered the anti-smoking movement 20 years too early.
California Senate Passes Car Smoking Ban; Inaccurate Scientific Claims Spread to Policy Makers

Smoking Ban Proponent Claims Secondhand Smoke is Worse than Firsthand Smoke

I think the REAL issue with regard to car smoking bans is whether or not it is appropriate for the government to intrude into the private car and home and interfere with parental autonomy merely in order to address a health risk.  Thatís not a diversion Ė itís actually the critical question that anti-smoking groups must answer convincingly.  So far, Iíve not only failed to hear a convincing or compelling answer, Iíve failed to hear it addressed at all.  In fact, the only response Iíve heard is this is just a diversion.  It makes me think that perhaps the anti-smoking proponents of car smoking bans donít have a compelling answer.  Otherwise, Iíd think theyíd be anxious to share it.
Michael Siegel | Homepage | 01.30.07 - 11:08 pm | #

[I]t is unethical to deceive the public about the health effects, no matter what our ultimate purpose. In my view, a noble purpose does not justify unethical techniques of deception. Most of the tobacco control movement seems to disagree with me and to feel that this behavior is acceptable because the ultimate end is a good one, but that's a difference that I'll have to live with because I won't compromise ethical principles that I think we should have as public health practitioners.
Michael Siegel | Homepage | 02.11.07 - 2:10 pm | #

It should be noted that NYC C.L.A.S.H. maintains some disagreements with Dr. Siegel on certain aspects of this issue, especially in regard to claims that ETS poses any risk.  C.L.A.S.H. asserts, considering the scientific evidence, that this has not been proven and remains debatable and controversial.

However, we applaud Dr. Siegel for the amount of ethics, integrity, and honesty he has displayed in challenging the anti-smoking dogma when the science just does not fit in his opinion, and we respect the courage it has taken to do so.