August 30, 2000

Dear Councilman Robles,

     When I presented testimony at the February, 2000 City Council hearing regarding the possibility of expanding the New York City Clean Indoor Air Act I stated that I was speaking as a private citizen with no ties to any pro-smoking groups or tobacco company.  At the time this was true.  I have since come to realize that although government is in place to do the will of the people, it is the numerous titled organizations that are heard and given attention above the lone citizen.   It is a sad state of affairs but the truth nonetheless.  Therefore, in order to also be heard, I found it necessary to found a grassroots organization on behalf of all the residents of New York City that do not appear to have an influential voice regarding this issue in the chambers of City Hall.  There are numerous groups that speak on the behalf of the rights of those who choose to smoke but my group, NYC C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment), is primarily concerned with the treatment of those who choose to smoke in New York City.  One thing has not changed.  I remain having no ties to any tobacco company.

     I would like to take this opportunity to voice my dismay over the actions by The Coalition for a Smoke-Free City.  Their July 31, 2000 ad in the New York Times is a gross distortion of the facts.  The headline claims that the #1 killer in the American workplace is secondhand smoke (SHS).  Hyperbole like this should not be entertained.  There is no scientific basis by which this hysteria produced headline can stand on.  Every study that has attempted to link secondhand smoke to disease has resulted in statistically insignificant findings.  The largest single problem is that few people understand how health risk studies actually operate and the anti-smoking community uses that fact to their advantage.  The public, because of no help by the media, mistakes correlation for causation and coincidence for conviction.  The Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) is a group that keeps the record straight against what the media and the fanatics toss at the public.  They give a wide berth to epidemiological studies, the technique used to study SHS, and warn us that we are continually fooled into thinking we know something due to the results of these studies when in fact we really don’t.  STATS has said that the statistical evidence being thrown around about SHS has “more holes than a wiffle ball.”

     According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they state that information on work-related fatal illnesses are not reported in BLS tracking records and are excluded because the incubation period of many occupational illnesses and the difficulty of linking illnesses to work make identification of people who may have become ill because of their work environment problematic.  The BLS admits that there is no positive way to know that a worker’s illness was brought on by their surroundings at work, yet The Coalition for a Smoke-Free City wants you to believe that they know exactly what causes the “#1 killer in the workplace.”  I can’t possibly believe that they are privy to information that the BLS is not.

     The wildly exaggerated claims made in the New York Times ad are intended to raise fear, and then action, in those who are unaware of the tactics and ultimate agendas of groups such as these.    It is my hope that the members of the New York City Council do not fall prey to the tactics of this group and others like it and remain fair-minded on the issue of accommodating nonsmokers and smokers alike.  Please do not allow well paid for ads in a highly regarded newspaper to influence you on this matter.  The impressiveness of the ad should not be mistaken for impressive reporting.  The reporting of their “facts” is nothing short of an attempt to justify their unreasonable goals.

      Thank you for your time and attention.


          Audrey Silk


NEW YORK TIMES AD - July 31, 2000





Dennis Rivera, President 
1199 SEIU New York's Health & 
Human Service Union, AFL-CIO 

Sonny Hall, International President 
Transport Workers Union of America 

American Cancer Society, 
Eastern Division 

Albert Einstein Cancer Center/Montefiore Medical Center 

Beth Israel Medical Center 

Chinese Progressive Association 

Heart of Harlem 

New York City Pharmacists Society 

NYS Commission for a Healthy New York 

Roswell Park Cancer Institute 

Smokescreen Action Network

Randi Weingarten, President 
United Federation of Teachers 

Carroll E. Haynes, President 
City Employees Union Local 237, 

American Lung Association of Brooklyn 

American Lung Association of New York 

American Lung Association of Queens 

American Lung Association of NYS 

Dominican Women's Development Center 

Kings County Hospital 

Mothers & Daughters Race Against Teen Smoking 

National Council on Women's Health 

New York Public Interest Research Group

Lee Saunders, Administrator 
District Council 37, AFSCME 

Arthur Cheliotes, President 
Local 1180 Communications Workers 
of America, AFL-CIO 

American Heart Association, NYC 

Alliance For Smoke-Free Air 

New York State Occupational Therapy Association 

New York State Thoracic Society 

North General Hospital Cancer Center 

Public Health Association of NYC 

SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc. 

Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco 

Women's Medical Association of NYC