Lies from Louisville’s Metro Heath Department [The Arena]

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Louisville’s Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMDPHAW) is still peddling its favorite brand of junk science, and has posted a colorful brochure on its website, warning of the imagined dangers of second-hand smoke (called ETS, for Environmental Tobacco Smoke).  Some of the more outrageous assertions made include:

  • 5 minutes of exposure to ETS stiffens the aorta as much as smoking a cigarette
  • 20 minutes of exposure to ETS causes excess blood clotting, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • 30 minutes of exposure to ETS increases the build up of fat deposits in blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • 2-hours of exposure to ETS increases the chance of irregular heart beat that can be fatal or trigger a heart attack
  • Deaths due to heart disease caused by ETS rival number of deaths from traffic accidents
  • ETS exposure is the “third leading cause of preventable death”
  • In an 8-hour shift, a bartender inhales more cancer-causing chemicals from ETS than smoking half a pack of cigarettes

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Pretty scary, huh?  The problem is, all of these “scientific facts” are lies.  They are completely made up; well-meaning inventions, with absolutely no basis in scientific evidence.  The brochure makes no reference to any laboratory studies.  Because there simply are none.

When Dr. Adewale Troutman, the former Director of LMDPHAW, was going around town talking up support for Louisville’s proposed (and ultimately adopted) indoor smoking prohibition ordinance, he told the Metro Council:  “There is no doubt that secondhand smoke poses a significant health risk.”  Troutman cited the discredited “Helena study,” which purported to show that, during a six-month period in which that Montana town outlawed indoor smoking (after which the city council changed its mind and rescinded the silly law), heart attacks dipped by 40 percent.

This much-touted “study,” performed by anti-smoking activist Dr. Stanton Glanz (not a medical doctor; his Ph.D. is in applied mechanics and engineering economic systems), is so unscientific as to be comical.  With what is known about the etiology and progress of coronary artery disease, are we really to believe that an illness that takes decades to develop will suddenly dissipate within weeks of a ban on indoor smoking?

The conclusions of the Helena study were totally debunked by an April, 2004, article in the British Medical Journal.  Scientific test studies of second-hand smoke exposure have been conducted where non-smoking hospitality industry workers wear electronic monitors that measure second-hand smoke exposure in the workplace.  Studies like the Oak Ridge Laboratories study found that non-smokers working a 40-hour work-week would ingest the equivalent of 10 to 15 cigarettes per year, working in a poorly ventilated hospitality venue. 

In a well-ventilated hospital industry venue, the same worker would only ingest the equivalent of two to four cigarettes per year, working a 40-hour work-week.  Hardly a form of measurable health risk.  The “secondhand-smoke kills” sham was and is a methodology used to denormalize smoking in modern society.

If this is representative of the level of “scientific” evidence used by LMDPHAW and the Metro Council to abrogate the civil rights of Louisville’s smoking public, then the inmates have surely taken over the management of the asylum.

NOTE:  As an aside, you may question the use of the term “civil rights” with reference to smoking.  Your attention is directed to Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act, KRS 344.040, which protects your right to smoke.

Read more:  The facts on the Helena study

Read more:  The British Medical Journal debunking of the Helena study.