BU prof raises questions about anti-tobacco efforts

05-1215-060BHN noted the name of Boston University’s Dr. Michael Seigel in a recent NYTimes story on the link between smoking bans and heart disease. The study concluded that bans trigger a quick and robust drop in heart disease

Seigel called the study “sensationalist.” Scientists rarely call anything sensationalist. They tend to use terms like “overstated” or “not carefully controlled.” So, I checked him out.

He has interesting things to say about the downside of FDA regulation of tobacco.  

He also thinks the “tobacco control movement is overstating the risk of second hand smoke.” He’s no tobacco industry apologist. He appears to makes his case based on a clear analysis of the evidence.

Here’s an abstract of “Is the tobacco control movement misrepresenting the acute cardiovascular health effects of secondhand smoke exposure?

…(I)t appears that a large number of anti-smoking organizations are making inaccurate claims that a single, acute, transient exposure to secondhand smoke can cause severe and even fatal cardiovascular events in healthy nonsmokers. The dissemination of inaccurate information by anti-smoking groups to the public in support of smoking bans is unfortunate because it may harm the tobacco control movement by undermining its credibility, reputation, and effectiveness. Disseminating inaccurate information also represents a violation of basic ethical principles that are a core value of public health practice that cannot and should not be sacrificed, even for a noble end such as protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure. How the tobacco control movement responds to this crisis of credibility will go a long way towards determining the future effectiveness of the movement and its ability to continue to save lives and protect the public’s health.

Here’s a BU profile of him.


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