An Ignored Study
In 1959 a huge study was initiated by Cancer America into the effect on living with people with cancer.
With a huge sample of 100,000 people it was to give the answers other studies had failed to give.
By the late 1990’s, when it became obvious what the answer was going to be – that passive smoking did not pose a significant risk.
Cancer America pulled the funding.
As the only organisations that would continue the funding were tobacco companies, the study lost all credibility in the eyes of anti-smoking campaigners.
Politics or Science
For the purpose of this blog, the point is not whether passive smoking is dangerous or not.
However, it’s clear that some anti-smoking groups refuse to accept any scientific studies which might contradict their own stance.
This refusal was so strong that they lambasted no less austere a publication than the British Medical Journal for publishing a study on passive smoking.
The BMJ responded:
The decision to publish a paper is only taken after careful consideration. It is inevitable that some research may at times be regarded as controversial.
(Source: New Scientist)
For the Greater Good
The argument given by some, if only in private, is that it is worth brushing up over some weaknesses in the case for passive smoking, as it is all in a good cause.
This is dangerous for two reasons.
First, in peddling exaggerations or outright lies the anti-smoking movement may lose all respect, and invite ridicule.
Secondly, and perhaps worse, is a danger which scientists Robert J. Mathews pointed out in an article on the topic.
…despite all the efforts of campaigners and governments, around one in five people on the planet are smokers. Passive smoking is thus ubiquitous, and its effects must be taken into account in any study into potential causes of cancer or heart disease. If the risks from passive smoking have been exaggerated, there is a real danger that the risks from other causes will be underestimated – with untold consequences for human health.
(Source: The Telegraph)
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