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Sunday, 16 March 2008

ENOUGH WITH THE LIES AND BULLYING

Finally, an opinion piece from a well known and respected writer, Mr. George Jonas, found its way into the mainstream media, the National Post.

On behalf of its membership and all citizens who value truth more than the ‘’ends justify the means’’ philosophy, C.A.G.E. would like to thank Mr. Jonas for having the courage to speak up against the conventional wisdom and political correctness that has stifled the truth for too long.


We hope other journalists will follow his example and that we will begin to see the conventional wisdom challenged at every opportunity. It’s the only way society can progress towards finding fair and balanced solutions for all citizens without having to resort to lies and bullying.


We encourage everyone to express their point of view on this issue by writing letters to the editor at the National Post here.

Excerpts of Truth is the first casualty of activism

For the record, I don't smoke, don't allow children in my car and own no tobacco stocks. I believe staying away from cigarettes would save lives (as would staying away from fast-food, fast sex and fast demagoguery). Educational efforts to gradually phase out smoking are fine by me.

What isn't fine is bullying and lying. In reverse order, actually, since the anti-smoking lobby has to lie before it can bully. A key lie continues to be that the health hazards of secondhand smoke have been scientifically established.

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In 1986, when then-U.S. surgeon-general C. Everett Koop wanted to see cigarettes banned, he made a flat statement, backed by the considerable weight of his office, that the effects of second-hand smoke were responsible for 2,000 deaths in the United States. Challenged by scientists, he blithely retreated, saying that while he may have pulled the figure out of a hat, it was all in a good cause. The principle was right.

But the principle wasn't right. A 1987 study by the American National Academy of Sciences found no evidence that second-hand smoke jeopardizes the health of non-smokers. As even Koop admitted, the majority of 16 studies on environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer found no statistically significant relationship. (One field study concluded that a nonsmoker would have to sit behind an office desk for 550 continuous hours before being exposed to the nicotine equivalent of a single cigarette.)

If your aim is to ban or regulate smoking, you must show that smoking harms non-smokers. And if you can't show it because the evidence is equivocal, you must create an atmosphere of hysteria.

In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went one better than Koop. They took the official position that second-hand cigarette smoke is a health hazard, responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S.

Five years later, a federal judge in North Carolina found the EPA made serious mistakes evaluating the risk of second-hand smoke. Federal District Judge William Osteen ruled in 1998 that the "EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun," and that the "EPA disregarded information and made findings on selective information."

The EPA defended itself by saying it had never claimed that minimal exposure to second-hand smoke posed a huge individual cancer risk. It only said that, while the lung cancer risk from second-hand smoke was relatively small compared to the risk from direct smoking, unlike a smoker who chooses to smoke, the nonsmoker's risk was often involuntary.

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I have nothing against the EPA's agenda; I only dislike coercion and lies. I'm not in favour of environmental smoke, only opposed to environmental hysteria. And I marvel that we don't even blink anymore as government metastasizes into such private spaces as our cars.

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