LETTER: Nonsmokers unite in war on secondhand smoke

Monday, March 2, 2009 | 1:33 a.m. CST; updated 2:31 p.m. CST, Monday, March 2, 2009

During my first year at MU, my consciousness of secondhand smoke has increased significantly. My seemingly arbitrary walk to class has become a battlefield: Me Vs. “the Marlboro Men.” Yesterday, as I walked to class behind two of my enemies smoking, I fought with all my strength to combat their chemical warfare. I held my breath, walked slower and even tried to pass my enemies, but all of this was to no avail. I was forced to breathe the air poisoned with their weapon of mass destruction.

Every single day I am on the losing end of this battle, and I am not alone. According to the American Lung Association almost 50,000 people die every year from illnesses related to secondhand smoke. Around 30percent of college students reported regularly using tobacco products in a study conducted by the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium. With more than 30,000 students at MU, this equates to around 9,000 students smoking. While treaties have been signed to end the war in restaurants and bars in Columbia, blood is still being shed every day on the sidewalks of our campus. Ninety percent of Missouri residents believe that secondhand smoke is very harmful to their health. VERY HARMFUL.

We, the majority, the silent soldiers, need to refocus our efforts. Instead of passively avoiding the enemy we need to take up arms against allowing smoking on campus. Our weapons are letters to our congressmen, to Chancellor Deaton, and increasing secondhand smoke awareness. Brothers and sisters, take up your arms and fight with me. If not, losing this battle could mean losing our lives.

Ben Pape is currently a sophomore at MU.

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John Schultz March 2, 2009 | 2:58 p.m.

I would appreciate it if Mr. Pape could point me to some credible studies showing an actual harm from secondhand smoke in an ambulatory outdoors setting (I have no problem with smoking not being allowed near building entrances).

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 2, 2009 | 4:19 p.m.

Old study but still relevant to the topic.

Tens of thousands of Americans die each year from secondhand tobacco smoke, according to a 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General. While the health risks associated with indoor secondhand smoke are well documented, little research has been done on exposure to toxic tobacco fumes outdoors.

Now, Stanford University researchers have conducted the first in-depth study on how smoking affects air quality at sidewalk cafés, park benches and other outdoor locations.

Writing in the May issue of the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association (JAWMA), the Stanford team concluded that a non-smoker sitting a few feet downwind from a smoldering cigarette is likely to be exposed to substantial levels of contaminated air for brief periods of time.

"Some folks have expressed the opinion that exposure to outdoor tobacco smoke is insignificant, because it dissipates quickly into the air," said Neil Klepeis, assistant professor (consulting) of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford and lead author of the study.

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Ben Pape March 2, 2009 | 5:30 p.m.

Please forgive me. My letter included some implications of exposure to second hand smoke in generalities, not specifically in outdoor settings. For this I apologize. This being said, several credible studies have been done on such matters and they have pointed to the connection between outdoor exposure to second hand smoke and adverse health effects. More specifically, adverse health effects with outdoor exposure in close proximity to smokers and within certain distances from buildings. Here is a study that was conducted that points to this but, after all, this is not only a health but also political issue so your comments and questions are not only encouraged but also deeply appreciated.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond March 3, 2009 | 8:38 a.m.

I believe mizzou is already working to end smoking on campus,

(Report Comment)
Tom Laprade March 3, 2009 | 10:13 a.m.

One glaring lie concerning what the Lung Association said.

"According to the American Lung Association almost 50,000 people die every year from illnesses related to secondhand smoke.
The Lung Association gets these figures(50,000)from a risk computor called SAMMEC(google SAMMEC)
No on has ever died or got camcer, solely from second0hand smoke.
Having said that, who in their right mind would believe anything that The Lung Association would say

(Report Comment)
Dean Andersen March 3, 2009 | 5:22 p.m.

Tom Laprade is WRONG. Dead wrong. The airline industry was the first industry to go smoke-free. They did so after jury's awarded stewardesses millions of dollars because they got sick from the secondhand smoke they were forced to breath during flights! Many of them died. Where did you get your lame claim Tom?

A proud supporter of the American Lung Association.

(Report Comment)
Michael J. McFadden March 4, 2009 | 3:43 a.m.

::sigh:: There is SO much that is SO wrong here I don't know where to begin.

First of all, Dean Anderson, if you actually read about the airline stewardesses case you'll find that the airlines had banned smoking for YEARS before the case was settled, that there were NO deaths judged to be attributed to secondary smoke in the case - certainly not "Many", and that the case was "settled" (not won or lost by a jury) with the tobacco companies awarding NOTHING to the stewardesses but simply paying the antismoking industry 300 million dollars to be left alone.

The air on smoking flights was probably safer than the air you're breathing now on nonsmoking flights because they used to have dozens of air changes to get rid of the smoke. Now the air is just filled with invisible jet fuel type gasses and people get sick all the time. It got so bad, so quickly, that Consumer Reports ran a full cover story titled "What's Happened To Airplane Air?" showing a desperate passenger clawing at a window a few years after the ban went into effect.

OK... let me address the article itself in a separate post.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

(Report Comment)
Michael J. McFadden March 4, 2009 | 3:59 a.m.

Ben, as you noted, the concerns in your article really concern indoor smoke, not outdoor smoke. The Klepeis and Repace studies are nonsense. They treat such things as microscopic "plume" readings as though they have relevance to 24 hour EPA outdoor air standards. They don't.

Rather than go into a long analysis here, I think the best way to get an idea of how ridiculous the outdoor air studies are is to read a satire I wrote about them a year or so ago. The details of the satire truly are NOT very far off from the reality of these studies. See:

Ben, Tom Laprade is correct in pointing out that the 50,000 deaths figure you keep hearing on MTV and everywhere is simply a made up number churned out by formulas and computer programs. The original studies that account for most of that number, ones done by people like Glantz, Parmley, Wells, and Judson, were so poorly structured that not even the EPA was willing to accept their results in the famous "EPA Report" of 1993 that condemned secondary smoke as a cause of lung cancer.

The EPA itself only accepted that such smoke, when breathed constantly over periods of 30 to 50 years for 8 to 16 hours a day five to seven days a week caused a 19% increase in lung cancers over the base rate of about .5%

What that translates into is that, in the far smokier and more poorly ventilated conditions of the 1940s through 1970s there was one extra lung cancer produced for every 40,000 person-years of exposure. That's one extra lung cancer for every 14 MILLION hours of exposure at levels FAR more concentrated than anything you'd ever find in a decent bar/restaurant today.

So why do you believe differently? Simple: the "Tobacco Control" movement in this country has had enormous amounts of money dumped into it from cigarette taxes in the last 20 years. According to the American Medical Association the Antismokers get over 800 MILLION dollars a year to push their agenda. See to see the sort of lies that they push. To see the way they twist the studies into the scary headlines and TV commercials you're bombarded with, read the "Stiletto" at:

If you have ANY specific criticisms of the content of the Stiletto please come back here and share them and I will address them for you. I stand firmly behind everything I write. Meanwhile, redirect some of the anger you've felt toward smokers toward the people who've made your life into a battleground.

Michael J. McFadden,
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

(Report Comment)
Kevin Mulvina March 4, 2009 | 8:16 a.m.

Its is obvious the anti autonomy shills are well represented here and seeking to provoke the worst intentions among us with the obvious intent of diluting all of our rights. Abortion laws are founded in identical rights of governance over one's own body, which gives a pretty good hint, of who is financing this major political scam. Tobacco taxes and the bans are an example of very poor moral integrity at work in the legislatures. Using a moralist stick to "Help someone quit smoking" is thin at best and certainly not the act of kindness that sold it. It is all about the money. Targeting the addicted, to serve the needs of the majority who don't smoke is unforgivable. It is not much wonder normally law abiding and honest individuals are doing their duty by ignoring these foolish laws. The only risk in play here; would be statistical, by the most extreme levels in extreme durations, meaning a minor increased risk to a bartender 24-7 over a 50 year span. The general public by normal exposure to second and certainly never third hand smoke [fools gold] is not at increased risk, or could they ever be, considering the ingredients and the quantities involved. Cigarette taxes are regressive they target the poor and minorities the hardest. The Bans are promoted hate, much more than inclusive neighborly attitudes protected by a sign, promoting choice which was all that was ever required.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Mulvina March 4, 2009 | 8:29 a.m.

Look to simple pie chart logic and understand how the public is measuring credibility;
In 1970 close to 50% of the population smoked and 60% were ever smokers. During the span between 1960 and 2005 population tripled. Cancers increased six fold and heart disease climbed along side population numbers. While the actual number of smokers remained almost consistent.

How does anyone ever hope to assign the following information as proof of smoking causation? I see no evidence proving smoking caused anything beyond systemic hysteria?

Legitimate evaluation, seems to indicate for lung cancers smoking is curative rather than causative.
In the American populace .7% of a 320 million population is 2.24 million. Now we see by a subset of that population “smoking causes 450,000 smoking related mortalities every year”. Surprisingly by evaluation to determine the effect we multiply .7% by the 20% of current smokers or 64 million and we find 448,000 almost but not quite the identical number we expect to see in total population. So is this “smoking related mortality” or “smoker related mortality” in search of a sound bite?
We go on to the always popular 80% of current lung cancer patients are ever smokers or “smoking causes 80% of lung cancers”.
We have to understand cancer does not happen overnight and the cancers we see today by the most significant group affected are those who smoked for many years and indicative of the population who started many years ago. 160,000 lung cancer deaths annually in a 320 million populace or .0005 today however the observations are skewed, because the effects today are results of lifestyles yesterday.

100 million population

60 % ever smokers 40% never smokers.

Divide a pie into 10 pieces each representing 10 million people

Smokers get 8 pieces [80%] and non smokers get 2 pieces [20%].

Take away 2 from the non smokers to represent cancers from other causes take away 3 from the smokers to reflect their 50% larger population.

What do you have left?

5 pieces and by comparison we concluded 50% will be affected by smoking and among non smokers 50% will be affected by not smoking, as represented in the two pieces they were allotted in addition to the number you took away from the smokers believed to be not caused by smoking.

As a risk you have a balance, and no conclusive evidence of increased risk despite how it originally seemed.

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