Jan 1, 2009

Another scientific study proves the wisdom of indoor smoking bans

If you needed anymore proof that indoor smoking bans are good for the health of nonsmokers and smokers alike, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the results of an extensive report that said heart attack hospitalizations in the city of Pueblo, Colo. fell sharply after the implementation of a municipal law making workplaces and public places smoke-free.

Numerous reports have shown that laws making indoor workplaces and public places smoke-free were associated with sizable, rapid reductions in hospital admissions for heart attacks. But none of the nine published reports were as extensive or for as long as the Pueblo study and they looked at only a year or less of data after the implementation of smoke-free laws. This study looked at the decline of heart attack hospitalizations over a three year period; a 41 percent decrease.

The report found smoke-free laws likely reduce heart attack hospitalizations both by reducing secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers and by reducing smoking, but the reduction of secondhand smoke was the largest factor. To erase any doubt that it was smoke-free laws that reduced heart attack hospitalizations, researchers also looked at two nearby areas that had not implemented smoke-free ordinances and found no significant decline in heart attack hospitalizations during the same time periods.

“We know that exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on people's cardiovascular systems, and that prolonged exposure to it can cause heart disease in nonsmoking adults,” said Janet Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in the press release announcing the results. “This study adds to existing evidence that smoke-free policies can dramatically reduce illness and death from heart disease.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the nation's premier public health agency; working to ensure healthy people in a healthy world. The CDC is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and it is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting public health activities in the United States. CDC’s focus is not only on scientific excellence but also on the essential spirit that is CDC – to protect the health of all people.

Michigan’s workplace smoking ban died in the conference committee tasked to work out a compromise between the Senate passed version and the House passed version as the 94th Legislature ended on Tuesday, but it will be reintroduced when the 95th Legislature convenes on Jan, 14.


Anonymous said...


Communications guru said...

Ya, I know, anonymous troll. All this scientific evidence that continues to prove smoking bans are good for people’s health and secondhand smoke is deadly is getting boring. Science and facts sure are boring to Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Those figures are dramatic and could well provide an argument for smoking bans...if the study turns out to be valid.

Such a drastic result suggests at least an eyebrow raised in skepticism. It will take some more analysis to see if there is truly a cause-and-effect relationship. While you are quick to accept the conclusion without question, you might want to consider some of these questions:

1. How could the rate drop so dramatically, given the argument that second-hand smoke causes long-term ailments and reduces health over the long term? If the health hazards of second-hand smoke are so pervasive, then there should be a continuing set of admissions for people who contracted heart problems prior to the ban. A decrease in heart-related admissions, even if significant, should have taken many years to materialize. Unless, your assumptions is that you go to a bar, inhale some second-hand smoke, and then have to be rushed to the hospital because of a heart ailment...which ain't the case.

2. More time needs to be spent on the heart patients at the hospital, both before and after the ban. What is the comparison between the populations? In other words, did heart patients prior to the ban spend much time in smoking establishments as opposed to those after the ban? Also, what is the address of the patients...both in Pueblo and in other communities? What if the heart patients were from other towns...wouldn't that distort the results? (Example: It would be erroneous to draw conclusions about the health of Livingston County babies based only on McPherson results since so many Livingston County babies are born elsewhere.)

3. What are the raw numbers? A 40 percent drop means a lot if there are 1,000 babies; it doesn't mean so much if there are 10.

4. How far do these numbers fall beyond standard levels of fluctuation? Cancer experts, for instance, aren't as excited as the media when there are a cluster of cancer cases. Rather than immediately blame an environmental source, cancer experts know that there are high and low clusters all the time...that's how you get averages.

5. Was this at all predictable? Did anyone suggest that a ban would produce such an outcome? If not, there is more reason to study the cause-effect relationship. Just because you want something to be true, that doesn't make it so. The decline could be based on other reasons. (Years ago, a "study" found a high rate of heart attack victims among coffee drinkers..but it was eventually shown that the coffee didn't cause the heart attacks. If anything, the same characteristics that led to heart attacks in some people also contributed to them drinking a lot of coffee.)

6. Were there any other factors? Did one hospital in the region add or eliminate heart care services, thus distorting the study? Did a group of doctors open up a competing clinic, thus drawing patients away from the main hospital? Was there a major change in the medical community's method of treating heart patients?

And so on...

I'm not saying any of my observations are accurate, nor am I discounting the Pueblo study. But I've seen enough "proofs" to be skeptical. A 41 percent almost immediate decline seems too good to be true. If it holds up, it would change my mind about smoking bans...because it would be a clear and present threat to other peoples' health.

Still, if the results were that dramatic, shouldn't they be replicated across the nation? After all, haven't you said 33 states have enacted smoking bans? Shouldn't that mean plunging heart-related admissions across the country? Has that happened? Because I sure haven't seen anything like that.

What I am suggesting is true scientific approach to this study. Clearly defining the control groups and variables; establishing a causal effect; and seeking replication of the results. If you are unwilling to consider this approach, then you have less respect for the scientific process than the Republicans you trash.

Put it another way: If heart-ailment admissions in Pueblo rebound next year, would that change your mind? It shouldn't, but I'm not sure that you understand why.

You desperately want the ban, so you are willing to accept without questions anything that supports the ban, and dismiss without serious study any argument against it. In so doing, you are the one who rejects science.

Communications guru said...

Both the CDC study and the more than 20 years of scientific evidence that the U.S. Surgeon General used to base his conclusion on that there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke speak for themselves.

Anonymous said...

To say there is "no safe amount" is not a good argument. There is "no safe amount" of gasoline vapors when you fill up your car; there is "no safe amount" of sun exposure; there is "no safe amount" of just about anything.

The question is the extent of the risk. If exposure to something gives you a one in a billion chance of becoming ill, that's different than if you have a one in 1,000 chance. Also, when people say (for instance) that the risk goes up 25 percent, that sounds dramatic. But if the risk is originally one in a billion, than that increase is negligible.

But you ignore an important point, which suggests you have no answer. If the Pueblo study truly confirms that smoking bans reduce heart ailments, then are there similar results across the country where smoking bans have been implemented? By your reckoning, heart disease must be plummeting because 33 states have smoking bans. Is that the case? If not, then perhaps the Pueblo study is not all it is cracked up to be.

Communications guru said...

The U.S. Surgeon General also says secondhand smoke is deadly, and it causes a wide variety of illness and diseases. As for the extent of the exposure, how about there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Can that be made any clearer for you? If you want to continue to smoke; go right ahead. But that does not give you the right to endanger the health of innocent bystanders.

I’m not ignoring any points. The CDC study and the U.S. Surgeon General’s report says it all and speak for themselves. Now, if you have any scientific evidence that contradicts their findings, please present it.

You obviously have not read the report.

“Numerous reports have shown that laws making indoor workplaces and public places smoke-free were associated with sizable, rapid reductions in hospital admissions for heart attacks. But none of the nine published reports were as extensive or for as long as the Pueblo study and they looked at only a year or less of data after the implementation of smoke-free laws.”

I’ll wait for the scientific evidence that supports your position.

Anonymous said...

You may have a point...but I will still study further.

I did find some European studies that purport to show results somewhat like the Pueblo report. Pretty interesting, particularly in Ireland, Scotland, Italy and France. Strong stuff, but still it needs to be sorted through.

For one thing, the authors of these "independent" studies strongly advocate public smoking bans...so you have to wonder how objective their methods are. Still, if they are sure about the health threat, I can understand their zeal.

But there are places where these studies let their biases take the lead. For instance, the Pueblo report says the decline of heart patients is "likely" due to reductions in second-hand smoke victims; one of the European reports says heart ailment declines are "probably" due to smoking bans. "Likely" and "probably" aren't great scientific terms.

An Italian report credits an 8 to 11 percent decline in heart ailments to smoking bans. But the same report says that smokers have declined by about 12 percent and cigaret sales have declined by 10 percent. So if there are fewer people smoking...or if they are smoking less...perhaps that is the reason there are fewer smoking-related deaths, and not because of any affect on those subjected to second-hand smoke.

Likewise, a longer study in Ireland shows a sharp decline in heart-related ailments. But it attributes nearly half of the decline to individual lifestyle changes (e.g., smoking less, better diet.) and the rest to improved medical care.

To support you, though, a study shows much improved health indicators for employees of Irish pubs since smoking was banned...attributed to spending less time in a closed room full of smoke.

This last study, to me, would be the only reason to support a smoking ban in public places...since it would be a way to prevent serious health problems for employees. Note I said "employees" and not "customers" who are still free to eat and drink wherever they choose. And, remember, that cigaret smoking is legal.

Although there are mathematical claims (an estimate of the hazards of second hand smoke applied to the general public), none of these studies can say that employees actually get heart attacks or cancer from second hand smoke. There are compelling stories, though, considering a 40-hour week in a smoke-filled environment. And I will admit it is hard to prove a heart attack or a cancer came directly from a specific source. So I would give credence to the studies...if done well...that show a correlation between better health outcomes and smoking bans.

But if that's the case, then there is absolutely no excuse for exempting casinos from the ban...even it does cost them business. You wouldn't let casinos put Ectasy in drink, even if it helped business. I still feel that the House Democrats who caved to the casinos either don't believe the health hazard or they are willing to sacrifice lives for profits...not very admirable and yet you continually let them off the hook, blaming only those bad Republicans for the lack of a smoking ban.

Further, if second-hand smoke is a serious health threat, then do you support a ban on smoking in homes with young children? If not, why not? Although not always easy, employees can always choose not to work in a smoke-filled environment. Children don't have that choice.

Earlier, you pooh-poohed a ban on homes because you said something like you can't legislate private homes. Pretty ridiculous statement, since murder, incest, assault, domestic violence, etc. are all illegal in private homes.

So...are you against private home smoking bans because you know the so-called smoking-ban groundswell won't support it? Or are you just keeping quiet, because that will be the Democrats' next objective?

Communications guru said...

The evidence certainly does say employees actually get heart attacks or cancer from second hand smoke. There is no doubt, and mathematics has nothing to do with it.

I too want a total ban, but a ban exempting a few places is better than nothing. The simple fact is that House Democrats allowed a vote on something that had been stonewalled for a decade and got the ball rolling. They held committee hearings and approved a vote five months before the Senate allowed a vote with no committee hearings. Without the House getting the ball rolling there never would have been a vote in the Senate. The Senate Republicans also did not bargain in good faith in the confrence committee, and they would not even consider a compromise. Hell, they didn’t even bother to show up.

Any ban is better than no ban.

I think your statement on banning second smoke is ridiculous. Murder, incest, assault and domestic violence are all illegal; smoking is not. But what does it really matter? You say second smoke is harmless.

I have no idea if banning smoking in private homes is “Democrats' next objective.”

Anonymous said...

But if smoking is not illegal, why are you trying to ban it?

You say it is to protect innocent bystanders from the effects of second-hand smoke. Most, if not all, of those bystanders have the choice not to be there.

But who is more innocent than a newborn baby? He/she has no choice but to live in a home with smokers. Grow some balls for a change and tell me: Do you support a ban on smoking in a home with minor chldren? If not, why aren't they entitled to the same protection as bar and restaurant employees?

Communications guru said...

Who ever said anything about banning smoking? The answer is no one. No, employees do not have the choice not to be there. They have to go to work everyday to support themselves. Why not tell the people who are harming their health and that of innocent bystanders that they have the choice not to be there?

You must be joking. A person who is too cowardly to even take ownership of the BS he writes is telling me to grown some balls. Ditto, anonymous troll. How many times do I have to tell you this? No, I do not support banning a legal activity in the privacy of one's own home. Who says minor children are not entitled to the same protection as bar and restaurant employees?

I met your challenge. Now, I'm waiting for you to grown some balls, as well as for your scientific evidence that proves secondhand smoke is not harmful.

Anonymous said...

You totally failed. I'm not sure if you are smart enough to purposely deflect attention from your weak positions or if you just don't have the brain power.

Who says minor children are not entitled to the same protection? You do. You are not in favor of banning smoking in a home where minor children live. You use the excuse that it is a legal activity but you won't extend that right to the owner of a bar. Smoking is legal, but you want to ban a legal activity in a private business but somehow you won't ban that same legal activity in a home with defenseless children.

I have not said that second hand smoke is not harmful. I am not convinced of the degree of risk that is incurred by those in a room with second-hand smoke. Reports of some studies are giving me reason to rethink that position. But I'm hesitant because they are issued by people with a built-in bias and too often use words like "likely" and "probably", which are hardly sound scientific research terms.

Smoking is a legal activity in a home or in a bar unless a law is passed to make it illegal. If you can make it illegal in a bar, you can make it illegal in a home. Please tell me why you think it is okay to protect the health of a bar employee but not the health of a defenseless infant.

Communications guru said...

I totally failed what, troll? Again, who says minor children are not being protected in the home? Do you have proof they are not? The few smokers I know don't smoke in their homes. They go outside. Again, do you have proof of that not happening?

As I have said before, I do not favor banning a legal activity in the privacy of one's home. How would you even enforce such a thing? Unlike you, I don't favor big brother looking over people's shoulders and invading their privacy. Once again, I do not understand why we are bending over backward to protect the rights of a minority to harm the health of the majority of innocent people who value their health?

You have said numerous times second hand smoke is not harmful, and if you didn't then why are we even having this debate? No, it's not "Reports of some studies," it's reports of all studies prove the harm of secondhand smoke. What "built-in bias" does the CDC or the U.S. Surgeon General have, other than to protecting the health of the American people? There were no "likely" and "probably" when the Surgeon General said there was no safe amount of secondhand smoke.

If you want to make it illegal in a home, you go right ahead and fight that battle. Even with all the evidence of the harm of secondhand smoke, we can’t get a bill passed, and you expect to ban it in the home? Good luck.

Now, I'm waiting for two things from you: the scientific evidence that says secondhand smoke is harmless, and how you enforce an in-home smoking ban.

Anonymous said...

Okay....so it must be okay to molest children at home because there is no way to enforce a law against it. You are a baboon.

I've never said there was no hazard from second-hand smoke. I have questioned the studies that "prove" there is a danger because I think they play fast and loose with language. To say there is no "safe" level of second-hand smoke is to ignore the danger level it presents. There is no such thing as "safe" exposure to the sun, but the risk for most people is tolerable...otherwise you would have to support a law than bans outdoor dining since it exposes wait-staff to potential cancer. The risk from the sun is not deemed high enough to justify that step. The risk from smoke may indeed justify a law...such as the Pueblo study purports to show. But I choose not to jump to conclusions reached by people who are already biased toward the conclusion.

As much as CDC and SG try to spin it, the facts aren't as clear. Cancer is complex. It's not always clear that there is a cause-and-effect relationship. And today's ironclad studies may be reversed by later studies. It happens. Look it up.

But I'm still perplexed as to how you can't see the inconsistency in your argument. You say a law is justified to protect adults from second-hand smoke in bars and restaurants, but you say there is no need (nor anyway to enforce) a law against second-hand smoke in the home of a minor. But somehow you are aware that most smoking adults who do have children choose to only smoke outside the home. And you challenge me to provide statistics to refute that ridiculous claim. You are just ridiculous.

The weaker your argument the more insane you sound. That happens because you are trying to defend a position that can't logically be defended: According to you, it's all right to make a law to protect adults who have the right not to work at a bar (although, in fairness, it would cost them their job, which is a good point.) Yet you don't want to provide protection for babies in their own home.

This shows me that your "health" arguments are bogus. There are people who don't want to eat in restaurants with smoking...so to achieve that goal, they latch on to the health-care status of restaurant workers. So, in your world, a 15-year-old bus boy has to have legal protection from second hand smoke at the restaurant but then it's fine for him to go to his home where both parents smoke like chimneys.

You and your Dem crowd will never be in that bus boy's home, so you couldn't care less about his health. But you might be at his restaurant and you don't have to be offended by the smoke.

That is why you are a hippocrit. The health hazard...whatever it is...is a smokescreen for you to control other people's lives.

Communications guru said...

Wow, talk about a red herring. Once again because you are apparently too stupid to grasp this: smoking is legal; murder, incest, assault and domestic violence are all illegal. Once again, how do you enforce smoking in the privacy of a person’s home?

You have said numerous times secondhand smoke is harmless; either you or some other anonymous troll did. If you are too cowardly to take a screen name then you have to live with what every anonymous troll said. You said it. So, if you think secondhand smoke is harmful, then why are we even having this debate?

Another red herring. The sun in moderation is healthy; any amount of secondhand smoke is harmful. Once again, what bias are the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General displaying? What’s their agenda that you refuse to accept the years of scientific facts? Where are the scientific facts and studies that support your position?

There is a cause and effect: secondhand smoke causes cancer, heart disease and respiratory ailments. That’s a fact, and there is no disputing that.

No, you look it up. You show me one of those ironclad studies. It’s your position you prove it. Plus, I can’t find any because they do not exist.

But I'm still perplexed as to how you can't see the inconsistency in your argument. You don’t want a smoking ban in public workplaces, but you want to invade people’s privacy and enact an in-home smoking ban. Give me a break.

I’m still waiting for you to tell me how you enforce a smoking ban in a home with minor children. It’s impossible, and you know it. Another red herring. I never said “But somehow you are aware that most smoking adults who do have children choose to only smoke outside the home.” I said the few people I know who smoke do so outside. I have no idea what most smoking adults who do have children choose to do, and neither does anyone else. And that is exactly the point. How do you enforce such a law? If you want to ban smoking, you go ahead and fight that battle. I’ll fight a battle that’s winnable first.

No, you are defending a position that can't logically be defended. You now apparently admit secondhand smoke is harmful, but you don’t want to ban it in public places; instead, you want to ban in it private places. You think that makes sense?

No, the health arguments are not bogus. I provided the results of scientific studies. Where is your scientific evidence? No, it’s a lot more than “a 15-year-old bus boy that has to have legal protection from second hand smoke at the restaurant;” it’s the bartenders, waiters, waitresses and the people who want to have a meal and a drink without endangering their health.

Are you serious, troll? “You and your Dem crowd will never be in that bus boy's home? The bus boy lived in my home, but she was a waitress.

Again, you can’t even spell hypocrite, troll.

Anonymous said...

you refuse to debate in an informed manner. And you refuse to be consistent. Is it a health issue for employees or for customers? Because customers have every ability NOT to eat somewhere if they don't want to. No law is needed. In my opinion, you can ONLY support a law if you can prove it provides an unsafe working environment. I'm not convinced you studies prove that. Many aren't even studies...they are reports gleaning selected items from other studies. How great is the threat? What is the incidence of the threat? These studies aren't clear...even if you want to deny it, they rely on phrases such as "probably" and "likely." You then tie separate reports together to make your claim. The SG says all secondhand smoke contains some risk; another study says second hand smoke probably causes heart disease..and you draw the conclusion that it is a fact.

Look, just a couple days ago, "studies" showed that vitamins don't prevent cancer, after years of studies that said vitamins do prevent cancer. So for years, you could have said "studies" prove something, and now a "study" says it doesn't. My source, by the way, is the American Cancer Society.

Your most ridiculous argument is that you can't outlaw smoking in the home because a) it would be hard to enforce and b) smoking is legal. Well, then, I guess you can't outlaw giving heroin to babies in their home because it would be hard to enforce. And you can't outlaw smoking in bars because smoking is legal. Heck, heroin used to be legal until it wasn't. Drinking is legal, but you have to be 16...regardless if you are in a house or a bar. So you can do it. You just don't want to own up to an uncomfortable fact. This proposed smoking ban has more to do with government control and the desire of some people to eat in a smoke-free restaurant rather than health concerns. You inadvertently admit that when you said earlier that this is about patrons having a right to eat in a smoke-free place...that has nothing to do with health since patrons already have that right...they can choose to only eat in smoke-free places. But you want to be able to make that decision for bar owners and restaurant owners.

And this is another example of how you can't stand it when people exercise a freedom to choose. You argue that the great majority of people favor a smoking ban and that restaurants and bars would actually do more business if they banned smoking. And yet, many restaurants and bars still allow smoking and people...nonsmokers..still patronize them. How DARE they not live their lives the way you think is best! So you want to force them to live your version of life by passing a law. It's another Democratic grab at freedom.

Look, if you were right, the vast majority of bars and restaurants would be smoke-free and anyone...employees and customers...would have their pick of smoke-free establishments. But that's not the case, which is why you are seeking the law.

Lansing is full of weak people, so I suspect a ban will pass next year, but casinos will be exempted, showing the complete HIGHPOCKCRASSY of the Legislature, especially the Dems. Hey, everyone, it's ok to kill casino workers as long as their owners give some money to us before taking the rest of the profits out of state.

No customer in Michigan has to eat at a place that allows smoking. If the public will was as great as you say, that alone would solve the issue of smoking in bars and restaurants because most would ban it on their own.

But I forget...the average person isn't capable of running his own life; that's why you were created.

Communications guru said...

I present scientific facts, and you continually refuse to do so, but it’s me who refuses “to debate in an informed manner? Say what? It’s a health issue for all nonsmokers. Why do people who care about their health have to endanger it just to eat a meal or have a drink? How is that freedom?

“Many aren't even studies? Every one I presented is, like the three this post is based on. How great is the threat? There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke, that’s how great it is. How can you make that any clearer? Vitamins and caner: apples and oranges. It does not apply here. Your source is the American Cancer Society? Do you know what they say about secondhand smoke?

Another red herring. Instead of answering the question you throw another one out there. Heroin is illegal. Do you understand that? You certainly can outlaw smoking in bars, and 34 states have done it, as well as entire countries like Italy, Ireland and France. It’s easy to enforce in a bar; if someone lights up you ask them to stop. If they don’t you call the police. How does that work in the home? The child tells the parent to stop, and if they don’t they call the police?

“This proposed smoking ban has more to do with government control and the desire of some people to eat in a smoke-free restaurant rather than health concerns.” Why do you have no problem with government controlling how food is served, or how clean the restaurant is? There is no difference. All are health concerns. Yes, it is about patrons having a right to eat in a smoke-free place. I never said it wasn’t. Secondhand smoke is deadly. We all have a right to breathe clean air that is not full of deadly toxins; whether we breathe it for 15 minutes or eight hours See, there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.

If “it is another Democratic grab at freedom” then why did this bill have bipartisan support? I want a ban that includes casinos, but just because we can’t include them right now does not mean we get nothing. This is a nonpartisan issue.

“That's why you were created? “ You really think it’s just me that’s pushing this ban? The majority of Michigan residents support, and to top it off, a majority of Michigan Representatives and Senators voted for a ban. Why? Because secondhand smoke is deadly, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s a bipartisan issue.

Anonymous said...

Simple question: Do you think that babies should be subjected to second-hand smoke that, according to your studies, will greatly increase their likelihood of getting cancer or suffering heart disease?

Communications guru said...

Simple question: How do you enforce an in-home smoking ban for only those people who have children and only when the children are home?

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