Apr 12, 2010

The smoking lamp is not lit in all authorized spaces

In a case of “I thought we were already doing this,” or “what took you so long,” the U.S.Navy is banning smoking on submarines, and the smoking lamp will be extinguished by December 31.

Vice Adm. John Donnelly, commander of Submarine Force, announced the ban last week. In the past, smoking had been confined to certain areas on the submarine. Individual submarine commanders will still be allowed to decide if crew members are permitted to smoke on deck.

“Our sailors are our most important asset to accomplishing our missions,” Donnelly said in a story in Navy Times. “Recent testing has proven that, despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine. The only way to eliminate risk to our non-smoking sailors is to stop smoking aboard our submarines.“

As numerous studies have shown, there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke, and there is no ventilation system yet invented that will make it safe. If the U.S. Navy cannot do it on their most expensive warships, neither can the Detroit casinos, who tried to make the case that their ventilation systems should earn them an exception to the workplace smoking ban.
Smoking was banned from inside surface ships as early as 1989 when I served on a guided missile destroyer. Hopefully, this will also help do away with the misguided petition drive by American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts to exempt them from the that workplace smoking ban that goes into effect on May 1 because they are private clubs.


Michael J. McFadden said...

Guru, you wrote, "As numerous studies have shown, there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke, and there is no ventilation system yet invented that will make it safe." .

Guru, please post links to three of the best studies you know of that show any actual danger from the levels of smoke that would normally be experienced by sailors in those submarines or people in areas with state of the art ventilation systems. .

I don't think there are any, and I think you'll discover that when you go looking. All you'll find are *statements*, unsupported by evidence, that there are "no safe levels" - statements that are based on the same kind of reasoning that would lead us to ban outdoor patio dining or indoor restaurant alchol service. .

Still, I am always willing to concede that I might be wrong, so I will ask you for three of the best of the "numerous" studies showing a danger from such low levels of exposure. .

Thank you.

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

Communications guru said...

U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Guru, do you understand what a "study" is? It's an original research article using data and subjects and statistical analysis and such, with a methodology clearly outlined and carried out, and then written up with a conclusion and discussion. The SGR is *not* a study. Something like the nationwide NBER/RAND report that concluded bans have no effect on hospitalization rates *is* a study.

So I ask you again to name your three best studies as outlined in my original post.

Thank you.


Michael J. McFadden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Communications guru said...

Yes, I know what a “study" is, Mr. McFadden. The U.S. Surgeon General is an impeccable source, as well as the EPA. The positive results after a smoking ban are immediate. For example, in just one year after Italy enacted a national smoking ban, researchers in Rome found an 11.2 percent reduction of acute coronary events in persons 35 to 64 years and a 7.9 percent reduction in those ages 65 to 74.

As for studies, just click on smoking ban link in labels, and you will see more than a 100 stories on smoking.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Guru, I wasn't maligning the peccability of the SG, just pointing out that his Report is simply a "summary" of studies introduced with his "opinion" of what they mean. It is most definitely NOT a "study."

I asked you for the three best studies that support your position on no safe levels so that you couldn't accuse me of cherry picking weak ones. You've provided me with one study: the Italian one, on post-ban heart attacks. OK, so let's look at that, the best you have to offer.

Rather than take up thousands of words here pointing out the Italian defects I'll simply cite two links that will take you to an analysis by a highly respected antismoking researcher, a medical doctor and university professor who worked closely with Stanton Glantz for many years before deciding the lies were hurting more than they helped. I'll also cite one brief excerpt from it.




Here's the quote from Dr. Siegel of Boston University: "The bottom line, that cannot be altered with data manipulation, is that using the same standards of analysis that the authors of the Helena, Saskatoon, and Pueblo studies used, the Piedmont study has demonstrated that the implementation of the smoking ban was associated with a 2% *INCREASE* in heart attacks." {emph. mine}

Read the commentaries after each blog entry as well. I believe they point up numerous other problems with your example of Italy.

Not only have you shown that your best offering is weakm but EVEN YOUR BEST OFFERING actually didn't even touch upon the modest specific request I made in response to your claim. I asked for just three examples of "numerous studies (which) have shown, there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke, and there is no ventilation system yet invented that will make it safe." and instead of providing me with even ONE, you cited a flawed post-ban heart attack analysis.

Come on Guru, if you really believe what you say then you ought to be able to back it up.


Communications guru said...

I have backed it up. Read the U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

Michael J. McFadden said...

I've read a good bit of it Guru, as well as the twenty or so previous ones concerning smoking since 1964, with most of them extensively footnoted in the margins and well-dogeared from fact-checking.

And it's not a study. In point of fact, as anyone reading the response trail here can see, you have completely failed to back up yuour assertion of "numerous studies" showing "no safe level" regardless of ventilation. I didn't even ask you to provide a numerous list: just asked for three. You were able to provide only a single off-topic study which found nothing about "no safe levels" or ventilation efficacy, and even that "best study" itself was shown to be thoroughly defective - as anyone reading my previous response can see.

We are basically left with the same result we had in our last discussion of a year ago on Jack Lessenberry's blog at:


where I asked you to back up your assertions or offer specific substantive criticisms of my writings and met with nothing other than an "appeal to authority" argument.


Communications guru said...

Again, the U.S. Surgeon General is an impeccable source. Maybe the U.S. Navy should have listened to you.

Michael J. McFadden said...

OK Guru, let's try it this way: very short and simple:

1) How much of the Report have you read?

2) Name just three actual studies in the report that specifically show that there "is no safe amount of secondhand smoke":

Clear, short, and simple. Can you do it?



Communications guru said...

OK Clear, short, and simple. The U.S. Surgeon General’s report. Like Vice Adm. John Donnelly said, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke

Anonymous said...

I was a former submariner on board the SSBN henry clay.I attended basic enlisted submarine school at new london conn..........I can tell you that the air scrubbers on board the boat remove ALL HARMFUL AIRBORNE CONTAMINANTS FROM THE SUB AIR.We have the most sensitive atmospheric testing equipment in the world even what nasa uses....

WE HAVE ALARM SYSTEMS THAT sound off if ANY harmful contaminants to humans are detected and we constantly make our own oxygen.....

If thats not enough to convince you smoking on subs is not only safe but needed for MORAL purposes the navy has had smoking on board its submarine fleet since day 1..............thats a record that cant be beaten for a study on tobacco smoke inside enclosed spaces.........BTW it appears mccfadden owns you now!

Communications guru said...

Sorry, but the impression of your days on the SSBN are not jiving with the facts. You should read the story in Navy Times. Vice Adm. John Donnelly, commander of Submarine Force, “Our sailors are our most important asset to accomplishing our missions,” he said in the release announcing the policy. “Recent testing has proven that, despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine.”

“Unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine” seem to suggest that the air scrubbers on board the boat do not “remove ALL HARMFUL AIRBORNE CONTAMINANTS FROM THE SUB AIR.”

Hey, it’s not me you have to convince that “smoking on subs is not only safe but needed for MORAL (sic) purposes” it’s Admiral Donnelly.

BTW, the facts are simply not on Mr. Mcfadden’s side.

Anonymous said...

Recent testing has proven that..........wheres the results of this supposed testing.....This entire smoking prohibition is based on nothing more than robert gates pushing for it and sending a directive out to the sub fleet commander to just do it. Whats he say....the same thing all the smoke free nutz say''no safe level''. I smoked on board subs we all did and the admiral is simply following ORDERS and saying what they told him to say....With the attached women on board subs now.

We both know the impact of putting women on board ships had and what it will cause on board submarines. The petty love triangles will begin the second they set foot on board along with a whole new set of rules for every man aboard.....

As far as shs and removal from the air on board the scrubbers do indeed remove it all........the admiral has been ordered to say they dont.........but for nearly a century its been ok to smoke and nobody was harmed,yet the diesel fumes and other air borne chemicals aboard dont harm anyone after years and years of exposure.......If they are gonna ban smoking and we apply the same reasoning to the other chemicals aboard the boat,we in effect have shut down the existence of the submarine itself.........but hey they wont do that will they.That means this entire smoking ban push is nothing more than political correctness gone MADD.

Anonymous said...

Plans to allow women and gays, ban smoking shake world of Navy submarines

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 22, 2010

Imagine 150 fraternity brothers packed into a container the size of a three-bedroom house. Announce you are breaking hallowed traditions by taking away their cigarettes and admitting women. Then lock the doors and push the container deep into the sea, for months at a time.

That's what the Navy, after decades of contemplation and controversy, has decided to do with its Submarine Force, an elite fraternity of 13,000 active-duty sailors that has been patrolling the oceans for 110 years.

As of Dec. 31, smoking aboard the entire submarine fleet will be summarily banned -- no small hardship for the estimated 35 to 40 percent of sailors who are nicotine addicts and can't exactly step outside whenever they want a puff.


Communications guru said...

So the Admiral is lying, but you’re not? Secondhand smoke is deadly, and there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. That is not in question, it’s a scientific fact.

Please excuse me if I’m skeptical of your claims over that of scientific facts and admirals. You are correct, “for nearly a century its been ok to smoke,” but saying “nobody was harmed” is simply not true.

As for “Plans to allow women and gays and ban smoking in the world of Navy submarines” all I can say is it’s long overdue.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Guru, I had not intended to rejoin this conversation, but some of your statements leave me little choice.

No, the Admiral is not necessarily lying. He likely, like you, simply believes what he has been told by "the experts" or what he has read in "fact sheets" and news stories because he hasn't felt it worth the time to really investigate and think about the matter himself. He is likely feeling external pressures as well that make it easier just to "go with the flow."

Saying "there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke" is just as technically correct as saying there is no safe amount of exposure to sunshine, alcohol fumes from your neighbor's drink in a restaurant, or popcorn fumes at the movies. The first two examples involve Class A Carcinogens for which no safe level has ever been found, and the third involves bronchiolitis obliterans whose mechanism is poorly understood but which has been pretty clearly shown to be caused by popcorn fumes.

Where your logic falls down is that you feel smoke needs to be abolished because "there is no safe level" and yet you would not support banning patio dining, alcohol service in restaurants, or popcorn at the movies.

As for women and LGBT folks on subs I'd agree with you, although with the caveat that I think I'd respect the sub fleet's commanders' opinions on such issues: they're the only REAL experts on the complex human dynamics of bubblehead life.

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

Communications guru said...

No, the admiral is basing his decision on science and facts.

Again, there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. I don’t ever recall saying I “feel smoke needs to be abolished because "there is no safe level.” You want to kill yourself, go for it, but you have no right to endanger my health. “Alcohol service in restaurants, or popcorn at the movies” does not harm the innocent bystander who has the misfortune to be in the same room with you.

Your sexual orientation has nothing to do with your ability to serve on a sub or anywhere else in the military.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Alcohol is a Class A carcinogen. It is also highly volatile. If I am sitting next to you drinking a beer you are breathing my alcohol fumes into your mouth and all over your mucous membranes. Please cite your evidence showing that exposure to that Class A carcinogen, at ANY level, is truly risk free.

Hint: You can't. There is no such evidence.

The causes of bronchiolitis obliterans are unclear. They DO know however that workers who breathe concentrated levels of popcorn flavoring fumes are at an increased risk in the hundreds or thousands of percent. There has never been a determination of a safe level, nor do they understand the mechanism fully. My sitting next to you eating popcorn at the movies might indeed increase your risk of b.o. by a significant percentage.

And the patio dining is a no-brainer unless you claim to be completely ignorant of the causes of malignant melanoma. The WHO blames over 60,000 deaths a year on sunshine: why should innocent young workers have to risk a painful early death simply to serve food to people who don't care about the risk?

Same shoes, same size.... just a different color Guru.


Communications guru said...

Wow, you really stretched for that falsehood. Sitting next to someone drinking alcohol has zero effect. The same thing cannot be said for tobacco. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. No one is advocating the prohibition of alcohol or tobacco; certainly not me.

The spin is just unbelievable. All I can say is I can’t wait until May 1.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Guru, I see you ignored the patio dining and popcorn fumes questions, but your response on alcohol is interesting. You agree then that exposures to extremely small levels of Class A Carcinogens has zero effect... which is exactly the point I make about secondary smoke.


Communications guru said...

Sure did; because they are ridiculous and do not apply. The bottom line is this, as you know, there is no safe amount of second hand smoke, and it causes a variety of health ailments, like cancer, stroke, heart attack and even dementia. There is no secondary exposure from someone drinking alcohol or eating popcorn.

Michael J. McFadden said...

btw... sorry, I didn't post the link. Go to the British Medical Journal at:


to see the full presentation on carcinogenic exposure of nondrinkers to alcohol when in an establishment serving alcohol. If you have any substantive criticisms of it please share them here and I will try to answer them.

I'd thought we were finished here but didn't realize you had accused me of a falsehood ("you really stretched for that falsehood.") on that matter.