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The Other Side of Secondhand Smoke Science

I have come upon this smoking issue from two different sources in the last couple weeks. I blogged about Penn & Teller: Bullshit! earlier, and this is where I first started seeing that science appears not to point to second-hand smoke as a problem. Craig Westover’s title to his blog entry, “The other side of secondhand smoke science,” would probably be more correct if it read “The only side of secondhand smoke science.

You probably saw ads in the Twin Cities newspapers, sponsored in part by the ACS, showing a bar waitress holding a tray and the message '69 carcinogens.' That may be true, but it is deliberately misleading with the intent to scare people. It is misleading because a single cup of coffee contains 100 carcinogens. And drinking three cups of coffee per week exposes you to greater danger of cancer than pack-a-day secondhand smoke for 40 years!

When it gets down to it, I will find myself at non-smoking establishments more often than smoking establishments. I will speak with my money. Businesses will react according to the market. Just because I don’t like smoke (though I’m really not that adamant about it) doesn’t mean I can impose my will in any other way than speaking with my actions. Contoski says it best:

It's a bogus argument that health issues trump property rights, because this is not a health issue. Phony health issues do not, or at least should not, trump individual rights, specifically property rights. That is the real issue here. Bar and restaurant owners should have the right to establish the conditions for business on their property, and customers should then be free to patronize them or not. There is no need for government intervention here at all. Government is supposed to protect people's rights, not take them away under phony pretexts, such as health dangers that are blatantly counter to abundant scientific evidence.

Maybe it is time to start contacting your state representatives…

(The full reference Westover uses.)