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Battling the Lies

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Matthew McConaughey, March/April 2011

It's bad enough that there doesn't seem to be any attempt in the scientific community to look at cigar-smoking through unbiased eyes. But when we heard about a grant proposal being submitted in California, it made our hair stand on end.

Smoking researcher Dr. Michael Siegal, who publishes a website called the Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control, publicized this grant. Dr. Siegal is not an apologist for the tobacco industry, rather he has been active in the control of tobacco for more than 25 years.

He has been focusing on a disturbing trend in the area of tobacco research; scientists are not making any attempt at being objective, but are stating that they want their results to prove a point.

The study in question was submitted to the State of California. Here is a quote from that study: "Overall, our proposed work will be a critical step in a timely assessment of whether the THS [Third Hand Smoke] exposure is genetically harmful to exposed nonsmokers, and the ensuing data will serve as the experimental evidence for framing and enforcing policies prohibiting smoking in homes, hotels, and cars in California and elsewhere in order to protect vulnerable people."

Yes, these researchers just want to support their predetermined notion that nonsmokers entering an environment where smoking has occurred—not necessarily where it is actually happening—is as dangerous as smoking itself. And, their goal is to provide support for laws prohibiting smoking within a person's own home or car because anyone entering those places would be exposed to tobacco residue. It boggles the mind to think the State of California could fund such a biased grant proposal which has a predetermined conclusion. That's not science. It's a propaganda tool. At least for now, the $500,000 grant is still under consideration.

This kind of research shouldn't just be a topic of interest to smokers. It should also offend anyone who believes in the scientific method. Every American should be concerned about the decline in scientific standards. For some in the scientific community, it is already a topic of serious concern, and one that is getting scrutinized. Let's hope they start applying traditional standards for research on the moderate use of tobacco, instead of letting the whole subject be treated like a witch hunt where the verdict is given before the trial.

After a while, it gets really tiresome to point out the gross distortions that are being pushed by antismoking groups in America and around the world. It's not a popular position to be in. People assume because these editorials appear in Cigar Aficionado that they are suspect. Fair enough. We do have a vested interest in adults being able to enjoy a cigar. But we cannot stop making sure that everyone understands the extent to which many of the antismoking assertions are unsubstantiated, and how they are being used to impose new restrictions on smoking that go far beyond the science.

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