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Rapid response to:

Paper

Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7398.1057 (Published 15 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1057

Rapid Response:

Second-Hand Smokescreen

At last, a rebuttal-—and perhaps a release from the political
correctness that has gripped us for years. The article by James Enstrom
and Geoffrey Kabat on the non-effects of second-hand smoke was long in
coming (1). Those profiting by a series of careless, faulted, and
frivolous studies and statements purporting to prove the unprovable have
prevailed--until now. The FDA, OSHA, or lung associations attempting to
enhance their image, or the lawyers backing them and making billions at a
rate faster than any industry could have dreamed possible, have, up until
now, succeeded. Thankfully, the assault on common sense may be ending. The
air is clearing. Enstrom and Kabat may be leading the way.

If second-hand cigarette smoke were a fraction as damaging as
purported by the long series of articles over the past decades, smokers
themselves would have been dead in a month--or less. Never mind the claim
that cockerels develop atherosclerotic plaques when kept in a frightening
smoke-filled room--cockerels develop plaques if you shout at them. Equally
suspect is the report that smoke increases carboxyhemoglobin levels by 500
times in passive smokers(3)--that would extrapolate in smokers themselves
to levels possibly incompatible with life. The endless stream of articles
on second-hand smoke has added to the curriculum vitae of many but is
hardly worth scientific review, much less affirmation.

Yes, smoking by others can be a nuisance but the anti-smoking
campaign is a massive industry serving big bucks. It’s time for at least
its second hand spin-off to go up in smoke. Thank you, Enstrom and Kabat.

1. Enstrom JE, Kabat GC. Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco
related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98. BMJ
2003;326:1057-61

2.Penn A, Snyder CA. Inhalation of sidestream cigarette smoke
accelerates development of arteriosclerotic plaques.
Circulation. 1993;88:1820-5.

3.Steinfeld JL. Third World Conference on Smoking and Health. June,
1975 New York City

Sincerely,

Hugh McGrath Jr., M.D.

Professor of Medicine

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center,
1542 Tulane Avenue,
New Orleans, LA 70112,
USA


Email: hmcgra@lsuhsc.edu

Competing interests:  
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 September 2003
Hugh McGrath Jr.
Professor of Medicine
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center