...busting up my brains for the words

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Fire in the hole

I go way back as friends and even as a co-worker with the good people at The Attic blog. But we disagree over the MN smoking ban kerfuffle. If you want to see our arguments you can find them here.
Conservative Republicans are among my favorite people since 9/11/01. They understand that we are at war, not just figuratively but literally. We don't always agree on all the issues. I don't mind disagreements so long as they are sincere. But it really knocks ashes into my beer glass when I hear conservative Republicans claim that second-hand tobacco smoke poses no measurable threat to health. That flies in the face of piles of pages of documentation coming from modern medical science, and I find the argument entirely disingenuous. Disingenuous arguments are what we have come to expect from barking moonbat liberals, not conservative Republicans. I've noticed that when I cite the facts about connections between exposure to tobacco and health risks, these conservative Republicans will then shift their arguments to individual rights and small government advocacy. That's where the debate belongs in the first place.
But the fact that they first attempt to get around the health issues illustrates to me that they know their arguments to be disingenuous in the first place. This begs the question; why? I wonder if they aren't simply stubbornly resentful that the MN State Democrats who pushed this ban through were able to exercise their power. I wonder if it all comes down to an ideological vanity on the part of these conservative Republicans.
I hope I'm wrong about that. And I would advise my conservative Republican friends to better choose their battles. Let this one go. Spend your energies on pressing conservative Republican causes such as reforming Social Security, lobbying your Congresspeople to allow an up or down vote on judicial nominees, lobbying your Congresspeople to accept John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

I think we will all welcome a breath of fresh air on those issues.


  • At 7:05 PM, Blogger American Lung Association of Minnesota said…


    I have noted the heated exhange on other sites. It's odd that some people insist on framing the debate on indoor smoking in political terms, conservative vs. liberal, GOP vs. DFL, etc. The American Lung Association of Minnesota doesn't care what anyone's politics are -- any more than smoke or lung disease cares -- and we are happy to work with anyone who shares our goal of clean air, healthy lungs and healthy people.

    The health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke are well documented, as you pointed out. It is also true that there are some otherwise sane,intelligent people who insist on saying otherwise, presumably because the truth does not match their strongly held political beliefs.

    I, like you, have tried reasoning with the pro-smoke zealots. My efforts are meet with insults, 'fisking' and in a couple of rare and isolated instances, what sounds like thinly veiled threats of physical violence.

    It takes bravery to stand up for what you know is right, PMB, especially when you have to stand up to your friends in the MOB. Just wanted you to know you don't stand alone -- the majority of Minnesotans stand with you on this one.

    Bob from the Lung Association

  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Thanks, Bob. That's a very nice endorsement and I appreciate it. On behalf of the MOB I apologize to you for any slights you may have received from certain quarters.
    What you say is so very true, lung disease doesn't care about politics. Our health is so very precious to us. We must protect it and live long lives as best we can.

  • At 10:28 PM, Blogger R-Five said…

    We can have two debates, one on the scientific merits, another on the politics. Whether you accept the "well-documented" evidence or not, no legal remedy was ever required, especially given the Minnesota Clean Indoor Act which I generally support. We already had the choice of whether to trade with or work for establishments that permit smoking.

    This was the America I knew - owner and customer/employee come to terms, then do business. Now if we dine in Hennepin County, an armed officer in effect supervises our transaction.

    The primary reason given was worker safety. But by that reasoning no one should be allowed to join the fire department, work with fireworks, drive a gasoline tanker, work in a pathology lab, etc., all certainly more dangerous occupations.

    My family has always supported the American Lung Association. My late mother's wish was for memorials to them, and as a result about $500 was recently given to them. My parents liked the Lung Assn because they always played it straight.

    But now I hear a spot every morning claminng 38,000 deaths a year from second-hand smoke, many times any previous claim. The American Lung Association would further increase its creditability by finding out who these anonymous people are and exposing them.

  • At 8:29 AM, Blogger American Lung Association of Minnesota said…

    R-5: The radio spot you mention is not from the American Lung Association of Minnesota. I have not heard it, so I really could not comment on its content or origins.

    I can tell you that the estimate of 38,000 deaths from secondhand smoke comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the CDC, a branch of the federal government considered by many as THE source for acurate medical and health data.

    There are a number of other figures floating around (ALAMN uses the CDC estimates), this fact sheet from the Boulder, CO Dept. of Health does a good job of sorting it all out:

    Thank you and your family for your support of the American Lung Association. Even if you chose to disagree with us on the risks of secondhand smoke, please remember that smoking-related campaigns are just one part of the many things we do in Minnesota: sponsor five summer camps for kids with asthma, donate money to basic research on asthma, lung cancer and other diseases, promote cleaner-burning vehicle fuels to reduce air pollution. We hope you will consider continuing your donations in the future (you can specify how your gift will be spent, if you wish)

    See more of the whole picture on our website:

  • At 11:15 AM, Blogger marcus aurelius said…

    I wonder how Bob @ ALMN explains the only air quality testing done, not by big tobacco or organizations on the nicoderm payroll like american cancer, american lung, U of M etc. but by the city of St. Louis Park, MN. Environmental Health Dept. 2004 which proves secondhand smoke is 150 times safer than OSHA...OSHA! regulations.

    Trading big tobacco for big pharmaceutical. Who is funding smoking bans? Follow the money trail.

    The first time bar & restaurant air quality, regarding secondhand smoke, was ever tested; or published; anywhere in the country, was right here in 2004 by the city of St. Louis Park, MN. Environmental Health Department; and the results prove that secondhand smoke is 150 times below (safer than) OSHA permissible exposure limits.

    Health hazard-none, health risk-zero...unless you believe that OSHA is in the business of harming people.

    Who is upset about this news? All the non-profit organizations who receive funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.(RWJF)

    Who is Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and why would they fund smoking bans? The founder was non other than the founder of Johnson & Johnson Company, distributor of Nicotrol and licensor to Pharmacia, manufacturer of Nicotrol, Nicoderm, etc. Pharmacia also pays a licensing fee to the American Cancer society on every Nicoderm product sold. According to a local newspaper reporter the American Cancer Society, in 2004 alone, spent $600,000 here in MN. to lobby in favor of smoking bans.

    The information and "studies" provided to our lawmakers by any of these organizations should be viewed as highly dubious at best.

    More Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Nicotrol, Nicoderm, Nicoderm CQ) funding to non-profit organizations: (partial list)

    2001 MN. Smoke-free coalition $824,977
    2001 University of MN. $401,182
    2001 American Non-Smokers Rights Foundation $971,114
    2001 American Cancer Society $14,673,657
    2002 American Cancer Society $3,294,002
    2002 American Medical Association $2,034,859
    2002 American Medical Association Foundation $7,750,288
    2002 American Lung Association $2,923,061

    Conflict of interest?........of course. The question is, are lawmakers unwitting participants in this scandal?

    Full list of grant recipients 1996-2002, figures for 2003 & 2004 not yet available.

    all links here;

  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    When we weight the evidences gathered by the American Lung Association and the CDC and compare those data with OSHA, I think it is undeniable that the reasonable person must side with the facts that second hand tobacco smoke present a dangerous health risk.

    Regarding the paper trail from the Johnson & Johnson Company, I have no problem with alternate nicotine delivery systems being provided to those who are foolish enough to continue poisoning themselves. Certainly you are not proposing that we take that freedom away from our citizens! The important thing is that we have stopped the cigarette smokers from polluting the air of those around them.

    As for paper trails and obscured motives, it is well known that you yourself would stand to gain financially if the smoking ban were lifted as you have a business that sells "air purification systems". So you'd best look in the mirror, my friend Marcus, before you begin pointing fingers at Johnson & Johnson or Robert Wood Johnson.

    OSHA can suck my Old Gold.

  • At 8:28 PM, Blogger marcus aurelius said…

    pinky, you're missing the forest for the trees....if the tobacco companies funded a study that said secondhand smoke was safe, you and the non-profits would be screaming conflict of interest, because the tobacco company has a profit it is the same with the pharmaceutical companies (Nicotrol, Nicoderm) who have nearly every University, Am. cancer, Am. Lung, AMA, AM. Med, Assoc. Foundation etc. on their payroll their "studies" are tainted by the Nicoderm companies who profit by the smoking bans....The only organization which isn't on the payroll is the city of St. Louis Park whose scientific study proved secondhand smoke is not a health hazard.... facts my dear leftist.. pinky, argue against the facts if you can!

  • At 9:40 AM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Your reminder to look at the facts should be heeded by yourself as you ignore the massive bull elephant standing in the room; the preponderance of evidence accumulated by the American Lung Association, the CDC and your own personal physician.
    Next time you're in his office for your routine check-up, why don't you ask him about second hand smoke.
    My guess is that you'll be so upset by his frank reply that you will go running to find a new doctor.

  • At 5:09 PM, Blogger marcus aurelius said…

    I'd remind you to look at my post:

    and find out who is on the Nicoderm payroll before you believe "their studies".

  • At 6:48 PM, Blogger Craig Westover said…

    Blogger wouldn't let me post this earlier:

    Stamping "CDC" on a document or study carries little more weight than stamping it "American Tobacco Institute." Ultimately, someone has to look behind the conclusions to the actual science, and more importantly, past the spin to the actual science.

    Case in point -- report.html

    When it comes to health dangers of secondhand smoke, the greatest error lies not with the studies themselves, but with the spin and the conclusions drawn. The dangers are blown way out of proportion for what the science justifies.

    Bob rejects out of hand statistical analysis such as this contoski.html yet this is the same analysis and methodology that conclusively proves that smoking is hazardous to one's health. If it's a valid methodology in one case (which it is), then it's valid in the other.

    If the real issue were secondhand smoke, not imposing a social agenda, the focus would be on cleaning the air not prohibiting smoking. Ventillation, as Marcus notes in his calmer moments, is a viable market-based solution.

    PMB -- I'd ask you to read the science and the statistical analysis. Then you can take your CDC numbers (even the EPA discredited numbers)and see that even they do not show secondhand smoke is a significant health hazard.

    The science just does not support a level of risk from secondhand smoke that justifies trumping the individual rights of bar and restaurant owners and their patrons.

    If you apply a criteria to public health for when government ought to be involved (there's a reason we don't close health clubs becasue you can get athlete's foot in the shower), secondhand smoke in bars and restuarants does not rise to the threshold of government intervention. Again, despite the fact that he calls for legislation, Bob doesn't feel he needs to address what those criteria might be.

    My beef with Bob is that his idea of debate extends no further than the logical falacies of ad homenim attack (pro-smoke zealot) and appeal to authority (if it says CDC it must be true). He refuses to venture into the territory wherein dwells the truth.

  • At 10:59 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Utter nonsense. I suggest that you and The Attic bloggers join the Flat Earth Society.
    Add to the equation the undeniable mountains of hard evidence linking tobacco with health risks to my own personal physical reaction to the odor of a burning weed indoors and there is no question I fully support the ban and urge that it never be lifted.
    Tobacco is deadly and there is no place for it in our public spaces.

    Take up chaw if you want yer tebaccy.

    Thank you for your considerate Comment, Capt'n. I wish I could be a little less harsh to you, but crazy talk is crazy talk.

  • At 11:55 AM, Blogger Craig Westover said…

    Alas, and a non-argument is a non-argument, and a personal dislike is not grounds for public policy.

    I believe the orignal flat earthers were those who blindly accepted authority and refused to consider empirical evidence.

    [BTW -- I'm a non-and-never-was-a smoker.]

    May your lungs be forever as clear as your thinking is clouded. :-)

    Best --


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