Claims of Secondhand Smoke Risks Don't Pass Science Test

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A January 4, 2006 column by Audrey Silk, head of NYC CLASH (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment), not someone with whom ACSH usually sees eye to eye on smoking issues, quotes ACSH president Dr. Elizabeth Whelan and late ACSH Advisor Sir Richard Doll:

Any claim that exposure to exhaled or sidestream smoke poses a threat to life is "indisputable" is false. There are studies and scientists who dispute it strongly. When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed his ban would save 1,000 workers' lives, the president of the American Council on Science and Health, who vehemently opposes smoking, wrote, "There is no evidence that any New Yorker -- patron or employee -- has ever died as a result of exposure to smoke in a bar or restaurant." Dr. Richard Doll, the scientist who first linked active smoking to lung cancer, said in a 2001 radio interview, "The effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn't worry me."

These statements, among many others, are based on the results of studies that found no long-term health risks, and even on studies that claim to find risks, because the science is so weak.