Science and Secondhand Smoke

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An article in Skeptic Volume 13, Number 3 by Sidney Zion quotes ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan on exaggerations about secondhand smoke's effects:

Political correctness and fear of retribution silenced doctors and scientists who knew better. Every lung specialist and cardiologist I questioned across the years scoffed at the story that secondhand smoke caused death. "But don't quote me, or I'll be dead." Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, of the prestigious American Council on Science and Health, is made of stronger stuff. She denounced Bloomberg's claim that his ban [on smoke in bars] would save a thousand lives a year. "Patently absurd," she 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"...

[T]he anti-smoke brigade wasted no time trashing Whelan. "The hatred was palpable," she told me, "out of control. The intolerance is scary. They refuse to permit any dissent. I've been against the tobacco industry and smoking forever. But now I'm the enemy, because I won't buy the hype on secondhand smoke, which I made plain I totally dislike." On her website, Whelan wrote: "Secondhand smoke is annoying, it makes your clothes and hair stink, and can ruin an otherwise delightful dining experience. The majority of New Yorkers will welcome a smoking ban primarily for aesthetic reasons, not for health reasons"...

A few months later, Whelan came out for a smokeless tobacco product, in the form of a tea bag that gives a similar hit to [cigarettes but] which she believes could reduce direct smoking deaths to 6,000 from an estimated 400,000 [per year]. "That did it," she told me. "The next day, I got an e-mail from an old comrade. It said, 'You are now excommunicated'!"