Councilman Vallone compromises on smoking ban while tobacco control groups go extreme

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Following New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban smoking from parks, public beaches and pedestrian plazas like the one found in Times Square, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is suggesting a middle of the road approach by creating designated smoking sections in outdoor areas where smoking will be banned. Vallone concedes that indoor smoking sections are futile, but “outdoors I think they are workable,” he said Thursday.

Those who support the ban, however, believe that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause adverse health effects. “There is no safe level of secondhand smoke,” said Dr. Maureen Killackey, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society’s New York and New Jersey Chapter.

“They’ve really gone off the deep end, “ says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. She also references a recent blog entry by Dr. Michael Siegel, professor in the department of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, on the evaporation of scientific integrity in the tobacco control campaign. Dr. Siegel is outraged that two major tobacco control groups — Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) — are alleging that simply touching a smoker’s clothing is dangerous since it can lead to massive skin and neurological damage in children.

“This is akin to a parody,” Dr. Whelan notes. “Public health science is losing its credibility due to people like this. It’s damaging, and they just can’t stick to plain science — they have to hyperbolize the risk of everything.”