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Not only is it a lie that second-hand smoke is the third leading cause of death in the country, and not only is it a lie that 1,000 deaths in Kentucky resulted from second-hand smoke last year, not one person has ever died from second-hand smoke. Show me a coroner's report that says so.
More precisely, if you review all the scientific studies of environmental tobacco smoke that have ever been completed, no significant scientific correlation between ETS and increased mortality can be shown.
To bolster anti-smoking claims, the EPA examined 11 studies of the subject, and upon finding no statistical correlation, lowered the threshold of proof and ignored all studies that contradicted their desired result when subjected to the usual scientific requirements needed to show a causal relationship by other researchers, some of which were financed by the National Cancer Institute. Looking at non-smoking spouses living with smoking spouses for as long as 40 years, they found that "the total risk ratio for all groups averages out to exactly 1, or no risk at all." (Brownson study); "No association between ETS and lung cancers." (Butler study).
In a 37-year longitudinal study titled "Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Tobacco - Related Mortality in a Prospective Study of Californians" (May 19, 2003) it is stated, "The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality."
In Europe, flight attendants who did not smoke but daily occupied flight cabins which allowed smoking were studied over 17 years. They exhibited no increased incidence of cancer or heart disease when compared to the general population. And on it goes.
Go ahead and ban smoking in restaurants if you're hot to do so, but get this: you are more at risk driving from your house to the restaurant than you are from sitting in it after you get there (not taking into account the risk if you eat the food). You incur more risk from running off the road, being hit by another driver, getting a tumor from your cell phone, or being carried off by a twister.
Whether to ban smoking in these places is not a health issue, it's a values issue. Stan McKinney's analogy of not needing policemen if people did the "right thing" illustrates this.
Policemen are necessary because people sometimes commit crimes. Smoking is not a crime. He wants to restrict legal activity that people do on private property, suggesting this activity does not fit what he calls "right." Therefore, he wants a value judgment of his imposed on others.
A couple of tangential points:
u Will City Council still accept tax money from people who smoke, with the second-hand smoke residue on it? I suspect they will.
u Speaking of taxes, since it is illegal for local governments to levy an income tax, which they have done by simply calling it a "payroll tax" or "occupational tax," can smokers use the same loophole and continue to light up in restaurants by calling their cigarette something else, say, a lolly-pop?
u As far as looking out for children, look at how many programs are financed with cigarette taxes, including the proposed expansion of S-CHIP, extending health care to more poor children. City Council should encourage smoking if they really want to help children.
I don't smoke and never have, but it is not the job of City Council to take care of me nor my children. That's my job, and the best thing they could do would be to leave me alone.