Talk:Tobacco's Secondhand Science of Smoke-Filled Rooms

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Relocating from article page --Bob Burton 21:25, 2 Dec 2005 (EST)


Rampton and Stauber together wrote "Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future." They have obviously taken a stance against industry manipulation of the media. They present a good case for suggesting that cigarette companies have tried to manipulate public opinion against second hand smoke, and indeed it would be very surprising if these companies had not done so. However, they can hardly claim to be neutral when it comes to evaluating the issue that is being manipulated. There is a pro-smoking camp and an anti-smoking camp, and the two are at war in a fight to have their opinions accepted by the public. It is ingenuous to suggest that a person who has taken up a stance against one side can claim neutrality in evaluating the respective arguments of the two camps.

Having read the above article, it should be obvious that the authors' intention in writing it is twofold. Firstly, they are seeking to show that their view of the effects of passive smoking is the correct view. The reader should not be surprised to find that the evidence they present is not balanced. Indeed, if the reader wishes to form a balanced opinion on the matter he or she should read the evidence from both sides, being careful to remember that it is not the source of evidence that is important, but rather its quality.

Secondly, the authors are seeking to show that any opposition to their view comes from tobacco companies. It is a common tactic in wars to try and paint all the opposition with the same brush. One need look no further than the recent attempts by the Bush administration to claim that Saddam Hussein was linked to the al-Quaida terrorist organisation to see that. It should not surprise the reader to discover that there are indeed people with no connection to the tobacco industries who feel that the evidence used to support the claims made against secondhand smoke is less than convincing. They have not been persuaded by the claims of an industry that is so obviously self interested, but rather by the failings of the evidence itself.

It's interesting to see the authors are happy to attack the cigarette companies for deliberately slanting their research to support their own self interest, but fail to consider that the EPA may be doing exactly the same thing. The EPA's purpose is to discover threats to the environment and protect against them. Its funding, and thus the jobs of its employees, depend on it finding threats to protect the environment from. A lack of threats means a loss of jobs, whereas a plethora of threats means expansion and increased power. Consequently, it's obviously very much in the EPA's own self interest to find that passive smoking is an environmental threat. The EPA produces a report, the statistics in the report is shown to be flawed, the reason can only be that the EPA is using the same tactics as the cigarette companies. When the cigarette companies do it, the authors condemn them for it; when the EPA do it, the authors defend them; this is bias.