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Legislators here in Kentucky are working on a state wide smoking ban. Smoking bans, as you know, are enacted to protect your immutable, divinely endowed right to walk into any building in the country without fear of being exposed to smells that annoy you. Of course this means that eventually we’ll have to pass a law requiring subway passengers to shower sometime in the week leading up to their boarding the train. I’m told Emperor Bloomberg in New York is already working on that, right after he’s done making laws against sitting too close to the television and eating your dessert before you finish your peas. Now, while I have the right to enter any privately owned business in existence and be free from odors I find displeasing, business owners themselves clearly do NOT have the right to set the rules for their own establishments. I have more of a right to make regulations governing your institution than you do. That, my friend, is just plain logical.

But smoking ban advocates do not cite this philosophically irrefutable principle when rationalizing their anti-smoking crusade. Instead they use “science”. Notice I put science in quotes there because I want to distinguish from the type of “science” they use and the type of science you’re familiar with. Science — I mean real science — is defined as “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths”. FACTS. TRUTHS. KNOWLEDGE. That’s science. “Science”, on the other hand, can be defined as “a series of absurd assertions that defy all evidence and logic and can only be supported by repeating the word ‘science’ over and over again”. That’s “science”. And that’s all the anti-smoking despots need to get their measures passed.

These busybodies and charlatans constantly make the claim that secondhand smoke “kills”. They even go so far as to shout about a mystical “consensus” that exists among “scientists”. Unfortunately, however, a consensus can only really be found among politicians, clueless sheep and elementary school guidance counselors. This group will refer to studies that, they insist, prove the deadliness of passive smoke and therefore justify a universal intrusion on property rights to stamp out the “public health risk”.

Say, have you ever actually looked at any of these “studies” they talk about? I have. I’ll give you the cliff notes:

In 1992 the EPA published a report called “Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking”. The report grouped SHS as a Class A carcinogen, which put it in a category with such reputable poisons as asbestos and radon. The EPA even claimed that three thousand people die every year from passive smoke. The problem? Well, just that the whole thing was totally bogus. A few years later the Congressional Research Service did a twenty month study about the report and found it to be insufficient. Even more devastating, a federal judge officially vacated the EPA’s findings. He wrote 92 pages about this phony study and he was, to put it lightly, pretty harsh: ““First, there is evidence in the record supporting the accusation that EPA “cherry picked” its data…In order to confirm its hypothesis… This allowed EPA to confirm its hypothesis by finding a relative risk of 1.19, albeit a very weak association…EPA cannot show a statistically significant association between [SHS] and lung cancer… EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before the research had begun; adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate its conclusion; and aggressively utilized its authority to disseminate findings to establish a de facto regulatory scheme to influence public opinion.”

So when a hysterical “SECONDHAND SMOKE KILLS” nutjob starts babbling about “studies” and a “consensus”, know that this is the sort of thing they’re referring to — debunked, discredited, legally vacated propaganda.

But, I have to admit, there HAVE been some credible studies done on SHS. Here’s a few:

-In 2003 the British Medical Journal published the largest and most detailed report on secondhand smoke in history. It spanned 39 years and covered thousands of people. It found NO definitive link between SHS and lung cancer mortality.

-In 2002 an analysis of 48 studies discovered only seven that made a link between SHS exposure and health problems. 41 found no link.

-The International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health and the New England Journal of Medicine have both published research stating that non smokers who are exposes to the greatest amount of passive smoke inhale the equivalent of .03 cigarettes a day. That’s about 10 cigarettes PER YEAR.

The entire crusade rests on misinformation and logical fallacies. The mounds of research that disprove their position is ignored. Instead they search and search for a correlation that supports their ideology and magically convert the correlation into a causation. “Hey this 84 year old guy just died from heart failure. He worked as a bartender 60 years ago. People smoked in that bar. SECONDHAND SMOKE KILLS!” You know what that is? “Science”. By the way, I know a guy who listened to a Buckcherry song and then died of pneumonia 9 months later. Obviously the grief caused by being subjected to that horrible music fatally damaged his immune system. “Science”. You can’t argue with “science”.