Wednesday, June 01, 2005

"Stubbed out"

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:16 PM |  

Best article and reporting I've read on the impact of the Minneapolis smoking ban is found is this article from City Pages. It misses the immensity of law that is on the side of those supporting smoking bans, but -- and this is the topic of a longer essay -- the article illustrates why, more than just "perhaps," rational-basis theory ought to be reconsidered in economic liberty cases.

Given the usual reluctance of Bob from the American Lung Association to enage in meaningful discussion, I sort of debate myself on the smoking ban issue in the comments section of this post over at Pair O' Dice. Bob's one-sided-by-choice discussion of smoking bans can be found at his ALA site -- links to the posts he criticizes are non-existent, but two wrongs don't make a right -- here's the link to the ALAMN blog.

[Update: Bob from the ALA has made an exception and posted a link from the ALA blog to this one. That is a postive step and a benefit for his readers, who might wander over. Reading both sides of the issue will either change their minds or provide them fodder to think about and respond to and thereby strengthen their thinking -- perhaps even help generate some real discussion. Good first step. Can a real argument be far behind?]

By the way, if you haven't visited Swiftee's site recently you're missing some excellent posts and very good reporting. Swiftee does a really excellent job on this post on school vouchers and this post on the Pew Study I wrote about here.

Back on the smoking ban theme, Jim Algeo. one of the driving forces behind the involvement of the Bloomington private clubs in the Smoking Ban Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that was heard before (and denied by) District Court judge John Q. McShane in late March, the president-elect of the Bloomington Crime Prevention Association, a member of the Bloomington Lions, Bloomington VFW Post 1296 and Bloomington American Legion Post 550 and the Republican endorsed candidate for Bloomington City Council District 1, sends a note that the effort is still strong to revise or rescind smoking ban ordinances.

In that regard, the next Bloomington City Council meeting at Bloomington City Hall on June 6 at 7:00 PM promises to be interesting.

Jim also notes that in addition to lost revenue for bars and restaurants in Bloomington, in the last 2 months charitable gambling receipts in Bloomington are down over $500,000. That extrapolates to $6,000,000 in 1 year and net proceeds, targeted for the city's "neediest citizens," could be negatively impacted by over $250,000 (Lawful gambling is required to spend at least 30% of their net revenue in the city they're located in).

UPDATE: A very interesting comment was added to this comment thread at Pair 'o Dice last night that talks about the affect of the attitude of anti-smoking advocates toward the "widely accepted belief" that secondhand smoke is evil and the perception of science.

There's an interesting paper on this issue written by Sheldon Ungar entitled, Silencing science: partisanship and the career of a publication disputing the dangers of secondhand smoke concerning Enstrom and Kabat's paper published in the BMJ, Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98. Ungar, a professor of Sociology from the University of Toronto, examines both the reactions in the rapid responses to the Enstrom/Kabat paper and how it was reported in the mainstream media. He concludes that the "results suggest that the public consensus about the negative effects of passive smoke is so strong that it has become part of a regime of truth that cannot be intelligibly questioned".

The question I have is if it is as pinkmonkeybird wrote that the "evidence of the harmfulness of secondhand smoke is widely accepted" as truth, then why do anti-smoking organizations and researchers keep lobbying for more grant money from the National Institute of Health to keep producing more epidimiological studies? Just look through the NIH research grant site and check the CRISP database to find out what types of epidemiological research on environmental tobacco smoke they continue to spend money on. And if you think they're not anti-smokers, but rather legitimate, impartial scientists in search of the truth, then why does every grant application on tobacco research state something to the effect that 'it's already proven that tobacco is known to be nothing but evil but I'm trying to figure out just exactly how evil it really is'?