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Preface

The City of Findlay Ohio began consideration of a smoking ban in early 2004. Two local citizens compiled a number of arguments and writings into an argument against such a ban. Among those writings were several of mine. The Findlay Department of Health made an official response to the submission, supposedly "answering" each objection clearly and completely.

In reality of course, the answers were neither clear nor complete and consisted largely of ad hominem attacks and unsupported assertions. I took their response to my own writings and sent back a response in return which you can read below. Since the submission of that response, over three months ago, neither the Department of Health nor any official of the City of Findlay has made ANY attempt, public or private, to respond to my arguments.

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General Response to Findlay DOH Rebuttals

I would like to start off by saying that I appreciate the effort the Findlay Department of Health (FDOH) put into responding to the criticisms of the proposed smoking ban. I am however somewhat distressed because I am going to be rather harshly critical of that response. While I reserve my most specific criticisms for that portion of the response directed toward my own writings, I noted a disturbing pattern throughout the entire body of your responses.

In almost every case it seemed that the FDOH chose to respond to scientific arguments, studies, and facts with Ad Hominem arguments or information from press releases rather than on a more professional level. There is nothing wrong with pointing out the possible background motivations of those presenting evidence to you, but it certainly does not serve as a substitute for proper response to those challenges themselves.

To illustrate with one of the more extreme examples: Topic # 12 dealt with a detailed analysis of the study done on air quality in smoking workplaces by Roger Jenkins of ORNL The results found in this study, showing levels of pollution even in a smoky bar to be far below what OSHA considers to be problem even for full 8-hour-a-day workers, are quite valid. They actually mirror the results found by the Antismoking extremist, James Repace in his 2003/04 study.

However, instead of examining those figures and arguments the FDOH makes eight separate points in refutation… and ALL eight of those points are aimed at trying to tie the Oak Ridge National Laboratories and Dr. Jenkins to Big Tobacco. It was more like something I'd expect from the Catholic Church inquisiting Galileo than I'd expect from a Department of Health defending an official policy stance.

Even an elementary school debater knows that if you actually have a good argument to use against your opponent, you don't ignore it in order to simply attack their character. If you have a valid character attack you use it IN ADDITION to reasoned refutation of their position… not in substitution for it.

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Response to Findlay DOH Rebuttal of McFadden Docs

I would like to start off my response to the Findlay Department of Health (FDOH) rebuttal of my testimony and research by saying that I believe it was overall both poorly and prejudicially presented. In my view it represents a lack of professionalism disappointing in an official public body.

I will respond, point-by-point, skipping none, despite the fact that their rebuttal ignored the vast majority of the many and well-researched points made in my own writing. The FDOH instead chose to attack just two of the points I had made while adding two pieces of pure Ad Hominem attack.

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Point One: Sunlight and Alcohol

This part of the rebuttal simply claims that I fail to note that drinking and sunbathing do not harm those around the drinker or tanner. It does not address at all the points I did make about the relative lack of harm of reasonable levels of secondary smoke exposure, nor does it address the fact that since the smoking ban is primarily being implemented to protect the health of workers that concerns about workers being forced to work in outdoor patio situations would be quite valid. Just as there is supposedly "no safe level of exposure to the Class A Carcinogens" in secondary smoke, in exactly the same sense there is "no safe level of exposure" to the Class A Carcinogen of ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight. Sunscreen is no more a protection for these workers than filtration and ventilation systems are to workers working in a smoking environment.

Would it be silly to ban restaurants from offering outdoor dining on such a basis? Of course it would be. It is similarly silly to ban them from offering decently ventilated smoking accommodations for their workers and customers.

As for drinking, the FDOH seems to forget that since they argue that there is "no safe level of exposure" to Class A Carcinogens, and since the very volatile liquid known as ethyl alcohol has been declared to be such a carcinogen, that there is obviously, by their reasoning, "no safe level of exposure" to the invisible and unnoticeable alcohol fumes that permeate the air of establishments that serve alcoholic drinks.

Would it be silly to ban alcohol service in bars and restaurants on that basis? I believe it would be, despite the fact that there have been no studies done to examine the threat it poses (There is no multi-billion dollar Antialcohol Lobby out there to fund and promote such studies.) and despite the fact that a single drink may put as much as 2,000 times the absolute amount of Class A Carcinogen into the air as a cigarette. (Figure based on measured evaporation rates of grain alcohol in a martini glass of over one gram per hour, and the total weight of the six identified Class A Carcinogens in the smoke of a cigarette of roughly ˝ milligram.)

The FDOH has no solid grounds for ignoring the minute threats posed by such things while seeking to impose laws banning what may well be the even more minute threat, if any, posed by secondary smoke in a decently ventilated environment.

To address FDOH's final and related point on this subject: sunlight is not a "necessity for one's body." Again, a statement like this displays a disappointing lack of professional expertise: medical research has never found any direct physical benefit from sunlight other than as a mild topical disinfectant and a promoter of Vitamin D production. Since other disinfectants are readily available and Vitamin D is quite abundant in the standard American diet, the FDOH's statement about it being "a necessity" is something more along the lines of homemade folk wisdom than science. (See footnotes 1 and 2 at the end of this document)

In summation, it is quite possible that the health of Findlay's workers would be better served by prohibiting outdoor dining and banning the service of alcoholic beverages than by prohibiting smoking. In reality of course, the health of the freedom of Findlay's people as a whole is best served by banning none of these things: let individuals decide for themselves what conditions they wish to work in when prohibitions involve ridiculously small possible risks. The zero-tolerance insistence of the Antismokers is simple insanity, rooted purely in their drive to do anything, and say anything, that will force people to smoke less.

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Point Two: CLASH

The FDOH claims that a group called CLASH "sponsored" my writings, thereby providing a base to launch an Ad Hominem attack on me by implying that I was somehow paid by this alleged "tobacco connected" group to say what I said. I had never even MET anyone from CLASH until the day I went up to NY to give my testimony there.

This totally and completely untrue accusation is all too typical of the "disproof by slander" approach of Antismoking groups when they are faced with scientific arguments and evidence that contradicts their positions. The only things stopping me from considering a lawsuit against the town of Findlay over this are the facts that, one, the unexpectedly irresponsible statements of the FDOH should not be the responsibility of the entire town in this one instance, and two, despite the intentions of the statement, I am actually proud of the fact that the independent activists of CLASH, a group with NO connection to Big Tobacco, chose to reproduce my writings on their website so others could see and benefit from them. After these hearings are done I intend to add the FDOH's communications and my responses to those writings for public view.

Audrey Silk, the founder of CLASH and a wonderful and very hard working member of New York City's police force for 20 years, has already written the FDOH requesting a correction and public apology. The citizens of Findlay should read what she has to say and be ashamed that their Department of Health, rather than arguing the science that they claim is so solidly behind them in pushing for a smoking ban, should instead choose to attack such a person.

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Point Three: Homemade conclusions & Lack of Training

Given that virtually every one of the other pieces of evidence presented by Larry Hershey to the DOH was attacked at least partially by Ad Hominem arguments seeking to discredit their findings by linking them in one way or another to payments by Big Tobacco, it is not too surprising that they ran into some frustration in examining my own case. I have never applied for grants from either Antismoking funds OR from Big Tobacco. I fight these battles on my own time and out of my own pocket.

So what does the FDOH do? They accuse me of presenting "homemade conclusions" since I am NOT getting paid! Since my views would obviously never get funding from Antismoking sources they are performing a Catch-22 like about face and trying to discredit me because I am NOT getting money from Big Tobacco. Truly incredible.

They also criticize my conclusions because I supposedly do not have "the medical training required either to interpret or put into perspective such numbers with ay amount of certainty. My doctoral training in statistics and propaganda analysis at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School is evidently thought to be worthless by the FDOH. I will freely grant that I left Penn before finishing my doctorate, and I will even grant further that over 20 years of time has severely blunted my statistical expertise, but to interpret the very basic conclusions represented by the Relative Risks and Confidence Intervals derived from epidemiologic analysis requires virtually nothing beyond a high-school level of mathematical sophistication. I believe the FDOH is fully aware of this and attacked my data on this ground simply because they had little else they could attack.

While many prominent Antismokers have received truly enormous sums of money for using their time and staff to promote bans like the one proposed here, I do not get paid for my efforts nor do I have millions of dollars in grant money to hire staff to write and research papers for presentations. I am getting paid nothing and I have no staff. My work is, by definition and with pride, homemade. I have just finished writing a book that I hope will help those who are fighting bans, and if someday, I actually make any significant amount of money from it I'll be very pleasantly surprised.

The fact that I am able to mount any credible challenge at all to the argument of the other side should by itself give you pause for thought.

The FDOH then goes on to criticize my overlooking micro-environments, genealogical traits and other contributing factors… while carefully ignoring the fact that virtually the entire case that has been made for the last 20 years against secondary smoke is based on studies with exactly the same failures. Meta-analyses, such as the EPA's famous 1992/93 presentation, are notoriously weak in the certainty of their conclusions due to the way they lump different studies with different designs originating in different cultures all into one pot for a "solution."

The FDOH would do far better to criticize the lack of control of microenvironments, confounding variables, genealogical traits and so forth in the studies upon which they base their own efforts.

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Point 4: Outdated Studies and Misinterpreted Libertarianism

Since the writings examined by the FDOH were completed largely before the year 2001, it seems disingenuous to criticize me for not including work done in 2002, 2003, and 2004. They then make a further accusation that I deliberately chose NOT to list sources that I thought were "questionably funded" or "never peer-reviewed." ALL of my sources were listed clearly and accurately, along with what I perceived to be their limitations and possible sources of bias. To say I did not do so seems to be a simple lie, easily checked by going back to the table I presented and examining it for yourself.

The FDOH then refers the reader to "unanimous medical agreement" found by "similar studies" done more recently and cites a list on another page as proof. What happens if you go to see those unanimous studies? You find a list of ten … "things"… I don't know what else to call them. "President George W. Bush" is being cited as a study similar to but more recent than the 130 studies whose results I so carefully listed and double-checked? "Philip Morris" is a study whose results the FDOH somehow believes? Four different magazines, without reference to dates, pages, authors, OR results are "studies" that show unanimous agreement against the 130 presented by me?

Is this supposed to be a joke? I cite 130 studies, include verbatim excerpts from the conclusions of one of the largest and most important, provide statistical analysis of the results to clarify the numerical terms for those uncertain of them, and the FDOH says that the study "President George W. Bush" proves my conclusions wrong???

The FDOH then goes on to make another criticism, this one a criticism of my choice and use of the 1998 WHO study. I offered in my testimony the results and the verbatim scientific abstract of the study itself, taken directly from the medical journal in which it was printed. In response the FDOH cites a PRESS RELEASE that was put out with a large screaming headline stating in all capital letters: "DO NOT LET THEM FOOL YOU! PASSIVE SMOKE DOES CAUSE LUNG CANCER!"

I offer a medical study. Findlay's Department of Health responds by pointing to a press release that reads more like a fanatic's street corner pamphlet than the reasoned output of a scientific body.

The material submitted under my name was written at a time when I understood much less about the Antismoking Crusade and its manipulation of truth than I do now. However I believe that the bulk of what was submitted is sound and certainly deserves a more well-reasoned and scientific "refutation" than a citation reading simply, "President George W. Bush."

A final note in conclusion: given the near universality of the approach of the FDOH in trying to discredit their opponents' science merely by pointing the finger of "conflicting interest," it seems only fair to question the FDOH itself as to conflict of interest. Has the FDOH, any of its members, or any Findlay activists working to promote a smoking ban ever received any grants, financing, expenses, or other consideration from any groups such as ASH, CTFK, ALF, RWJF, ANR, ANRF, or any pharmaceutical companies involved in the promotion of Nicotine Replacement Therapy products? And would such FDOH members and activists be willing to provide the same full disclosure of such personal investment and other financial connections to such entities as I do below? If any are not willing to do so, I think it would be only reasonable to ask that they step down from their positions and activities, at least insofar as a smoking ban is concerned.

And finally, has the FDOH allocated funds or have knowledge of funds being spent to promote the smoking ban, either directly (by such things as TV ads, posters, or mailings saying "Vote To Save Lives") or indirectly (by frightening the citizens of Findlay with information - i.e. propaganda - about secondary smoke)? If so, in the interests of fairness, would the FDOH be willing to ensure that similar levels of funding be made available to those in opposition in order to guarantee a fair and representative process?

I look forward to your response and answers, and will be happy to respond to any further questions you may raise.

Sincerely,

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
http://www.Antibrains.com

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Footnotes:

1: (from http://www.sunsafetyforkids.org/about_ssk.htm) The only known health benefit of sunlight on the skin is its role in the body's manufacture of active Vitamin D. It certainly is important for everyone, especially children, to maintain a sufficient level of Vitamin D but it's not necessary to risk skin cancer by relying on sun exposure to do so. The American diet provides Vitamin D in fortified dairy products and other fortified foods. Alternatively, a daily multivitamin containing Vitamin D can be taken. It's fortunate that we have these safer means for maintaining a healthy level of Vitamin D. For more information about Vitamin D, visit the NIH website at http://www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/supplements/vitd.html. Simply stated, sun is bad for the skin. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays penetrate the skin's cells, causing mutations in the cellular DNA. As with other carcinogens, it might take many exposures and a long lag period might pass before cancer occurs. Yet the evidence for the cause and effect association is so strong that both the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) list solar radiation as a "Known Human Carcinogen." {mcf note: the IARC has also now rated sunlight in this manner} This places UV radiation alongside other known carcinogens such as arsenic, tobacco smoke, and asbestos. Parents should do their best to educate and protect their children from carcinogens. Schools, camps, and parks share this responsibility during the time children are entrusted to their care. According to the CDC1, "Schools need to be sun-safe places to reduce children's exposure to UV radiation. Schools also can teach students the knowledge, motivation, and skills they need to adopt and maintain sun-safe behaviors for a lifetime.
2: My statements indicating that sunscreen may help reduce the risk of skin cancer, but not eliminate it, are strongly supported at by skincancer.org at http://www.skincancer.org/melanoma/sunscreens.html

Conflict of interest statement: I have absolutely no financial connection to Big Tobacco, Big Hospitality, Big Pharmaceuticals or any other major player in this arena other than as a customer. I own no stocks or options in stocks with such connections. I have written a book, Dissecting Antismokers' Brains, which will be fully published and generally available through my website (www.Antibrains.com) and Amazon as of World No Tobacco Day, May 31st, 2004. At Mr. Hershey's request I have sent some advance copies of books for sale and distribution to help Findlay in its battle against a smoking ban. I had no prior specific knowledge of or connection with Messrs. Hershey and Webb, nor anyone in Findlay prior to Mr. Hershey's contacting me with the FDOH's response to my writings and his request to order some books.



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