Michigan Radio News

NPR News

« Essay: After the Fall - 4.27.09 | Main | Essay: Socialism Comes to the Auto Industry - 4.29.09 »

April 28, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Come on. Jack Lessenberry makes it sound like it is a no-brainer; why wouldn't anyone oppose a smoking ban? Can't we let intelligent people make intelligent decisions?

That's what I say. Why is a smoking ban needed? As it is now, virtually any restaurant that any of us wish to visit will have a no-smoking area for us. Virtually all large office buildings are no-smoking, as are all public buildings and all schools and university buildings. It's hard, in fact to think of places where one can enjoy a cigarette or a cigar in peace. There are, of course bars. Nobody is forced to go to bars, are they? There are establishments whose mission revolves around smoking; cigar stores and cigar bars. There are private dining and golf clubs. And, there are places where like-minded adults would simply like to gather, socialize and be able to smoke.

Kids, this is not about preventing secon-hand smoking deaths. This is about social scolds like Jack Lessenberry, seeking to impose their great wisdom and superior judgment on the world at large, and whose beliefs in "freedom" and "rights" are rather selective.

Byt the way, the University of Michigan is now considering ways to implement a campus-wide smoking ban. Yes, of course, smoking is already banned in every University building. But that's not enough for the smoking scolds. They wish to ban smoking outdoors, anywhere on University property. And again, the scolds run smack into reality.

On paper, it might sound nice to stop clusters of people gathered around building entrances in February, stomping their feet and creating a huge cloud of blue smoke. For those situations, rules might well be appropriate. I DO NOT DEFEND EXPOSURE TO SECOND-HAND SMOKING.

But then, what about patrons, in the Blue Lot outside of Crisler Arena, on a football Saturday? (Smoking has long been banned inside Michigan Stadium.) What about golfers out on the third hole of the University of Michigan Golf Course? Or out at Radrick Farms GC? How about walkers in the Arboretum.

The laughable thing about the University rules is that they'd be utterly unenforceable. And I'd happily place myself on the front lines of violating them.

So why pass a rule that is silly and unenforceable? Ask the scolds; their reasoning is not that they really hope to prevent second hand smoking exposure. (To prevent that, the sensible thing would be to move away from someone who was smoking, or to ask the smoker to stop if you could not move away.) No, the scolds' goal is this -- to make you change your behavior, irrespsective of any harm to others. They want the government to tell you how to behave.

Every state has some exemptions in their smoking laws, mostly for tobacco shops, some hotel rooms and possibly, private clubs and cigar bars.

Hunter's no-exemptions bill is no better than what Bishop allowed a vote on -- and equally likely to be unpopular in the House.

Why is a smoking ban needed? That’s a pretty easy one: because secondhand smoke kills and causes numerous diseases and complications. That is not in dispute, so this is a public health issue, nothing else. Secondhand smoke kills far more people than swine flu, but you can’t turn on any news program or open any newspaper and not see a report about the Swine flu. As for smoking sections, I have never seen smoke stop drifting simply because someone puts up a sign. It’s like trying to chlorinate half a swimming pool: it’s impossible. There is also no installed ventilation system available that will completely do away with secondhand smoke.

As for the U of M’s proposal, I’m neutral. Clearly, their aim is not secondhand smoke but to cut down on people smoking. Hospitals in Michigan have banned smoking on the grounds for at least the last couple of years with no problems.

Before labeling Sen. Hunter a hero, remember all he is really doing is passing the buck or punting. Granted, it’s a good idea because it’s taking away some of Bishop’s excises, but a better alternative would be for Hunter to use his influence to get Detroit area lawmakers in the House to vote for a total ban, or come up with a compromise the Senate can accept.

Last year, Speaker of the House Andy Dillon allowed a vote on the total ban, and it received a majority of votes; but not enough to pass. It got 50, but any bill needs the majority of those elected and serving to pass, 56 votes. If he could just get six of the 13 Detroit Reps. to cast a yes vote or to actually vote, then we have a ban.

Guru, you wrote, "Why is a smoking ban needed? That’s a pretty easy one: because secondhand smoke kills and causes numerous diseases and complications. That is not in dispute, so this is a public health issue, nothing else."

Guru, that is exactly what antismoking extremists like to do in this argument: state something that is not true as a basis that "cannot be disputed" and then move on from there to their conclusions. The question of whether ordinary levels of exposure to the low levels of secondary smoke that would normally be found in any decent interior setting today "kills and causes numerous diseases" is very much in dispute. See the results of the studies, roughly a hundred of them, on one of the supposedly clearest links, secondary smoke and lung cancer, at:


Note that more than 3/4 of them fail even the most *basic* scientific standard of being merely statistically significant - to say nothing of offering any degree of proof immune to confounding variables or other biasing elements. And then remember that these studies were ALL based on decades of exposure when smoke concentrations were literally hundreds of percent greater than they would ever commonly be today. So I assert and believe good argument can be made that the very basis of what you are saying is false.

You then go on to pull one of the very favorite antismoking propaganda images out of the soup they've been boiling since the mid-1970s: smoking sections and pissing in pools. It's a propaganda image. Why? For two reasons.

1) The water in a pool is changed once a year. The air in any decent bar/restaurant/casino is changed about 50,000 times a year. The difference is like the smoke from a full cigar in closet vs. the smoke from blowing out a single birthday candle in the middle of Madison Square Garden. Only an Antismoker would contend they're the same.


2) You assume a stagnant air pool with even diffusion of pollutants, something that no ventilation engineer would ever accept. Directed ventilation indisputably has a very pronounced effect on exposures.

You go on to say that no ventilation system can "completely do away" with secondary smoke. As a matter of pure physics you're largely correct. No ventilation system can completely remove the poisons you exhale into my air from your normal respiratory metabolic processes either. But am I being poisoned by sharing a room with you? If it were small enough and airtight enough, yes, I would eventually be poisoned by your excretions (even assuming I had some supplemental oxygen). BUT... ventilation reduces your effect on me to the point where any such "threat" is meaningless.

The same holds true for normal exposures to secondary smoke.

For more discussion of this read the "ETS Exposure" section at www.Antibrains.com and feel free to come back and share any substantive criticisms you have of anything you find there.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Sorry, Mr. McFadden, I’m taking scientific studies from the U.S. Surgeon General over your attempt to sell you book.

Guru - Can you explain the rationale for banning smoking at public places where secondhand smoke is not an issue?

I shall refer to several specific locations:
~the "Blue Lot" of Michigan Stadium on football Saturdays;
~the University of Michigan golf course, on football game days, and on ordinary days during golf season;
~the University's Nichols Arboretum, the Matthei Botanical Gardens, or any of the outstate research properties of the SNRE;

It seems pretty clear to me that smoking in those facilities would, with rare exception never pose any risk of "second hand smoke exposure." The only reason to ban smoking in those areas would be to make use of the University's real estate property interest to enforce a particular personal view as to smoking. To discourage smaoking, irrespective of any secondhand smoking considerations.

Moreover, enforcing a smoking ban in those areas (a laughable concept to begin with) by anyone who took seriously the ban would be tremendously costly. How much extra general fund money does the University plan to expend, enforcing smoking bans in the out-of-doors, and on football Saturdays, or at the golf courses?

You say, "[T]his is a public health issue, nothing else." Well, to the extent that it is a "second hand" public heatlh issue, in the places I've mentioned, that isn't the case at all.

Perhaps you meant to say, it's a privacy and health rights issue for non-smokers. But again, not in those areas I mentioned. Should the University carve out exceptions in places that can't effectively be policed, and where second-hand smoke is not an issue?

And if so, what about the wider society? What about licenses for bars that wish to permit smoking; bars that don't care about catering to the non-smoking world, and who are willing to post signs outside, saying "CAUTION: SMOKING PERMITTED INSIDE. PERSONS SENSITIVE TO SECONDHAND SMOKE SHOULD NOT ENTER." Hmmm?

Really, you can only go so far, trumpeting the "dangers of secondhand smoke" argument. At some point, it is guaranteed to become ridiculous, reduced to the bare-knuckles argument of, "We are the government, and we don't want you to smoke."

And doesn't our state legislature have better things to do than to waste time on smoking bans? Isn't there a budget to work on, a department of corrections to manage, school budgets to review, cities in crisis, the state's largest industry (autos) on the brink of collapse? And they are working on.... a smoking ban?

Guru wrote, "Sorry, Mr. McFadden, I’m taking scientific studies from the U.S. Surgeon General over your attempt to sell you book.

Heh... since I pointed Guru toward something free and online that he evidently couldn't read (or at least couldn't find anything to criticize in) I don't think I have to worry about him buying a book. :>

As for the SG Report Guru, I happen to have it (along with over a dozen older ones) right here in hardcopy. No need to go to a URL.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Still pushing your book, I see. Plus, I’m not an anti-smoker. Smoke all you want. I quit more than 13 years ago, so I don’t have to breathe your smoke.

Heh... still can't respond to substance, eh Guru? :> But ad hominems are always a good fall back I guess.

You might want to note that it's a bit weak though: my original post was about 500 words long. My competing interest statement in my signature line was only five words. I'd make for a rather anemic pusher in the real world, doncha think? Of course I could always have posted anonymously... maybe as "Communications GooGoo" or somesuch.


Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Show me some substance, and I will respond, Mr. McFadden. The science is clear, and these are scientists and medical professionals not financed by the tobacco industry. Just because I don’t use my legal name doesn’t mean I am posting anonymously, Mr. McFadden. But then again, I’m not selling any thing. It seems to me that $21.95 + $2.05 US S/H is a lot to pay for propaganda.

Contact Senate Majority Leador Mike Bishop at (517) 373-2417

Well, Guru, no one asked you to buy anything. And the substance is in what I provided you and you obviously have found nothing concrete to criticize or you'd be hopping up and down gleefully and waving it around.

By using the only ad hominem attack available, one aimed at my arguable "competing interest," you've simply helped reinforce the point that the arguments against the bans are legitimate.

Thank you.

You've also completely ducked answering the quite valid points raised by the anonymous poster here at 5:11pm on the 29th - over fifty hours ago.

Heh... and your "Just because I don’t use my legal name doesn’t mean I am posting anonymously" claim ranks right up there with the "This is not a smoking ban" claims made in various places by antismoking extremists over the last few months. It's evidently being disseminated in whatever new version of their "Positive Language" guidebook they're distributing.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Five days and no response.

Not surprising.


Hmm... Guru didn't respond after 1 hour, nor after 5 days. And now it seems that even 500 days or so wasn't long enough.

Still not surprising... but still disappointing.


The comments to this entry are closed.

A Production of

***UPDATE 9/2/09: Read the user agreement, effective immediately.***

The Podcast


April 2011

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30