The Facts About
Second Hand Smoke
This site contains detailed examinations of the 1993 EPA study on secondhand smoke, the first World Health Organization study on SHS, and the Helena study that claimed smoking bans result in an immediate drop in heart attacks. It also contains, in blog format, excerpts from hundreds of articles about the financial damage caused by smoking bans.
The American anti-smoking crusade has been very successful. There are
now more ex-smokers in America as there are smokers. But even after
thirty years of constant urging to kick the habit, about a quarter of
the population still chooses to smoke.
America was built on a live and
let live attitude. Before the current crop of busybodies, do-gooders
and nannies gained political power, we let people do what they
like - even if they were hurting themselves - as long as didn't hurt
anyone else. We'd only step in if an unwilling bystander was being
harmed. That left the door open for the Second Hand Smoke (SHS) attack
If SHS really is as dangerous as the government, political organizations
and charities claim, efforts to prevent it and contain it might be
justified. But is it dangerous? We're bombarded by endless proclamations
of its horrors, claims that get more fantastic with
each passing year. These claims are usually accompanied by impressive
sounding numbers. Are smokers really hurting every stranger in the
vicinity? The answer to that question is obvious once you know the
We're not going to rely on hype or hysteria. We won't tell you we have
The Truth. We'll just present the hard cold facts and let you figure
out The Truth for yourself. Every effort has been made to verify everything
on this site, to make sure it as accurate and factual as possible.
This site will not only make you an expert on the subject of SHS,
but also leave you well equipped to deal with anyone using numbers
to support health claims.
The Statistics 101 page will give you a good
overall understanding of the science used to generate the numbers
we hear so often. Statistics 102 explains
common errors in epidemiological studies, and how to spot them. These
sections may be a little difficult, but you'll find it's worth the
effort to understand them. Once you do, you'll be able to understand
the numbers and studies from all sources and on all subjects,
not just SHS.
We'll take a detailed look at three SHS studies. The first, the EPA
1993 report, is the basis for most of the SHS legislation and
restrictions in the US. Once you see exactly what they did, and
how they did it, you may never trust the EPA again. The second study,
carefully conducted by the World Health Organization, had some
very surprising results. We've recently added two pages on the
Helena study, including a look at the
authors own chart. It provides a
good example of the dishonesty and outright fraud practiced by the
We make no attempt to cover every study of SHS, but to give you examples
of a good study, two bad ones, and the politics that surrounded them.
Combine that with the knowledge of how statistics work, and you'll
be able to spot bogus studies with ease.
We also have excerpts from and links to hundreds of news articles about how smoking bans effect businesses. Nannies claim bans are good for business. These stories prove they're lying. You'll read about hundreds of bars, taverns, bingo
halls, pool halls, private clubs and restaurants that are suffering,
many to the point of closing, because of smoking bans.
Fact: This is a fact. Anything
headed off by the word "Fact: " is a solid, proven,
verifiable fact, presented as accurately as possible.
Comments on these facts appear above or below the indented text.
They may contain opinions, interpretations, or explanations of the
facts. If you're in a hurry, or uninterested in our comments, you
can skip them entirely and just read the facts.
Some of the phrases and abbreviations we use may be unfamiliar, especially
to people outside the United States, so here's a brief explanation
SHS, ETS - Common abbreviations for Second Hand Smoke and Environmental
Tobacco Smoke. Both terms mean the same thing and are interchangeable.
The term ETS is preferred in most scientific journals and studies, while
SHS is more common everywhere else.
EPA - The Environmental Protection Agency, a US government agency.
CDC - The Center for Disease Control, a US government agency.
WHO - The World Health Organization, an agency of the United
IARC - The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part
of the World Health Organization.
CRS - The Congressional Research Service. The CRS is a research
service provided to members of congress.
Epidemiology - A crude science used, and often misused, to
gather information on health trends.
Statistics - The
collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. You'll
need to know the basics of this science before you can determine the
validity of most medical studies. Fortunately, we've provided a couple
of lessons that will let you debunk (or confirm) studies like an expert.
Quick Hitts Blog.
Listen to the
Quick Hitts Podcast.
Note: The terms "Statistics" and Epidemiology" are often used interchangeably,
including in a few places on this site. This is technically incorrect,
as they are two different things, but such usage is common.
Nannies - Busybody activists. On this site it will usually
refer to anti-tobacco activists, but it describes anyone who thinks
they should be able to tell other adults how to live. It includes
the militantly anti-booze and anti-meat and anti-fat and anti-SUVs
This site is designed as a starting point for your research, not an ending point. If
you spend some time here you'll understand statistics well enough
to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. If
you use the opportunity, not just on smoking issues but on any statistical
claims, you'll be absolutely amazed at how much bogus information
is being fed to the public.
Although I retain copyright to these pages, anyone may use the text
here, in whole or in part, however they like, with just one restriction:
It can't be sold.
Anyone who stands up to the nicotine nanny's propaganda is automatically
branded, by them, as a front for big tobacco. It is one of their favorite
and most common lies. This site has never had any affiliation with
big tobacco, whom I despise. I've never received any money from any
tobacco company for anything. However, many years ago, I sent in a
bunch of Marlboro UPCs and they sent me a T-shirt. It had a picture
of a cowboy on it.
A Note About Inappropriate Ads
The advertisements on these pages help pay for this site. Most are
generated automatically, and we have little control over which ads appear. As a result you'll
occasionally see ads that are woefully inappropriate to our content. I try to block out the worst offenders, but keeping the site completely free of them would be a full time job. When you do see an anti-tobacco ad, or an
ad for an anti-smoker hate group, just ignore it.