Return to Previous Page

Letter to City Council regarding Smoking Ordinance

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss ......:

Thank you for the time and attention you have spent on secondhand smoke (ETS). In drafting a new ordinance please remember that you are setting a precedence that could draw government entities into more and more restrictive policies where personal and private property rights are concerned.

For example, Betty Bridges, director of the Fragrance Products Information Network, says that some 72 percent of asthmatics react adversely to perfumes and at least 35 million Americans are afflicted with allergies. Will you next be called upon to pass an ordinance prohibiting people from wearing perfume in public and at work that requires businesses selling perfume and perfumed products (the list of those is almost endless) put in separate walls and a separate ventilation system?

Anti-smoking/anti-secondhand smoking groups have a reservoir of money to call upon for their campaigns. The same funds don't currently exist for those opposed to perfume products. Money talks. As I pointed out during the public meeting, trace the money.

Others have. The Columbia Daily Tribune on April 17, 2005, in a column with the headline: When judging anti-smoking efforts, follow the money, says, in part:

"The Boone County Coalition on Tobacco Concerns would like you to think their movement is of the grass-roots variety. When the group convinces the Columbia Board of Health to present a new anti-smoking ordinance to the city council in coming weeks, it would like you to believe they're no different than any other residents' group trying to convince the government that its cause is just. ...

"The Boone County Coalition on Tobacco Concerns is the government. It is funded by government. It was created by government. It exists because of government.

"So when the council is asked to ban a legal product from private property in Columbia understand this: The same council that is voting is already a partner with the side asking for a vote. It's the kind of contradiction that on any other issue would raise enough red flags to have ethics complaints flying back and forth for months."

The article, by columnist Tony Messenger, goes on to say:

"Glenn Nielson started to realize how insidious the government relationship with the coalition was when he started following the proposal to ban smoking in Columbia more closely. Nielson is part of a new group of citizens opposed to the ban that call themselves the Boone Liberty Coalition. ...

"What he found bothered him. Many of the cities passing anti-smoking ordinances, for instance, are university towns. Key members of the coalitions pushing for the new laws are university employees who have access to grants to fund anti-smoking efforts. Such is the case in Boone County, where the MU Wellness Center is a coalition partner. In fact, the coalition adopted the university's ‘Breathe-Easy' logo when it formed.

"‘I'm seeing a pattern. The cities passing these ordinances have large universities. The universities are getting the grants to do this,' Nielson says. ‘It's crossed over the line when you're using all these public resources to influence public policy.'

" In Columbia the line has been crossed so far it's hard to determine where it started. ... The state of Missouri encourages such local coalitions with grants that come from an organization that was formed because of a legal settlement with tobacco companies as a result of lawsuits by the states that now depend on the grants.

"If this were happening for any issue other than smoking, we wouldn't stand for it. Would we?" (End of Tony Messenger's column.)

My efforts to trace the money led to the pharmaceutical industry and various national non-profits. It is interesting to note that a number of the same non-profits are listed as links on Smoke-Free Midland's Web site. For instance, The American Cancer Society: An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine stated: "And why should the American Cancer Society endorse only SmithKline Beecham's antismoking products?" Jerome P. Kassirer & Marcia Angell (9/4/97, p. 700) See also, Los Angeles Time (8/13/97). The ACS, however, denies that its actions are endorsements. Rather, it characterizes such transactions as a license for the "nonexclusive use of its logo on Florida orange juice and SmithKline Beecham's antismoking products" in "exchange for monetary grants and other considerations used for the fight against cancer." (e-mail to CSPI from William J. Dalton, Chief Counsel, ACS, 5/30/01)

What is missing from the links listed on (the local anti-smoking site) is one for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Instead, Smoke-Free Midland lists a link for the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. Are the Canadians now telling us what to do in Texas? Is OSHA excluded because after 12 years of research on secondhand smoke (ETS) the agency refused to rule according to the anti-smokers demands? (I enclosed a copy of the court action regarding OSHA in your last letter.)

(The local antin-smoking site) also includes the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency ), whose flawed report was taken to task by the courts until it was ruled no court had jurisdiction and by the Congressional Research Service's report to Congress: Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Lung Cancer Risk.

The report says, in its final comments: "It is clear that misclassification and recall bias plague ETS epidemiology studies. It is also clear from the simulations that modest, possible misclassification and recall bias rates can change the measured relative risk results, possibly in dramatic ways. Aside from smoking misclassification, however, attempts to correct for them have not taken place. ..." (I have the entire report if you would like to read it.)

SmokeFree Midland's site has several links to the World Health Organization and its cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), but NOT to the WHO-IARC 1998 study that I cited: "Our results indicate NO association between childhood exposure to ETS and lung cancer risk. No clear dose-response relationship could be demonstrated for cummulative spousal ETS exposure. Vehicles and public indoor settings did NOT represent an important source of ETS exposure." (The study was included in the evidence notebook that came with my original report.)

As I said in my talk during the public meeting, the close association between the pharmaceutical industry, non-profits, medical institutions and physicians is clearly outlined in The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to do About It, by Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

A similar story is told in an article by Wanda Hamilton on the 11th World Conference on Tobacco and Health in Chicago in early August 2000. She begins with several quotes, including the following:

"The support provided by Pharmacia and other committed [pharmaceutical] companies is invaluable in helping us achieve our goals. Their combined resources enable us to strengthen and expand our global leadership to increase the number of organizations and individuals engaged in the fight against tobacco. Collectively, we can promote the societal, political, and economic changes necessary to reduce tobacco exposure and use worldwide," said Thomas Houston, M.D., Director, Science and Public Health Advocacy, American Medical Association; Co-director of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's SmokeLess States Program; Co-chair, Executive Committee, World Conference on Tobacco OR Health, Aug 6 - 10, 2000. Quoted in Pharmacia press release, Aug. 7, 2000.

Wanda Hamilton says, in part:

"The American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation co-hosted the 11th World Conference on Tobacco and Health, which was billed as ‘the world's largest gathering of tobacco-control experts.' Co-sponsors were the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Cancer Institute. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Foundation served as "honorary hosts." ....

"Chipping in for a good portion of the funding for the conference as ‘primary patrons' were four major pharmaceutical multinationals: Glaxo Wellcome, Novartis, Pharmacia and SmithKline Beecham, all of whom make and/or market ‘nicotine replacement' or other smoking cessation products. Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Products, marketers of Nicotrol, was well represented by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which receives almost all its roughly $8 billion from shares of J&J stock.

"So strong was the presence of the pharmaceuticals that the conference appears to have been more a drug trade show than a legitimate global public health meeting.

"In addition to putting out numerous self-promoting press releases, the pharmaceutical companies also sponsored symposia, paper presentations, scholarships, a poster session, presentation of a Public Service Announcement ad campaign, sessions on research, and trade booths. They also sponsored a session on a "cessation treatment" database, funded by the drug companies for the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. The WHO, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Bank, and the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group provided ‘expert technical support' for the treatment database. ...

"All in all, the 11th World Conference on Tobacco and Health was a highly successful marketing opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry. It strengthened their already close relationship with the global anti-tobacco organizations, the medical establishment, the WHO, and agencies of the U.S. federal government. It also ensured that the global public health community would enthusiastically continue promoting the companies' cessation drugs. Even more than that, it assured the drug companies that their campaign to wrest control of nicotine from the tobacco companies was right on track.

"In The Beginning
"The 11th World Conference was the culmination of years of planning and work on the part of the pharmaceutical companies. When Pharmacia's scientists began trying to develop "alternative" nicotine products back in 1962--two years before the first Surgeon General's report on the health effects of smoking--the company was no doubt aware of the growing body of research linking lung cancer to smoking. Presumably Pharmacia thought it could capitalize on what it believed would be a growing market for smoking cessation products. However, if that was Pharmacia's intent, it means they were already aware that nicotine was the substance in tobacco that was "habituating."

" Pharmacia was indeed the first pharmaceutical company to manufacture a product for nicotine replacement therapy [NRT]. It developed nicotine gum in 1971, and in 1978 SmithKline Beecham began marketing the gum as ‘"Nicorette' in Switzerland.

" In the early 1980s Duke University researcher Jed Rose invented and patented the transdermal nicotine patch which became the basis for SmithKline's Nicoderm and for Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Consumer Products' Nicotrol. The FDA first approved these products for marketing as prescription smoking cessation drugs in the U.S. in 1991. Both patches, as well as Nicorette gum, are actually manufactured by Pharmacia. ...

"Therapeutic Nicotine
"Meanwhile, researchers were discovering that nicotine had possible therapeutic applications for the treatment of certain diseases. They already knew that nicotine improved concentration and motor control, that it increased the pain threshold in some individuals, that it helped ward off hunger. For all these reasons, cigarettes were readily and copiously supplied to soldiers during World Wars I and II. But research was also indicating that nicotine could be used in the treatment of such debilitating conditions as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

" Since then, many more therapeutic uses of nicotine and tobacco have been discovered, but the problem for the pharmaceutical companies was that nicotine itself cannot be patented because it occurs naturally in tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes and other plants. What can be patented are "nicotinic' compounds and nicotine delivery devices. Thus the pharmaceutical companies became increasingly interested in developing new nicotine compounds and new nicotine delivery devices that they could then patent, not only for smoking cessation but eventually for additional therapeutic uses.

"Co-opting Public Health
"Given that by the 1980s the public health establishment was already ramping up for a full assault on smoking as a public health issue, the pharmaceutical companies saw a golden opportunity for advancing their own nicotine products as smoking cessation aides. What could be better than having such revered entities as the Surgeon General, the AMA, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute, other U.S. government agencies (and, later, the WHO) actually help market smoking cessation drugs as part of their smoking eradication programs?

" And so, by the early 1990s the pharmaceutical companies began building partnerships with the public health establishment. In 1991 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest single shareholder in Johnson & Johnson, initiated its anti-tobacco grant program, funding anti-tobacco programs and nicotine addiction research. By 1995 a RWJF representative sat on the U.S. Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health, helping coordinate the national tobacco control program. By 1996 the CDC listed the RWJF as a ‘partner' in tobacco control. Also in 1996, the RWJF funded the establishment of the Tobacco-Free Kids Coalition along with its ‘partners,' the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association. In 1999 the RWJF, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse announced a jointly funded and jointly created "Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers" to be established at seven academic institutions.

" In January 1999 Gro Harlem Brundtland announced that Glaxo Wellcome, Novartis, and Pharmacia had become ‘partners' with the WHO in its anti-tobacco work.

" The global public health establishment now dances to the tunes the pharmaceuticals play:
"1. Increase tobacco taxes to make the price of the pharmaceutical products more competitive with tobacco products.
"2. Demonize the tobacco industry and prohibit the advertising of their products.
"3. Enact smoking bans to force smokers either to attempt to give up smoking using the pharmaceuticals' products or to use "nicotine replacement" products as substitutes for when they cannot smoke.
"4. Promote smoking cessation and "treatment" for nicotine addiction.
"5. Promote full coverage for treatment of nicotine addiction by public and private health insurers."
(End of material from Wanda Hamilton's article.)

Since beginning my research on secondhand smoke, I have read numerous claims by smoking ban advocates that they could not substantiate. The following is offered as an example. In response to Mayor Bloomberg's claim that 1,000 lives would be spared with the New York City's smoking ban, Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H., questioned the mayor's statement in a Dec. 12, 2002, article on the American Council on Science and Health Web site, saying, "If, as we suspect, he is referring to deaths caused by exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars, the estimate of 1,000 deaths prevented is patently absurd. Our best estimate of the number of deaths prevented is somewhere between ZERO and a hypothetical 10 to 15. There is NO evidence that any New Yorker – patron or employee – has ever died as a result of exposure to smoke in a bar or restaurant."

When I sent my first report to you, I included an evidence notebook that contained all the references cited. The notebook has between 300 and 400 pages. The mayor returned the evidence notebook to me at the public hearing. If you did not have the opportunity to check my sources and read the actual studies and court actions, I will bring the evidence notebook to you. I may be reached at ................

You are taking action on a situation which could have far reaching consequences. As Thomas Jefferson said, "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

If I can be of service in providing you with information, please let me know. I am deeply concerned, as all Americans should be, about the future we are creating for our children and grandchildren.

I leave you with these words by John Dewey: "Any doctrine that weakens personal responsibility for judgment and for action helps create the attitudes that welcome and support the totalitarian state."


.................,copyright 2005, S.M.P.,