COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In June, 2006, then Surgeon General Carmona released his report titled “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke”. Since that date, his report has drawn criticism from Scientists and Epidemiologists worldwide.
Four separate groups have filed complaints with the Office of Research Integrity, Health and Human Services against Ex-Surgeon General Carmona’s 2006 Report.
Opponents of Ohio Bans filed a complaint against the scientific misconduct (manipulation of research) of the economic assessment/impact of smoking bans. According to Carmona’s report, smokefree policies do not harm business. Two thirds of the studies in Carmona’s report were either authored or co-authored by Stanton Glantz, Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, who is not an economist. He and his university have profited heavily by anti-tobacco funding and grants. Absolutely no studies or reports conducted by economists or trade organizations were cited in Carmona’s report, although many sources were available at the time. For example, the highly regarded Deloitte and Touche reported a study for the National Restaurant Association study (2004), the Ridgeway Economic Associates New York Nightlife Association/Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association Study (05/12/2004), and Terry L. Clower, Ph.D. & Bernard L. Weinstein, Ph.D. completed a study for Dallas Restaurant Association Study (10/01/2004). “This is a glaring and obvious attempt to stack the deck in favor of anti-tobacco versus the real damage done to the hospitality industry. How was it even possible that the highest medical authority in this country got away with this?” asks Pam Parker of Opponents of Ohio Bans.
The Hawaii Smokers Alliance filed a complaint against the public statement “there is no safe level of exposure”. In addition to violating the basic tenets of toxicology, this actually crosses the line of fabricating results because the SG is the highest healthcare authority in the United States of America and his press release to announce the results of his meta-analysis truly is his report to the American public. “We are committed to holding those who have chosen to misinform or misrepresent information to the general public accountable for such reckless and egregious behavior. Such misrepresentations are solely responsible for the destruction and incalculable financial harm to businesses both large and small across the nation,” states Jolyn Tenn of Hawaii Smokers Alliance.
Ban the Ban Wisconsin’s complaint cites the haphazard use of RRs or “relative risks”. Coupled with the fact that the larger studies not included in Carmona’s report would have diminished the already unacceptably low RRs, questionable studies inflated the appearance of RRs. Moreover, the relative risks don’t appear to be discussed with respect to absolute risks. In the ORI’s terms, this is a significant departure from accepted practice in the relevant field. Early in Carmona’s report, a brief subsection stated that, “The quantitative results of the meta-analyses, however, were not determinate in making causal inferences in this Surgeon General’s report.” Clearly, in the absence of hard evidence, the Surgeon General chose to pontificate according to his pre-determined results. Carmona couldn’t have deviated any further from accepted practice in the relevant field without stepping in something.
Citizens Freedom Alliance‘s complaint is centered on “changing and omitting data”. The data for a meta-analysis is the studies collected from the body of research, but the SG’s meta-analysis omits relevant studies such as the Enstrom/Kabat study, belittles other large relevant studies, includes highly questionable studies, and relies heavily on the thoroughly discredited 1992 EPA report (which was not only discredited by a Federal Judge, but by three congressional committees). By omitting relevant long-term, large studies as well as relying heavily on discredited reports, the Surgeon General both changed and omitted data in his meta-analysis of research on secondhand smoke (SHS)/environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), which did indeed ensure that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. He, therefore, committed “research misconduct” as defined by the “falsification” according to the “Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct”. According to Gary Nolan, U.S. Regional Director for Citizens Freedom Alliance, “Americans should be angry about this waste of tax payer dollars. I truly believe this study was released for purely political reasons and is an insult to every honorable scientist in the world. The result of Carmona’s ETS study was to needlessly ruin business, cost jobs and harm the economies of local communities and states across the country. He should be ashamed of his actions.”
Dr. Michael Siegel is a prominent doctor specializing in Preventative Medicine and Public Health. From his commentary on Carmona’s 2006 report, he is quoted as saying, “The Surgeon General is publicly claiming that brief exposure to secondhand smoke increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer. But there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. Certainly, no evidence is presented in the Surgeon General’s report to support this claim. And certainly, the Surgeon General’s report draws no such conclusion.” http://tinyurl.com/5fq7r6
Many researchers and prominent organizations have written about the powerful influences of the anti-tobacco activists. Dr. Carl Phillips, University of Alberta School of Public Health, Edmonton, Canada wrote “Warning: Anti-Tobacco Activism May Be Hazardous to Epidemiological Science”. http://www.epi-perspectives.com/content/pdf/1742-5573-4-13.pdf . Other articles such as “Science and Secondhand Smoke: the Need for a Good Puff of Skepticism” by Sidney Zion (Skeptic, Volume 13, Number 3, 2007), “Where’s the Consensus on Second Hand Smoke?” by Joseph Bast of Heartland Institute, and “Did Carmona Read His Own Report?” by Jacob Scullum with Reason Magazine 06/29/2006http://www.reason.com/blog/show/114497.html are but a small representation of the articles that give a glimpse of how damaging the epidemic of anti-smoking is.
The fact is, the Surgeon General title is one that is held in highest esteem. It is the medical authority in this country. When, for whatever reason, that position is compromised into producing a report that wreaks the damage his report has had on this country, that authority should be held accountable. Carmona’s 2006 report is the sole reason given for several smoking bans, Ohio’s ban for one. These bans have had devastating financial impacts on businesses. The worst offense is the offense against the American People and the Scientific Community. People will no longer be able to trust the word of the person holding the Surgeon General title. The damage to the science of Epidemiology is irreversible. The good news is many ethical doctors and scientists can no longer remain silent about the abuses of Epidemiology and are starting to speak out. “Because they’ve committed a huge fraud on the American public. And because they should be held accountable for that. They should be held accountable to the same rules of corporate and individual behavior as everybody else. It’s very simple.” This is a quote by Stanton Glantz during a PBS interview about Big Tobacco. Shouldn’t the same apply to the Surgeon General?