Thursday, August 6, 2009

Time for a Different Health Care Debate

By: J. Glynn Loope, CRA Executive Director

A recent commentary from Dr. Ranit Mishori in Parade Magazine launched a flurry of email from cigar enthusiast brethren who took issue with Dr. Mishori targeting the health effects of enjoying cigars, specifically. He stated that Hollywood was glorifying cigars in the movies, and hence encouraging adolescent adults to take up cigars. Dr. Mishori goes on to state that enjoying cigars has been linked to every health hazard imaginable, and how cigars are actually worse than other forms of tobacco. Well, here we go again.

As expected, Dr. Mishori provides little detail for his claims, and as we all know, all too often cigars are coupled with every other tobacco product in the public policy arena, when it comes to issues of smoking bans, and often taxation.

Now is the time for the debate to shift with regard to public health, and the enjoyment of a cigar. Frankly, all of us need to do a better job of pointing out the contradictions in the field of statistical analysis, and this is our launch at Cigar Rights of America. We are going to run a series of stories and commentary on where you can find the ‘other side of the story,’ for those moments when each of us are engaged in a debate on public health, and the use of a perfectly legal product.

A recent study published in the British Medial Journal, conducted by Dr. James Enstrom and Dr. Geoffrey Kabat of the State University of New York at Stony Brook evaluated the results of an American Cancer Society study that actually began in 1960, and spanned to 1998. Over 118,000 California resident adults were in the study, with an emphasis on evaluating 35,561 individuals that had a spouse in the study with known smoking habits. There were follow-up periods for those in the study during 1960-65, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-1998.

The analysis by Drs. Enstrom and Kabat had some interesting [to say the least] results. They point to the statistical claims by the American Heart Association, California Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Surgeon General that ‘environmental tobacco smoke’ increases risk to coronary heart disease by 30%. The Enstrom/Kabat study notes, “It is unclear how the reported increased risk of coronary heart disease due to environmental tobacco smoke could be so close to the increased risk due to active smoking (also 30%), since the environmental tobacco smoke is much more dilute than actively inhaled smoke.”

Hmmmmm….interesting with the second, and now ‘third hand’ smoke debate, isn’t it? They further note the flaws in the methodology of these previous reports because the data was not “collected in a standardized way.”

The Enstrom/Kabat report focused on the 35,561 individuals that had never smoked, but who had a spouse that smoked. Their conclusions were that “exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was not significantly associated with the death rate for coronary heart disease, lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in men or women.”

In their conclusion, Drs. Enstrom and Kabat further note that the findings of their report “suggest that the effects of environmental tobacco smoke, particularly for coronary heart disease, are considerably smaller than generally believed.”

The full text of this study will be placed on the CRA web site. This is the beginning of a small series of pieces that we will be doing on how those that want to take away your ability to enjoy a great cigar are twisting facts, issuing false claims, and using biased analysis to take away some of the fundamental freedoms that we enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Good article, but Dr. Ranit Mishori is a woman.

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