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The Repace Follies of 2007: from Conjury to Comedy

8th November 2007

You knew anti-smoking was dishonest. There is no limit to its dishonesty. You knew it was dumb too. You may not have known it could be this dumb. This is one for the scrapbook.


FORCES CEO Gian Turci reported in his column appearing Tuesday on new research by bug-eyed James L. Repace, announced in a press release of 15th October from Joy Blankley Meyer, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco. The press release informed that:

1) Within the next few years Pennsylvanian casinos would employ 10,000 people.

2) In each of the next 40 years secondhand smoke would kill 44 non-smokers (not 43 or 45 mind you) among these employees. This multiplies to 1,760 over 40 years but the Repace study, having the attribute of absolute omniscience, refines this to 1,771 non-smokers, precisely to a single man. Joy Blankley Meyer on the other hand is quoted rounding this up to 1,800.

3) Repace twice states this level of risk at 20 times the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s limit.

4) Repace states that the risk of secondhand smoke to casino workers is "comparable" to that of mining disasters to coal miners based on occupational death reports on coal miners from last year.

Mister Turci noted, from his professional perspective as an engineer, the clearly ridiculous pretension of the press release. He suggested that "Jimmy and Joy" could have made a cheap conjuring act on vaudeville stages. For the full text of Mister Turci’s Tuesday article click here.

For those who do not know, Repace was the motivating force behind the comedically classic and judicially vacated 1992 Environmental Protection Agency report on passive smoking, and as Mister Turci points out, is well-known for his crude demeanor and language, and for his claim that sitting in a room with a smoker could only be rendered safe by tornado-force winds. His moll during the Pennsylvanian casino scam, Joy Blankley Meyer, is a highly active propagandist of imploring tone and frantically fearmongering disposition, well-known to legislators in her home state.

One of our readers, Bill Hannegan of Missouri, has apprised us that, following the October 15th press release by just three days, another was released on the very same James Repace research, by the very same representative, Executive Director Joy Blankley Meyer, of the very same agency, the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco.

You are going to have a hard time believing this. Duplicity always looms large in anti-smoking propaganda but pure stupidity on this grand a scale is rare in any arena. If your jaw drops, re-read Mister Turci’s diagnosis of anti-tobacco "mythomania" for better understanding. The original web links appear further along on this page. The two formal press releases are nearly identical in form. Note changes in content. The October 18th document informed that:

1) Within the next few years Pennsylvanian casinos would employ 12,000 people. (On the 15th it was only 10,000.)

2) In each of the next 40 years secondhand smoke would kill 8 non-smokers (not 7 or 9 mind you, nor the precise 44, declaimed three days earlier) among these employees. This multiplies to 320 over 40 years (down from 1,760), this time called 300, backing off from the single-man precision of the original 1,771 non-smokers over 40 years, and the rounding-up in Joy Blankley Meyer's original quote, to 1,800. The rounded 300 is seventeen per cent of the rounded 1,800.

3) The original of the 15th twice states secondhand smoke risk as 20 times the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s limit. Though the number of deaths are reduced to about one-fifth what they were, on the 18th the risk becomes not 20 but 27 times the limit, early in the announcement, then it reverts to 20 times further on, then in the following sentence again rises to 27.

4) On the 15th Repace stated that the risk of secondhand smoke to casino workers was "comparable" to that of mining disasters to coal miners based on occupational death reports on coal miners from 2006. That was based on 44 annual "secondhand smoke deaths." The 8 annual deaths of the 18th is dramatically lower so Repace switches to comparison with statistics from between twelve to five years ago (1995-2002) when there were few mining disasters. By ignoring recent years his 8 "secondhand smoke deaths" are made to "beat" the mining disaster deaths.

Let’s start right there with some reflective commentary. Comparing blitheringly conjectured and cynically conjured "secondhand smoke deaths" with the genuine and genuinely grievous tragedy of mine collapses from any year recent or remote is unconscionable and disgusting. Anti-smoking zealots can be dreadfully foolish and heartless.

For the rest we let this astounding press release fiasco – this nauseatingly contemptible toying with death and popular fear of death – speak for itself. Mister Hannegan has written to Democratic Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent J. Fumo about the Repace and Meyer shenanigans and we reproduce his letter below. Hannegan notes the apparently clandestine and collusive nature of Repace’s "studies," and under the circumstances reasonably questions whether any real "studies" ever took place, or were rather "made up." Who can tell?

Bill Hannegan’s letter to State Senator Fumo:

----------------------------

Senator Fumo,

I am writing to warn you about a recent "study" conducted by Dr. James Repace and the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco. The original press release announcing the results of this study predicted 1771 deaths of nonsmoking casino workers due to environmental tobacco smoke exposure in Pennsylvania casinos over the next 40 years.

Astoundingly, three days later, PACT issued a press release which said the study predicted 300 deaths, nearly a five-fold decrease. Citizens have no access to the original study and have to wonder if such a study exists or are the numbers simply being made up? All citizens have are these competing press releases:

Original press release 1 – (Stored version)

Original press release 2 – (Stored version)

Whatever final number Dr. Repace and PACT finally decide on for a death toll, the press releases indicate that such numbers are based on stealth air quality tests performed at several Pennsylvania casinos. Senator, if these tests did indeed take place, they could only be performed by Dr. Repace using very inadequate equipment and under poor circumstances due to the furtive nature of the tests.

Clearly these tests were conducted without the knowledge, permission or cooperation of casino authorities.

Were casino filtration and ventilation systems even fully operational and employed to peak capacity at the times of the tests? We don't know. Dr. Repace's "tests" cannot be considered any measure of the efficacy of casino filtration and ventilation systems against environmental tobacco smoke. Please reserve all judgement in this matter until Pennsylvania casino air can be tested in a professional manner with full cooperation of casino authorities.

Senator, properly conducted tests would likely exonerate fully ventilated and filtrated Pennsylvania casino air. In an example from another state, when rigorous tests were conducted on the air of the Bellagio casino in 1999 and 2005, the casino air was found to be as clean as the air outdoors or a smoke-free office building. Tests done at the Bellagio Casino found that RSP concentrations in its air ranged between 12 to 58 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3). Outdoor air that clean would receive one of the EPA's two best outdoor air quality ratings: Good or Moderate. Less than half of this RSP was found to be tobacco-related. Belagio Casino air is well within the range of 100 or fewer (ug/m3) of tobacco-related RSP that the 1986 World Health Organization guidelines said would be of "limited or no concern". Such air easily surpasses all of OSHA's workplace air quality standards. Legitimate air quality tests at Pennsylvania casinos might very well yield similar results.

Link 1 || Link 2 || Link 3 || Link 4

Senator, let me further ask you to fully investigate the ability of air filtration and air cleaning machines to purify the air not only of casinos but also mom and pop bars and restaurants. Air filtration companies assure me that they can get the air of any building in which smoking is permitted almost perfectly clean by installing redundant HEPA air cleaning and electronic air filtration machines. Many excellent companies offer commercial air filtration machines that are affordable and effective. These same machines currently protect Pennsylvania welders from much more dangerous smoke and fumes to OSHA air quality standards.

Link I || Link II

As a public health bonus, such air purification machines would not only remove tobacco smoke, but also viruses, bacteria, chemicals, pollen, dust, mold, fungi and, most importantly, radon decay products, which the EPA claims causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, seven times more thansecondhand smoke is reputed to cause.

Link A || Link B

The CDC even advocates the installation of such machines in public buildings as a protection of workers and patrons against airborne chemical, biological and radiological attack.

Senator, there can be little doubt that air filtration and air cleaning machines already render the air of all Pennsylvania entertainment venues far, far safer than OSHA requires and can meet any air quality standard the Pennsylvania Senate chooses to set.

As a further benefit to public health, a filtration solution to the secondhand smoke problem would not displace smokers to poorly ventilated private homes and cars. Research has shown that this displacement actually causes the secondhand smoke exposure levels of children to rise in communities in which a smoking ban has been imposed. Really Senator, what good is a smoking ban if it causes children to breathe more secondhand smoke?

Link C || Link D

Please be wary activists using junk science to strip Pennsylvania citizens of their freedom and property rights. Thank you for considering the evidence that argues strongly against a Pennsylvania smoking ban and in favor of the continued freedoms and property rights of Pennsylvania citizens.

Sincerely,

Bill Hannegan



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