Given this craziness about houses where people have smoked in the past or even where people have smoked outside in the past (which, depending upon how you define the spatial limits of “outside,” could include every dwelling place in the world) Frank is letting me share a few pages from TobakkoNacht – The Antismoking Endgame where I examined some of the outlandish “Propaganda Research” that was referred to in the “Madness” blog entry and comments. I tried to show why the fault doesn’t lie so much with the press as with a deliberate approach by antismoking researchers and activists to actually mislead the press and public about the research that’s been done.
To that end, complete with references at the end, here are a few pages from one of the Slabs of the 150 pages of Studies On The Slab in TobakkoNacht:
The research, headed by Dr. Virender Rehan of UCLA, a principle investigator at Los Angeles BioMed, was published in the July, 2011 issue of the American Journal of Physiology[i], and it was, as usual for this sort of stuff, headlined all over the world. With “Thirdhand Smoke” abbreviated as THS here, some of the typical headlines were “THS Hurts Infant Lungs”[ii], “Unborn babies at risk from THS”[iii], “THS Dangerous to Unborn Babies’ Lungs”[iv], and “THS Affects Infant’s Lungs”[v]. Quotes from those stories included such notes as:
Prenatal exposure to toxic components of a newly recognized category of tobacco smoke … can have as serious or an even more negative impact on an infant’s lung development as postnatal or childhood exposure to smoke … long after smokers have finished their cigarettes … [THS is] a stealth toxin because it lingers on the surfaces in the homes, hotel rooms, casinos and cars used by smokers… babies [are] especially vulnerable to the effects of thirdhand smoke … The dangers of thirdhand smoke span the globe … more damaging than secondhand smoke or firsthand smoke … pregnant women should avoid homes and other places where thirdhand smoke is likely to be found to protect their unborn children against the potential damage these toxins can cause to the developing infants’ lungs.
A scary picture. An invisible stealth toxin. More “negative impact” than secondhand smoke. More damaging than firsthand smoke. Babies especially vulnerable. A danger that spans the globe! Several stories emphasized the concept that even touching a surface in a home where smokers might have smoked a long time ago could lead to a lifetime of respiratory pain and suffering for innocent children not even born yet.
None of the stories went into any detail at all about the actual research other than occasionally mentioning a few of the scary chemical names of the “stealth toxins” left behind by smokers. In order to find out more, I had to request a copy of the study itself from the researchers. Given all that I’ve seen, I should not have been surprised by what I found. Nonetheless, I was.
The study didn’t examine mothers touching surfaces in homes where someone smoked in the past. It didn’t examine mothers being hugged by smokers. It didn’t even examine mothers being touched by someone who might have once walked through a room where George Washington might have smoked a pipe before sleeping and leaving one of his ubiquitous signs.
The study once again simply examined rats. More specifically, it examined baby rats. More specifically than that, it examined tiny unborn baby rats who were bloodily ripped out of their mommy rats’ guts and then torn wide open so that their innocent little unborn rat lungs could be yanked out, thrown on a slab, chopped brutally into teenie-weenie one millimeter cubes, and then soaked with concentrated solutions of chemicals that can just barely be detected at nanogram levels in nitrous-acid filled rooms where people have smoked heavily. Some isolated cells in those little bits of tortured fetal rats’ lungs were then found to have undergone changes that could be related in some vaguely arguable way to abnormalities in human lungs that might sometimes correlate with conditions that were nebulously correlated in some way to asthma.
None of that information was given in the news stories. Almost none of it was provided in the study abstract. The little that was provided in the abstract would have been quickly overlooked by most reporters after they were hit with the following opening line:“The underlying mechanisms and effector molecules involved in mediating in utero smoke exposure-induced effects on the developing lung…”
If any reporters did manage to stay awake after that, rather than simply heading straight to the press release with all its juicy quotes (and no hint of rodents), they might have noticed the one mention of the word “rat” in the following excerpt: “Fetal rat lung explants were exposed to nicotine, 1-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridinyl)-4-butanal (NNA), or 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK).”
Even that explicit mention would have been blasted out of almost anyone’s consciousness once they hit the phrase“breakdown of alveolar epithelialmesenchymal cross-talk, reflecting lipofibroblast-to-myofibroblast transdifferentiation.”
No one, anywhere in the world, reading any news stories that I was able to find in English, would have had the slightest clue that this study had done anything other than observe the horrible effects of thirdhand smoke exposure on human children who had suffered from their mothers’ unwise visits to those George Washington tourist traps.
In case there is any doubt about how this research was misrepresented to the public, let me present a quote from ModernPregnancyTips.com,[vi] a source that you would certainly expect to be concerned about presenting such information accurately. It’s also a source that you would expect to be responsible about correcting unreasonable fears that might plague mothers-to-be. In the story on their website, though, not only did they quote the concerns of the original THS creator, Jonathan Winickoff, in warning about the danger of even “touching [the] toxic substances [on] contaminated surfaces,” but they then compounded the fear by explaining the study’s findings as follows:
The researchers on the study looked at the way that these tobacco toxins affected the normal lung development in infants. They found that exposure during the prenatal period caused significant disruption in the normal lung tissue growth, which can lead to serious respiratory ailments later in life…
Note the use of the word “infants.” Do you see anything there that even hints that they simply chopped up fetal rat lungs and poured chemicals on them? To make the irresponsibility stand out even more strongly, my attempts at adding corrective material for their readers – material that may have actually saved some pregnancies by relieving the emotional stress on expectant moms who read the article – were simply censored into oblivion by Modern Pregnancy Tips. Did that censorship result in the death of any unborn children from the unjustified stress it surely caused some pregnant women? No one will ever know.
The final nail in the coffin that showed how the researchers wanted their research to be perceived can be seen in an article in Science Daily, where they state “[Dr. Rehan] said this is the first study to show (that) the exposure to the constituents of thirdhand smoke is as damaging and, in some cases, more damaging than secondhand smoke or firsthand smoke.”[vii]
So thirdhand smoke is now claimed to be more damaging (at least “in some cases”) than firsthand smoke??? By the time we get to fifthhand smoke, thermonuclear weapons will have been rendered obsolete! As a statement to the media by a professional, and supposedly responsible, scientific researcher, such wording is simply unforgivable. “The constituents of” may be an important qualifier to scientists, but as a media statement to the general public, the message was clear: a deadly threat from invisible traces left behind by smokers can be more dangerous than actually smoking.
When you look at the reality of the findings of the study compared to the ultimate social effects that this sort of misleading presentation will have on untold thousands, or even millions, of families, it is hard to avoid the feeling that the researchers engaged in outright criminal conduct roughly equivalent to screaming FIRE! in the middle of a crowded movie theater after seeing Humphrey Bogart take a puff in Casablanca.
 No, I did not make any of that up.
 If you happen to be near your computer you might want to compare http://tinyurl.com/iCytePage to http://tinyurl.com/CensoredPage – you’ll see where the corrective posting was removed by the webmeister. The “iCyte” page copy is a dated capture of the original, saved at the iCyte website, as will be explained in more detail later.
[i] Rehan V. “Thirdhand smoke: a new dimension to the effects of cigarette smoke on the developing lung,” American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, July 2011, Volume 301, Issue 1, pp. L1-L8. dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajplung.00393.2010
[ii] UPI. “Thirdhand Smoke Hurts Infant Lungs,” UPI.com, April 19, 2011. http://upi.com/Health_News/2011/04/19/Thirdhand-smoke-hurts-infant-lungs/UPI-49871303262530
[iii] Mandel H. “Unborn babies at risk from third-hand smoke,” Examiner.com, April 20, 2011. http://www.examiner.com/article/unborn-babies-at-risk-from-third-hand-smoke
[v] India Times. “Thirdhand Smoke Affects Infant’s Lungs,” Indiatimes.com, May 12, 2011. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-05-12/health/29450221_1_smoke-lung-childhood-exposure
[vi] ModernPregnancyTips. “Thirdhand Smoke Can Damage Unborn Babys Lungs,” modernpregnancytips.com.
[vii] ScienceDaily. “‘Thirdhand Smoke’ Poses Danger to Unborn Babies’ Lungs, Study Finds,” ScienceDaily.com, April 19th, 2011. http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110419101231.htm
As you can see, this sort of insanity isn’t all that new at all: the Antismokers have been laying the groundwork for this attack for years, and they’ll just keep on coming unless and until we manage to expose them for the liars that they are.