03/12/08 Dr Siegel Makes Offer to Anti-Smokers

Dr Michael Siegel has made an offer of $200 to the first anti-smoking organisation who reports on the two year data on Scottish heart attacks.  The official data, released by the government, showed that heart attacks in Scotland have risen since last year, for the first time in ten years.

Dr Siegel has stated the rules on his website (http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/):

1. To be eligible, an anti-smoking organization must have previously issued a public communication (including a web site posting), press release, or media statement in which it publicized the results of the Scottish smoking ban study (either the original press release before the study was published or the results of the published paper in the New England Journal of Medicine) and communicated to the public the conclusion that the smoking ban in Scotland led to an immediate, dramatic (17%) decrease in heart attacks (or acute coronary syndrome) in Scotland.

2. The organization must issue a public correction of the conclusion of the study, either through a press release, web site posting, or other major public communication, based on the complete two-year follow-up data, which demonstrate no significant effect of the smoking ban on admissions for acute coronary syndrome in Scotland.

Dr Siegel makes the admission that he cannot afford to give the money away, but has proposed the challenge because he is so convinced that no organisation will take the offer up. He states:

“…I have learned, these anti-smoking groups aren’t truly interested in getting out the facts. They are interested in putting out information which is favorable to their cause. The goal is not scientific accuracy or integrity. It is putting out information to support the agenda. If that information turns out to be premature or wrong, so what? It’s all for a good cause anyway, so there’s no real harm in a little bit of premature or false information. After all, the movement is saving lives.”

“Now some might argue that there is nothing wrong with anti-smoking groups being biased and even inaccurate in their reporting of the science because this is what partisan advocacy groups do. I disagree, however, because I view anti-smoking groups as part of the public health movement and because they have put themselves forward as being a credible source of scientific information. In other words, these groups have taken on a responsibility to the public by virtue of their putting themselves in the position of advocating for policies to improve the public’s health.”

The offer is extended to no less than 18 anti-smoking groups, including ANR, Campaign for Smoke-Free Kids, and ASH UK.

We will have to wait and see to find out if any group does take the money and report on the truth, although I am in agreement with Dr Siegel that they will probably do no such thing – instead rejecting the offer to continue with their own agenda. After all, they are earning more than enough money doing what they are currently doing.

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