According to a meta-analysis of scientific studies conducted over the last two decades, there is considerable evidence to suggest that all of the hype about the dangers of second-hand smoke was just that – hype. At Slate, Jacob Grier did a phenomenal job giving an overview of what modern science tells us about secondhand smoke and what it doesn’t. In it, he says that an objective look at the science indicates that passive smoking is “more an annoyance than a mortal threat.”
According to a wealth of scientific evidence, there is very little correlation between declining heart attack rates and smoke-free public zones like restaurants and parks. This is in direct contradiction to what the American people have been told for years, and serves to reject some of the earliest studies.
“Newer, better studies with much larger sample sizes have found little to no correlation between smoking bans and short-term incidence of heart attacks,” Grier wrote. “The updated science debunks the alarmist fantasies that were used to sell smoking bans to the public, allowing for a more sober analysis suggesting that current restrictions on smoking are extreme from a risk-reduction standpoint.”
Grier said that it might be time to take a second look at smoking bans to see if they are compatible with the latest science.
“It may be neither feasible nor desirable to set back the clock and permit smoking everywhere, but laws in a liberal society can accommodate the rights and preferences of smokers and business owners far better than they do now,” Grier wrote. “After years of closing doors on smokers, it is time to open a few back up.”
But this is a good time for everyone to remind themselves that even the greatest scientific certainties of today can be the junk science of tomorrow. And it might be worth remembering that the next time the environmental lobby starts telling us about the disasters that await the coastal U.S. if we don’t start doing something about climate change. It’s one thing to inconvenience smokers in the name of inconclusive science; it’s another to dismantle our entire energy sector.