Public Health

Smokers' Kids May As Well Smoke, Because They're Doomed Anyway


Michael Siegel highlights two whoppers about secondhand smoke from New York legislators. Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette (D-Queens), who wants to ban smoking in cars carrying children, says:

I think smoking in a car with a child has a more lasting effect than giving a child a slap in the face. They're both horrible things, but one is going to kill the child…I know that's a hard comparison, but that's the reality of it.

Contrary to Lafayette's claim that every child who rides in a car with a smoker will die as a result, what the epidemiological evidence actually indicates is that small children whose parents smoke have a somewhat higher risk of earaches and lower respiratory infections. So maybe smoking around a kid is not quite as bad as beating him.

Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D-Ossining), who wants to ban smoking on playgrounds, has a similarly keen grasp of the evidence. "The scientific reports say that secondhand smoke has as much of a negative effect on your health as smoking directly," she claims. Got that, kids? If your parents smoke, you might as well start smoking yourself; the effects won't be any worse.

Lafayette and Galef may be idiots, but they're taking their cues from people who know better, or ought to. "There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke," says New York Health Commissioner Richard Daines, echoing former Surgeon General Richard Carmona's scientifically groundless assertion. As Siegel tirelessly documents on his blog, anti-smoking activists go further, warning that brief exposure to secondhand smoke could make your arteries indistinguishable from those of a pack-a-day smoker. 

NEXT: Hugo Comes Alive

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  1. You just know Rob Reiner is behind this.

  2. Wait a minute. It’s okay to lie as long as you’re trying to do something good, right? So back off.

    By the way, scientists have conclusively shown that anyone who doesn’t send me $50 in the mail will get brain cancer. Just sayin’.

  3. I think smoking in a car with a child has a more lasting effect than giving a child a slap in the face. They’re both horrible things, but one is going to kill the child

    No slap I ever gave my child killed him! To this day he says that he does not remember my ever striking him. I always reply that he will not remember the next time either 🙂

    Oh, if he is talking about second hand smoke, it sure did not hurt his run times when he was captain of his HS Cross Country team.

  4. Well, Mrs TWC grew up in a home that should have been a pre-smoking ban bar of the worst order. The walls were dripping nicotine and permanently stained the color of a baby’s diapers on a bad day. No windows were ever open and all of her teachers constantly accused her of smoking because even her clean clothes reeked of cigarettes.

    Bottom line, anecdotally speaking, she’s alive and well with no ill effects. In fact her vitals are better than yours.

    Hey, come to think of it, half us baby boomers were raised by cigarette smoking mama’s and daddies.

  5. Warren, I hate Rob Reiner worse than Hillary. Or Babs Boxer.

    I’m happy my old lady whupped his fat ass last year. Story for another day.

  6. No, TWC, you can’t just say something like that and leave. I think that’s a story for now.

  7. I’m a baby boomer who grew up with smoking parents. I’m 61 years old, have never smoked and have no lung or heart problems. I suppose that when I die it will be blamed on second hand smoke,

  8. “The scientific reports say that secondhand smoke has as much of a negative effect on your health as smoking directly

    That’s why I smoke. I’m screwed anyway, so I might as well get the pleasures of the vice. 😉

  9. I agree with Number 6.

  10. Is Kerry Howley endangering me? She’s smoking.

  11. Works every time. Get you guys to bitch about smoking and transfats, and you’ll never even know what hit you.

  12. I’m pretty sure that the death rate for people who grew up surrounded by second hand smoke, and those who grew up in a bubble of pure mountain air is the same.



  13. That death rate doubles if the smoker is exposed to radon.

  14. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke

    This is technically true, just like there are no risk free fruits. The degree of risk matters. I trust parents to balance risk and freedom much more than I trust health officials.

  15. shirkin merkin wins the thread.

  16. If G_d did not want me to smoke he would not have made me part Cherokee.

    Who are these racists anyway?

  17. Number 6,

    I believe TWC is referring to the ‘Universal Preschool Ballot Initiative’, pushed (even authored?) by Rob Rein.. er, Meathead. Mrs. TWC was one of his biggest opponents.
    I heard her on a number of radio shows at the time, and she made an awesome case against his, every time. Big ups to Mrs. TWC!

  18. Kris, thanks for the kind words and the explanation. It isn’t that cool to trade on the accomplishments of your better half. But I find Meathead so despicable that it hopped right out and then, BAM, like Emeril throwing pepper at a frying pan, it was done.

    I don’t mind name dropping from the old days, and I do that on occasion. Hear That US Rep from Fullerton CA Ed Royce?

    It’s fine to brag on the Old Lady at my own blog or send around emails to my extensive email list [pauses to flex his rather sizeable bicep] but uncool to trade on her good name here.

  19. Given that it is a proven fact that every single person that is exposed to secondhand smoke dies, I don’t see what the issue is.

  20. OK, so we can all agree it’s worse to beat your child than smoke in the car with them. Well, we can also probably all agree that Hitler was worse than Ahmedinejad is. Therefore Ahmedinejad is just fine, just like smoking in the car with your kids.

  21. One of my least-favorite childhood memories: Four hour car trips with my Mom chain-smoking the whole way with the windows up and the heater on full blast because it was sub-zero cold enough outside that one could die from exposure.

    Oddly enough, I can run fast enough to pass military fitness tests – though I’ve always wondered if groing up in a smoke-free environment would have made it a less unpleasant experience (I’m told some folks actually enjoy it) yet despite being the only kid who didn’t become a smoker, I’m the one with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

    Possibly proof that genetically “rolling snake-eyes” has more to do with one’s health than smoking, drinking or exercise put together.

    Hmmm… now that I think about it… maybe I’ll start smoking and drinking.

  22. Sean-What a bad analogy.

    Second hand smoke has a RR of 1.3 with a 90% Confindence Interval (At a 95 % CI, which is what all good studies use, it was actually below 1). Even with this slight of hand by the EPA, it is still so low, that the risk to anyone from secondhand smoke is almost none.

  23. Ah the memories. My father was a smoker. I fondly
    remember the hopping into the pickup with him for a ride to whereever. The inevitable lighting of the cigaratte. The eager aniticipation for that first lungfull of second hand smoke. Somehow it was on the first few lungfulls that I enjoyed. I guess it only took a few to get my fix. Fortunately, I do not smoke as an adult and have no long term health effects that I am aware of. However, I have no doubt that at some level I was addicted, and though it is difficult to quantify I would not be suprised if my lung function were comprimised by growing up in that environment. I’m all for personal responsibility and individual freedom if it harms no one. I don’t quite understand the editorial viewpoint that doesn’t question the possible harm to innocent individuals who have no choice (ie minor children).

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