Further evidence that smoking bans do not reduce heart attacks has recently appeared in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. A new paper by Dr Michael Marlow points out the numerous methodological problems with the 'heart attack miracle' studies that have appeared in recent years. He also warns that using junk science to make claims that do not meet the "simplest tests of believability" may have adverse consequences.
Publicly led research on public health effects of smoking bans has overstated benefits by overreaching on conclusions, excluding studies that contradict predetermined conclusions, and relying on studies subject to biases outlined above. This pattern is lamentable for a number of reasons. One is that efforts claiming to improve public health appear to be driven more by social agendas than by science.
Regular readers will already be aware that the largest study ever conducted found no significant reduction in heart attacks following smoking bans. And we know that heart attack miracles in England, Scotland and Wales have been disproved by routine hospital data. As I have said before, a cut in heart attacks of 10%, 20% or 30% as a result of a smoking ban is not just implausible, it is literally impossible. Even if everyone gave up smoking as a result of a ban, the heart attack rate would not drop so sharply.
It will, however, take more than mere facts to obstruct a fairy-tale that holds appeal for so many. Indeed, a new shaggy-dog story is being constructed in England as we speak.