The truth about public smoking bans

The antismoking crowd is a cozy little mutual admiration society -- and when one member lies, the rest quickly swear to it.

The latest example: A finding saying that public smoking bans not only magically stop people from dying -- but they begin to save those lives in just six months.

Quick, get the fire hoses out -- let's teach those smokers a lesson!

But before you join the crusade to extinguish every butt in sight, let's take a look at the details of this "new" study... because it's not a new study at all. It's just a rehash of older work, conducted by a virulent antismoking advocate pushing his agenda.

And it leans heavily on the shoddy previous work of yet another agenda-pushing antismoking advocate.

See what I mean? One of them lies... and the other swears to it.

A key study in the new analysis is the supposed "Helena Miracle," the 40 percent dip in heart attacks seen in the Montana capital after a smoking ban in restaurants and offices took effect -- a decline that supposedly vanished just as quickly when the ban was lifted.

Just one problem: The study was discredited the minute it was published, starting with the fact that the ban wasn't even enforced early on, and was widely ignored even when the city did start to issue tickets.

In addition, the "40 percent" drop was, in reality, a difference of just 16 hospital admissions -- or what we in science like to call an anecdote, not a study.

But you know how these analyses work by now -- when you can pick and choose your data, you can "prove" just about anything you want. So let's stop the picking and choosing and look at the big picture here.

Last year, researchers examined heart attack rates across the nation before and after local smoking bans took effect -- and found that sudden SPIKES after smoking bans are every bit as common as drops like the one supposedly seen in Helena.

Depending on which city's numbers you pick, you could just as easily claim that smoking bans CAUSE heart attacks!

And you know what? That's a lot closer to the truth -- because I've got evidence that smoking can actually help fight heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and even cancer.

Want to know more? Put on your smoking jacket and read this.

One more note: The authors of the new analysis didn't stop with tobacco. They also went after fats (of course). I'm running out of room here, so I'll leave that part for tomorrow's Daily Dose Digest.

Stay tuned.