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Smoking Ban Based on Bad Science

July 31, 1994

* The Times' quote from me on the smoking ban was seriously out of context in both the July 8 article ("Strong Statewide Ban on Smoking Sent to Wilson") and the July 9 editorial ("The Showdown Over Smoking").

What you left out of both pieces was the pseudo-science behind the crusade against secondhand smoke, which, as I said on the floor of the Assembly, is why the AB 13 ban is "based on a lie."

If and when it's proven that limited exposure to secondhand smoke is a health risk, I'll be the first to call for an outright ban on smoking in public. In contrast to thousands of studies that together proved that smoking itself is definitely harmful to health, an EPA decision to declare secondhand smoke a harmful carcinogen is based on a few studies.

What's worse, the EPA took these 17 studies and used a highly questionable method, in which radically different data are "merged," and claimed the result was "equivalent" to repeatable, scientific results. The scientific community has been unanimous in its denunciation and declaration that this kind of analysis is of limited use at best. It never should be relied on as a basis for public policy.

As a nonsmoker, I'm as annoyed by secondhand smoke as the next guy. But if smokers can have their rights taken away through pseudo-science, so can other minorities. The AB 13 smoking ban is another serious assault on individual liberty and a giant power grab by "government as nanny."

GIL FERGUSON

State assemblyman

R-Newport Beach

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