by Klaus Rohrich
Original article published here:
Poor Heather Crowe, the Ottawa waitress who recently died of lung cancer and had lent her persona to the anti-smoking lobby as the typical victim du jour. Crowe was said to be a “typical” restaurant worker who spent 40 years working in Ottawa restaurants, all the while breathing the second-hand smoke that’s said to have claimed her life.
There are so many things wrong with Heather Crowe’s case that it begs for an official inquiry, but like all politically correct causes the anti-smoking lobby can do no wrong. Crowe, who really did die of lung cancer, was anything but a typical restaurant worker. Apparently she worked in three different restaurants, starting her day at 6:00 AM and ending her day usually around 2:00 AM the following morning. Most individuals working as servers in restaurants do not work three full shifts per day, totaling upwards of 20 hours.
In the commercials that Crowe made for the anti-smoking lobby she said she wanted “to be the last person to die from second hand smoke.” If she did die of exposure to second hand smoke, it’s likely that Crowe was also the first person in the world to die from this condition. There is not one documented case of anyone ever dying of second hand smoke. Anti-smoking groups like to bandy about numbers of people who have died of second hand smoke, however the truth is that no one knows if anyone has died as a result of this because the numbers being quoted are not garnered from death certificates, but are made up through epidemiological estimates that do not involve review of individual death certificates.
What’s more, the numbers most people quote as individuals who are dying of second hand smoke vary from place to place. For instance the anti-smoking lobby of Lambton, Ontario claims that this year alone some 5,000 people will die of second hand smoke there. That seems awfully high, given that the overall population is just over 127,000. Other places use different numbers; Calgary claims it’s 3,000 deaths, while British Columbia claims it will only be 500 deaths this year.
When Heather Crowe was first diagnosed, her doctor told her that she had an inoperable “smoker’s tumor” in her lungs. As a diagnosis, the term “smoker’s tumor” is novel in that it is not a medical term and does not appear in medical dictionaries. It sounds like the doctor who made this diagnosis was following an agenda.
What’s more, when Heather Crowe sought compensation from the Ontario Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (OWSIB), the board ruled in her favor, a fact which many of the anti-smoking lobbyists tout as being proof positive that second hand smoke causes cancer as well as a plethora of other ills. The OWSIB ruling only proves that it pays to have friends in high places, of which Heather Crowe appears to have had many. A number of influential politicians, as well as Dr. Robert Cushman, Ottawa’s Chief Medical Officer of health wrote letters in support of Heather’s application for compensation. Crowe’s case was supported by a study emanating from California that claimed restaurant workers there inhaled the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 packs per day. I find it curious that the details of the OWSIB ruling were never made public.
As for the study from California, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) specifies that .5 mg of nicotine per cubic meter is an acceptable level. Testing conducted in 2004 of 18 restaurants in St. Louis Park, Minnesota disclosed that none of the restaurants had second hand smoke levels close to the allowable minimum specified by OSHA. In fact, most were far, far below the minimum.
So why all the hysteria? Can you say money? The anti-tobacco lobby is being controlled in large part and funded by pharmaceutical companies that are doing a land office business in selling smoking cessation medications. That’s the real hidden agenda of which I doubt even the staunchest anti-tobacco crusaders are aware.
But let’s face it, when organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) distribute millions of dollars to anti-smoking groups, maybe someone should take a closer look at this foundation. The board of directors of the RWJF includes some very interesting people. Robert Wood Johnson IV is the chairman and CEO of the Johnson Company, a New York investment firm that seems to hold an inordinate amount of pharmaceutical investments. Other directors include what appears to be the entire former board of directors of Johnson & Johnson Company, which incidentally is a major manufacturer of alternative pharmaceutical nicotine products. Robert E. Campbell is the retired chairman of J & J; George S. Frazza and was corporate counsel and member of the J&J executive committee. Edward Hartnett is the retired group chairman of J&J Pharmaceuticals. Ralph S. Larsen is former chairman and CEO of J&J. So, it’s evident there is a lot of interest in the RWJF to encourage governments to impose smoking bans. Could this by any chance have anything to do with the fact that RWJF is holding in excess of $5 billion in J&J shares?
Klaus Rohrich is a columnist with Canada Free Press.
Klaus can be reached at: [email protected].