The tobacco industry used Dr. Samet’s testimony to launch its attack on the science of secondhand smoke this morning.
The morning session began with DOJ’s Sharon Eubanks taking the astoundingly accomplished Dr. Jonathan M. Samet–Senior Scientific Editor for the 1994 Surgeon General’s Report–through a brief history of smoking and the major scientific reports on smoking and health, from Raymond Pearl (1938) on–including important papers on nicotine addiction and secondhand smoke.
One of the documents involved data from the 2004 Surgeon General’s report which the Defense had not been presented with. They objected that this and other documents should not be allowed as evidence. Judge Kessler said, this very thing was an acknowledged problem with many of the witnesses, who are so intimately connected with the subject of the trial, and who are continuing to publish and take part ongoing research. This issue had apparently been previously discussed among DOJ, Defense and Judge Kessler. She said the SG report should have come as “no surprise” to the Defense, and overruled the objection.
In discussing the part of the 94 SG Report which named new diseases associated with smoking, Judge Kessler asked a typically intelligent question. She rephrased the paragraph — accurately — and said, “cataracts and gum disease, too? (The paragraph had read, “periodentitis”.) I hadn’t known that.” She also asked to be told the differences between ETS, SHS, sidestream smoke, and mainstream smoke.
Bob McDermott (RJR) rose to cross examine Samet.
All the familiar studies, the subject of the ETS wars which began in earnest with the publication of the EPA’s 1992 report which used meta-analysis to classified secondhand smoke as a Group 1 carcinogen. When Michael Fumento wrote a critical article on the study — citing a number of tobacco-funded scientists–the race was on, and has continued to this day, from newspapers to medical journals to full page advertisements to city council chambers.
The stakes may be huge. If the industry can convince Judge Kessler on this issue–that secondhand smoke cannot be shown to significantly cause disease in nonsmokers–it will then undoubtedly go on the offensive against smokefree policies around the world.
In some circles, the battlegrounds are as famous as Gettysburg or Trafalgar: IARC, Hirayama, EPA, statistical significance, relative risk, confounding, meta-analysis, confidence levels, all are being refought here.
The afternoon session switches a bit to consideration of FTC tar/nicotine levels, and their effect on lung cancer rates.