Here are first-hand reports from two AIRSPACE members who were present at John Luik's performance at the Fraser Institute on April 26, to promote his book, Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy:
His "Dr." is in political philosophy - he is not a scientist.
He admits that he is bought and paid for by the tobacco industry and seems to see no conflict in this.
His research on environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and on why young people smoke was in collaboration with the tobacco industry.
He believes smokers "choose" to smoke and are not addicted. In spite of this, he appears to feel that subjecting them to delay of gratification is cruel and unusual punishment, inflicted on them by self-righteous puritans who wish only to punish them for their sins. He bases this on "inconclusive" evidence that ETS causes cancer, and cannot imagine why anyone would want to deprive smokers if there was little or no risk of cancer to innocent bystanders, unless they are just mean-spirited control freaks who wish to tell others how to live their lives.
His talk focussed almost exclusively on trashing the 1993 EPA report, focussing only on the claim that ETS is a Grade A carcinogen and how Judge William Osteen (another non-scientist) struck this down. He lamented extensively on the tragedy of "junk science" and how the EPA inexplicably will not confess to the error of its ways and insists on standing by its science.
Dr. Luik claims that there have only been 78 studies done on ETS to date, despite the fact that hundreds were emailed to Rafe Mair of CKNW before his interview with that gentleman. Luik claims that at the time the EPA study was released, there were only 33. At the same time, he claims that the "anti-smoking" movement began with the EPA report. Perhaps the 33 reports he acknowledges as already existing back then were sent back via a time machine?
He accused the EPA of having started a "war", creating two classes of people that had previously gotten along splendidly, smokers and nonsmokers, and pitting them against each other through unsubstantiated fearmongering. He also claims that Judge Osteen was known to be a tough anti-tobacco judge, having ruled previously that the FDA had power to regulate nicotine as a drug. The truth is that Osteen was a tobacco industry lawyer before he became a judge.
He went on and on about how exposure to ETS caused only a slight, if any, risk of death by cancer. This seemed to be the crux of his argument. Since he described a quality of "corrupt science" as being the sin of omission, telling only part of the story, I asked him whether the EPA report discussed any effects of ETS besides cancer. Of course, I knew the answer - it did, which he reluctantly admitted, but brushed aside as being inconsequential. I asked whether those allegations were also struck down by Osteen, and he admitted that they had not even been challenged. I asked whether ETS caused any problems at all, and he admitted that it was a contributing factor in childhood asthma and ear infections. He actually supported smoking restrictions in places like schools and daycares, although he carefully avoided commenting on parents who smoke in the home.
I asked about adult asthma - what happens when those children grow up? Does their asthma go away or cease to be affected by ETS? Although he began by saying the evidence with respect to the effects of ETS on a dult asthma were "inconclusive", he finally admitted that ETS causes a range of symptoms, including asthma, itchy eyes, burning sensations in mucus membranes, nausea, and headaches. His slant nevertheless seemed to be that these were mere "inconveniences" to be bravely borne in the interest of smokers being permitted to pursue their "pleasure". Not ten minutes later he stated, in response to another question, that he would not mind the nonsmoking regulations in restaurants so much "if ETS actually harmed people". Evidently he does not interpret constricted bronchial passages, with the attendant inability to breathe, as "harmful".
At no time did he comment on how substantial or conclusive the evidence is that ETS is harmless.
He made a number of defamatory remarks, such as "scientists do not have common sense" (when describing the bioplausibility theory). He made personally insulting remarks about BC's former Minister of Health, Joy MacPhail, saying "She doesn't even know who the EPA is." and "She's a politician - she isn't expected to be sophisticated or knowledgeable." At the same time, he claimed that the tobacco control people's arguments were primarily based on personal attacks.
He spoke a bit on risk analysis, basically letting us know what an acceptable risk level was (I'm so glad we have smart guys like him to tell us simple folk how much risk we owe it to smokers to assume!). He spoke of a David and Goliath scenario between tobacco control happy governments (oh how I wish!) and the tobacco industry - casting the latter as David!
He finished his talk with the statement that "smokers make choices and should be held responsible for them". He did not attempt to reconcile this with his theory that we should let them do as they please, nor did he appear to even notice that there was any conflict between his views and his finishing statement.
Sera and I got a copy of an AIRSPACE press release and a copy of all seven industry memos on Luik from the Philip Morris web site (http://www.tobacco.org/Documents/93luik.html) to nearly everyone in the room. When I was chatting with Luik after the lecture, he pointed to the sentence in AIRSPACE's press release saying he has "been employed by the tobacco industry at least as far back as 1987" and claimed that he wasn't employed by the tobacco industry until after 1987. (He didn't specify a precise year.) He then said he could sue us over this point if the press release was disseminated outside the room. I told him it was already disseminated and that I'd like to be sued by him. Luik immediately changed the subject. I eventually resorted to begging him to sue me, but he still kept changing the subject. As of July 12, he still hasn't sued us.