Top critical review
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Not exactly thorough, informed and objective
on 9 June 2012
I was hoping this book might offer a thorough assessment about all the evidence on passive smoking and some informed and objective conclusions. How wrong I was. Snowdon provides a kind of tour through history about the issue. Only it's a highly selective tour, where any argument which might support his prejudiced conclusion is stretched to the max, while important but inconvenient truths which shatter his arguments are conveniently ignored. Remarkably, there is no proper critique of the main sources of evidence showing that passive smoking is harmful, on which smoking restrictions have been based (e.g. a major 2004 monograph by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a 2004 report by the UK Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, and a 2006 report by the US Surgeon General). Indeed, most of these don't even get a mention anywhere in the book! In contrast, Snowdon appears to have a bizarre obsession about one particular guy called Stanton Glantz, whose name regularly pops up throughout the book as if he were the main architect of our smoking laws!! And Snowdon's approach to interpreting scientific studies is simplistic and inaccurate - needless to say, he offers no external professional references to validate the approach he uses.
This is a jaundiced and deeply flawed account. It is a shame Snowdon lacks the courage to debate an important public health issue in a more thorough and objective way.