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Customer Review

on 15 September 2010
Rich White has charted himself a difficult road to walk in Smoke Screens: The Truth About Tobacco, but he walks it well and if you join him you'll learn a lot as you go along.

Most of those who have fought the 800 million dollar a year "Tobacco Control Lobby" in recent years have done so on the basis of their wildly spurious claims about the "deadly risks" of wisps of secondary smoke in the air. It's a relatively easy fight to win if you can find an audience with minds open enough to listen because the lies are so easily exposed and the nonsense so easily swept aside. The only thing keeping the smoke-banners ahead of the game is the enormous money-pot they can dip into and the non-existent financial resources of their opposition. Those opposing smoking bans are "forbidden" to even touch support from Big Tobacco or face the risk that their arguments will be simply dismissed without a hearing. Unfortunately, without that support they never even get to grab the microphone and so the only ones generally heard from are the ban supporters. Meanwhile Big T. itself is so terrified of lawsuits in a highly charged negative environment that they're usually afraid to voice the mildest squeak of protest against even the wildest medical accusations.

In Smoke Screens Rich White has entered territory that many Free-Choice advocates have avoided: taking up the challenge of fighting the Antismokers at their strongest point -- their claims of the harm of smoking to smokers themselves. His dedication and hard work in gathering and organizing evidence has paid off and while he may not convince every reader he'll certainly spur them to think a bit more about what they've basically been hearing since they've been in the cradle. The author reminds his audience that while the cute little sound bite, "You Smoke: You Die." may be true, that "You Don't Smoke: You Die." is also true. Medicine has gotten caught up in witch hunts and beliefs in its omniscience in the past and Rich puts forth the argument that its crusade against smoking will eventually be shown to be largely built of the same material that predicted millions of deaths from Mad Cow Disease and warned us of the deadliness of butter.

He writes clearly and in an engaging style, presenting facts to support his arguments and presenting those arguments in a straightforward way while avoiding the tedium of simply citing reams of numbers and blocks of repetitive references. He makes an argument that's very hard to make and not all will agree with it, but it's an argument that *does* need to be made. Even those with the most rock-solid belief in the concept that "Smoking Equals Death!" should walk away after his book with at least a little doubt in their minds: things are not always what we are told they are.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of Dissecting Antismokers' Brains
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