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Climategate: MoveOn's Triple Whopper

Again, common sense suggests that active smokers get a bigger dose of PM2.5 from the butt end of a cigarette than non-smokers get from ETS, and the scientific literature confirms this. Pope et al. (2009), a study published by the American Heart Association, plainly states: “The estimated daily dose of PM2.5 from typical long-term exposure to SHS (second-hand smoke or ETS) or ambient air pollution is extremely small compared with the estimated dose from active cigarette smoking.” Consequently, “The estimated relative risks from active cigarette smoking, even at relatively light smoking levels, are substantially larger than the relative risks from ambient air pollution or SHS.”

Let’s look at the numbers behind these statements. The daily dose of a pack-a-day smoker (20 cigarettes per day) is 140 to 240 milligrams of PM2.5. The daily dose of a non-smoker living in cities with high annual average PM2.5 levels (24.5 μg/m3) is 0.44 to 0.56 milligrams. In other words, the pack-a-day smoker inhales hundreds of times more PM2.5 than non-smokers do. Indeed, the Pope study reveals that smoking just one cigarette delivers 12 to 27 times the daily dose of PM2.5 that non-smokers get from the air in cities with high PM2.5 levels.

MoveOn is blowing smoke -- nowhere in the United States is breathing the equivalent of a pack a day or even one cigarette a day.

Turning now to the second falsehood, none of the senators is working to “roll back” the Clean Air Act. The senators have crossed party lines to support a resolution, introduced by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from dealing itself, trial lawyers, and activist judges into a position to set climate policy for the nation.

Here’s the pertinent background you won’t get from MoveOn’s attack ads. Last December, EPA issued a finding that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. If this were just a scientific assessment of the relevant literature -- like the surgeon general’s famous finding in 1964 that cigarette smoke causes cancer -- the Senate would have no business voting on it.