A few months ago newspapers eagerly picked up news of a meta-analysis of smoking ban studies finding that bans were associated with a 17% decline in heart attack rates in their first year. Will any of them report this whopper of a correction?
As it turns out, the study findings were due to a careless error. In the original study, the authors had inadvertently reported the Pueblo study has having reported a 70% reduction in heart attacks (a result that is completely implausible and clearly should have been noticed as having been in error). Instead, that study actually reported a 34% reduction in heart attacks. The meta-analysis authors published a correction in which they re-analyzed the correct data.
It turns out that the 11 studies did not find a 17% reduction in heart attacks, but only found an 8% reduction in heart attacks.
This level of decline in admissions for heart attacks is obviously not significantly different from the levels of decline in heart attacks that are being observed in the absence of smoking bans, which have varied between 5% and 10% per year in many communities.
That’s from Michael Siegel, of course, one of the few anti-smoking researchers defending scientific accuracy.
The shoddiness of the science behind the claims of rapid drops in AMI rates following smoking bans never ceases to amaze, nor does journalists’ willingness to report on it uncritically.
For more on the extremely flawed Pueblo study, see here.