Stan Glantz Email to Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune Reporter Deborah Caulfield Rybak on MPAAT



Stan Glantz Email to Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune Reporter Deborah Caulfield Rybak on MPAAT




Subject: MPAAT
Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2002 21:27:08 -0700
To: dcrybak@startribune.com
From: STANGLANTZ-L@ITSSRV1.UCSF.EDU

I have been following your reporting of MPAAT and continue to be amazed the lack of sophistication that (your awards notwithstanding) you and your colleagues at the Star-Tribute have exhibited in following this story (as well as MPAAT's unwillingness to defend itself).

MPAAT is following proven strategies -- particularly promotion of local clean indoor air ordinances -- that have led to dramatic reductions in smoking in California, so large in fact, that they were reflected in substantial drops in the death rate for heart disease. In 7 years a similar program prevented about 60,000 heart disease deaths, about 9% of total heart disease mortality. (There were added benefits in terms of cancer and other disease.)

The program also prevented about $4 billion in cigarettes from being smoked during the same time, which created a strong motivation for the tobacco industry to kill the program. As in Minnesota, the industry stayed in the shadows and worked through intermediaries who mounted many of the same attacks you are seeing.

Smoke free workplaces and public places reduce cigarette consumption by about 30%; the kind of direct cessation services that Hatch is advocating would only have a small fraction of that effect.

The undocumented claims of chaos associated with local ordinances (like the one in Duluth) are also typical of tobacco industry propaganda -- usually channeled through the restaurant association -- that we heard in California (Here in California the real restaurant association would not play ball with the tobacco industry, so it just created its won)

I am also amazed that you seem to be relying on organizations like the Cato Institute, with long well established, financial links to Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies rather than experts like the CDC that have t he public health as their mission.

Hatch's rhetoric (and approaches to terrorizing MPAAT and its grantees) are also straight out of the tobacco industry's playbook. The only thing that is new in Minnesota is that it is the AG and not a "concerned citizen" pushing the issue. (In other states the "concerned citizens" always denied any connections with the tobacco industry, statements that always proved to be untrue).

I have repeatedly urged MPAAT and the other "advocates" in Minnesota to be more direct in their defense, and to point out the similarities in what is happening there with how the tobacco industry has worked through surrogates (with everyone denying everything at the time) but they have refused to speak clearly and strongly in their own defense, preferring instead to hope the whole thing would go away. (The Lung, Heart, and Cancer Societies as well as the Smokfree Coalition also have their head firmly in the sand.)

The same kinds of attacks that are being mounted against the Health Department's teen Target Market program and attempted raids on tobacco prevention funds by the hospitals are also straight out of the industry's playbook, as has been seen in several other states. Programs like Target Market have made a huge difference in other states and it was just featured at a WHO meeting in Italy (that I attended) as a model of an effective program. Indeed, that is why it is under attack. Like MPAAT, the heath groups who should be speaking out in its defense are siting quietly waiting for someone else to do their work. Everyone is frightened of Hatch.

I have nothing against tough reporting -- my son is a reporter -- but you have a responsibility to make it accurate. What you have in Minnesota is one side with no regard for the truth and the other side afraid to state the truth clearly. Real investigative reporters would not be so quick to swallow the industry's line and would look behind the curtain and dig out the secret connections and alliances that are really driving the story.

If you want to do a little digging, here are a few resources:

1. Our book, Tobacco War: Inside the California Battles. You can read it on the web at http://escholarship.cdlib.org/tobacco

2. Look through the tobacco industry documents and learn about how Cato works with the tobacco industry. The easiest place to start is http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu

3. Look at what has happened in other states (in addition to California), particularly Washington and Florida; this information is at http://www.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/states.html

4. Look at the peer reviewed research on effective tobacco control programs, including the effects of smokefree policies on cigarette consumption, (none of which, by the way, as prepared by your "experts" at the Cato Institute), and efforts by the tobacco industry to prevent health groups from "lobbying."

5. Put in a public records act request to Hatch's office for his telephone records and talk to former employees about his relationship with tobacco and restaurant lobbyists.

6. Dig into the relationship between the restaurant association and the tobacco industry. Looking at the public claims made in Duluth and comparing what they said with the campaign finance disclosure statements will prove particularly enlightening.

That would prove to be real investigative reporting where you went after and exposed rich and powerful special interests rather than going after a bunch of frightened babes in the political woods who are not used to or willing to play political hardball, especially when Hatch is the first AG in the country to so aggressively be promoting the tobacco industry's interests.

What is happening in Minnesota is a real shame, since I expect that Hatch will prevail in derailing the current effective evidence-based tobacco control program (and perhaps even destroying MPAAT in its current form) and the legislature will gut the state program (using fiscal problems as the excuse, as they tried to do in California and have done in many other states) or push both projects off in to ineffective and truly wasteful strategies. Many people will die unnecessarily as a result.

Of course, it will all sound eminently reasonable.

And the tobacco industry will make more money, a small fraction of which will be given out as campaign contributions to reward its friends.

That's the real story.

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD
Professor of Medicine
University of California, San Francisco




This document's URL is: http://www.tobacco.org/News/020421glantzmpaat.html




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