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Complainant Name:
Ms Belinda Cunnison

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Press & Journal (Aberdeen)


Ms Belinda Cunnison of Edinburgh complained that an article had reported the inaccurate comments of the British Heart Foundation, with reference to the risk for non-smokers working in smoky environments.


The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant: Earlier this year the following appeared on the British Heart Foundation website, and the online version of the Press and Journal, thisisnorthscotland: "We know that regular exposure to second-hand smoke increases the chances of developing heart disease by around 25%. This means that, for every four non-smokers who work in a smoky environment like a pub, one of them will suffer disability and premature death from a heart condition because of second-hand smoke."

This is incorrect, since it confuses relative risk with absolute risk, and very much exaggerates the dangers that non-smoking bar staff are likely to suffer as a result of exposure to tobacco smoke. Were it not for the vigilance of a few members of the public this astonishing distortion of the truth might still be in the public domain.

Following representations from members of The Big Debate, Freedom to Choose and Boston physician Professor Michael Siegel, amongst others, the press statement was retracted from the website and taken offline. The BHF retracted the press release but felt there was no need to draw the mistake more clearly to the public's attention.

Report: 73

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