Talk:Michael B. Siegel

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I have received a complaint that I don't have time to deal with right now as it is the weekend. I'll return as soon as possible. --Bob Burton 02:46, 5 July 2008 (EDT)

Monday, July 14, 2008 - I have been working on the page to better describe Dr. Siegel's opposition to some tobacco control measures, while respecting the nuances of these positions as he describes them in his blog. Anne Landman

Monday, July 14, 2008 - Restored Tobaccowiki badge after checking and getting an okay from John and Sheldon. --Anne Landman

SW: Pointless and biased article

I submit that to disregard Michael Siegel's opposition to many tobacco control laws amounts to a bias in his favor. What about his staunch opposition to every car smoking ban that has ever been passed, many if not all recently proposed cigarette tax increases (SCHIP, state tax hikes), and all viable efforts to regulate tobacco through the FDA? What about his repeated contention that tobacco control organizations and lawmakers are motivated by hatred of smokers and a desire to punish them? Several examples of each were documented with links to Siegel's blog entries. But none of this can be allowed to stand because Siegel's effectiveness in his campaign to thwart tobacco control laws depends on being seen as objective, on not being seen as someone who constantly opposes tobacco control laws.

For an alleged wiki, I don't see much collaboration - unless you just mean collaboration between Sourcewatch's paid editors. Why ask for contributions from the public when you're just going to put up what you want? This is particularly disappointing from a website that claims to be about "exposing public relations spin and propaganda".

Siegel's blog entry cited in the article provides a good example: "Action on Smoking and Health Suggests Banning Smoking in All Homes" [1] Says Siegel: "to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that an anti-smoking group has publicly and officially called for a ban on smoking in all homes". But upon checking the press release in question, [2] one finds nothing of the sort. All Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) did was cite a poll showing that "57% of the people in Ireland support a ban on smoking in all homes and cars" and suggest this could indicate growing support for smoking bans in Ireland and elsewhere "in the war to protect nonsmokers". In reality, ASH is only proposing home smoking restrictions where children and non-smoking adults are affected. The allegation that ASH has called for a ban on smoking in all homes is pure spin on Siegel's part.

Equally perplexing are these statements from the same post: "I get the distinct impression that ASH is acting, at least in part, out of pure hatred for smokers and a desire to punish them. It seems to me like one can feel the hatred oozing out of the press release and that ASH is trying to punish smokers in any way it can find."

In the end, people like Michael Siegel, Michael McFadden and Daniel Romano will continue to employ highly questionable tactics and arguments to oppose measures that would tend to reduce smoking in addition to protecting children and non-smoking adults, [3] while passing their objections off as a principled stand (tobacco control is out of control and wants to ban all smoking everywhere - i.e., smokers are forced to quit), and the media will continue to lap it up. If anyone holds them accountable, it apparently won't happen here. --TruthTeller 23:37, 18 July 2008 (EDT)


Hi Truthteller,

Thanks for your note. In your last changes to the article page you included 14 links to articles from Siegel's blog which you added as citations to support your narrative summary. Part of my responsibility with the website is to ensure that all additions to articles are fair, accurate and referenced so that readers can either rely on the content of the page and have the ability (as far as possible) to check it for themselves. In particular, I need to check edits made by new users to ensure that they meet our referencing standards. Checking through edits is time consuming, especially when there are a large number of other changes or other demands on my time (such as the usual daily barrage of emails I get).

I usually try and ensure that where I make changes to the article, I post an explanatory note outlining the changes. In this case I omitted that, partly because of other pressing demands on my time that took longer than I had hoped and partly because I just plain forgot.

In particular, I felt that each of the links added needed checking before they could be relied on and that it was better to have the material off the article page until they had been reviewed. I felt this was warranted based on a quick look at some of the links.

For example, in one of the additions you wrote that Siegel campaigns against "increased cigarette taxes" and cited this article. The problem is that the article does not express blanket opposition to cigarette taxes but opposes the hypothecation of cigarette taxes to government programs that aren't directed to reducing tobacco consumption.

What he wrote was ...

The knee-jerk support for any and all cigarette taxation by public health and anti-smoking groups is problematic. This kind of thinking supports the above absurdity. If anti-smoking groups made it clear that they would not support cigarette tax increases unless the revenue was used to directly benefit smokers and reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality (i.e., specifically allocated to fund smoking education, prevention, and treatment programs), then we would not likely have this kind of stupidity going on.
Unfortunately, the support of anti-smoking groups for cigarette taxation is a knee-jerk response, with very little thought going into the unintended consequences of these policies. And having health care dependent upon continued smoking is one of the most absurd of these consequences.
Not all cigarette tax increases are win, win, win proposals, as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other anti-smoking groups have suggested. When our health care system depends upon continued cigarette consumption in order to provide essential medical care to the children and poor, then we are not in a win situation. In fact, it's about as bad of a loss as I can think of when it comes to funding for health care.

This is quite different to claiming that Siegel opposes all "increased cigarette taxes".

In another you argued that Siegel opposed FDA regulation of tobacco citing these articles [4] [5]

But again Siegel's opposition to the FDA regulatory power seems largely confined to the specifics of the bill: For example he states that "It will create a public perception that these products are safer; yet, there is no evidence that there is anything in this legislation that will make cigarettes any safer. If anything, this legislation will make it impossible for manufacturers of potentially safer products (e.g., Swedish snus) to make any claims that would imply that their products are potentially safer."

In a later June 2008 post here Siegel writes of the FDA bill that "It is quite clear that the tobacco control community does not support the crafting of a piece of tobacco control legislation by negotiating with Philip Morris to see what the nation's leading tobacco company is willing to support. As groups are becoming aware that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids negotiated this legislation with Philip Morris and made numerous concessions to protect Big Tobacco profits, they are gradually withdrawing their support for the bill and moving over to the opposition side." And he goes on to "congratulate ANSR for having the courage, insight, skilled policy analysis, and principle to take the high road and oppose this legislation, which provides special protection to Big Tobacco and institutionalizes tobacco use and the defrauding of American consumers by the government itself."

It is worth noting that there are tobacco control groups that oppose the FDA bill for a range of reasons but, from what I have seen, these are based on the specifics of the legislation, the process by which it was developed and concern about specific loopholes etc. In none of the citations that you provided does Siegel argue against the possibility of any FDA regulation of tobacco as distinct from the specific bill crafted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids with Philip Morris.

For these reasons, I'm doubly keen to ensure that any additions to the page fairly and accurately correspond with what Siegel has written or said rather than include an inaccurate rendering of them. You may disagree with my actions but I hope you would agree that SourceWatch readers are entitled to read pages that strive for accuracy.--Bob Burton 05:44, 21 July 2008 (EDT)


I have been working to include some of the points you made in your email above, as much as I can accurately verify them using Siegel's blog as a reference. It is difficult to verify some blanket statements, like that Siegel has opposed "every can smoking ban that has ever been passed," and "all recently proposed cigarette tax increases." Anne Landman 12:54, 21 July 2008 (MDT)

SW: Tobacco control opposition

Here is what I actually posted to the article on July 12, and which was removed by John Stauber 14 minutes later: "Siegel has established his own blog site where he campaigns against some tobacco control measures such as outdoor smoke-free laws (playgrounds, parks, beaches, near building entrances, etc.), parental smoking restrictions in homes and cars, increased cigarette taxes, and FDA regulation of the tobacco industry." I included a couple of links to Siegel's blog entries for each measure, but you can find many more by googling or browsing through the blog's archives. I doubt you will find any blog entries in support of these measures. So what can we conclude from this? That he campaigns against these tobacco control measures on his blog, or at least the real-world attempts to implement them. To simply say that Siegel campaigns against outdoor smoke-free laws would give a very incomplete picture of his blogging activities.

No doubt Michael Siegel's positions are highly nuanced. He doesn't oppose tobacco control measures in general, just those specific proposals and laws he finds fault with - which seems to be almost all of them. Though to his credit, I note that he does favor "enhancing development of safer cigarettes". [6] So that's good news.

But you needn't stop there. In a section on Siegel's blogging you could also note his opposition to smoke-free hiring policies, R-ratings for movies showing smoking, and on and on. He even takes shots at the science behind the indoor smoking bans he still ostensibly supports, making much use of the term "junk science", with thanks to Michael J. McFadden (Director of The Smoker's Club) for the tip. [7] At some point it becomes apparent that the purpose of Siegel's blogging is largely if not primarily to support the efforts of tobacco control opponents, including opposition to indoor smoking bans, and to lend legitimacy to their efforts.

The rest of my contribution removed by Mr. Stauber: "Siegel continually associates smoking with various parental and individual rights and freedoms, [8] [9] [10] and he frequently claims that tobacco control measures are motivated by hatred towards smokers and a desire to punish them. [11] [12] [13] [14]. He has been criticized by tobacco control advocates for what they claimed were tobacco industry style attacks and rhetoric, and was barred from posting to a tobacco control list-serve in 2006." [15]

So again, this is all verifiable from Siegel's blog. --TruthTeller 00:53, 22 July 2008 (EDT)

SW: Car smoking bans

I found another link which might be useful. Posted by Michael Siegel on March 12, 2007: "While it is my hope that as many of the car smoking ban proposals fail as possible, I think it is particularly critical that the measures which making smoking in cars a criminal offense go down to defeat." [16] This shows that he opposes all car smoking bans. --TruthTeller 01:24, 22 July 2008 (EDT)


I hope people get the subtle point being made in this article, when Dr. Siegel says tobacco control is motivated by "pure hatred for smokers and a desire to punish them." This is a very common theme at Mike Siegel’s blog, where he never tires of pounding this into people's heads to the point that it looks a bit like brainwashing. Maybe it’s not by chance that nearly all his readers are angry smoker’s rights flamers. Were they like that when they got to Siegel’s site, and to what extent has his “hate” rhetoric helped instill hatred and rage in his readers? It’s an interesting question.

Couldn't it just be that people may dislike having smoke in their face without actually hating anyone? And couldn't it be that smoking has a lot of negative consequences for society and for employers, again without hating smokers? Michael Siegel’s “hate” rhetoric seems a very cynical and ugly ploy to get smokers angry so they will oppose measures that in the end only hurt the tobacco industry.