5.0 out of 5 starsA fascinating look at the tobacco wars from a central actor in the story
February 11, 2019
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a large book on a large subject: the battle to reduce exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. The author was indeed labelled as Public Enemy #1 by the tobacco companies in the documents that they were forced to give up some years ago and are now available to the public. What he did was to measure tobacco smoke particles in multiple locations such as bars and bingo game halls. Then he and a colleague published the data in the supreme American scientific journal (Science). They showed that the levels were so far above EPA standards for respirable particles that exposures were a clear and present danger. Many scientists could then use these realistic concentrations to determine the deposition in lungs, nicotine and cotinine in blood, and carry out experiments on animals to determine the health effects. Two epidemiological studies in Japan and Greece, where women did not smoke, showed that women living with smokers in these countries were at increased risk of morbidity and even mortality. These studies were eventually used by first the Surgeon General of the United States and later the USEPA to conclude that secondhand smoke was likely the cause. Despite a vicious counterattack by the tobacco industry, these findings were eventually accepted and the long decline in active smoking began in this country, while the protections against passive smoking (secondhand smoke) in workplaces, restaurants and even (ultimately) bars multiplied. People of a certain age can remember the time when most men and a lot of women smoked and no one could avoid breathing the smoke. Now the fraction of smokers has dropped enormously from perhaps half of men to 20% or so, and the number of places where smoking is not allowed has exploded to cover nearly every indoor location. All this mighty change took place in our lifetime and went through many tortuous turns before being completed. The person at the heart of these changes was James Repace. Not only did he strike the first blow with his article in Science, but he continued his troublemaking by working at EPA to have secondhand smoke labelled a Class A carcinogen. He tells the stories behind this epic change in a delightfully straightforward, often humorous, way. I do not believe that anyone else has been so involved in all of the major aspects of this story as he has, and it will be well worth the cost of the book to have this fundamental fact-filled history of this major change in society.
5.0 out of 5 starsBrilliant must-read bookFebruary 13, 2019Format: Kindle EditionThis is an absolutely brilliant and life-changing book. If you buy and read one book this year, make it this one. And if you enjoy smoke-free environments and healthier indoor air quality, thank James Repace.Repace shares his incredible journey of going up against and winning against Big Tobacco. As you read this, you'll be on the edge of your seat, wondering what will come next, shaking your head in disbelief at industry, admiring Repace's work, applauding Repace's victories, and at times laughing out loud.The book is riveting, fascinating, and engaging. Repace's rigorous science propels the policies, and the book offers rich details and insights, yet all audiences will find this book accessible and easy to read.James Repace is a scintillating and captivating writer, an incomparable scientist, an indefatigable activist, and, as you will glean from this book, a wonderful person.On that, activists will find this book inspiring and supportive, realizing that important changes for the public good often come down to the doggedly determined passion and selfless heroic work of one person.Thank you, James Repace. You are a hero.