Retail Tobacco Dealers of America (RTDA)

In 2006, the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America (RTDA) started a campaign in an attempt to discredit the 2006 Surgeon General's Report on secondhand smoke, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. The RTDA sent a cover letter, along with a so called "assessment" of the 2006 Surgeon General’s Report, to local city councils and state legislators across the country, in an effort to thwart smokefree campaigns in those areas. To ANR's knowledge this RTDA "assessment" has circulated in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Wyoming since October 2006. Be prepared for this bogus "assessment" to show up in your community, and be prepared to respond.

The RTDA assessment makes two claims: (1) the scientific evidence is inconclusive, specifically around the finding that secondhand smoke exposure causes SIDS; and (2) ventilation is an acceptable alternative to going smokefree. Please see below for the RTDA assertions and public health talking points to refute these inaccurate claims:

  1. RTDA Claim: The science and major findings are inconclusive. [*Note: The author fails to specifically cite what findings within the report are deemed "inconclusive," stating that the phrase, "The evidence is inadequate to ‘infer, suggest, or relate various health issues to secondhand smoke," mires the report.]

    THE TRUTH: The Surgeon General’s Report is a peer-reviewed report that represents the findings of the scientific and research community – not that of a sole individual. The report was prepared by the Office of Smoking and Health, the National Center of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Authors include 22 experts. The report was peer-reviewed by 40 professionals. The manuscript was sent to more than 30 scientists for scientific integrity review.

  2. RTDA Claim: There is doubt about the findings surrounding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

    THE TRUTH: Health defects caused from in utero exposure to secondhand smoke are well-established. Scientists identified an increased risk of SIDS and other neonatal birth defects in 1997. Since then, the science has been strengthened by dozens of peer-reviewed reports – appearing in JAMA, etc. – and reconfirmed by the California Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Cancer Institute, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention -- all independently of the 2006 Surgeon General’s Report.

  3. RTDA Claim: The Surgeon General's report does not take into consideration current ventilation technology. [*Note: To substantiate this claim, RTDA cites Thank you for Smoking author Christopher Buckley as its ventilation expert. Buckley's rationale that ventilation can control for secondhand smoke exposure: "If you can put a man on the moon, don't you think you can create a ventilation system that can suck smoke from the air."]

    THE TRUTH: Public health agencies, air filtration companies, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have all concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that ventilation and other air filtration technologies cannot completely eliminate all the health dangers caused by exposure.

If the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America appear in your community, please contact ANR for assistance at 510-841-3032.