Siegel's apology to Levy and retraction submitted to ANR

Fri, 27 Aug 1999 13:21:36 -0400

Dear Mr. Levy:

By stating that the authors mentioned in the article had ties to the tobacco indsutry, I did not mean to suggest that you had a personal affiliation with the tobacco industry. I simply meant to suggest that you have ties to the industry in the sense that the organization you work for has received funding from the tobacco industry. However, I can now see how misleading my statement was.

I realize now that the way in which I wrote the article was very misleading, and could have been misinterpreted. I therefore wish to apologize to you and to publicly retract the statement that I made that could have implied a personal tie between you and the tobacco industry in some way other than the receipt of funds from the industry by your organization.

I have therefore asked Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights to post on the internet site the following retraction and apology:

Retraction and Apology
Re: "Responding to Tobacco Industry Attacks on the Scientific Evidence Linking Secondhand Smoke to Disease and Death"
Michael Siegel, MD, MPH
August 27, 1999

In a column dated July 19 and entitled "Responding to Tobacco industry Attacks on the Scientific Evidence Linking Secondhand Smoke to Disease and Death," I unintendedly suggested that Robert Levy (who works for the Cato Institute and issued a report regarding CDC's estimate of smoking-attributable mortality) has a personal tie to the tobacco industry. I did not intend to imply any kind of personal tie between Mr. Levy and the tobacco industry, other than the fact that he works for the Cato Institute, which according to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, has received tobacco industry funds. I can see how my statement could have been misinterpreted to imply some sort of personal affiliation between Mr. Levy and the tobacco industry.

In particular, I had stated that "Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights can provide copies of tobacco industry documents which reveal the details of these authors' ties to the tobacco industry." With respect to Mr. Levy, I intended to imply only that ANR has documents showing that the Cato Institute received tobacco industry funds. However, I can see how what I actually stated may imply a personal connection. I regret this and I publicly retract the statement.

In addition to publicly retracting any suggestion of a personal tie between Mr. Levy and the tobacco industry, I also publicly apologize to Mr. Levy for making the statement. In the future, I will be more careful in my writing when making any kind of statement that could be interpreted as a personal allegation. Again, my profound apology to Mr. Levy."

In addition, I have asked Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights to remove the article from their website and to discontinue any further distribution of the article.

Again, my profound apology. I can only assure you that I will never make this type of mistake again.

Michael Siegel

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