Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised. Why would anyone try to water down a report on secondhand smoke? Who is bought and sold?
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.
The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.
In his testimony, Dr. Carmona said that at first he was so politically naïve that he had little idea how inappropriate the administration’s actions were. He eventually consulted six previous surgeons general, Republican and Democratic, and all agreed, he said, that he faced more political interference than they had.
Dr. Carmona described being invited to testify at the government’s nine-month racketeering trial of the tobacco industry that ended in 2005. He said top administration officials discouraged him from testifying while simultaneously telling the lead government lawyer in the case that he was not competent to testify. Dr. Carmona testified anyway.