Most air filtration companies have paid attention to the science that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and they no longer advertise that ventilation systems are effective at eliminating secondhand smoke exposure. However, some companies still try to claim that their products can effectively deal with tobacco smoke and protect people's health from secondhand smoke exposure.
Jim St. John of AAA Aircare Systems has been a vocal proponent of ventilation systems as a solution to problems posed by secondhand smoke exposure in public, and was a member of the Washington state governor's advisory committee for indoor air quality for the state Department of Labor and Industries. St. John even publicly derided the science of secondhand smoke in an editorial in a Washington state newspaper in 2003.
Despite the 2006 Surgeon General's Report that concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that ventilation cannot eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, AAA Aircare Systems still advertises a product line of "Smoke-Eating Systems for Entertainment and Hospitality Businesses," and claims that the systems "actually do get rid of the smoke instead of masking the smell."
A search of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library turned up the following information that shows Jim St. John and AAA have supported the tobacco industry's position on ventilation for many years:
In a 1991 letter to the Tobacco Institute (TI), St. John described
how he met with officials at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to propose
"a way to accommodate smokers inside the terminal building." St. John
added, "We function as a needed third, mediating party in a highly polarized
debate. I would like to suggest that I could be of professional assistance to
TI in the form of testimony before legislative bodies, and also in generating
written material on ETS control technology."
A 1993 letter to the TI described the background of AAA Aircare Systems, and St. John himself. The letter noted that, "Since 1987, I have asked the Tobacco Institute and other interested parties to support us in our effort to make the general public -- and government regulators -- aware that ETS can be abated to a level that is a fraction of what would be legally tolerated for certified toxic pollutants." The letter originally accompanied St. John's resume. St. John lists his primary credentials as his successful opposition of local "tobacco prohibition ordinances" and his inclusion of exemptions for non-office workplaces from the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries draft ETS document.
A partially redacted description of St. John's background and AAA Aircare Systems was found in the Philip Morris (PM) collection. A legend indicated that it was faxed by the Tobacco Institute (TI) in 1993.