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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Jun;16(6):1070-6.

The cigarette controversy.

Author information

1
Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA. Michael.cummings@roswellpark.org

Abstract

This study examines the history of the cigarette controversy using the tobacco documents as a roadmap to explore the following four questions: (a) What did tobacco companies know about the health risks of smoking and when did they know it? (b) What evidence is there that tobacco companies conspired to deliberately mislead the public about the health risks of smoking? (c) How were scientists involved in the cigarette controversy? (d) Have tobacco companies changed the way they do business since signing the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement? The tobacco companies knew and for most part accepted the evidence that cigarette smoking was a cause of cancer by the late 1950s. The documents also reveal that the tobacco companies helped manufacture the smoking controversy by funding scientific research that was intended to obfuscate and prolong the debate about smoking and health. Today, the tobacco companies acknowledge that smoking is a cause of disease, but they have not materially altered the way they do business. In our opinion, it is not sufficient for the tobacco industry to merely concede the obvious point that smoking is a cause of disease when it is evident that decades of misinformation has resulted in a public that is massively ignorant about the risks of smoking low-tar cigarettes, nicotine addiction, and secondhand smoke exposure. Public education efforts are still needed to correct these misperceptions along with government oversight to ensure that the industry is not permitted to mislead the public further. If the past 50 years have taught us anything, it is that the tobacco industry cannot be trusted to put the public's interest above their profits no matter what they say.

PMID:
17548665
DOI:
10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-06-0912
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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