Academic journal article et Cetera

Smokescreen: The Truth Behind the Tobacco Industry Cover-Up

Academic journal article et Cetera

Smokescreen: The Truth Behind the Tobacco Industry Cover-Up

Article excerpt

Philip J. Hilts. Smokescreen: The Truth Behind the Tobacco Industy Cover-up. Addison Wesley: Reading, Mass., 1996.

Warren Buffett, an investment specialist and one of the richest men in America has said, "I'll tell you why I like the cigarette business. It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It's addictive. And there's fantastic brand loyalty." Unfortunately, what's good for business may not be so good for the consumer. Smoking related deaths in America are estimated at 450,000 annually and government agencies have declared it our number one public health problem.

In his book, Philip J. Hilts, a longtime correspondent for The New York Times, presents a fascinating look at how the tobacco industry nefariously maintains its profitability. We learn that in 1953, doctors from Sloan Kettering published an article indicating that smoke condensate from cigarettes produced tumors in 44% of tested mice. For the first time, the health dangers of cigarette smoking were on the front pages of newspapers. Cigarette companies responded by mounting a public relations campaign intended to show that "connections between smoking and disease are not real, but merely statistical."

They have continued public relations efforts by using money to influence Congressional votes to defeat antitobacco legislation; to beat plaintiffs in court by forcing them to spend all their resources in lengthy trials; to argue that the 1964 Surgeon General's Warning on cigarette packages provides a defense against lawsuits; and to hide internal company reports that are potentially damaging. On the last point, Hilts offers pages of material from company whistle blowers that clearly show that tobacco companies know nicotine is an addicting drug, that cigarettes contribute to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and that young people are the most important group to target ("They got lips? …

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