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Scoop Report: Tobacco Industry Schmoozed Scientist


Scoop Report: Tobacco Industry Schmoozed Scientist

By Marietta Gross - Scoop Media Auckland

Research has shown passive smoking increases the risk of babies dying from cot death. However, just released secret documents from tobacco giant Philip Morris have shown the tobacco industry had paid scientists to publish articles which questioned the coherence between passive smoking and cot death.

That's the claim from analysts researching the documents at the University of California in San Francisco and the US Center for Disease Control.

At the centre of the claims is one article that was published in a journal in 2001. It said the damaging effects of smoking on the health of a baby can be attributed to smoking during pregnancy - and that passive smoking bears a risk after birth was not so safely proved.

At least 19 other essays cited this article.

“By undermining the knowledge of people about the connection between passive smoking and cot death, children are put at risk”, says Stanton Glantz who helped with the analysis of the Philip Morris-documents.

The analyst believes the article was part of a targeted strategy by the company to camouflage scientific clues pointing to a health hazard for babies. One of the documents refers to the following aims: (The article) “should provide the necessary scientific background to increase the acceptance of smoking close to children.”

Philip Morris had assigned a scientist to write an article about any known risks of cot death. The company compiled the literature, the scientist wrote the article. Philip Morris invested USD$50,000 to USD$100,000 into this project.

The scientist came to the conclusion that passive smoking increased the risk for cot death. Philip Morris didn’t agree and countered the conclusion. Finally the scientist adopted these.

In 1998 Philip Morris and other large tobacco companies had signed a contract with 46 US federal states, in which they promised to stop their concealment tactics. The analysis of the documents shows now, that Philip Morris had undertaken to erode the credibility of cigarette health warnings.

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