Editorials

The truth about big tobacco in its own words

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7257.313 (Published 05 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:313

It is time to truly open up British American Tobacco's depository in Guildford

  1. Stanton A Glantz (glantz@medicine.ucsf.edu), professor of medicine
  1. Institute for Health Policy Studies, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0130, USA

    Education and debate pp 362, 366, 371

    The recent completion of the “first draft” of the human genome was big news because it promised understanding of the causes, treatment, and prevention of human disease. There is, however, another map that holds as much promise for curbing disease: depositories containing millions of pages of previously secret tobacco industry documents. Unlike bacteria, fungi, and viruses that spread disease, however, the tobacco industry employs sophisticated lawyers and public relations experts—and even scientists—to distort the scientific and political process.1 2 These documents give us our first clear understanding of how the tobacco contagion works.

    The industry has for decades denied the obvious—that nicotine is addictive, that smoking and second hand smoke cause a wide variety of diseases, and that cigarette advertising recruits children and keeps adults smoking. It has used this wall of rhetoric to provide cover for the actions of politicians designed to protect the tobacco industry at the expense of public health.

    In 1998, as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed …

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