M’yv’iew, In it would be best to be in a po­si­tion to say in public what was be­lieved in pri­vate. The as­so­ci­a­tion of cig­a­rette smok­ing and some dis­eases is fac­tual

CityPress - - Business - – Moyagabo

The mat­ter was brought on be­half of two classes of plain­tiff – smok­ers who smoked at least 15 cig­a­rettes a day for five years and con­tracted can­cer as a re­sult, as well as oth­ers who were ad­dicted to nico­tine.

Their lawyers ar­gued the cig­a­rette com­pa­nies hid knowl­edge of the health risks of smok­ing, as well as its ad­dic­tive­ness, dur­ing the 48 years to 1998. BAT held a con­trol­ling stake in Im­pe­rial dur­ing this pe­riod.

The judge found Im­pe­rial’s in­ter­nal ex­perts knew about th­ese risks at least as far back as April and May 1958, when three of its sci­en­tists toured North Amer­ica seek­ing in­for­ma­tion from other ex­perts on the ex­tent to which it was ac­cepted that cig­a­rette smoke caused can­cer.

This re­sulted in a 10-page re­port with the al­most unan­i­mous re­sponse that there was a link be­tween smok­ing and can­cer. But no­body in the Canadian in­dus­try said any­thing pub­licly, adopt­ing a “pol­icy of si­lence”.

In July 1972, BAT sci­en­tist SJ Green wrote an in­ter­nal memo, urg­ing the com­pany to ad­mit the link be­tween smok­ing and dis­ease.

“I be­lieve it will not be pos­si­ble in­def­i­nitely to main­tain the rather hol­low ‘we are not doc­tors’ stance. In my view, it would be best to be in a po­si­tion to say in public what was be­lieved in pri­vate. The as­so­ci­a­tion of cig­a­rette smok­ing and some dis­eases is fac­tual,” he wrote.

Com­pany ex­ec­u­tives were also dis­cussing the ad­dic­tive ef­fects of smok­ing by 1976 in­ter­nally. One ex­ec­u­tive drew up a re­port for an­other, stat­ing: “For some rea­son, tobacco ad­ver­saries have not, as yet, paid too much at­ten­tion to the ad­dic­tive­ness of smok­ing. This could be­come a very se­ri­ous is­sue if some­one at­tacked us on this front. I think we should study this sub­ject in depth, with a view to­wards de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts that would pro­vide the same sat­is­fac­tion as to­day’s cig­a­rette with­out ‘en­slav­ing’ con­sumers.”

But the com­pany failed to is­sue warn­ings about its prod­ucts, and only did so when pre­sented with threats of leg­is­la­tion. The first health warn­ing started ap­pear­ing on cig­a­rette packs in 1972. It read: “The depart­ment of na­tional health and wel­fare ad­vises that dan­ger to health in­creases with amount smoked.”

The next one, in 1975, ad­vised that “dan­ger to health in­creases with amount smoked – avoid in­hal­ing.”

“The re­mark­ably naive ad­mo­ni­tion to avoid in­hal­ing ... must have in­spired ei­ther a hearty chuckle or a cyn­i­cal shake of the head in most smok­ers,” said Rior­dan.

More spe­cific warn­ings, such as “smok­ing re­duces life ex­pectancy” – started cir­cu­lat­ing in the late 1980s.

Ad­dic­tion warn­ings only started cir­cu­lat­ing in 1994.

“It would have taken some time for that one mes­sage to cir­cu­late widely enough to have suf­fi­cient force,” said Rior­dan. “The im­pact of decades of si­lence and mixed mes­sages is not halted on a dime.”

It was on this ba­sis that the three com­pa­nies were held re­spon­si­ble for know­ingly fail­ing to warn users about their prod­ucts.

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