The Tobacco Industry

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The tobacco industry is notorious for its enormous public relations battle to preserve its ability to addict new generations of children. Science denialism, suppressed and secret research, legislative blockages, avoiding FDA oversight, and other tactics result in an industry that is still responsible for 300,000 US deaths per year and 5 million worldwide (growing rapidly.)

  • Sells nicotine, the most addictive substance known.
  • 300,000 deaths per year in the US, and still no appropriate regulation, liability or legal penalties.
  • Enormous other health costs, both social and individual.
  • Large earning reductions for smokers.
  • Tobacco industry is switching to e-cigarettes which are just as addictive.



E-cigarettes may be more harmful than beneficial, according to evidence-based research [More...]
"A new study finds that e-cigarette use could do more harm than good by substantially increasing the number of adolescents and young adults who eventually become cigarette smokers and marginally decreasing the number of adult cigarette smokers who quit."
Even One Is Too Much: The Economic Consequences of Being a Smoker [More...]
"Smokers, on average, earn lower wages than nonsmokers. The analysis in this paper tells us that roughly 60 percent of the wage differential between smokers and nonsmokers comes from differences in the characteristics these workers bring to the labor market, especially educational attainment."
How Big Tobacco Has Made Cigarettes So Much Deadlier Than They Used To Be [More...]
Cigarette companies still use every trick they can to make cigarettes even more addictive and more attractive to children as well as less safe. "Tobacco is still the greatest public health challenge of our time."
Profits and pandemics: prevention of harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink industries (The Lancet) [More...]
"Despite the common reliance on industry self-regulation and public–private partnerships, there is no evidence of their effectiveness or safety. Public regulation and market intervention are the only evidence-based mechanisms to prevent harm caused by the unhealthy commodity industries."
Revealed: the free-market groups helping the tobacco industry [More...]
Free-market thinktanks around the world provide a powerful voice of support to cigarette manufacturers in battles against tougher regulations, a Guardian investigation shows.
Safety of electronic cigarettes [More...]
"A systematic review suggests that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking and since they contain no tobacco and do not involve combustion, users may avoid several harmful constituents usually found in tobacco smoke. However, e-cigarettes cannot be considered harmless."
Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaires [More...]
"A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene."
United States v. Philip Morris [More...]
Tobacco companies had engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to (1) mislead the public about the risks of smoking, (2) mislead the public about the danger of secondhand smoke; (3) misrepresent the addictiveness of nicotine, (4) manipulate the nicotine delivery of cigarettes, (5) deceptively market cigarettes characterized as “light” or “low tar,” while knowing that those cigarettes were at least as hazardous as full flavored cigarettes, (6) target the youth market; and (7) not produce safer cigarettes.


People smoke in large part because they have been persuaded to. Persuaded by a tobacco culture carefully nurtured by the tobacco industry. Persuaded by an industry that suppressed hazards of smoking for decades after they were known. Persuaded by an industry that knew its product was addictive, and knew it had to addict juveniles to maintain the smoking population. This history is well known from internal tobacco company documents. You can pretend that the word "choose" absolves those corporations from all responsibility: but even libertarians shouldn't accept that. Otherwise, there would be no prohibition against fraud. People must make choices to be defrauded. The folks who invested with Bernard Madoff chose their investments, but that does not absolve Madoff. Nor are tobacco companies absolved because people chose to smoke. Those people were persuaded by an industry that spent enormous amounts on advertising, promotion, and disinformation. The amount they spent shows how critical they felt that persuasion was: that shows their responsibility.
Mike Huben, email July 26, 2009