BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Sunday, 19 April, 1998, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
'Ploy to confuse public on passive smoking'
Another tobacco company described Philip Morris's plan as "less than honest"
Campaigners say they have uncovered a memo proving that a tobacco company sought to find scientists who would describe passive smoking as harmless.

Philip Morris drew up a list of 14 British scientists who were to be approached by lawyers to work on research into air quality.

The plan was not to tell the scientists whom they were working for until their views on the effects of passive smoking had been learned.

Strategy shows "tobacco companies at their manipulative worst"
According to the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), the makers of Marlboro cigarettes then intended to weed out those whose views it did not agree with, while finding ways of presenting research by the others to the public

Ash said the ploy was revealed through minutes of a 1988 tobacco industry meeting where Philip Morris attempted to persuade others to join in.

Rival British-owned company BAT recorded the strategy in its own confidential memo. It described the tactics as both "rather oblique" and "somewhat less than honest".

The Director of Action on Smoking and Health, Clive Bates, said: "This shows tobacco companies at their manipulative worst, recruiting scientists by stealth and using lawyers to pull the strings."

Ash say smoking harms those who do not inhale too
Ash believes the intention was equally to sow confusion about the dangers, to the point where non-smokers would not know what to think.

Mr Bates said the truth was far more simple.

"There is remarkable consensus among ordinary scientists that passive smoking is harmful. The tobacco industry has set about creating a controversy where there really isn't one."

Recently, BAT published a World Health Organisation study that, it said, cast doubt on the link between passive smoking and lung cancer.

BAT said the research had been suppressed because it did not back up the prevailing view among health professionals.

But anti-smoking groups claimed the company was trying to divert attention from the UK Government's Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health report into the hazards of passive smoking, which came out shortly after and suggested a firm link.

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories