Controversial of interest between Public Health and Tobacco Companies

Running Head: Public Health and Tobacco Co.                                                









Controversial between Public Health and Tobacco Companies

Abeba Habte MPH

Walden University

PUBH- 6165 – 2

Dr.Rebecca Heick

 2009 Fall Qtr 09/08-11/30















            The task of public health is to prevent disease and promote health. The public health community tries to prevent disease and guard the well being of all. On the other hand the tobacco industries deny the health risks of smoking and addiction to nicotine. Public health’s aim is to protect its community and population from any exposure that has a negative impact on health. The tobacco industry’s goal is to manipulate every aspect of research and mislead the public by putting their profits above the public interest and well being. Even though many epidemiological studies prove that tobacco could cause disease that leads to death, smoking prevalence continues to rise in many countries. This paper will explore the historical controversy between tobacco industries and public health.
















            The tobacco industries have been in denial that cigarette smoking can cause cancer and heart disease. The 1964, Surgeon General’s Report stated that it was confirmed that smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and coronary heart disease.

In 1965 tobacco industries were required by Congress to put a health warning on all cigarette packages (Surgeon General, 1964). Despite the Surgeon General’s report, in 1994 the major U.S tobacco companies testified before Congress that there is no conclusive evidence that cigarette smoking can cause cancer and heart disease (Cumming, Brown, and O’Connor, 2007).

            Public health focus was to place emphasis on the tobacco industries as the vector of the tobacco epidemic and to expose their unethical behaviors, where as Tobacco Company intelligence was trying to eliminate tobacco control organizations calling them the “antis”. The tobacco control organizations are not cigarette competitors but they are organizations that compete for public opinion and the attention of policymakers, for this reason the industry considered them as a threat (Malone, 2002).

            Currently adolescents are increasingly exposed to tobacco products that have a negative impact on their health. According to the American Lung Association, about 6,000 children less under 18 years of age start smoking, and about 2000 will become regular smokers, almost 800,000 smokers annually (American Lung Association, 2003). In the United States more than 430,000 people die every year from smoking related diseases (Environmental Protection Agency, 2004). If there is no action against the tobacco industries, about 5 million children under the age of 18 years will die early from a smoking-related disease (EPA, 2004). This paper will emphasize the controversy between tobacco industries and public health.





            Public health is about the improvement of the health of the public in addition to justice and equity for all (Yach, 2001). Even though the constant public health policy efforts to reduce the hazardous effects of tobacco began in 1964, public health still continue to this day to convince the tobacco industries that tobacco can cause diseases such as lung cancer, and coronary heart disease. The 1964 Surgeon General Report states that, 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers over non-smokers was caused by cigarette smoking (Surgeon General, 1964).

            Although the tobacco industries knew and accepted the evidence that tobacco can cause cancer, they have not changed their business activities. It is obvious that years of misleading and misinformation has lead to a public that is ignorant about the risk of smoking low-tar cigarette, nicotine addiction, and secondhand smoke exposure (Cumming, Brown, and O’Connor, 2007). People from all over the world are exposed to secondhand smoke; exposure occurs at homes, in the workplace, public transportation, restaurants, bars, etc. Over 50 percent of children are exposed to tobacco smoke through secondhand smoke (WHO, 2005). Children whose parents smoke at home can suffer from lower tract respiratory infection and increase of asthma attacks in asthmatic children (WHO, 2005).

            The tobacco industries can not be trusted any more; they can twist the truth by covering and manipulating researches. Tobacco industries try to manipulate scientific methods and regulatory procedures to their benefit (Bero, 2005). Tobacco industries also try to discredit and attack individual scientific studies. Bero (2005) stated that “The tobacco industry has played a role in influencing the debate around “sound science”, standards for risk assessment, and international standards for tobacco and tobacco products”. It is very essential to separate tobacco industries’ fiction from public health fact. Tobacco industries can have the image of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to promote different activities by pretending to be responsible corporate citizens (WHO, 2004). According to WHO (2004) British American Tobacco (BAT) want to offer support to “soundly based tobacco regulation and reducing the impact of tobacco consumption on public health, but WHO doesn’t believe that a controversial industry like BAT can be trusted by public health. To criticize the government reports of risk assessments of environmental tobacco smoke, the tobacco industry launched a campaign about “Junk Science” and “good epidemiological practice”. The industry also launched another campaign to criticize the technique of risk assessment of low doses of a variety of toxins (Bero, 2005).

            More than 800 lawsuits against tobacco industries were filed by private citizens between 1954 and 1994. The tobacco companies were able to win the case by challenging and denying the fact of science that smoking has negative health consequences, instead they argue that smokers had knowledge of negative health consequences and the risk they were taking. They also suggested that the cause of the illness is the smokers lifestyle rather the smoking itself. Even though two of the courts were in favor of the private citizen, later on were reversed on appeal (Vernick, Rutknow, and Teret, 2007).

Nicotine, Addiction and Advertisement

            Public health messages are to educate and encourage people to lead a healthy lifestyle by taking proper care of the environment. Smoking is one of the factors that can pollute the environment. In 2001 United States funded $3.17 per capital to tobacco control. In the United Kingdom spend $1.31 and in Australia spend $0.87. Tobacco industries are mostly threatened by the court in Australia, they have responded through media outlets such as television, radio and other advertising to shape public opinion (Melanie, Wakefield, and et al. 2005). In 1994 the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of seven large American tobacco industries denied the scientific evidence and testified that nicotine is not addictive and later tried to change the definition of addiction ( WHO, 2004).

             The most vulnerable of addictions are the youth, and are more likely to carry their addiction into their adult life (AR, PR, Garg, 2008). Some Tobacco industries like Philip Morris (PM) have admitted in internal document that “if you take away our advertising and sponsorship, you lose most if not all, of your media and political allies”. They successfully fought such bans in Ecuador, where journalists were mobilized, later it was vetoed by the president. In Saudi Arabia tobacco industries use their political connection to fight tobacco ban. Philip Morris planned to advertise in Lebanon using their brand name to entrance of two measure tunnels with Drive Safely statement, in exchange they will contribute fund for the tunnel lightening system (WHO, 2004).

            A former marketing consultant for PM said that “how do you sell a poison that kills 350000 people a year, 1,000 a day? You do it with the great open space…the mountains, the open spaces, the lakes coming up the shore. They do it with healthy young people” (WHO, 2004). In the 2001 meeting WHO stated that, they want the full truth, and clear evidence that the tobacco industries are willing to accept and take responsibility and act on the consequence of their past behavior (WHO, 2001). It is evident that with 1.2 million smokers in the world and a rising death rate due to tobacco use and more youth smoking, the World Health Organization community wants the tobacco industries to be more responsible for causing the massive epidemic. The non stop tactics of the tobacco company continue to tempt the youth on one hand and try to sponsor a program by offering cash to reduce youth smoking on the other hand  (WHO, 2001). At the San Francisco meeting in 2001 WHO stated that “Philip Morris proudly describes their “contribution” to society on their website; multi-million dollar gifts and grants for programs that promote fine arts, education, and environmental preservation; provide hunger and disaster relief; and responds to issues including AIDS and domestic violence” (WHO, 2001). This is just to the cost of contamination by association with tobacco industries to win public opinion.

            In a historic move, on June 22, 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA), giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad new power to regulate tobacco. The FDA will regulate how the tobacco products are produced, marketed, and sold. The law also bans the tobacco companies from labeling their products as light, mild, or medium and the companies must put the health warning with more graphics on their products (Krisberg, k. 2009). President Obama on his speech to the Congress in Washington DC when he signed the FSPTCA stated that” It’s a low that will reduce the number of American children who pick up a cigarette and become adult smokers. And most importantly, it is a law that will save American lives’ and make Americans healthier.”


            Public health goal is to prevent disease and secure the health of the communities by educating, and encouraging the people to stop or avoid smoking. On the other hand tobacco industries are trying to sell their products by denying the fact that tobacco can cause disease, and mislead consumers about tobacco health risks. The Tobacco industries also try to manipulate the scientific research and discredit public health. With the new law tobacco companies should clean their acts and obey the law.





American Lung Association, (2003) Adolescent Smoking Statistics. Retrieved on October 13, 2009 from      

AR, D., PR, D., Garg N.M., (2008). Tobacco consumption among adolescents in rural Wardha: Where and how tobacco control should focus its attention? Indian Journal of Cancer, 45 (3). Retrieved from Walden library data base
Bero A.L., (2005) Tobacco Industry Manipulation of Research. Public Health Chronicles Vol 120 Retrieved from Walden library data base

Cumming, M., K., Brown, A., and O’Connor, R., (2007) the Cigarette Controversy. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Preventions, 16(6): 1070-6, Retrieved on October 13, 2009 from

Environmental Protection Agency (2004) Environmental Tobacco Smoke: An analysis of State and Local Policies to Reduce Exposure. Retrieved on October 15, 2009,   from    stract/6

Krisberg, K., (2009). Tobacco law a long-awaited victory for public health. Nation’s Health 39(6). Retrieved from Walden Library database

Melanie, Wakefield, and et al. (2005) Mix Messages on tobacco: comparative exposure  to public health, tobacco company- and pharmaceutical company- sponsored tobacco-related television campaign in the United States, 1999-2003. Society for the study Addiction. Vol 100. 1875-1883. doi:10.1111/j1360-0443.2005.01298.x

Malone E., R. (2002) Tobacco Industry Surveillance of Public Health Groups: The Case of  STAT and INFACT. American Journal of Public Health, 92(6) Retried from Walden library database

Obama, H., B. (2009) Remarks on signing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control   Act of 2009.Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents. P 1-3 ISSN 05114187 Retrieved from Walden Library database
Surgeon General (1964).The Report of the Surgeon General: The 1964 Report on smoking and Health. Retrieved on October 14, 2009 from

Vernick, S., J, Rutknow, L., and Teret, P.S., (2007). Public Health Benefits of Recent Litigation against the Tobacco Industry. JAMA, 298 (1). Retrieved on October 22, 2009 from

WHO (2001). In their own words…” Using tobacco industry documents to advance truth. Retrieved on October 10, 2009 from speeches1/en/

WHO (2004) World No Tobacco Day, Tobacco and poverty: A Vicious circle: Behind th Scenes: The inherent contradiction behind big tobacco corporate social responsibility. Retrieved on October 10, 2009 From

WHO (2005) Tobacco smoke pollution. Fact sheet. Retrieved on October 15, 2005 from

  These are some additional articles.

Draft Guidance for Industry (2009)

            This guidance has been prepared by the Center for Tobacco Products at the U.S. …..              …. to


Ending the Tobacco Problem (2007): A Blueprint for the Nation: Reducing Tobacco Use: Strategies, Barriers, and Opportunities. Institute of Medicine.


Deadly in Pink Report (2009). The bill would limit tobacco advertising in publication with significant teen…

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