A public-health article published online by THE LANCET (www.thelancet.com) suggests that Philip Morris, one of the world's leading tobacco manufacturers, was covertly involved in scientific research into the health effects of tobacco 30 years ago, and conducted research into the dangers of passive smoking which do not appear to have been published.
Martin McKee (London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK), and colleagues Pascal Diethelm and Jean-Charles Rielle from Switzerland highlight how Phillip Morris used a German-based research facility to do research into the health effects of tobacco smoke from the early 1970s onwards. Dr McKee explains: "The tobacco industry maintained, for many years, that it was unaware of research about the toxic effects of smoking. By the 1970s, however, the industry decided that it needed this information but they were unwilling to seek it in a way that was open to public scrutiny. By means of material from internal industry documents it can be revealed that one company, Philip Morris, acquired a research facility in Germany and created a complex mechanism seeking to ensure that the work done in the facility could not be linked to Philip Morris. Arrangements were made to conceal this process, not only from the wider public, but also from many within Philip Morris, although some senior executives did know."
The article also highlights how the published research appears to reflect the interests of the tobacco industry. Professor McKee adds: "The scientists involved appear to have published only a small amount of their research and what was published appears to differ considerably from what was not. In particular, the unpublished reports provided evidence that second-hand smoke is even more harmful than mainstream smoke, a finding of particular releva
Contact: Joe Santangelo