Tobacco industry pays scientists to challenge secondhand smoke's link to infant death risk

lished scientific finding that secondhand smoke increases the risk of sudden infant death -- a finding highlighted in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and reinforced by the California Environmental Protection Agency in 1997.

The tobacco company carried out this disinformation campaign even after the landmark 1998 settlement between all of the major U.S. tobacco manufacturers and 46 states. In the settlement, the tobacco firms agreed to pay the states $206 billion over the first 25 years and continuing amounts after that, and agreed to stop creating controversy about the evidence linking smoking and disease.

The tobacco industry's disinformation campaign regarding secondhand smoke and maternal and child health can be counteracted, the UCSF and CDC researchers write in their analysis.

"Secondhand smoke must be recognized as an established, controllable risk factor for SIDS, like prone sleep positioning," they conclude. "Clinicians and public health officials should intensify their efforts to promote reducing infant exposure to secondhand smoke as an effective strategy for reducing SIDS."

The documents show that the tobacco industry hired scientists on at least two different occasions to prepare articles challenging the SHS/SIDS connection. The first one failed to attract an influential journal. But then Philip Morris retained a consultant to write a comprehensive review of all known risk factors for SIDS. Philip Morris was to provide the literature review, and the hired scientist was to write the paper. The company's documents show that Philip Morris budgeted $50,000 to $100,000 for this project.

The company's papers reveal a concerted effort by Philip Morris to influence the paper's content and conclusions. When the author completed his first draft, he sent it to the company for review. The original conclusion stated that secondhand smoke increased the risk of SIDS. But a Philip Morris scientific affairs executi

Contact: Wallace Ravven
University of California - San Francisco

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