In JAMA, a brief commentary on the potential public health benefits of recent litigation against the tobacco industry. After years of the industry getting away in court with challenging the science regarding the harm caused by cigarette smoking, recent cases provide “roadmap for future litigation based on industry fraud, conspiracy, and misrepresentation.” Sounds like just the sort of industry an academic health center would not want sponsoring research at its institution … but huge sums of money buy a lot of academic freedom.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “Philip Morris International will launch a clove-flavored cigarette in Indonesia under the Marlboro name as part of an effort by the U.S. tobacco company to push its premium brand in the world’s fifth-largest cigarette market by volume. … there are few rules banning the use of brand names in campaigns on television, print or at music concerts. There is no law setting a minimum age for smokers. About two-thirds of adult males smoke in Indonesia according to some estimates, compared with 24% in the U.S. Indonesians last year smoked 228 billion sticks, putting the country behind China, the U.S., Russia and Japan.”
How reassuring to know, then, that Philip Morris is dedicated to harm reduction research at its new $350 million research and technology center in Richmond, Va, where they are actively recruiting scientists “to work on projects that may potentially reduce the health risks associated with smoking.” And paying these folks – apparently with absolutely no irony – with profits derived from the sale of these same toxic products that unquestionably cause lethal and sub-lethal harm.