Leading article: No escaping the dangers of tobacco

Share
Related Topics

Given the history of half-truths and special pleading which characterise the public pronouncements of tobacco companies, many people will find it unsurprising that the latest analysis casts doubt on previous industry-backed studies into the safety of cigarette additives. Indeed, independent scientists now claim that research published by Philip Morris a decade ago actually "obscured findings of toxicity".

No doubt Philip Morris, the world's second-biggest cigarette company, will explain why its original gloss on the research was correct. Yet many will find it odd to be arguing over details when the harm done by smoking is undisputed. But politics, business and law are different than science. That is why the firm is engaged in a lawsuit with the state of Oregon over a smoking-related wrongful-death claim worth up to $48m (£30m). It is also why Philip Morris is challenging the Australian government over legislation that will next year ban logos and brand imagery on cigarette packs, replacing them with the firm's name in a standard font on a drab packet covered in graphic health warnings.

The move could set an expensive precedent for the tobacco industry in important emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and Indonesia, which are the places where growth in sales is to be found. Four-fifths of the world's one billion smokers live in poor countries and the World Health Organisation is urging governments to adopt plain packaging strategies. For the tobacco companies, protecting such markets is not the rearguard action it might appear in the developed world.

Which comes back to the issue of additives. There are some 599 substances approved by the US government for use in cigarettes, including menthol, glycerol and beeswax. All have different properties when burned. In fact, more than 4,000 chemical compounds are created by lighting a cigarette, 43 of them known carcinogens. Putting additives in tobacco also increases the amount of fine particles inhaled, which adds to inflammation in the lungs. Were this data newly discovered, there would be calls for a ban on additives. As it is, moves to tighten public health rules are the best available course.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Ventilation Cleaning Operative

£15600 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the battle of the election videos, and a robot sarcasm detector

John Rentoul
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping child abuse taking place right now

Mary Dejevsky
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower