The invention of mass marketing led to cigarettes being emblazoned in advertising and film, deeply tied to modern notions of glamour and sex appeal. It is hard to find a photo of Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall without a cigarette. No product has been so heavily promoted or has become so deeply entrenched in American consciousness. And no product has received such sustained scientific scrutiny. The development of new medical knowledge demonstrating the dire harms of smoking ultimately shaped the evolution of evidence-based medicine. In response, the tobacco industry engineered a campaign of scientific disinformation seeking to delay, disrupt, and suppress these studies. Using a massive archive of previously secret documents, historian Allan Brandt shows how the industry pioneered these campaigns, particularly using special interest lobbying and largesse to elude regulation. But even as the cultural dominance of the cigarette has waned and consumption has fallen dramatically in the U.S., Big Tobacco remains securely positioned to expand into new global markets. The implications for the future are vast: 100 million people died of smoking-related diseases in the 20th century; in the next 100 years, we expect 1 billion deaths worldwide.
About the Author
Allan M. Brandt is the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. His previous writings include the book No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States Since 1880 .