Tobacco industry efforts at discrediting scientific knowledge of environmental tobacco smoke: a review of internal industry documents

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2001 Aug;55(8):588-94. doi: 10.1136/jech.55.8.588.


Study objective: Using tobacco industry internal documents to investigate the use of tobacco industry consulting scientists to discredit scientific knowledge of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).

Design: Basic and advanced searches were performed on the Philip Morris, Tobacco Institute, R J Reynolds, Brown and Williamson, Lorillard, and the Council for Tobacco Research document web sites, with a concentration on the years 1985-1995. Guildford depository files located on the Canadian Council on Tobacco Control website were also searched. The documents were found in searches undertaken between 1 March and 30 June 2000.

Main results: The industry built up networks of scientists sympathetic to its position that ETS is an insignificant health risk. Industry lawyers had a large role in determining what science would be pursued. The industry funded independent organisations to produce research that appeared separate from the industry and would boost its credibility. Industry organised symposiums were used to publish non-peer reviewed research. Unfavourable research conducted or proposed by industry scientists was prevented from becoming public.

Conclusions: Industry documents illustrate a deliberate strategy to use scientific consultants to discredit the science on ETS.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor*
  • Documentation
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Propaganda
  • Publishing
  • Research / standards*
  • Tobacco Industry / standards*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*
  • United Kingdom


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution