Big Tobacco and Science: Uncovering the Truth

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 1
Words: 286
Reading time:
< 1 min
Study level: College

In their article, Patterson and researchers write about how tobacco companies used medical and social research to prove that smoking has a harmful effect on health only on smokers themselves, but not on people who are nearby. Representatives of the tobacco industry thus tried to refute the harm of passive smoking for the human cardiovascular system. Their industry strategy was to silence studies that proved the negative impact of passive smoking on human health.

In my opinion, scientific evidence provided by Patterson or by researchers examining the effects of second-hand cigarette smoke was countered so strongly by the big petroleum and tobacco companies because it was unprofitable for them to recognize it. If manufacturers recognized that the harmful components of smoke poison the human body, it would negatively affect the trading process: sales would fall significantly. For this reason, the big petroleum and tobacco companies tried to protect their products by underestimating their harmfulness.

The “big money” provided by these industries to fund alternate research efforts reflects the importance of the role of funding in research. The phenomenon reflected in the article demonstrates the possible bias of research in the presence of large sponsors. Thus, scientists can create a collection of data, adjusting it to the thesis of sponsors, which must be proved in order to receive funding.

Thus, in the article Patterson and researchers reveal the phenomenon of confirmation bias in relation to studies of the impact of tobacco products. They note the tendency of scientists to seek to give preference to such information that is consistent with the sponsor’s point of view. The use of unreliable results in marketing is based on the publication of only those data that would contribute to sales growth.