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Tobacco documents manipulated data on effects of cigarette additives, study

Ernie Shannon's picture

Tobacco advertising continues to come under scrutiny as critics call into question the facts and claims made by cigarette companies in the marketplace. The latest firm to face critique is Philip Morris.

A group of University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) professors studied tobacco industry documents that they say manipulated data on the effects of additives in cigarettes, including actual toxicity levels and increasing the risk of heart, cancer, and other diseases for smokers. The results of their research are published in PLoS Medicine.

The industry has been under attack since the mid-1990s when several states successfully sued tobacco companies and the industry as a whole was forced to pay out many millions of dollars. This was followed by class action lawsuits claiming individual damages.

The most recent research conducted by the team at UCSF involved reassessing data from Philip Morris’ Project MIX, which detailed chemical analyses of smoke and animal toxicology studies of 333 cigarette additives. Unlike some other studies of Philip Morris, the UCSF researchers looked at the origins and design of Project MIX and stressed that many of the toxins in cigarette smoke substantially increased after additives were added to cigarettes. The researchers also found that tobacco scientists adjusted the protocol by presenting their results in a way that obscured these increases.

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“We discovered these post-hoc changes in analytical protocols after the industry scientists found that the additives increased cigarette toxicity by increasing the number of the particles in the cigarette smoke that cause heat and other diseases,” said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF. “When we conducted our own analysis by studying additives per cigarette – following Philip Morris’ original protocol – we found that 15 carcinogenic chemicals increased by 20 percent or more,” he said.

The results of Project MIX were first published as four papers in a 2002 edition of Food and Chemical Toxicology, the UCSF team said. The journal, Glantz said, had an editor and many members of its editorial board with financial ties to the tobacco industry. While Philip Morris was trying to get the papers published, the company scientists who led Project MIXD sent an email to a colleague describing the peer review process as an “inside job.” The UCSF report goes on to say that in their study, the researchers used documents made public as a result of litigation against the tobacco industry. The documents are available to the public through UCSF’s Legacy “Tobacco Documents Library.

A video describing the paper is available at http://www.scivee.ty/node/37778
The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute.

Also see additional Emaxhealth coverage of this subject:

Stanford Historian Exposes Tobacco Industry: Top 5 Common Myths about Tobacco
Tobacco industry hid lung cancer risk from public for decades

Image source: Wikipedia