Recent news via Stanford University School of Medicine:
- “Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, a small group of otolaryngologists have repeatedly testified, on behalf of the tobacco industry, that heavy smoking did not cause the cancer in cases of dying patients suing for damages, according to a study by a Stanford University School of Medicine researcher.”
This is not an example of “old-school” tobacco tactics from the 1950s. This is recent:
- “The study reports that six board-certified otolaryngologists were paid by one or more of the tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds, Phillip Morris and Lorillard to serve as expert witnesses. These physicians gave testimony that indicated a multiplicity of environmental factors, ranging from exposure to cleaning solvents to the consumption of salted fish to the use of mouthwash, were more likely to have caused the plaintiffs’ head and neck cancers than years of heavy smoking. The cases occurred between 2009 and 2014.”
The co-optation of health professionals is something many industries engage in, largely to help sow doubt in the general public’s mind.
- “By highlighting an exhaustive list of potential risk factors, such as alcohol, diesel fumes, machinery fluid, salted fish, reflux of stomach acid, mouthwash and even urban living, they created doubt in the minds of the jurors as to the role of smoking in the plaintiff’s cancer,” the study said. “Evidence shows that this testimony, which was remarkably similar across cases, was part of a defense strategy shaped by tobacco’s law firms.”
Keep this in mind when you come across messaging that, for example, paints sugar-sweetened beverages as innocuous and no different from any other caloric sources in the diet.