Public Comment

There's More to Tobacco Story

By Carol Denney
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 12:03:00 PM

Thank you for Gar Smith’s excellent and detailed review of Addiction Incorporated (Addiction Incorporated: The Other Insider 1-17-2012 ) at the Shattuck Cinemas.

The tobacco industry’s manipulation of the public, cigarette additives, and the scientific community is still going on, and this movie does a great job of telling whistleblower Victor DeNoble’s insider story of doing research at Philip Morris like the great suspense thriller it is.

But the film leaves out a big part of the tobacco story – the dogged, dedicated citizens, parents, public health professionals, policymakers, teachers, casino workers, truck drivers, musicians and others who continue to fight ordinance by ordinance, city council by city council, for clean air despite the billions the tobacco industry spends to try to thwart common sense public health policy. 

The film does a great job of covering Congressman Henry A. Waxman’s congressional hearings in the early 1990s where tobacco industry CEOs famously insisted that they did not think nicotine was an addictive substance, perjury soundly emphasized by insider documents revealing that they not only knew nicotine was addictive, but actively suppressed the findings. 

But the film curiously notes that public smoking rates began to reduce at that point, as though they tapered off naturally, or as though there was a magical turning point to addiction. 

Someday I hope the inspired and life-saving work of the school kids, the tenant groups, the ordinary citizens who patiently educated their peers and representatives is given its due, so that the larger story, the story of the quietest, most out-gunned, but most powerful grassroots movement on earth can also be told.