It is now absolutely and incontrovertibly certain that smoking is strongly linked to lung cancer. And despite that so much evidence has been around for so long, lung cancer rates are still rising in women who smoke and cancer risks are rising in countries outside of the US (where legislation is weak and where smoking is gaining in popularity). The denial between the link between lung cancer and smoking was so strong (and in some circles still here) that it took a very long time for the medical community and the legal community to agree that cigarettes needed to be regulated in some way or another to help minimize the impact of lung cancer is Americans. Below is a kind of time-table to show the various stages of the smoking lung cancer sordid tale.
1. About ten years after a link between scrotal/testicular cancer and the environmental exposure of chimney sweeps to soot was published John Hill claimed that snuff (oral tobacco) caused lip, mouth and throat cancer. (1761)
2. Tobacco import from the American south increases from 38 million pounds to more than 100 million pounds from 1700 to 1770.
3. Tobacco rolled and put in paper was introduced, making it easier to smoke and simpler to mass produce. @1855
4. Cigarette smoking goes from a per capita of one cigarette per year to about 3,500 per person from 1870 to 1953.
5. The first case-controlled study of its kind was performed by a little known medical student to ask about the association between smoking and cancer. He was told by the ‘Surgeon General’ at that time that it was a complete waste of time and like linking milk to cancer development. His own supervisor, a famous lung pulmonary surgeon, did not think it a wise study but let him do it for the practice of performing a clinical trial. His preliminary data was largely ignored when he presented it in around 1948-49.
6. Doll and Hill publish their seminal findings from a clinical trial that found a strong association between smoking and development of lung cancer. Smoking and Carcinoma of the Lung was published by the British medical journal in 1948.
7. A more realistic (Prospective trial one that allows the researcher to capture a change as it’s happening as opposed to a prospective trial that only allows you to go back and time as was done in 1948) trial was performed in the UK with medical doctors asking them about their smoking habits. During Oct. 1951 and March 1954, from about 41,024 total doctors who answered the surveys, 789 deaths were reported. Death from lung cancer and death from other caused were separated and easily showed that all the lung cancer deaths were linked to smoking.
8. Philipp Morris introduced the Marlboro Man and smoking is at an all time high. 1955
9. Gross annual sales of cigarettes in American peaks (around 5 billion dollars) in 1960’s.
10. The average American was smoking about 11 cigarettes per day, nearly one for every hour they were awake.
11. The Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) was set up and vigorously defended itself and beat down statistical evidence when ever it arose. IT constantly argues over terminology about cause and utility of statistics and how incomplete medical science was, etc. It sought to discredit the scientific community. 1954
12. Due to pressure by Cancer and Lung societies President Kennedy assigns his Surgeon General Terry Smith to investigate a ling between smoking and cancer and health. A report was released to every major radio and news station declaring a strong link between smoking and numerous health related risks in 1964.
13. The FTC (after much fighting by the tobacco companies, etc.) came out with their first warning ever on cigarette packs stating, “Caution: cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health”. 1965
14. After a serious legal battle, TV station in the US were required to allow for ‘proportional airtime’ that showcased the dangers of smoking alongside the “Marlboro Man and Virginia Slim’ commercials. 1968
15. Tobacco companies angry/upset with the ‘proportional airtime anti-smoking adds’ decide to remove cigarette smoking ads from TV altogether in 1971.
16. As a result of very aggressive ads targeting women, female smokers go up from 15 to 36% of all women who smoke from 1940 to 1944.
17. From a total of over 300 product liability cases taken to court against tobacco companies, not a single one had resulted in judgment against the companies.
18. Game changing court case where Cipollone family was awarded ‘negligible’ damages at $400,000 from the Cigarette company for withholding so much information about the risks of cancer and was 20% responsible for her death. Although, a small slap on the wrist, this lead to a huge wave of court battles and tons and tons of bad publicity for years to come against tobacco companies and exposed their ‘torrid cover up’. 1987
19. After facing litigation from entire states, the major Tobacco companies agreed to a landmark global agreement called the ” Master Settlement Agreement” in which the 4 major tobacco companies settled with 48 states. The largest settlement ever recorded had transpired in 1998.
Tobacco smoking is now a major and mostly unregulated cause of death in Both China and India. Cigarette smoking is now rising in many former soviet union countries as well as Asia. Tobacco companies are plying their trade now in countries where they can still make huge profits. Warnings are still lacking and enforcement is almost all but absent in many of these countries. 2000’s
Thank you and I hope you have enjoyed reading this. Smoking is NOW YOUR responsibility not the company who sold you the cigarettes. If you smoke you are asking for cancer and there is no denying it. Sure it is hard to stop, but please do…its in your hands!
For more information see…. Cancer Made Simple
- Lung Cancer Death Rate Falls for Women (webmd.com)
- I Smoke, and I’m in Pain – Is It Lung Cancer? (everydayhealth.com)