[ Medical School Resources | Appendices | Discussion ]
According to the World Health Organization, cigarette smoking will kill 10 million people annually by 2025. Reported in a Lancet editorial entitled, "Exporting tobacco addiction from the U.S.A.," 70% of cigarettes sold by Philip Morris in 1996 were sold overseas. The single most lethal agent on Earth today is not a virus or bacterium, but rather tobacco.
As reported in JAMA, a review article written by authors with affiliations to the tobacco industry is 88 times more likely to conclude that passive smoking is not harmful than if the review article was written by authors with no connection to the tobacco industry. We now know that this was part of a larger campaign.
According to the British Medical Journal, U.S. tobacco giant Phillip Morris set up a network of scientists who were paid to cast doubt upon the risks of passive smoking according to recently leaked confidential documents. The European arm of the secret global campaign was code named "Project Whitecoat."
In 1964, AMA president Edward R. Annis spoke the fateful words, "The AMA is not opposed to smoking and tobacco." A subsequent AMA president Daniel Cloud finally admitted the awful truth:
[There was] a tacit understanding... between the tobacco-state lawmakers and the AMA that the AMA would lay off, if tobacco people would support us in the fight against [the institution of Medicare].... We did have support [from the southern states] and we got the support because of our laying off the tobacco issue.
Lung cancer and no health insurance for the elderly? The AMA hard at work to prevent [doctor's salaries from] suffering.
Dr. Blum, founder of DOC, Doctors Ought to Care, publicized the fact that the AMA owned $1.4 million in tobacco securities. Replying on behalf the of AMA, the Chairman of the AMA Board's Finance Committee explained that the purpose of the retirement fund was, "to make the biggest buck, not to make a social statement."
This is not unusual for the medical industry. Health insurance giant Prudential, for example, owns over a hundred million dollars of Phillip Morris stock. One critic likened this investment to a, "combined taxidermy and veterinarian shop; either way you get your dog back."
The AMA defends its public health efforts. In 1979 it spearheaded a report on tobacco (using an 18 million dollar contribution from the tobacco industry). In 1992 it did produce a program dealing with diet and cholesterol (funded by the National Livestock and Meat Board, the Beef Board, and the Pork Board). The AMA also points to recent educational programs on alcohol (funded by $600,000 from the liquor industry).
The AMA was finally nailed, though, for its unhealthy politics - Appendix 70b.
 "Exporting Tobacco Addiction from the USA" The Lancet 351(1998):1597.
 Foege, WH. "Global Public Health." JAMA 279(1998):1931-1932.
 Wise, J. "Links to Tobacco Industry Influences Review Conclusions." JAMA 279(1998):1566.
 Dyer, C. British Medical Journal 316(1998):1555.
 Wolinsky, H. The Serpent on the Staff: The Unhealthy Politics of the American Medical Association New York: Putnam Publishing Group, 1995.
 Robbins, J. Reclaiming Our Health Tiburon, CA: HJ Kramer, 1996.
 Woolhandler, S and DU Himmelstein. For Our Patients, Not For Profits Cambridge: Center for National Health Program Studies, 1998:86.
 Robbins, J. Reclaiming Our Health Tiburon, CA: HJ Kramer, 1996:216.