Fact or Fancy

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

This 55-page document produced by the Tobacco Institute is an artfully written and misleading Q&A exercise about smoking and health issues, primarily dealing with women. The document poses commonly-asked questions about the effects of smoking on women, and provides detailed and evasive tobacco industry "answers" to these questions, to wit:

Q. Do women who smoke while they're pregnant have smaller babies?

A. Yes, their babies usually weigh less than the babies of mothers who don't smoke...The critical issue is whether smoking causes a reduction in birth weight (the causal hypothesis) or whether smokers are a self-selected group that differs from nonsmokers in ways unrelated to smoking, including the production of lower weight babies (the self-selectlon hypothesis) ...

Q. Are lung cancer death rates rising more rapidly in women than in men, and is this because more women are said to be smoking?

A. Lung cancer death rates reported for U.S. women have been rising faster year to year than those in men since 1961...Some scientists believe that the recent rise in lung cancer in women is more apparent than real, because physicians order diagnostic tests more frequently now for women patients they know to be smokers. Therefore, they diagnose more lung cancer where it might not have been found in earlier years ...

Q. Is it true that smoking mothers can harm their babies after birth -- that children of women who smoke suffer more respiratory illnesses, especially bronchitis and pneumonia?

A. This is a frequent emotlon-laden claim against cigarettes. Children have more respiratory infections as a whole than adults. They are thought to be more susceptible to airborne germs, smog and other environmental effects...More recently, a four-year study of 5700 youngsters in England and Scotland identified a so-called "cooking effect" ... Boys and girls from homes in which gas was used for cooking had more coughs, "colds going into the chest" and bronchitis than children whose homes had electric stoves. The researchers concluded that products of fuel combustion might be the cause of the increased respiratory illness. It is dlfflcult to understand why parental smoking is blamed for a child's coughs or wheezes in view of these confllcts in research findings ...[1]

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  1. Tobacco Institute Fact or Fancy. Report. 55pp. May, 1978. R.J. Reynolds Bates No. 513021228/1282

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