Studying the Brain Waves of 11 Year Olds

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

This British American Tobacco Company (BAT) scientist's trip report describes the intent to study the brainwaves of 11-year-old children before they are smokers, and then five years later after some of them become smokers. The idea was to see if smoking altered their brain waves. Although the industry scientists didn't know if the results would favor them, they hoped it would provide proof that smoking wasn't addictive. This in turn, they hoped, would reinforce the industry's "constitutional theory" of smoking, or the hypothesis that people smoke because of a genetic difference from non-smokers.

The document also discusses the ethical problems of testing children, and shows their intent to insulate the industry from these questions by contracting the study out to a university or hospital, who would then assume the burden of the ethical questions for them. The scientists recognized that they needed to insulate the industry from such a study, which could lead to attacks by "anti-smoking fundamentalists" who might not take very well to the idea that they were studying the brainwaves of 11 year olds. The document says the "more rationally minded" would understand why they were doing this.

Title Visit Report
Org. Author BAT Group Research and Development Centre
Per. Author Thornton, RE
Date 19820714 (July 14, 1982)
Type report
Bates Previous Bates 102687020-102687023