This week, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published a devastating article about the destruction of key documents by British American Tobacco's (BAT) Canadian subsidiary, Imperial Tobacco Canada (ITC).
In it, the authors claim that BAT instructed ITC to destroy key documents that could expose the company to liability or embarrassment. ITC, rather stupidly in my view, wrote to BAT listing 60 of these documents, confirming their destruction. Using this list, these 60 documents were subsequently found in BAT's own document archives.
The documents included evidence from internal scientific reviews, as well as 47 original research studies, 35 of which examined the cancer-causing effects of smoking.
The documents also describe BAT research on light and mild cigarettes, including the ways in which consumers adapted their smoking behavior
in order to get the same levels of nicotine as if they were smoking full-strength cigarettes. The documents also depict a comprehensive research program on the pharmacology of nicotine and its addictiveness, showing the central role of nicotine in smoking behavior.
We should bear in mind that in 1992, when these documents were destroyed, tobacco companies were still denying that nicotine was addictive and that smoking caused cancer.
As we say in our seminars: Sometimes you need to ask yourself who your friends are.
Damian O'Hara is a former chain smoker who after countless miserable attempts to quit, finally did so successfully using Allen Carr's Easyway method (Sterling/ 2006). The early part of his career was spent working at international advertising agencies but today he is the President of Allen Carr North America where he heads up the US and Canadian arm of a global organization dedicated to helping smokers quit. Over the past 25 years Allen Carr's Easyway books and seminars have helped an estimated 10 million smokers quit successfully.
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October 15, 2009