Bad Science: Unethical Testing and Development of Tobacco Products

Big Tobacco uses unethical animal testing, flawed science and research methods, and profits from the ignorance of the facts surrounding the use of their products in order to replenish a dying consumer base.

wo men in lab coat looking at the beaker in the factory

Big Tobacco has a long history of unethical marketing practices, bad science, and less than humane treatment of animals. Few are fully aware of the unscrupulous tactics employed by the tobacco industry, often to their own detriment. For years, the tobacco industry tried to convince consumers that its products were safe, or even healthy. This resulted in potentially millions of illnesses and deaths.

Bad Science Hindering True Science

The tobacco industry has been known to hire its own scientists to conduct studies on its own products. Normally, scientific advancement is a plus, but Big Tobacco disregarded unfavorable results, and performed studies known to be erroneous in terms of human health. For instance, according to PETA, studies performed on animal test subjects long showed no link between tobacco products and lung cancer. While those studies did not show a link, it is now known that animal test studies are not a true indicator of how a human subject will react to a particular substance.

Tobacco lobbyists have also funded political campaigns and are reported to have paid media companies to withhold study results which painted tobacco in a dangerous light. This prevented the public from fully understanding the scientific facts on the dangers of tobacco. For several decades, consumers were led to believe that tobacco products were much safer than they actually are.

Today, Big Tobacco still routinely pays off lawmakers to prevent new legislation which would result in restrictions of their products’ use from passing. They also prevent some study information from making in into the mainstream media in order to upkeep what little credibility they have left. This hinders true science, and creates a stigma among participating scientific groups.

Animal Cruelty

As earlier stated, the tobacco industry has a long history of performing animal studies to try and prove that its products are safe for human use. Even after it was proven that these studies were not effective at predicting how a human body would react to tobacco product exposure, tobacco companies still continue to use these unethical, inhumane, and scientifically invalid practices.

Even now, the tobacco industry subjects test animals to numerous cruelties. Dogs, rats, rabbits, and primates are forced to be exposed to large amounts of cigarette smoke per day for extended periods of time. Some are smeared with tar and chemicals to see how their skin will react, while others are impregnated and forced to smoke to see what effects will be apparent in the fetus upon birth.

Due to the inaccurate results presented by such studies, there are no moral or scientific grounds for their continuation. It has been shown in numerous other, better-constructed studies that cigarettes do cause lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and numerous other dangerous health conditions. Continuing these animal studies is not only science at its worst, but it also promotes suffering, and usually death, in the animals involved.

Tobacco Industry Profits for the “Public Good”

Big Tobacco has infiltrated the “stop smoking” arena with forged efforts at preventing youth from smoking. These efforts are a farce, as they aim to make smoking look like an adult activity, which has proven to make it all the more appealing to young consumers. According to the World Health Organization, the tobacco industry continues to use these methods to lure young people toward their products, under the guise of promoting tobacco avoidance.

Tobacco companies have also begun promoting social justice and equality in some developing nations. They falsify the safety of their products in many third-world and developing nations much as they did in the Western world decades ago. They promote tobacco-related agriculture in poor nations in order to infiltrate them and lure them into allegiance to their products. For this reason, smoking related illnesses are on the rise in developing nations.

What can be Done?

In general, the best way to combat Big Tobacco’s efforts is to avoid buying their products. Without active consumers, there is no tobacco industry. Those who currently smoke are urged to quit. The science community is further urged to follow ethics which regulate what is considered to be good science and expose the facts about tobacco products. Public awareness should be front and center in regards to the results of clinical studies surrounding the use of tobacco products. Through education which is based on scientific discovery, the public is better suited to make informed decisions based on factual evidence and documented results.

Published: March 1, 2015


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