On May 22, 2015 the court made this linked decision related to the long-running RICO case against the nations’s cigarette manufacturers. Decisions
1. With regard to “Adverse Health Effects of Smoking”, they ruled that the tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking.
2. With regard to, “Addictiveness of Smoking and Nicotine” they ruled that the tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public about the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. They must admit that, “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.”
3. With regard to, “Lack of Significant Health Benefit From Smoking “Low Tar,” “Light,” “Ultra Light,” “Mild,” and “Natural” Cigarettes” they ruled that the tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public by falsely selling and advertising low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes. They must admit that, “‘Low tar’ and filtered cigarette smokers inhale essentially the same amount of tar and nicotine as they would from regular cigarettes. And that, “All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, and premature death – lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.”
4. With regard to, “Manipulation of Cigarette Design and Composition to Ensure Optimum Nicotine Delivery” they ruled that the tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public about designing cigarettes to enhance the delivery of nicotine. They must admit that, “Defendant tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.”
5. With regard to, “Adverse Health Effects of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke” they ruled that the tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public about the health (illness) effects of secondhand smoke.
While the tobacco companies have been punished by law, big food is stealing their playbook and doing the same thing with food. Although it seems different because we must have food and we don’t have to have cigarettes, it appears we must be wary. Katie Couric clarifies the connection in her excellent documentary Fed Up. The story of how this evolved is outlined below.
History of Tobacco Efforts
For a long time, people had suggested that food should be regulated just as tobacco has been and is now being regulated. I used to reject his argument thinking food is necessary but tobacco is a choice. I have learned, what most assumed, and is now known as a fact, tobacco companies manipulated tobacco to make it more addictive. It was these manipulations that made tobacco even more addictive and in essence took away free will or choice to smoke or not. If you are interested in learning more about how tobacco was made addictive, part of the story is shared in the excellent documentary, Addiction Inc. with by Dr. Victor DeNoble. Below is trailer from the movie.
While Dr. DeNoble’s work is groundbreaking and amazing, the other disappointing actions taken by the tobacco industry was their attempts to create higher nicotine tobacco plants. These actions were partially revealed by a 1994 ABC Day One Special, Smoke Screen (see below).
More was revealed by a 1995 Frontline Special, Nicotine Wars. I have a copy but I no longer am able to see how another copy can be accessed. Please let me know if anyone is able to access this material. In addition to the Frontline Documentary Nicotine Wars, a second less insightful documentary was also produced. There was also, the movie, The Insider (trailer below) with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino that reviews much of what was covered in those 2 documentary’s about the deceitful ways of the tobacco industry. As most of you know, in 1997 the Tobacco Industry lost much in the Master Settlement which was to fund tobacco cessation programs. In 2006, they lost more because they were charged with racketeering.
On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued a final judgment and opinion in the U.S. government’s landmark lawsuit against the major tobacco companies that found the companies have violated civil racketeering laws and defrauded the American people by lying for decades about the health risks of smoking and their marketing to children.
So what does this have to do with food? It is now being revealed that to society’s detriment, the food industry is using strong arm tactics and manipulation of our food and the legislative process, similar to actions taken by the tobacco industry, to sell more (refer to previous Can We Make and Measure Progress? Post about GDP). The industries manipulation makes our food less nutritious, more addicting, and less filling so we buy and eat more. Of course less nutritious food also relates to poorer health outcomes. You can learn more about this from Katie Curic’s excellent new documentary Fed Up. (trailer below) Near the end of the movie they do a good job of explaining the similarity of what the food industry is doing to what was done by tobacco.
Another perspective on the similarity of the food and tobacco industry is shown in these 2 nutrition facts clip (below). The first is about how hospitals are selling sickness by selling fast food. Once again this special shows how having fast food restaurants in hospitals is just like how hospitals used to sell tobacco. The second outlines how advertising manipulated perceptions in the 1950’s and implicates the AMA.
My repeated message is how we should focus on doing more positive actions to move out damaging actions. To make this happen, our efforts need to be focused on how to make health promoting actions easier and unhealthy actions more difficult. Putting fast food restaurants in hospitals, like cigarette companies used to sell tobacco in hospitals, is there effort to make unhealthy actions easier and health promoting actions more difficult. Lets all work together to make health not only the desired choice but the easiest choice so we can all enjoy a better life.