Philip Morris ‘Secretly’ Conducted Studies on Effects of Cigarette Smoking, Witness Testifies
The tobacco industry "secretly" conducted studies in Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s that linked cigarette smoking to cancer and later destroyed documents to eliminate a "paper trail," a former Philip Morris executive testified last week in Sacramento Superior Court, the Sacramento Bee reports. William Farone, a toxicologist who supervised 600 scientists in the research and development department at Philip Morris, said that the company conducted the studies in Germany and sent correspondence related to the studies to "dummy addresses" in Switzerland to hide evidence of the research. "The results of these tests were not to be available to lawsuits or the U.S. government," he said. Farone testified in the trial of a lawsuit filed against Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds by Laurence Lucier, a Sacramento smoker diagnosed with lung cancer (Coronado, Sacramento Bee, 11/23). The lawsuit, which asks for an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, alleges that the companies defrauded the public, targeted teenagers with advertisements and hid information about the addictiveness of cigarettes and their link to cancer. The lawsuit began earlier this month, one month after a jury in a separate case ordered Philip Morris to pay a California smoker diagnosed with lung cancer $28 billion in punitive damages, the largest punitive award to an individual in U.S. history (California Healthline, 11/8). In testimony last week, Farone said that the tobacco industry had a "gentleman's agreement" not to conduct studies on the effects of cigarette smoking in the United States and that Philip Morris hired employees to "question the studies of others." He added, "The objective was to keep doubt alive" about the link between cigarette smoking and cancer. Testimony in the case concluded on Friday (Sacramento Bee, 11/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.