The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4012.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 8:48 AM

Abstract #48852

Use of “rhetoric” in tobacco-industry sponsored research: What tobacco industry documents reveal

Anh Le, Sumita Bhattacharya, and Lisa A. Bero, PhD. Institute for Health Policy Studies and Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 420, Box 0613, San Francisco, CA 94143, (415) 476-9403,

The tobacco industry has a history of avoiding public use of words such as “nicotine,” to hide the dangers of the products it sells and out of its fear of government regulation by the Federal Drug Administration. Our objective is to examine how the tobacco industry uses “rhetoric” in its efforts to advance its industry agenda and to counter the scientific evidence regarding its products. We examine tobacco industry documents for evidence that industry scientists and lawyers changed working papers and research proposals to reflect and advance this “rhetoric” in order to protect their vested interests. An example is a tobacco industry document about a study on Alzheimer’s Disease in which nicotine was tested to determine if it facilitated cognitive performance in people with Alzheimer’s Disease. In the research proposal of this study, the tobacco industry substituted the phrase, “cigarette smoking,” for “nicotine, delivered by a cigarette.” We examine how the tobacco industry’s use of “rhetoric” differs from how scientists use language. We discuss the implications of how the tobacco industry’s “rhetoric” and euphemisms intended to mislead the public affect the public health community and general public, and how the industry’s efforts to mislead people by using language in subtle ways are adopted by those outside the tobacco industry.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Tobacco Control Research

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA