A 1978 document, recently made known, revealed the sleight used during that time by the tobacco industry of the United Kingdom in order to overcome the crisis in the sector before evidence that cigarettes were harmful: “We need something for people to die,” said the report.
According to the consulting agency Campbell-Johnson for the British Association of Tobacco (BAT), tobacco consumption was functional for the Government, due to the fact that cancer and other illnesses associated to cigarettes limited “the number of dependent elderly that the economy must maintain.”
The document’s author recognizes that “obviously” those arguments “cannot be used publicly,” but he insists: “with a general increase in life expectancy, we need something for people to die. In replacement of the effects of war, poverty, and hunger, cancer, considered the illness of rich and developed countries, has a role to play.”
This idea, considered a “psychological factor in order to continue the taste people have of smoking as something pleasant, although it may be a dangerous habit, should not be under valuated,” the document continued.
Also, the damage that may be caused to the industry by associating smoking with lung cancer is recognized. “This medical challenge has acted like a nuclear bomb which will have lasting effects” on the sector.
Another argument used in order to defend the consumption of cigarettes indicated that the demonization of tobacco could accompany “a relaxation before marijuana, or an association between both substances.” Although tobacco may be a “relaxation drug” which can be “a blessing for humanity in a stressed world,” its association with marijuana would be harmful, insisted the document.
The document also gave criteria for lifting the public image of cigarettes: “we still have a margin to try to get smoking to be considered on of those habits that aren’t questionable per se,” it says.
One of the actions is to promote a code of conduct among smokers that, if followed, “would assure they wouldn’t be accused by non-smokers of arrogantly assuming the right to contaminate the air around them.”
“Their tone has to be frank and positive,” and one of the objectives must be to “restore the smoker’s image as an outgoing and sociable person, and not neurotic, smelly, and marginal as the non-smokers think,” concluded the report.
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