After thus beginning to lull the public into a false sense of security concerning smoking and health, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee continued to act as a front for tobacco industry interests. Despite the initial public statements and posturing, ... there was a coordinated, industry-wide strategy designed actively to mislead and confuse the public about the true dangers associated with smoking cigarettes. Rather than work for the good of the public health, ... the tobacco trade association, refuted, undermined, and neutralized information coming from the scientific and medical community.
There is no question that the tobacco industry knew what scientists were learning about tobacco. The TIRC maintained a library with cross-indexed medical and scientific papers from 2,500 medical journals; as well as press clippings, government reports and other documents. TIRC employees culled this library for scientific data with inconclusive or contrary results regarding tobacco and the harm to human health. These were compiled into a carefully selected 18-page booklet, titled "A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy," which was mailed to over 200,000 people, including doctors, members of Congress and the news media.
From Merchants of Death: by Larry C. White
The year 1954 marked the beginning of the cigarette Big Lie. It was in this year that the cigarette companies got together to plot the strategies that would keep them viable far into the future, strategies that still guide their response to the fact that their products kill 10 percent of their customers.
Speaking frankly to investors in June of 1954, O. Parker McComas, then president of Philip Morris, said that the health problem must be taken seriously--that is, "carefully evaluated for its effect on industry public relations, as well as its effect on the consumer market." Therefore, he said, Philip Morns had joined with "practically all elements of industry" to form the Tobacco Industry Research Committee. There were great expectations for the TIRC: "We hope that the work of TIRC will open new vistas not only in research, but in liaison between industry and the scientific world." As for the nature of the TIRC, McComas said that it was similar to other industries' organizations such as the American Meat Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, and so on.
This was not for consumption by the general public, of course. An ad was run in newspapers across the country on January 4, 1954, that announced the formation of the TIRC and touted the committee's objectivity. "In charge of the research activities of the Committee will be a scientist of unimpeachable integrity and national repute. In addition, there will be an Advisory Board of scientists disinterestedin the cigarette industry. A group of distinguished men from medicine, science, and education will be invited to serve on this Board. These scientists will advise the Committee on its research activities."
There would be no pro-cigarette studies funded by the committee--fakes would be too easily discredited. Instead, research would be done around the periphery--keeping scientists busy on incidental issues, diverting attention from the main point: the link between cigarettes and disease. For example, one of the committee's first priorities was funding of studies on why