Allan M. Brandt, PhD
Confronted by compelling peer-reviewed scientific evidence of the harms of smoking, the tobacco industry,beginning in the 1950s, used sophisticated public relations approachestoundermineand distort the emerging science.
The industry campaign worked to create a scientific controversy through a program that depended on the creationofindustry–academic conflicts of interest. This strategy of producing scientific uncertainty undercut public
health efforts and regulatory interventions designed to reduce the harms of smoking.
A number of industries have subsequently followed this approach to disrupting normative science. Claims of scientific uncertainty and lack of proof also lead to the assertion of individual
responsibilityfor industrially produced health risks.