Policy Documents

Lies, Damned Lies, & 400,000 Smoking-Related Deaths

Robert A. Levy and Rosalind B. Marimont –
December 1, 1998

"Truth was an early victim in the battle against tobacco.

"The big lie, repeated ad nauseam in anti-tobacco circles, is that smoking causes more than 400,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. That mantra is the principal justification for all manner of tobacco regulations and legislation, not to mention lawsuits by dozens of states for Medicaid recovery, class actions by seventy-five to eighty union health funds, similar litigation by thirty-five Blue Cross plans, twenty-four class suits by smokers who are not yet ill, sixty class actions by allegedly ill smokers, five hundred suits for damages from secondhand smoke, and health-related litigation by twelve cities arid counties--an explosion of adjudication never before experienced in this country or elsewhere.

"The war on smoking started with a kernel of truth--that cigarettes are a high risk factor for lung cancer--but has grown into a monster of deceit and greed, eroding the credibility of government and subverting the rule of law. Junk science has replaced honest science and propaganda parades as fact."