Snuff and sugar, two parallel stories of manipulation

Snuff and sugar, two parallel stories of manipulation

The snuff industry influenced and manipulated research for decades, trying to divert attention from the harmful...

The snuff industry influenced and manipulated research for decades, trying to divert attention from the harmful effects of cigarettes. Is the same thing happening with sugar?

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In 1970, Richard Nixon announced a ban on ads from snuff industry on radio and television United States. The measure was a direct consequence of Report on Smoking and Health , published six years earlier, in which the US administration admitted the direct relationship between consumption of snuff and cancer

For decades snuff industry influenced and manipulated results Scientific studies The first evidence of the carcinogenicity of snuff had begun much earlier. In 1939, the scientific community began to warn about the harmful effects of cigarettes. But the influence of industry on government snuff, health professionals and research brutally silenced those flags.

What is now known as corporate social responsibility has been for decades a strategy of self- Industry snuff, frightened by the results showing the dangers of smoking. In recent years, the long shadow of snuff lobby is also hovering over the sugar industry. Have these sectors followed the same strategies to silence, manipulate or downplay the results of scientific studies that warn about the harmful effects of the consumption of their products?

The misleading advertising

In any communication strategy advertising plays an important role. With the different campaigns we can bring the message of our company or institution to society. For decades, the industry snuff and sugar coincided in the messages and the target audience of their ads.

As if it were the most normal thing in the world, these two ads feature professional health as doctors or nurses or snuff consuming sugary soft drinks in hospitals.

Who could imagine a healthcare professional advertising cigarettes as if they were the product safer world? In 1946, the company R.J.. Reynolds Tobacco Company launched a slogan that would last for six years in their advertising campaigns: “ More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette ” (in Castilian, “ More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigar “). The announcements made by the cigarette companies were disguised rigorous research

The company, which produces brands such as Camel or Winston, was referring to a case study “by three independent institutions between 113,597 physicians in the United States.” In reality the investigation had been developed by William Esty Company, the advertising agency hired by RJ Reynolds. The physicians who responded to the survey had received cartons of Camel as a gift for their participation, as told in the journal American Journal of Public Health .

Another example of aggressive advertising and related medical snuff was led by Philip Morris, which produces brands such as Marlboro, L & M and Chesterfield. The company, now owned by Altria Group along with other known food industry (Kraft Foods), began to advertise on popular magazines a “scientific study” which showed that their cigarettes were less irritating than other brands.

The study did not really scientific, but from 1927-1953, Philip Morris used articles written by researchers who had been funded to protect the safety and superiority of its brands of snuff. Scientists like Michael Mulinos or Frederick Flinn Columbia University -patrocinados made by Philip Morris to prove that diethylene glycol was less toxic than the compounds used by other companies work.

This type of announcements, made of aggressively from industry snuff, they are not the only ones who have tried to soften the image of these two sectors. For decades we have seen advertising campaigns where children or even Santa Claus offer or consume snuff and sugary products as if nothing had happened.

Although these babies probably do not know or crawl yet, the advertising shows a lighthearted image of both, offering snuff to their mothers or directly consuming sugary products.

For the image of Santa Claus was the artist Swedish Haddon Sundblom in charge of redesigning the image ads that Coca-Cola published in the thirties. According to the company, the artist was inspired by a poem by Clement Clark Moore in 1822, although the characteristic red color would not “blame” for the company, but the suit he had worn San Nicholas Bishop in his time.

Pause in the gift-giving? The best thing to do is drink a sugary snack or a cigarette, according to these two ads.

The advertising industry snuff also focused much of his message the scientific community. Although the companies that make sugary products have no impact on both the researchers, the fact is that the claim of Albert Einstein has been used by both Coca-Cola and Pepsi:

The research community has also been considered as a target for advertising campaigns, perhaps to provide scientific support to the advertising and marketing of these products.

The support of scientific societies

The collaboration between academia and the private sector can promote research, provided that the industry did not try to use the scientific support for their commercial interests. Examples of R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris in the past should have taught us the red lines that should not be crossed. The scientific backing is used to promote foods with high sugar

But it seems that we learn. As the journalist Oscar Menendez denounced in the journal Quo , two scientific societies had decided to ally with the private sector. An alliance could be positive if the collaboration and promote research.

According to the results, it seems that the industry was only looking to use the logo of entities such as Spanish Association of Pediatrics or Spanish Heart Foundation commercial. The first case was that of the Dinosaurus cookies, “endorsed by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, ideal for breakfast for children”, the company says Adam Foods.

The Spanish Association of Pediatrics “warranted” biscuits produced by known Dinosaurus to Despite their high sugar content.

The Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics issued a statement rejecting these cookies have endorsed, explaining that any claim of the company in this regard was false. But the information still appears after a search on Google shows the “endorsement” of this scientific society.

Something similar has happened with the Spanish Heart Foundation. The institution supported Megared the food supplement, rich in omega-3, as seen in the following advertisement. The backing of the scientific community, far from promoting research or disclosure is tapped exclusively commercial to sell a product that does not have enough evidencia scientific.

The growing concern about problems related to obesity and diabetes, which could play an important role products such as sugary drinks or cookies, should alert the scientific community about the need to maintain their independence.

please independence certainly seeing the sponsors of entities such as Spanish Federation of Societies of Nutrition, Food and Dietetics, among them Coca-Cola, Eroski, Danone or Central Lechera Asturiana.

If this type of collaboration serves to enhance research and encourage the disclosure, they are welcome. Another case would be if the participation of scientific societies is used only to promote the commercial use of these companies, as with the industry snuff decades.

Financing research

According He denounced the Organización World Health, during the fifties the big companies snuff US were at a crossroads. Between 1953 and 1954, pressure from the scientific community and the media had worsened so that the three major US companies met with Hill and Knowlton agency specializing in public relations.

Industry allocated funds for years to dispel prejudices of snuff The document with the conclusions of that meeting stressed that “should stop the panic of the public.” To do this, it was essential to restore the confidence of citizens in order to “maintain the gains of the industry.” The purpose was unable to identify and eliminate the damage caused by snuff, but social calm fears and prevent and avoid any kind of government regulation or litigation, as indicated sources of the European Union.

To that end, the snuff industry began funding various research, he was hiding behind these studies. Also promoted the publication of articles supporting the commercial interests of the companies also disseminate results that favored their position, regardless of any bias or ethics.

In 1954, the industry promoted the creation of Council for Tobacco Research , the entity promoted in 1988 the development of Center for Indoor Air Research . When the harmful effects of snuff were well known, the research institute, supported by companies such as Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco Company Corporation, began to finance and promote studies that they question the harm that cigarettes produced in passive smokers.


The parallel between snuff industry and the sugar remains in the field of science funding. Known as documents Roger Adams showed that in the period between 1959 and 1971, companies in this sector manipulated results and studies linking consumption of sugar and dental caries.

R & D with that divert attention from the danger of excessive consumption of sugar According to research published in PLOS One , the sugar industry came to finance studies on enzymes destroy plaque or vaccines that could prevent tooth decay. The goal was simply to divert attention from the scientific community and governments, so do not limit the consumo sugar.

Recently, New York Times also alleged that Coca-Cola was sponsoring scientists to say that reduced physical activity of citizens, not excessive consumption of sugars, was guilty of dangerous increase in obesity population

The strategy, similar to that made by the snuff industry in the past, was clear:. prevent the alarming scientific evidence affect the business performance of the company. But there is a significant correlation between increased sugar intake and increasing obesity among the population, as seen in these graphs from the University of Indiana:

Sugar consumption has soared in recent times. Source: Indiana University

Correlation between increased sugar consumption and obesity cases. Source: Indiana University

proliferation of various centers such as the Institute href=”″> or Instituto Happiness Coca-Cola, which are backed by scientific experts and the sponsorship of private companies, is similar to the tactics developed by Philip Morris or RJ Reynolds in the past. While many of its activities are focused on the dissemination of science and cooperation between the public and private sectors, the shadows of the past may call into question the independence of the groups of R & D.

Messages that we sometimes hear in the media, trying to divert attention or downplay the harm caused by excessive sugar intake show that, unfortunately, history repeats itself. Will the next snuff sugar? The thin red line between mere collaboration of manipulation can be easily crossed. Without even realizing, you may again be exceeded by dark interests that have little or nothing to do with our health.

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