Cigarette Maker Subverted Smoking Study, Researchers Say
"Far from trying in any way to undermine IARC's report ... we are actively disseminating it," Philip Morris says in a written statement. The statement also says that the director of the IARC study has ruled out any tobacco-industry influence on the research.
But a release from the IARC says the study was the subject of a defamation campaign "orchestrated by the tobacco industry."
"Although the attacks did not preempt the publication of the report [in the October 1998 Journal of the National Cancer Institute],... they created confusion and controversy in the interpretation of the results," the IARC's statement says.
What made the original study's importance debatable is that while the IARC team did find an elevated cancer risk with secondhand smoke, the results were not considered statistically significant. Glantz, a statistician, says the study was "underpowered" -- meaning that too few people who hadn't been exposed to secondhand smoke were involved as a comparison.
A number of other studies had already established links between passive smoke and lung cancer.
"Today, we would not respond to a scientific study by engaging in all of the activities referred to in The Lancet article. Our approach today is to move towards solving problems -- hopefully working in an atmosphere of transparency and open dialogue," says the Philip Morris statement.
Glantz says that what Philip Morris was really trying to avoid was the publication of a scientifically definitive statement of the risk of passive smoking. Now, Glantz says, he hopes that will be possible.