Study: Tobacco firms’ own research showed dangers
As the U.S. government begins regulating tobacco, a new study says tobacco companies knew for decades that cigarette smoke was radioactive and potentially carcinogenic but kept that information from the public.
The tobacco industry began investigations into the possible effects of these radioactive particles, identified as polonium-210, on smokers as early as the 1960s, says the study by UCLA researchers who analyzed dozens of previously unexamined industry documents.
“I’ve not seen a document before that’s specifically cited the industry’s own internal research finding that sufficient levels of polonium-210 can cause cancer,” says Matt Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“We used to think that only the chemicals in the cigarettes were causing lung cancer,” said Hrayr S. Karagueuzian, lead author of the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
Now, Karagueuzian said, the industry’s own research shows that polonium-210, absorbed by tobacco leaves and inhaled by smokers, is dangerous. He said UCLA researchers found that the radioactivity could cause 120 to 138 deaths for every 1,000 regular smokers over a 25-year period…