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Five leading tobacco companies met in secret on 2 June 1977 to plan a joint project to foster the idea that the harmfulness of tobacco smoke was not proven, but only a matter of “controversy”. The conspiracy was called Operation Berkshire (seehttp://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/321/7257/371), and a central aim stated at the initial meeting was to “counter the increasing social unacceptability of smoking”. This was entirely in line with industry thinking at the time: in 1979, a tobacco industry delegation attended the Fourth World Conference on Tobacco and Health in Stockholm, Sweden. A subsequent memo by one of the delegates, later leaked to the press, repeated an apparently well established industry fear that: “The social acceptability issue will be the central battleground on which our case in the long run will be lost or won.” …
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