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The power of science and truth: countering paid liars' efforts to influence tobacco policy
  1. The Advocacy Institute
  2. Washington DC
  3. USA

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    The article by Montini and Bero1 in this issue ofTobacco Control provides sound insights and sane counsel for tobacco control advocates. There are also intriguing hints of benevolent bias, which bodes well for advocates in sympathetic societies, but a cautionary note for those seeking strong regulation in more tobacco industry friendly political environments.

    Let me begin with the good news for the cynical. Regulatory decision makers—at least in some parts of the USA—those unelected civil servants who have the power to implement regulatory laws by developing either weak or potent regulations, really dopay attention to science and truth. For tobacco control advocates, it pays to participate in the regulatory process: it pays to prepare testimony and written commentary with great care. It pays to learn how to present data in ways that are both convincing and readily digestible.

    It also pays to lean heavily upon unimpeachable authority, especially government and quasi-governmental bodies, such as the Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the National Academy of Sciences. For these regulators, the weight of the authority cited compounds the weight of the underlying data.

    And this good study holds amply deserved bad news for the tobacco industry, its lawyers, and its experts—money does not buy you the goodwill or good opinion of such regulators. The more lawyers you bring with you, the less credibility …

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