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Historians’ testimony on “common knowledge” of the risks of tobacco use: a review and analysis of experts testifying on behalf of cigarette manufacturers in civil litigation
  1. Louis M Kyriakoudes
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Louis M Kyriakoudes
 Department of History, University of Southern Mississippi, 118 College Drive #5047, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5047, USA; Louis.Kyriakoudes{at}


A qualitative analysis of the trial and deposition testimony of professional historians who have testified on behalf of the tobacco industry shows that defence historians present a view of past knowledge about tobacco in which the public was frequently warned that cigarettes were both deadly and addictive over the broad historical period. While defence historians testify to conducting significant levels of independent research, they also draw upon a common body of research conducted by industry counsel to support its litigation efforts. Defence historians unduly limit their research materials, ignoring industry records and, therefore, critically undermine their ability to evaluate industry activity in the smoking and health controversy as it unfolded in historical time. A consequence is that defence historians present a skewed history of the cigarette in which the tobacco industry all but ceases to exist.

  • AUTS, Adult Use of Tobacco Survey
  • DATTA, Deposition and Trial Testimony Archive
  • STIC, Special Trial Issues Committee
  • TMA, Tobacco Merchants Association
  • history
  • education
  • advertising
  • litigation

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  • Sponsors: National Cancer Institute, American Legacy Foundation

  • This work was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute (#CA087486) and the American Legacy Foundation (#6211) to the Michigan Public Health Institute, Center for Tobacco Use Prevention and Research (Okemos, Michigan, USA). The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of the National Cancer Institute, the American Legacy Foundation, or the Foundation’s staff or Board of Directors.

  • Competing interest statement: Dr Kyriakoudes has served as an expert witness for plaintiffs in tobacco litigation, including two of the trials discussed in this essay, Eastman v. Brown & Williamson and Boerner v. Brown & Williamson