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This provocative book is a critique of the anti-tobacco campaign in the USA in the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade, Males writes, the industry was in retreat. After several years of dealing with C Everett Koop, the most effective surgeon general in history, the industry was faced with the prospect of a smoke free society by the year 2000. In 1990, according to Males, smoking rates among adults and young people were declining. But by decade's end, available data showed that adult prevalence had not changed much since 1990. Prevalence in adolescents, at least as measured by school surveys, was higher in 1997 than in 1992. Further, in 1998 the industry had negotiated a settlement that was, quoting Stan Glantz, “one of the biggest con jobs in the history of the world” (page 2). Worse yet, Males' laments, the drives to decrease the social acceptability of smoking and provide increasingly more smoke-free indoor environments that highlighted the Koop era were replaced by efforts to reduce the initiation of smoking by young people.
Males writes that the industry's role in the turnaround of its fortunes was “merely opportunistic,” and instead blames two forces for the unfavourable developments of the 1990s. He …