Plain Packaging? No, Prime Minister!

Loading..

Search This Site
Twitter
Powered by Squarespace
« Kicking ash | Main | A thoroughly decent post »
Tuesday
Nov132012

Father of the modern cigarette branded "merchant of death"

Interesting article on the BBC News website today.

James Buchanan Duke: Father of the modern cigarette is a profile of the businessman who revolutionised the tobacco industry by mechanising the production of cigarettes.

The article relies, to a large extent, on the words of Dr Robert Proctor of Stanford University, and Jordan Goodman, author of Tobacco in History.

"The cigarette is the deadliest artefact in the history of human civilisation," says Dr Robert Proctor of Stanford University. "It killed about 100 million people in the 20th Century."

The article continues:

In a recent essay for the journal Tobacco Control, Robert Proctor argues that many people in the tobacco industry all share some responsibility.

"We have to realise that adverts can be carcinogens, along with convenience stores and pharmacies that sell cigarettes. The executives who work for cigarette companies cause cancer, as do the artists who design cigarette packs and the PR and advertising firms that manage such accounts," he says.

(You might want to read that again. "Adverts can be carcinogens, along with convenience stores and pharmacies that sell cigarettes ... The executives who work for cigarette companies cause cancer, as do the artists who design cigarette packs ...")

But I digress. According to Goodman, Duke "was both a hero and a villain. He was a hero "in terms of his understanding of the market, his understanding of human psychology, his understanding of pricing, his understanding of advertising".

Against that, "He made the world smoke cigarettes, and it's the cigarette which has been the problem of the 20th Century."

The problem of the 20th Century? Try telling that to victims of Hitler and other genocidal maniacs from Stalin to Pol Pot.

To avoid any doubt about Duke's place in history, there is an additional section entitled 'Merchants of death' that lists three people: Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47 assault rifle, J Robert Oppenheimer, "for his role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II programme that developed the first nuclear weapons", and Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel who "patented dynamite and gelignite".

It's this, we are told, that "may have led him to bequeath $2.69m" ($301m or £190m in today's money) "when he died in 1896 to establish the Nobel Prizes".

To summarise, the architect of the mass-production and globalisation of cigarettes is compared to the designer of the "world's most popular assault weapon", the "father of the atomic bomb" and a man who, according to a French newspaper, "became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before".

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (4)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: Learn More Here
    Simon Clark - Taking Liberties - Father of the modern cigarette branded "merchant of death"
  • Response
    Simon Clark - Taking Liberties - Father of the modern cigarette branded "merchant of death"
  • Response
    Simon Clark - Taking Liberties - Father of the modern cigarette branded "merchant of death"
  • Response
    Simon Clark - Taking Liberties - Father of the modern cigarette branded "merchant of death"

Reader Comments (7)

Nobel's endowment pales in comparison to:


The Duke Endowment is a private foundation established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke. The mission of the foundation is to serve the people of North Carolina and South Carolina by supporting selected programs of higher education, health care, children's welfare, and spiritual life.
James B. Duke endowed the foundation on December 11, 1924 with $40 million. In the Indenture of Trust, Mr. Duke specified that he wanted the Endowment to support Duke University, Davidson College, Furman University, Johnson C. Smith University; not-for-profit hospitals and children's homes in the two Carolinas; and rural United Methodist churches in North Carolina, retired pastors, and their surviving families. When Mr. Duke died in 1925, he left the Endowment an additional $67 million. Adjusted for present value, Mr. Duke's total gifts would amount to more than $1.3 billion today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 13:33 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

This article, which relies, to a large extent, on the words of Dr Robert Proctor of Stanford University, does not prove Proctor's insane idea that James Buchanan Duke, who was the father of the modern cigarette, was no more than a "merchant of death"

If you look at Dr Proctor's somewhat insane ramblings, it proves just the opposite.

Proctor wrote a book entitled "Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis". which you can see here: http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Racial_Hygiene.html?id=hogbxS2Gp1QC

I haven't read the book, but I did read a write up on it, as well as some of the readers reviews, one of which I have pasted here:


Review: Nazism called itself ""applied biology"" and, in its way, it was. This fascinating study revises the idea of Nazis as insane fanatics who perverted science to their devious ends and makes the far more frightening proposition that they were rational, even eminent men, and that Nazi science was deeply rooted in ""normal"" science.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 13:39 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I am afraid Procter really has lost the plot on Oppenheimer. When the Americans invaded Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Japanese islands about the size of the Isle of Wight the carnage was appalling. Iwo Jima alone saw 7,000 American killed and 19,000 wounded. The Japanese alone lost 22,000 dead, only 216 surrendered, most fought to the bitter end or committed suicide.

The American military estimated that a full scale invasion of the Japanese mainland would have cost the lives of up to 1.5 million allied soldiers and Japanese losses of 30 million compounded by starvation. It was estimated that the war would have to continued for at least another two years,

Even after the second bomb had landed on Nagasaki the Japanese military still wanted to fight on until the last drop of Japanese blood. It was only the intervention of the Emperor Hirohito ordering the military to surrender that brought the war to a close.

J Robert Oppenheimer, rather than a historical monster must be credited with the saving of millions of lives.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 13:56 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

I don't think Proctor mentions Oppenheimer. The names of Oppenheimer, Kalashnikov and Nobel were added to the feature by the BBC.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 14:09 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

And the stuff on the linked health page is just as stupid.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/smoking_health_effects.shtml

and the stuff about nicotine is even more sillier.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/emotional_health/addictions/nicotine.shtml

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 22:03 | Unregistered CommenterSadButMadLad

Could only read the first few line, SBML. Propaganda and advertising junk straight out of ASH's anti-science bible. The less we have to do with these people, the better. They are not the people to go after - they are just bayonet-wielding footsoldiers. The real 'enemy' occupy the UN, WHO, EU and DoH. They are in the back-ground. Most of the junk science which they spout is not even science. Epidemiology (as used by the advertising agency) is simple mathematics. Statistics is mathematics, not science.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 23:49 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

"The cigarette is the deadliest artefact in the history of human civilisation," says Dr Robert Proctor of Stanford University. "It killed about 100 million people in the 20th Century."

Wrong. Democide killed by estimate 260 million people in the 20th century. Therefore Government should be banned ;-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 13:28 | Unregistered CommenterThe man with many chins

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>