cover image Smokescreen: The Truth Behind the Tobacco Industry Cover-Up

Smokescreen: The Truth Behind the Tobacco Industry Cover-Up

Philip J. Hilts, Author, Henning Gutmann, Editor Addison Wesley Publishing Company $22 (253p) ISBN 978-0-201-48836-4

Rushed into print because of public interest in the troubles of the tobacco industry, this is less a single investigation than a fast-paced, rewarding tour by New York Times reporter Hilts through the recent revelations that have Big Tobacco on the run. He convincingly sketches an industry conspiracy to minimize public awareness of the dangers of smoking. As internal corporate documents leaked to Hilts show, while industry officials claim they don't manipulate levels of addictive nicotine in cigarettes, they have done so for years and this makes the firms increasingly vulnerable to lawsuits. Hilts's documents also reveal, chillingly, how tobacco companies target youths, their most crucial market. He untangles tobacco industry lies at Congressional hearings, tells the stories of several crucial whistle-blowers and points out the corruption of a Congress in thrall to tobacco bucks. In contrast with Richard Kluger, whose recent cigarette history, Ashes to Ashes (Forecasts, March 11), is more comprehensive but less up-to-the-minute, Hilts offers no specific plan for reform. He suggests that the momentum created by a government finally willing to regulate, revelations about corporate dishonesty and the willingness of tobacco companies to acknowledge the hazards of smoking and perhaps to develop a less dangerous cigarette could lead to ""a workable social compact on tobacco."" $100,000 ad/promo; author tour. (June)