These three words have been used together for many years. However, more often than not, they are ignored. "Tobacco is the leading contributor to mortality in the United States, each year claiming more than 430,000 direct users and between 40,000 and 67,000 individuals who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke." (Houston, Kaufman, 2000) The bottom line - smoking contributes to more deaths than AIDS, car accidents, alcohol, homicides, illegal drugs, suicides, and fires - combined. In the following pages we will examine the history of tobacco, regulation efforts by the Food and Drug Administration and the federal government, and the United States Supreme Court's landmark decision on tobacco regulation. .
Tobacco has had a long history in America. Many historians would argue that without tobacco this country would not exist. Since 1619, when John Rolfe first introduced tobacco, it has had major social, economic, and medical importance. It was not until the middle of the twentieth century that we discovered the harmful side effects of use and abuse of this product. In 1950, The Journal for the American Medical Association published the first article that linked tobacco to cancer. Morton L. Levin, Hyman Goldstein, and Paul R. Gerhardt's 1950 study found the following:.
Cancer is now considered a disease attributable to multiple causative factors. Among these are "irritants." The generalization has been advanced that, although not all irritants are carcinogenic, all carcinogens are irritants, that is, capable of inducing chronic reparative hyperplasia. Beremblum has shown also that an irritant (croton resin: basic tar fraction) which is non-carcinogenic alone, may nevertheless increase the percentage of tumors produced when its action is combined with that of a carcinogen. Thus, some experimental basis exists for explaining the apparent effect of cigarette and pipe smoking, although the true nature of the association of lung and lip cancer remains to be determined.