The untold political story of the most controversial consumer product in American history. The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco’s rise and fall, illustrating America’s continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power.
...a nuanced and ultimately devastating indictment of government complicity with the worst excesses of American capitalism. The Cigarette looks beyond individual consumers and their choices and aims its penetrating gaze straight at the larger phenomena shaping all of our lives: the exigencies of war, the rise of organized interest groups, the fall of government regulators, and the immense, unseen influence of big business ...The Cigarette, while excellent, is far from the first book to document the harm wrought by Big Tobacco ... But Milov has provided the premier account of the government’s complicity with the exacting of this human cost, of the way Big Tobacco has evolved and adapted and neutralized lawmakers and regulators—and thrived. And of a billion needlessly lost lives. The lessons of her book remain stunningly relevant today.
Ms. Milov writes with the moral earnestness of a liberal dragon-slayer. There is no doubt who the dragons are in her story ... Cigarette companies, out of a desire to deny or at least complicate the claim of a direct link between smoking and disease, produced 'scientific subterfuge'; the tobacco industry’s lobbying arm, the Tobacco Institute, disseminated 'propaganda.' These and many similar unflattering descriptors seem out of place in a historical monograph. Ms. Milov’s zeal for the antismoking cause sometimes appears a tad propagandistic itself ... is otherwise an impressive work of scholarship evincing years of spadework in primary and secondary sources. It’s also, apart from a whiff here and there of academic jargon, a well-told story. Ms. Milov has an eye for detail.
Milov manages to bring fresh insight into how the industry’s power hooked government treasuries, the advertising business and scientists for hire, to trump public health for so long ... What Milov adds is a nuanced account of the interplay between corporate machinations and government support for the industry from the 1930s until very recently ... As ever, the callousness of tobacco’s defenders continues to shock.