This article examines the history of the tobacco industry and compares it to the food industry. It provides an overview of the steps that the tobacco industry took to protect its market at the expense of public health and discusses the ways in which the food industry has, and has not, followed a similar trajectory.
The authors reviewed historical and empirical evidence of the food and tobacco industries' strategies to influence scientific studies, public opinion, and legal regulation.
Lessons learned from the tactics of the tobacco industry may play an important role in responding to the epidemic of obesity.
This article is part of a special issue on obesity in the March 2009 edition of The Milbank Quarterly available free of charge throughout 2009 at Wiley-Blackwell.