July 22, 2008 - It's time for the AMA to apologize for the role it played in the deadly tobacco pandemic. After more than a century of institutional discrimination against blacks in the medical profession, the AMA has finally admitted its role in promoting such discrimination, issuing an apology for all the harm. Back in 1964, when the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Luther Terry, unequivocally warned the American public for the first time of the dangers of cigarette smoking, one major organization failed to support this stand. It was the AMA. The War on Smoking was joined. But the AMA was MIA. The physicians' group instead put its support behind the tobacco industry's efforts, a pre-emptive strike that funneled $18 million of tobacco money toward "research" managed by the AMA. The industry used this strategy to claim that the dangers of smoking were still an open question -- one being investigated by America's doctors. This conspiracy bought the AMA's silence for 14 crucial years following publication of the surgeon general's report, as hundreds of thousands of people, including disproportionately high numbers of African Americans, died and were disabled from smoking-related illnesses.
In November 1933 the journal of the AMA published its first advertisement for cigarettes (Chesterfield), a practice that continued for 20 years. Thanks to a more socially committed generation of physicians, the AMA came around, finally, by the late 1980s and began actively supporting anti-tobacco policies. Reference: Apology accepted, AMA -- now to the next sin After owning up to bias against blacks, it should admit its old ties with Big Tobacco by Howard Wolinsky and Dr. Alan Blum, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/21/2008 and Doctors, American Medical Association hawked cigarettes as healthy for consumers by Mike Adams, NaturalNews.com, 7/25/2007.