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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2013

Golden holocaust

Origins of the cigarette catastrophe and the case for abolition

Robert N. Proctor. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2012; 752 pp; ISBN: 978-0-52027-016-9, cloth $52.95 USD; ISBN: 978-0-52095-043-6, e-book $52.95 USD.

The cigarette is the deadliest artifact in the history of human civilization. It is also one of the most beguiling, thanks to more than a century of manipulation at the hands of tobacco industry chemists. In Golden Holocaust, Robert N. Proctor draws on reams of formerly-secret industry documents to explore how the cigarette came to be the most widely-used drug on the planet, with six trillion sticks sold per year. He paints a harrowing picture of tobacco manufacturers conspiring to block the recognition of tobacco-cancer hazards, even as they ensnare legions of scientists and politicians in a web of denial. Proctor tells heretofore untold stories of fraud and subterfuge, and he makes the strongest case to date for a simple yet am­bitious remedy: a ban on the manufacture and sale of cigarettes.

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