Robust science: Passive smoking and scientific collaboration with the tobacco industry in the 1970s

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2 Scopus citations


The first lesson from the history of research on smoking hazards is that scientists should be wary of collaboration with interested industries. This lesson, which is influential in the literature on science-industry relationships, comes from a historiography focused on the carcinogenicity debate of the 1950s and 1960s and the passive smoking debate of the 1980s and 1990s. Few studies have examined research in the 1970s. This article fills this lacuna using novel bibliometrical methods augmented with a qualitative analysis of the associations between periods and literary camps, as expressed in scientific texts. The mixed-methods approach identifies the temporal dynamics of the literature on smoking hazards to reveal that the well-documented attempts of the tobacco industry to stall and hamper science had unanticipated consequences. Specifically, an industry-science collaboration to develop a less hazardous cigarette put scholars on the path to discovering the hazards of passive smoking. The analyses supply a narrative that has room for actors' complex interests and actions and demonstrates that such complexity may only be revealed in research whose outcomes are never known in advance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-185
Number of pages28
JournalSociological Science
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Historical sociology
  • Mixed methods
  • Social network analysis
  • Sociology of science
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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