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May 28, 1997

Smoke and Mirrors: The Canadian Tobacco War

Author Affiliations

Pennsylvania State University University Park

JAMA. 1997;277(20):1651-1652. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540440085042

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Smoking is, as the old saying goes, a major cause of statistics. That is probably one reason Rob Cunningham begins his book on a more personal note, tracing the struggles of individual smokers: Julie Laperle, a 16-year-old Quebec girl who began smoking at the age of 12 and now smokes two to three packs a week and cannot quit; George Knudson, Canada's most famous golfer, who won eight Professional Golfers' Association events in the 1960s and 1970s before succumbing to lung cancer at the age of 51; Roger Perron, a Vancouver man who smoked since he was 13 and lost both legs to thromboangiitis obliterans—also known as "smoker's leg"—before deciding it was time to sue the makers of the brand he had smoked, RJR-Macdonald.

A lawyer by trade, Cunningham moves from these personal accounts to the larger history of the Canadian tobacco trade and its critics. We hear how antitobacco