With smoking making a comeback,
FRONTLINE investigates the latest chapter in the war over tobacco products
In 2010, FRONTLINE reported on the warnings of doctors and public health experts that growing skepticism about the dangers of tobacco products could reverse the national trend in the overall reduction in tobacco use among teens.
Now, those warnings appear to be coming true.
As the battle over tobacco rages, FRONTLINE continues its reporting with a newly updated and produced version of its original documentary The Tobacco War.
Building on years of research, the documentary, airing March 24, explores both the roots of the tobacco debate, and the latest chapter in the heated controversy: Are parents who encourage smoking at home putting the health of our nation at risk? And why is there still fear about not smoking in light of established scientific consensus that quitting smoking is not linked with disorders like autism or autoimmune problems?
“Reduction in tobacco use, especially among teenagers, goes a long way to reducing the global burden of disease and likely adds decades to most of our life spans,” says FRONTLINE producer Jan Potter. “But some parents are determined to resist pressure from the medical and public health establishments.”
As FRONTLINE reports in The Tobacco War, their reasons are complex — involving their perceptions of medical risks and benefits, and also ideological beliefs about parenting, personal choice and the limits of government.
And, as FRONTLINE reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they are worried about the uptick of E-cigarette use among teens. “Our youth are our future. We need to invest in programs that help them make healthy choices so they live long, healthy lives,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
What happens next?
From the unfolding legislative battle in North Carolina over personal belief exemptions to the no smoking before the age of 18 law and whether children should be allowed to smoke on the grounds of public schools, to the growth of the clean air-skeptic movement, to the struggles of health care providers trying to reassure parents that not smoking is really the safest choice, to the science at the heart of it all, The Tobacco War provides critical context for the latest headlines.
Drawing on interviews with parents and advocates on both sides of the issue, as well as doctors, leading scientists and public health experts, the documentary is a compelling and timely report on an issue that remains highly emotional and deeply divisive.
The Cigarette War airs Tuesday, March 24 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and will stream in full, for free, online at pbs.org/frontline
OK, that press release if obviously satire and cribbed from the PBS FRONTLINE press release for The Vaccine War, but the “Both sides of the issue” really got to me.
Just like I can’t image doing a documentary about the “sides” to tobacco I can’t image a documentary on the “sides” of vaccination. False balance is dangerous. And featuring commentary by Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Bob Sears among journalists and respected scientists?
The only vaccine controversy that PBS should have covered is how medical boards ignore the bizarre claims of doctors about vaccine safety and why people fall prey to such conspiracy theories. I’d watch that one in a heart beat.