Don't Be Fooled Again: A Report on the Tobacco Industry's Lies and Deceptions

"Welcome to a new era of cooperation between the tobacco industry and government." -- Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation, March 1998

Tobacco executives claim they have changed. They say their companies have become kinder, gentler, better corporate citizens. Don't Be Fooled Again, issued jointly by the American Lung Association and Public Citizen, exposes the tobacco industry's attempts -- once again -- to fool Congress and the American people. This report shows that Big Tobacco hasn't changed, but instead is using its old tricks again to get its way with Congress.

This report documents a clear pattern going back many years demonstrating that Big Tobacco hid the truth about its products and its promotions from Congress and the American people. The lies have been so numerous that even the tobacco CEOs can't keep them all straight; CEOs contradict each other, even when testifying before Congress.

In the following pages you see direct quotes from tobacco industry CEOs when they testified before Congress in 1994 and four years later in 1998. Each time they are caught with evidence of their misdeeds, the excuses are the same: "It's an anomaly, we've changed." Read their actual words, then make up your own mind: Is the "new" tobacco industry to be trusted or is it trying to fool Congress and the American people -- once again

Not everyone is being fooled. America's leading newspapers don't trust Big Tobacco. Public health leaders and the general public oppose any deal that would grant special protections to Big Tobacco. The New York Times even uses the word "foolish" in an editorial opposing granting immunity to the tobacco industry.

The American people are telling Congress: Don't be fooled by Big Tobacco. Big Tobacco has lied and attempted to fool lawmakers from city councils to the U.S. Congress about the addictive nature of nicotine, about targeting kids, about preemption of local control, about advertising and about the health effects of tobacco. Rather than turning over a new leaf as it claims, Big Tobacco is giving us more of the same. It's no joke.

About Face or Double-Faced?


"Putting an end to the litigation would free the cigarette makers to reassess their business. Initially the settlement would force the companies to make some changes, but throughout its long history the tobacco industry has always been as flexible as a rubber band snapping back into shape despite events that have stretched it to the limit." -- Jane Shea, editorial in Tobacco International, a tobacco industry trade publication, July 30, 1997

Tobacco industry spokespersons are touting a new image of reconciliation and cooperation with government. They recently have testified before Congress and in state courts, indicating their new concern about marketing to teenagers. The industry claims that it wants to be a good corporate citizen and that it wants a chance to "fit back with mainstream America."

At the same time, the tobacco industry continues to play hardball at the national, state and local levels. For example, in both the 1997 and 1998 state legislative sessions, the tobacco industry and its front groups spent millions of dollars attacking state and local laws aimed at reducing secondhand smoke and protecting children from tobacco. And Big Tobacco is threatening to continue advertising its products in ways that appeal to kids if Congress doesn't give it special protections from legal liability.

Threats -- Joe Camel Holding American Kids Hostage


"If immunity is not part of a comprehensive tobacco policy, the industry would be 'obligated' to challenge limits on advertising and marketing restrictions."

-- Geoffrey Bible, Chairman and CEO, Philip Morris Companies, February 25, 1998

Big Tobacco is threatening to continue to engage in the illegal activity of marketing cigarettes and chewing tobacco to kids unless its receives legal immunity. This is a blatant attempt to blackmail Congress into giving the industry the special protections it wants. The hypocrisy contained in the Geoffrey Bible statement cited above is startling. The tobacco industry has always felt "obligated" to fight advertising and marketing restrictions. Now it's changing its tactics. Big Tobacco is telling Congress it can't stop the industry from placing colorful billboard ads near the entrances to schools, and can't stop it from continuing other promotional ads that appeal to kids. The industry says to do so would violate its First Amendment rights. It says it will "voluntarily" agree to stop these and other practices targeted by Congress but only if Congress gives it unprecedented special protection from legal liability.

Congress does not need the tobacco industry's consent to pass meaningful restrictions on tobacco advertising to minors. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on numerous occasions that Congress has the power to restrict commercial advertising that is related to an illegal activity or is misleading. As the tobacco companies surely know, selling tobacco products to children and adolescents under age 18 is illegal in every community in the country.

Who is this industry trying to fool this time

Big Tobacco would like Congress and the American people to believe that we need its permission to pass meaningful, tough tobacco control legislation. We don't. Don't be fooled. Congress can enact legislation that will protect the public health, keep kids from starting to smoke and not grant immunity to the tobacco industry.

Front Groups -- Doing Big Tobacco's Dirty Work


"More important, the agreement secures the tobacco industry's rightful place in the mainstream of legitimate U.S. commerce." -- Steven Goldstone, CEO of RJR Nabisco Holding Corporation, June 20, 1997

While the tobacco industry seeks to change its image and pretends to enter the "mainstream of legitimate U.S. commerce," it is giving millions of dollars to front groups to do its dirty work. One of its most prominent front groups is the National Smokers Alliance (NSA). The NSA is funded mainly by contributions from three big tobacco companies: Phillip Morris, Brown and Williamson, and Lorillard. From 1993 to 1996, the NSA received $42 million from these companies -- money which has been used to fight local public health efforts.

The NSA has waged a war to destroy local clean indoor air laws in communities across the country. It has been actively working to repeal ordinances in Sierra Vista, AZ; Mesa, AZ; Montrose, CO; Arlington Heights, IL; Marquette, MI; Corrvallis, OR; and Monongolla County, WV. The NSA has been most visible in its efforts to repeal the California Clean Indoor Air law that went into effect January 1, 1998. A NSA newsletter actually urged bar owners and patrons not to comply with the California law. A newsletter headline read: "Rebel, revolt, resist. Bad laws should not be obeyed." This is the "mainstream" message that Big Tobacco is paying for in the states while telling lawmakers in Congress that it has adopted a new corporate culture.

Preemption -- Wresting Control from Local Communities


"We could never win at the local level...So the Tobacco Institute and tobacco companies' first priority has always been to preempt the field, preferably to put it all on the federal level, but if they can't do that, at least on the state level, because the health advocates can't compete with me on a state level." -- Victor Crawford, former lobbyist for the Tobacco Institute, 1995

While it claims to have changed its old ways, the tobacco industry continues its decades-old habit of pushing for the preemption of local tobacco control ordinances. In 1996, the tobacco industry had the Republican National Committee Chairman, Haley Barbour, making calls to lobby the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives to pass pro-tobacco legislation. The industry continued it's campaign in 1997, as it fought for preemption in nine states -- Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, and West Virginia. In Arizona alone, the industry advanced 6 bills.

In 1998 the tobacco industry tactics remain the same. Mississippi was the first state to settle its lawsuit with the tobacco industry, and the deal received a lot of fanfare as the industry promised a "change in their corporate culture." Yet, less than a year later the industry is pushing state legislation that would take away the rights of Mississippians to pass strong local tobacco control measures. Threee other states -- Kansas, Utah and West Virginia -- are fighting similar battles with the industry. Contrary to the new "concerned and cooperative" image being promoted by Big Tobacco, the industry is unwavering in its effort to strip localities of the power to enact tough local tobacco control laws.

Trust What I Say, Not What I Do -- A Double Standard on Youth Access


"[A]bout 90% of legislation at the state level [adversely] affecting our industry will not be enacted" Why not Because we are good. That may sound arrogant, but I don't know any other way to put it." -- Walter Merryman, Vice President and Chief Spokesman for the Tobacco Institute, Governing magazine, May 1989

The tobacco industry is attempting to dupe the American people. Its message appears to be "trust what I say, not what I do." But clearly, actions speak louder than words. As the industry pays lip service to reducing teenage smoking, it is at the same time strongly opposing state and local laws aimed at reducing youth access to tobacco products. For example, it claims to be appalled by documents showing how the industry marketed deadly products to children, yet it is opposing all local tobacco advertising restrictions, including banning tobacco billboards near schools. It asks to be viewed as a "legitimate" U.S. business, and at the same time asks people to break a law in California that the majority of Californians support. The nation is not going to be fooled by the tobacco industry's hypocrisy. The American people understand the difference between hollow words and meaningful action.

This April Fools Day, concerned citizens all around the country are still waiting to find out who the fools will be: Members of Congress who the tobacco companies are trying to dupe into passing ridiculous legislation to protect the industry from lawsuits, or Big Tobacco's CEOs who wrongly believe that they can still pull one over on the American public

Tobacco industry lobbyists have flooded Capitol Hill, telling Members of Congress: "You can't pass national tobacco control legislation without our permission." Nothing can be further from the truth. Legally, Congress has the power to pass fair, tough and effective tobacco control legislation. Politically, Congress should do so, as voters back home don't want their representatives and senators playing the fool to Big Tobacco.

Now is the time to call Big Tobacco to account for decades of deceit, disease and death. Now is the time to stop the lying and half truths. Don't be fooled by Big Tobacco again.

DON'T BE FOOLED...AGAIN...BY BIG TOBACCO.

April Fools Day, 1998


TOBACCO INDUSTRY APRIL FOOLS

In their own words

 

TARGETING MARKETING TOWARDS CHILDREN

Recently released industry documents confirm that tobacco companies have long targeted children and teenagers. The clearest evidence of this is the notorious "Joe Camel" campaign, which featured a cartoon figure that appealed directly to youth. As a result of the Joe Camel campaign, Camels' share of the youth market increased from less than 3% to more than 13% in barely four years. Despite claims that it does not market to kids, the industry is fighting in the courts and in Congress against restrictions on advertising and promotions that are attractive to kids. Let's look at what the industry has said -- and is saying -- about marketing to minors:

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"I've not seen documents which demonstrate to me that the companies or any company has targeted kids as smokers -- as customers." Was there marketing to youth "I don't know that to be a fact, no, sir." -- Spokesperson for Tobacco CEO's testifying at Minnesota tobacco trial in St. Paul, February 1998.

REALITY

An undated Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. document described company research on the "starting [smoking] behavior" of children as young as 5 years old. --Document released in Minnesota Trial March, 1998.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"Now, I want to be very clear. We do not survey anyone under the age of 18."-- James Johnston, CEO of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994

REALITY

Just one year prior to its domestic launch of the domestic Joe Camel Campaign, RJR, through its Canadian Subsidiary, commissioned a study on 15-17 year-olds. -- A R.J. Reynolds Tobacco report "Youth Target 1987", 1987.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"We do not market to children." -- James Johnston, CEO of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994.

REALITY

"Evidence is now available to indicate that the 14-to-18 year old group is an increasing segment of the smoking population. RJR-T must soon establish a successful new brand in this market if our position in the industry is to be maintained over the long term." -- March 15, 1976, document stamped "secret" and entitled Planned Assumptions and Forecast for the period 1977-1986 for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"If I thought that ad (the Joe Camel campaign) caused any young people to begin smoking, I'd pull it in a heartbeat...it's fun, just like Snoopy the dog sells Met Life insurance, just like Garfield the cat sells Embassy Suites Hotels." -- James Johnston, CEO of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994.

REALITY

Secret documents released in January, 1998 by Rep. Henry Waxman show that since 1974 RJR has been trying to attract smokers as young as 13. It aimed Joe Camel ads at kids and pursued a teen market because "they represent tomorrow's cigarette business." -- C.A. Tucker, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Vice President of Marketing, 1974.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"What's the tobacco industry doing to discourage youth smoking A Lot." -- Tobacco Institute Advertisement, 1994

REALITY

"Realistically, if our Company is to survive and prosper, over the long term, we must get our share of the youth market. In my opinion, this will require new brands tailored to the youth market..."

-- Claude Teague of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco in his "Research Planning Memorandum on Some Thoughts About New Brands of Cigarettes for the Youth Market," February 2, 1973.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"We should not be marketing cigarettes to young people. It is certainly anomalous to the Philip Morris I know."

If we keep seeing more anomalies, sooner or later it becomes usual, doesn't it "Well, it's a large company, and we sell a lot of products."

-- Geoffrey Bible CEO of Philip Morris testifying and responding to a question at Minnesota tobacco trial in St. Paul, February 1998.

REALITY

"Marlboro dominates in the 17 and younger age category, capturing over 50 percent of the market."

-- 1979 Philip Morris memo.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"We do not, under any circumstances, want kids to smoke." -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Advertising Campaign, 1994.

REALITY

"I need all of you to study the attached scroll list of...stores that are heavily frequented by young adult shoppers. These stores can be in close proximity to colleges, high schools or areas where there are a large number of young adults... The purpose of this exercise, is to be able to identify those stores during 1990 where we would try to keep premium items in stores at all times." --1990 memo written by J.P. McMahon, Division Manager of RJR Sales Company in Sarasota, Florida, to Sales Reps. regarding the "Young Adult Market" and headlined "VERY IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ CAREFULLY!!!"

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"We did not look at the underage market even though I am holding a document in my hand that says we did." -- Ex-Phillip Morris President & CEO James Morgan in videotaped testimony in Minnesota St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 3, 1998.

REALITY

"We shouldn't have done that. We did it. We're not perfect. We just shouldn't have done that."

-- James Morgan, a former Philip Morris executive. Mr. Morgan was shown a half-dozen documents detailing Philip Morris' efforts to monitor youth smoking. He called several of the studies "anomalies," March 3, 1998.

TOBACCO INDUSTRY APRIL FOOLS

In their own words

ADDICTIVE NATURE OF CIGARETTES AND NICOTINE LEVELS

 

The tobacco CEOs still cannot bring themselves to admit what smokers and the general public long recognized -- that nicotine is addictive. This, despite the fact that recently released documents reveal that the tobacco companies knew long ago that nicotine is addictive and was the ingredient that kept people smoking. Here's what they're saying:

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"We do not 'spike' our cigarettes with nicotine,"

-- James W. Johnston, Chairman, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Advertisement, 1994.

REALITY

"We did decide that we needed a little more oomph, a little more pizazz, if you will, in an ultra-low-tar cigarette. So we manipulated the blend to raise the nicotine level slightly." -- Testimony by a confidential informant, known as "DOC," a former tobacco industry executive to officials of the Food and Drug Administration, 1994.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"Cigarette smoking is not addictive." --William Campbell, CEO of Philip Morris in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994.

REALITY

"[U]nder some definitions cigarette smoking is addictive." -- Geoffrey Bible, CEO of Philip Morris, in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Commerce Committee, Jan. 29, 1998.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"Philip Morris does not manipulate . . . the level of nicotine." -- William Campbell in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994.

REALITY

Industry documents released February, 1998 in Minnesota's suit against Big Tobacco show the industry found ways of boosting the nicotine dosage in cigarettes. Among the techniques used by Philip Morris, B&W Tobacco, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard: treating tobacco with ammonia to increase its "nicotine kick."

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"I believe that nicotine is not addictive." -- Thomas E. Sandefur Jr. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, B&W Tobacco, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994.

REALITY

"Nicotine is the addicting agent in cigarettes."

-- 1982 B&W Tobacco document on getting smokers to switch brands.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"We do not increase the level of nicotine in any of our products in order to 'addict' smokers." -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Advertisement, 1994.

REALITY

"We are basically in the nicotine business... Effective control of nicotine in our products should equate to a significant product performance and cost advantage." -- May 1991 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco report.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"I too believe that nicotine is not addictive."

-- Donald Johnston, British American Tobacco (BAT), in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994.

REALITY

"We are searching explicitly for a socially acceptable addictive product. The essential constituent is most likely to be nicotine or a direct substitute for it." -- An August 1979 memo by BAT on the search for a potential replacement for cigarettes.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"If cigarettes were addictive, could almost 43 million Americans have quit smoking, almost all of them on their own without any outside help"

-- James W. Johnston, Chairman and CEO, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, April 14, 1994.

REALITY

"Yes, under certain definitions of the word, addictive." -- Steven Goldstone, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco replying to the question of whether he believes nicotine is addictive in testimony before House Commerce Committee, January 29, 1998.

TOBACCO INDUSTRY APRIL FOOLS

In their own words

CIGARETTES AND TOBACCO CAUSING DISEASE

Recently, in the face of overwhelming evidence and the public's strong and well-supported beliefs, the tobacco companies are starting to timidly admit that smoking may play a role in causing lung cancer in some people. But the tobacco industry has assured smokers for decades that health risks are non-existent and unproven.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"We do not believe that cigarettes are hazardous; we don't accept that." -- Joseph Cullman, Philip Morris and chairman of the Tobacco Institute executive committee, responding to the infamous beagle study in 1971 on CBS' "Face the Nation."

REALITY

"We say, I believe, that smoking is a risk factor for certain diseases and one of those is lung cancer.

-- Geoffrey Bible, CEO of Philip Morris, in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Commerce Committee, Jan. 29, 1998.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"[W]e don't believe it's ever been established that smoking is the cause of disease." -- Walter Merryman, Vice President and Chief Spokesman for the Tobacco Institute, testifying at the Minnesota trial, February 1998.

REALITY

"Smoking plays a role in causing cancer, lung cancer, in some people" -- Steven Goldstone, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco replying to the question of whether he believes nicotine is addictive in testimony before House Commerce Committee, January 29, 1998.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"The Cancer Society claimed that this result refutes the contention of the tobacco industry that there is no laboratory proof of a connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. The Tobacco Institute does not -- and the public should not -- accept these claims at face value." -- Tobacco Institute Ad run in response to American Cancer Society's release of the Auerbach Smoking Dogs Study in 1970.

REALITY

"We believe the Auerbach work proves beyond reasonable doubt that fresh whole cigarette smoke is carcinogenic to dog lungs and therefore it is highly likely that it is carcinogenic to human beings." -- American Tobacco (now Brown and Williamson) "Privileged" document written by one of the company's top research officials in response to the American Cancer Society's release of the Auerbach Smoking Dogs Study in 1970.

WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO FOOL

"[A recent EPA review] put the risk of lung cancer from second-hand tobacco smoke at a level well below the risk reported by other studies for many everyday items and activities... And below, in fact, the risk to health that one other study reported for eating one biscuit a day." -- Text of a Philip Morris Europe S.A. advertisement that ran in the International Herald Tribune, June 10, 1996.

REALITY

The EPA has classified secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen, a designation which means that there is sufficient evidence that the substance causes cancer in humans. EPA estimates that approximately 3,000 American nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke. -- EPA report "Setting the Record Straight: Secondhand Smoke is A Preventable Health Risk," June 1994.

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