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phpLD Affiliate Module

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Tobacco Executives Lied about Nicotine’s Addictive Properties

Tobacco Executives Lied about Nicotine’s Addictive Properties
In 1994, seven tobacco company executives stood before a congressional committee. Each man raised his hand, and each man swore to tell the truth. Then they all testified that they did not, in fact, believe that nicotine was an addictive substance.
Did the tobacco executives lie under oath? Overwhelming evidence suggests that they did. For decades, tobacco companies and the law firms that represent them have employed a “scorched earth” strategy of intimidation and misrepresentation. In confidential documents that have been released on the Internet, tobacco lawyers candidly discuss their predatory tactics. One popular way to ensure success is to simply refuse to accept any evidence as proof that cigarettes are addictive or harmful, then to dig in one’s heels and wait for the plaintiffs to run out of money and legal aid. The tobacco industry has deep pockets. They can wait a long time.
These tactics are nothing new. The tobacco industry has a habit of misleading its customers. A once-confidential document from the law firm of Jones and Day traces the industry’s trail of misinformation back to the 1950’s, when tobacco companies issued a “Frank Statement to Smokers”. This statement informed smokers that there was no positive proof that smoking was related to lung cancer, and that cigarettes were not believed to be harmful to anyone. (Doctors and scientists disagreed.) This eyebrow-raising assertion is explained by a 1972 Tobacco Institute (TI) memorandum describing the tobacco industry’s policy of, in their own words, “creating doubt about the health charge without actually denying it”.
Concerns about the safety of cigarettes had been raised as early as the 1930’s, and the Jones and Day Memo acknowledges this fact. The memo also acknowledges that tobacco executives knew about the dangers of smoking years before anyone else did. Unfortunately, the lawyers and their clients continued to adhere to their same rule of misinformation throughout the years. The 1972 TI memorandum sketched a simple damage plan. Tobacco company executives who found themselves under public scrutiny were advised to put forth alternative causation theories to dodge the issue of cigarettes’ negative health effects and potentially addictive qualities.
The lies continued. To downplay the harmful effects of their products, the tobacco companies funded studies and research to investigate the links between smoking, addiction, and lung cancer. However, this funding was granted only after “favorable” outcomes were guaranteed by the researchers.
These favorable outcomes were sure to be believed. After all, the results would come from respectable institutions like Harvard University and the UCLA Medical School. Surely these prestigious schools would produce factual information. Surely the tobacco companies would not influence the outcomes of such studies.
Once again, the public believed. Once again, the public was duped.
In 1999, Samuel L. Little of South Carolina died of lung cancer. He had trusted the tobacco companies when they said that low-tar cigarettes were safer than the full-tar varieties. What the companies failed to tell Mr. Little – or anyone, according to a lawsuit filed by Little’s family – was that the ventilation holes on low-tar cigarette filters are remarkably easy to block with one’s fingers in the regular course of smoking. It was ruled that the defendant, American Tobacco, knew that smokers were getting a full dose of tar and nicotine from low-tar cigarettes, but continued to market them as a healthier alternative in order to perk up their slumping market shares.
It has been reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that tobacco companies quietly increased the level of nicotine in cigarettes over a six year period in order to get smokers addicted faster. These increases took place as recently as 2004. Quite a strange move for an industry whose products were sworn, under oath, to be non-addictive.
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