Tobacco Talk

Discussions of a political nature, hosted by an unrepentent liberal.

A Brief History of Tobacco Statements

The tobacco companies have consistently sought to downplay or deny the ill effects of smoking--unless they're in court. Starting with the 1954 "Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers," a full-page ad in which 14 tobacco companies and trade associations responded to concerns at the time, here's a look at key issues:

Excerpts From the "Frank Statement" (1954)

"Recent reports on experiments with mice have given wide publicity to a theory that cigarette smoking is in some way linked with lung cancer in human beings. ... Distinguished authorities point out that there is no proof that cigarette smoking is one of the causes. We accept an interest in people's health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business. We believe the products we make are not injurious to health. We always have and always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health. ... For more than 300 years tobacco has given solace, relaxation, and enjoyment to mankind. At one time or another during those years critics have held it responsible for practically every disease of the human body. One by one these charges have been abandoned for lack of evidence."

Excerpts From Deposition of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. President/CEO Andrew Schindler, Dade County, Fla. (1997)

Q. Is it fair to say the sentiments expressed in "A Frank Statement to Smokers" are essentially the same today, of, for example, your company?

A.  No ... Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for a number of diseases and, therefore, that means that it may be a cause of these diseases ..."

Excerpts From the Tobacco Firms' Voluntary Advertising Code (1964)

"No one depicted in cigarette advertising shall be or appear to be under 25 years of age; cigarette advertising shall not suggest that smoking is essential to social prominence, distinction, success or sexual attraction; nor shall it show any smoker participating in, or obviously just having participated in, a physical activity requiring stamina or athletic conditioning beyond that of normal recreation. ... There shall be no mail distribution of non-tobacco premium items bearing cigarette brand names, logos, etc., without written, signed certification that the addressee is 21 years of age or older, a smoker, and wishes to receive the premium."

Four months later, Viceroy cigarette ads depicted young tennis players lighting up after a hot game. ... Three years after the Joe Camel ad campaign was launched, the percentage of Camel smokers under age 18 went from less than 1 percent to 33 percent. ... In 1993, Philip Morris launched the Marlboro Adventure Team, a $200 million, seven-month promotional campaign that consisted of "10 guys" who participated in rafting, dirt bike racing and horseback riding.

Tobacco Industry Agrees to Broadcast Ban of Cigarette Ads (1971)

Philip Morris CEO Joseph Cullman, vowing that the industry would not shift its TV advertising money to other media, says the intent is to "adhere to the spirit and letter of the law."

Advertising expenditures for promotional items appealing to youths (key chains, T-shirts, caps) climbed from $5.6 million in 1970 to $756 million in 1993. ... A 1994 analysis of television coverage of a car race sponsored by Marlboro found that its brand name was seen or mentioned 5,933 times, or 46 minutes total of the 93-minute program.  ...  In 1995, Philip Morris ads appear on closed-circuit TVs at Amoco convenience stores in Fort Wayne, Ind., and can be heard through speakers at the gas pumps.

Revealed During Congressional Oversight Hearings on Tobacco Products


Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. released a statement saying that cigarette smoking is not addictive under the standards set forth in the 1964 Surgeon General's Report.

In a 1963 letter to a Brown & Williamson parent company executive, company counsel Addison Yeaman says, "We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms."

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Wrongful Death Case (1997)

A jury finds R.J. Reynolds not negligent and Salem cigarettes were found not to be "unreasonably dangerous and defective" and a legal cause of the death of Jean Connors during a trial in Jacksonville, Fla.

After the verdict is announced, Reynolds executive Daniel W. Donahue says, "Smoking ... has clearly been shown to be a risk factor for ...lung cancer and heart disease. We've never denied that. There's no secret about that."

SOURCES: Court documents, Advocacy Institute

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