U.S. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
1933: The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933.
Tobacco farmers were being ruined as the market dropped, manufacturers hid their purchase plans and banks charged interest rates of up to 37%. 25% of all families in North Carolina were on relief as farmers appealed to the sympathetic Roosevelt administration. The Agricultural Adjustment Act guarantees price supports in exchange for limiting production via allotments and quotas; so long as farmers didn’t grow past their seasonally allotted acreage, the government would buy the unsold tobacco. The plan is dependent on close communication with manufacturers, and their upcoming buying needs. The bill has undergone many amendments over the years, the most important being the 1938 bill authorizing marketing quotas and the 1949 act authorizing price supports.
1935: The Tobacco Inspection Act is enacted by Congress. This act established the framework for development of official tobacco grade standards, authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to designate tobacco auction markets where tobacco growers would receive mandatory inspection of each lot of tobacco to determine its grade and type, and provided for the distribution of daily price reports showing the current average price for each grade. The Agricultural Marketing Service’s Tobacco Division was established to provide these services to the industry. (Other authorizing legislation: The Tobacco Adjustment Act; Public Law 99-198, Section 1161; The Naval Stores Act
1938: AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT ACT is passed again, this time authorizing marketing quotas.
1949: AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT ACT is passed again, this time authorizing price supports.
1965: The FEDERAL CIGARETTE LABELING AND ADVERTISING ACT is passed, requiring health warnings on cigarette packages only.
1969: Congress enacts the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969, which amends the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act to require the following warning: “The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health.” The 1969 act also includes the phrase: “(b) No requirement or prohibition based on smoking and health shall be imposed under State law with respect to the advertising or promotion of any cigarettes the packages of which are labeled in conformity with the provisions of this Act.” This proviso helps absolve the industry in many court cases, most recently in Pennsylvania’s Carter case (1/27/03).
1970-04-01: REGULATION: The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act had been passed in 1969; The bill as signed into law by Richard Nixon on April 1, 1970 had been the result of over a year of fierce wrangling among the tobacco companies, broadcasters (who stood to lose a great deal of advertising income), the FTC, the FCC and Congress.
1971: REGULATION: UK Government bans cigarette advertisements on radio
1971-05: Charles E. Dederich, founder and head of Synanon, decided not only to stop supplying his community of ex-heroin addicts cigarettes without charge but also to ban smoking on Synanon property. The next year is one of the most tumultuous in Synanon’s history to that point. About 100 people left. At least one member told the New York Times that quitting tobacco was much harder than quitting heroin.
1973: REGULATION: Congress enacts the Little Cigar Act of 1973, amending the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act to ban TV and radio advertising of little cigars.
1982: REGULATION: Congress passes the No Net Cost Tobacco Program Act, requiring the government’s Commodity Credit Corporation, which pays for the government tobacco purchases, to recover all the money it spends on quota enforcement, price supports, and leaf grading programs. Now taxpayers no longer pay for losses incurred by the program, though they still pay about $16 million a year in administrative costs to run it.
1984: The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act was amended to require that one of the four warning labels listed below appears in a specific format on cigarette packages and in most related advertising. Here’s the US Code
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide.
1985: Tobacco Improvement Act of 1985. Price supports for tobacco were reduced by this legislation and domestic tobacco manufacturers were required to purchase existing loan stocks. In addition, the price support and quota formulas were revised in an effort to generate more market-oriented price and production levels.
1986: Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986 extended the broadcast advertising ban to smokeless tobacco products.
1995: It is still legal to advertise cigars, pipe tobacco and hard liquor on TV.
In 1494, Romano Pane, the friar who accompanied Columbus, reported that the Indians also used tobacco by reducing it to a powder that “they take through a cane half a cubit long: one end of this they place in the nose, and the other upon the powder.”
-from The Facts About Smoking, Consumer Reports Books, 1991
The Arawak tribe of the Caribbean smoked both cigars and used the tobago, a soapstone pipe. In the North, Native Americans wrapped tobacco in corn husks or stuffed it into hollow reeds to smoke.
1588: Hariot on Tobacco in Virginia
“There is an herb called uppowoc, which sows itself. In the West Indies it has several names, according to the different places where it grows and is used, but the Spaniards generally call it tobacco. Its leaves are dried, made into powder, and then smoked by being sucked through clay pipes into the stomach and head. The fumes purge superfluous phlegm and gross humors from the body by opening all the pores and passages. Thus its use not only preserves the body, but if there are any obstructions it breaks them up. By this means the natives keep in excellent health, without many of the grievous diseases which often afflict us in England.
“This uppowoc is so highly valued by them that they think their gods are delighted with it. Sometimes they make holy fires and cast the powder into them as a sacrifice. If there is a storm on the waters, they throw it up into the air and into the water to pacify their gods. Also, when they set up a new weir for fish, they pour uppowoc into it. And if they escape from danger, they also throw the powder up into the air. This is alwavs done with strange gestures and stamping, sometimes dancing, clapping of hands, holding hands up, and staring up into the heavens. During this performance they chatter strange words and utter meaningless noises.
“While we were there we used to suck in the smoke as they did, and now that we are back in England we still do so. We have found many rare and wonderful proofs of the uppowoc’s virtues, which would themselves require a volume to relate. There is sufficient evidence in the fact that it is used by so many men and women of great calling, as well as by some learned physicians.”
-Thomas Hariot, A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, directed to the investors, farmers, and well-wishers of the project of colonizing and planting there. Imprinted at London in 1588.
Hariot was part of a group sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish the first English colony in the New World. He spent a year on Roanoke Island, 1585-1586.
Most of the members of the party fitfully searched around for gold, and complained “because they could not find in Virginia any English cities, or fine houses, or their accustomed dainty food, or any soft beds of down or feathers.” But Hariot, who would be recognised in later years as a preeminent scientist, took accurate stock of the land and its bounties, and is reputed to have carried back with him on Sir Francis Drake’s ship two strange plants: tobacco, and the potato.
The piece quoted above is part of a compendium of “commodities” he wrote to help maintain interest in Raleigh’s doomed attempts to make money out of his expeditions to the New World-the English explorations then were very much commercial ventures.
After Hariot’s return to England, he met and became great friends with Raleigh, and was his main contact with the outside world during the 13 years Raleigh spent in the Tower of London (where he grew his own tobacco).
Raleigh was beheaded in 1618, and reportedly had a pipeful just before going to the gallows.
Hariot suffered terribly from a “cancerous ulcer of the nose” from 1615 till his death 6 years later in 1621 at the age of 61. [Juraj Korbler says Hariot had “cancer of the lip” in “Thomas Harriot (1560-1621), fumeur de pipe, victime du cancer?” Gesnerus 9 (1952): 52-54]
1590: LITERATURE: Spenser’s Fairie Queen: earliest poetical allusion to tobacco in English literature.
Belphoebe includes tobacco with other medicinal herbs gathered to heal Timais (Book III, Canto VI, 32).
Into the woods thenceforth in haste shee went,
To seeke for hearties that mote him remedy;
For she of hearties had great intendiment,
Taught of the Nymphe which from her infancy
Her nourced had in trew nobility:
There, whether yet divine Tobacco were,
Or Panachea, or Polygony,
She fownd, and brought it to her patient deare
Who al this while lay bleding out his hart-blood scare.
1595: ENGLAND: The first book in the English language devoted to the subject of tobacco is published
The first book in the English language devoted to the subject of tobacco was anonymously published in 1595, by Anthony Chute. It has the simple title “Tabacco,” and contains an illustration of an Englishman smoking a clay pipe. In this little work for laymen, the author earnestly urged smokers not to abuse the kindly weed, upheld its medicinal uses, and suggested that physicians were trying to keep smoking a secret among themselves. The reason was, he said, that a moderate use of the pipe was of such value in preserving health that it was likely to make physicians unnecessary!- from Early Literature of TOBACCO by George Arents
1604: “A Counterblaste to Tobacco”
“Smoking is a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.” — James I of England, “A Counterblaste to Tobacco.”
In his treatise, James also noted that autopsies found smokers’ “inward parts” were “infected with an oily kind of soot.” James also said if he ever had the Devil to dinner, he’d offer him a pipe.
With regards to second-hand smoke, James said, ” “The wife must either take up smoking or resolve to live in a perpetual stinking torment.”
On the other hand, James’ was the first government to find taxes on tobacco to be enormously profitable. Trying to stamp out smoking, he first increased taxes on tobacco 4,000%, from 2 pence/pound to six shillings, 8 pence/pound. That stopped people from buying tobacco, but dried up the funds that had been coming into the Treasury. James then slashed taxes down to 2 shillings/pound and watched the money pour in. Other governments were quick to learn the same lesson.
From George Arents:
In 1604, there was published [in England], anonymously, the most famous of all tracts opposing the social use of tobacco, A Counterblaste to Tobacco, by King James.
The king reiterated his contempt for those who daily used a drug for pleasure, scorned the acceptance of a habit adopted from unbaptized barbarians [Indians in the Americas], bewailed the cost of what he called this “precious stink,” and repeated some of the tales of hoor then used to frighten smokers. Among other things, he reminded his readers that some great tobacco-takers were found, upon dissection, to have lungs and brains covered by fine, black soot, obviously the result of smoking!
I should like to make a brief digression here to point out that, as James’ subjects didn’t accept his advice, he promptly raised the tobacco duty by four thousand percent. But within two years he found it profitable to reduce the duty and lease of monopoly of that tax. Thus he received a large income from the sale of the very thing he professed most to despise.
As a result of the high duty placed upon tobacco (a duty which was continually advanced during James’ and Charles I’s reign), a state arose similar to our own, during prohibition days. The common phrases and conditions of that era are also applicable to the tobacco trade in London then; the commodity was “free of duty”; sold by smugglers as “right off the ship”; the dandies knew where the best stuff was to be secretly had; domestic tobacco was doctored to give it the semblance of “Spanish,” and the wide advertising smoking received, because of the campaign against it, induced many men and women, who had never smoked before, to take up the custom.
— George Arents, “Early Literature of Tobacco,” privately printed for distribution at The Library of Congress, 1938. In April 1938 the Books, Manuscripts and Drawings Relating to Tobacco from the collection of Arents were on exhibition at the Library of Congress.
Though fitful attempts had been made before, the lasting “plantation” of English culture in the Americas starts here. The first permanent English colony was established in 1607, when the Virginia Company landed another ill-prepared group of adventurers in Jamestown. This sad colony-wracked by malaria epidemics, Indian attacks, intrique, laziness, torture, starvation and goulish cannibalism-could well have failed also, but was arguably saved not just by Pocahontas, but by her husband John Rolfe’s cultivation of the desperate colony’s only substantial resource: tobacco.
Without the success of Jamestown, the dominant culture south and west of New England could well be Spanish.
For more details, read the History of Jamestown
1847: LONDON: Philip Morris Opens Shop; sells hand-rolled Turkish cigarettes.
1880: Bonsack Machine is awarded patent
1880: 21-year-old Virginian James Albert Bonsack is granted a patent for his cigarette-rolling machine.
The cigarette market was small then; cigarettes were expensive and hand-rolled by the cigarette girls. Most manufacturers didn’t see a use for that many cigarettes.
The Bonsack machine had been seen and discarded by the established cigarette manufacturers. In 1883, 27-year-old Buck Duke leased the Bonsack machine on a favored contract. By 1887, once Duke and Bonsack’s mechanics had finished tinkering with it, it was capable of reliably rolling 120,000 cigarettes in 10 hours.
This not only takes the cigarette business out of the hands of the cigarette girls, it means that cigarettes can be made cheaply enough to satisfy a mass market.
But the market didn’t exist. If he wanted to unload his stockpiling cigarettes, Duke had to create the market, and he used unique and spectacular promotions and advertising campaigns to do it.
The pressures created by the invention of the Bonsack machine led not only to the widespread use of cigarettes as America’s favored form of tobacco, but to the modern era of mass-market advertising and promotion.
1902-04: Tiny British manufacturer Philip Morris, now tobacconist to the crown, sets up a corporation in New York to sell its British brands, including Philip Morris, Blues, Cambridge, Derby, and one named after the street its London factory was on, Marlborough.
cigs4us.biz/marlboro-cigarette is targeted towards women, and in the 30s would feature a red tip to hide lipstick marks.
1905: POLITICS: Indiana legislature bribery attempt is exposed, leading to passage of total cigarette ban
In 1905, a clumsy attempt at bribery virtually forced the Indiana legislature into prohibiting cigarettes. The measure had been passed by the Senate with the intention of embarrassing certain reform leaders in the House; the House as a whole was expected to hoot it down. However, right before the vote, Representative Ananias Baker dramatically held aloft a sealed envelope and announced that it had been given to him by a lobbyist from the Tobacco Trust, with instructions to vote against the bill, He opened it with a flourish: five $20 bills dropped out. The display seemed to confirm a prediction by the state’s largest tobacco dealer, reported in an Indianapolis newspaper a few days earlier, that the trust would “buy up the whole House” before it would permit passage of the bill. Baker left his colleagues little choice but to vote for the bill, lest they be suspected of having been influenced by similar envelopes. -Smithsonian, July 1989; “In the 1800s, antismoking was a burning issue” by Cassandra Tate
1913: Finally freed from Duke’s American Tobacco Co., RJ Reynolds introduces cigs4us.biz/camel-cigarette
The massive, months-long “The Camels are Coming” campaign builds anticipation for Camels. Camel, like Prince Albert before it, consisted of a then-unique blend of 3 tobaccos, piedmont Bright, a flavored and sweetened burley from Kentucky, and 10% Turkish leaf. The half-price brand (10 cents for 20) is an instant hit, gaining 33% of the market by 1917, and 45% by 1923. Soon after, the American Tobacco Company introduces Lucky strike brand and Liggett & Myers introduces Chesterfield, each with similar blends. The “modern” cigarette has arrived.
1911: Dr. Charles Pease states position of the NonSmokers’ Protective League of America
In a letter to the New York Times dated November 10, 1911, he writes:
The right of each person to breathe and enjoy fresh and pure air-air uncontaminated by unhealthful or disagreeable odors and fumes is a constitutional right, and cannot be taken away by legislatures or courts, much less by individuals pursuing their own thoughtless or selfish indulgence.
1950: Morton Levin publishes first major study definitively linking smoking to lung cancer
Levin was then the director of Cancer Control for the New York State Department of Health. His epidemiological survey of Buffalo patients between 1938 and 1950 appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association. His shocking and controversial conclusion: smokers were statistically twice as likely to develop lung cancer as non-smokers.
1952: Hollingsworth & Vose gets 100% indemnity agreement from Lorillard on filters
1952: East Walpole, Massachusettes-based manufacturer Hollingsworth & Vose Co. writes a “100 percent indemnity agreement” into its contract with Lorillard. Hollingsworth supplied asbestos-laden material for filters used in Lorillard’s Kent cigarettes. The agreement required Lorillard to pay all legal costs and damages stemming from lawsuits over the filter’s health effects.
1954-01-04 Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) Announced.
Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) announces in a nationwide 2-page ad, A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers
The ads were placed in 448 newspapers across the nation, reaching a circulation of 43,245,000 in 258 cities.
TIRC’s first scientific director noted cancer scientist Dr. Clarence Cook Little, former head of the National Cancer Institute (soon to become the American Cancer Society). Little’s life work lay in the genetic origins of cancer; he tended to disregard environmental factors.
From the complaint filed by the state of Florida in its 1995 lawsuit against tobacco companies:
59. In response to the publication of Dr. Wynder’s study in 1953, the presidents of the leading tobacco manufacturers, including American Tobacco Co., R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, U.S. Tobacco Co., Lorillard, and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation- ration, hired the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., to deal with the “health scare” presented by smoking. Acting in concert, at a public relations strategy meeting, the participants decided to organize a committee to be specifically charged with the “public relations” function. . . . As a result of these efforts, the Tobacco Institute Research Committee (“TIRC”), an entity later known as The Council for Tobacco Research (“CTR”), was formed.
60. The TIRC immediately ran a full-page promotion in more than 400 newspapers aimed at an estimated 43 million Americans. That piece was entitled “A Frank Statement To Cigarette Smokers” . . .
A FRANK STATEMENT TO CIGARETTE SMOKERS:
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.
Although conducted by doctors of professional standing, these experiments are not regarded as conclusive in the field of cancer research. However, we do not believe results are inconclusive, should be disregarded or lightly dismissed. At the same time, we feel it is in the public interest to call attention to the fact that eminent doctors and research scientists have publicly questioned the claimed significance of these experiments.
Distinguished authorities point out:
That medical research of recent years indicates many possible causes of lung cancer.
That there is no agreement among the authorities regarding what the cause is.
That there is no proof that cigarette smoking is one of the causes.
That statistics purporting to link cigarette smoking with the disease could apply with equal force to any one of many other aspects of modern life. Indeed the validity of the statistics themselves is questioned by numerous scientists.
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.
Regardless of the record of the past, the fact that cigarette smoking today should even be suspected as a cause of a serious disease is a matter of deep concern to us.
Many people have asked us what we are doing to meet the public’s concern aroused by the recent reports. Here is the answer:
We are pledging aid and assistance to the research effort into all phases of tobacco use and health. This joint financial aid will of course be in addition to what is already being contributed by individual companies.
For this purpose we are establishing a joint industry group consisting initially of the undersigned. This group will be known as TOBACCO INDUSTRY RESEARCH COMMITTEE.
In charge of the research activities of the Committee will be a scientist of unimpeachable integrity and national repute. In addition there will be an Advisory Board of scientists disinterested in the cigarette industry. A group of distinguished men from medicine, science, and education will be invited to serve on this Board. These scientists will advise the Committee on its research activities.
This statement is being issued because we believe the people are entitled to know where we stand on this matter and what we intend to do about it.
See Anne Landman’s treatment of this fascinating Draft of the “Frank Statement”: http://www.smokescreen.org/list/det.cfm?listid=66&MessageID=243295&SearchString=
From The Facts about Smoking(Consumer Reports Books
The [tobacco] industry also created the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC). Although the stated purpose of the TIRC was to encourage research on smoking, its chief accomplishment was to put forward the idea that scientists themselves held differing opinions about whether or not smoking was dangerous. For example, in 1954, a front-page article in The New York Times reported that a majority of doctors and scientists attending the American Cancer Society meeting believed that smoking caused cancer, but in the third paragraph of the article a representative of the TIRC is quoted as saying that the poll was “biased, unscientific and filled with shortcomings.” In 1954, when Drs. Graham and Wynder reported that tobacco tar painted onto the skin of mice caused cancer, the TIRC countered with: “Doctors and scientists have often stressed the many pitfalls present in all attempts to apply flatly to humans any findings resulting from animal experiments. ” Whatever the validity of the TIRC’s criticisms, they served to encourage skepticism in the public’s mind about scientific reports of the dangers of smoking. The tobacco industry also established the Tobacco Institute, whose avowed purpose was to promote “public understanding of the smoking and health controversy and . . . knowledge of the historic role of tobacco and its place in the national economy.” In the first issue of Tobacco News, the institute’s president said: “The Institute and this publication believe that the American people want and are entitled to accurate, factual, interesting information about this business [tobacco] which is so important in the economic bloodstream of the nation and such a tranquilizer in our personal lives.”
From PR Watch:
Hill & Knowlton’s role is described as follows in a 1994 lawsuit, State of Mississippi vs. the Tobacco Cartel:
The presidents of the leading tobacco manufacturers … hired the public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton …. As a result of these efforts, the Tobacco Institute Research Committee (TIRC), an entity later know as The Council for Tobacco Research (CTR), was formed.
The Tobacco Industry Research Committee immediately ran a full-page promotion in more than 400 newspapers … entitled “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers.”… The participating tobacco companies recognized their “special responsibility” to the public, and promised to learn the facts about smoking and health … to sponsor independent research on the subject …. to cooperate closely with public health officials ….
After thus beginning to lull the public into a false sense of security concerning smoking and health, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee continued to act as a front for tobacco industry interests. Despite the initial public statements and posturing, … there was a coordinated, industry-wide strategy designed actively to mislead and confuse the public about the true dangers associated with smoking cigarettes. Rather than work for the good of the public health, … the tobacco trade association, refuted, undermined, and neutralized information coming from the scientific and medical community.
There is no question that the tobacco industry knew what scientists were learning about tobacco. The TIRC maintained a library with cross-indexed medical and scientific papers from 2,500 medical journals; as well as press clippings, government reports and other documents. TIRC employees culled this library for scientific data with inconclusive or contrary results regarding tobacco and the harm to human health. These were compiled into a carefully selected 18-page booklet, titled “A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy,” which was mailed to over 200,000 people, including doctors, members of Congress and the news media.
From Merchants of Death: by Larry C. White
The year 1954 marked the beginning of the cigarette Big Lie. It was in this year that the cigarette companies got together to plot the strategies that would keep them viable far into the future, strategies that still guide their response to the fact that their products kill 10 percent of their customers.
Speaking frankly to investors in June of 1954, O. Parker McComas, then president of Philip Morris, said that the health problem must be taken seriously-that is, “carefully evaluated for its effect on industry public relations, as well as its effect on the consumer market.” Therefore, he said, Philip Morns had joined with “practically all elements of industry” to form the Tobacco Industry Research Committee. There were great expectations for the TIRC: “We hope that the work of TIRC will open new vistas not only in research, but in liaison between industry and the scientific world.” As for the nature of the TIRC, McComas said that it was similar to other industries’ organizations such as the American Meat Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, and so on.
This was not for consumption by the general public, of course. An ad was run in newspapers across the country on January 4, 1954, that announced the formation of the TIRC and touted the committee’s objectivity. “In charge of the research activities of the Committee will be a scientist of unimpeachable integrity and national repute. In addition, there will be an Advisory Board of scientists disinterestedin the cigarette industry. A group of distinguished men from medicine, science, and education will be invited to serve on this Board. These scientists will advise the Committee on its research activities.”
There would be no pro-cigarette studies funded by the committee-fakes would be too easily discredited. Instead, research would be done around the periphery-keeping scientists busy on incidental issues, diverting attention from the main point: the link between cigarettes and disease. For example, one of the committee’s first priorities was funding of studies on why people smoke. Another favored area for research was whether some people have a genetic predisposition to cancer. This could keep scientists busy indefinitely.
Still, it was obvious that independent scientists would continue to investigate the health effects of smoking. . . The basic public relations strategy was to emphasize the few studies that did not prove that smoking caused disease. What could never be mentioned was that a study that does not prove a relationship between smoking and disease cannot logically prove the opposite-that no relationship exists. . . With the advent of the TIRC, the cigarette companies could say that no one spent more on research on smoking and health than they did. Most important, the TIRC would serve the function of creating a controversy. The current name of the committee is the Council for Tobacco Research and it still serves the function of making it seem like there is a valid difference of opinion among scientists about whether smoking is dangerous.
The value of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee to the industry was revealed only a few months after its creation. At a meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in early June of 1954, the American Cancer Society announced that a majority of cancer researchers, chest surgeons, and pathologists believed that smoking might lead to lung cancer. This news was carried on the front page of The New York Times on June 7, 1954. But, unlike pre-1954 articles that had allowed the news to stand alone, this article included in its third paragraph a denunciation of the statement.
Timothy V. Hartnett, chairman of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, called the poll of doctors “biased, unscientific and filled with shortcomings.”
In February of 1956, Dr. Evarts A. Graham reported on another study in which he had painted mice with tobacco tars. He had been criticized for his earlier study of this kind because he had used only one type of mouse. In this new study he used other strains and also painted rabbits’ ears with the tars. Again, he induced cancer.
This time the industry was ready for him-thanks to the Tobacco Industry Research Committee. When newspapers reported Dr. Graham’s study they also reported the response of the TIRC: “Doctors and scientists have often stressed the many pitfalls present in all attempts to apply flatly to humans any findings resulting from animal experiments.” To a scientist, the response was worthless, but it was enough to cast doubt in the public’s mind. Most important for the industry, the TIRC provided smokers with some ammunition, some arguments that justified their not quitting.
1963-07-17: LITIGATION: B&W’s General Counsel Addison Yeaman writes in a memo, “Moreover, nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms.”
In context, Yeaman was concerned about the upcoming Surgeon General’s report, and was writing of “the so-called ‘beneficial effects of nicotine’: 1) enhancing effect on the pituitary-adrenal response to stress; 2) regulation of body weight.”
Moreover, nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms. But cigarettes — we will assume the Surgeon General’s Committee to say — despite the beneficent effect of nicotine, have certain unattractive side effects: 1) They cause, or predispose to, lung cancer. 2) They contribute to certain cardiovascular disorders. 3) They may well be truly causative in emphysema, etc., etc. We challenge those charges and we have assumed our obligation to determine their truth or falsity by creating the new Tobacco Research Foundation. In the meantime (we say) here is our triple, or quadruple or quintuple filter, capable of removing whatever constituent of smoke is currently suspect while delivering full flavor — and incidentally — a nice jolt of nicotine. And if we are the first to be able to make and sustain that claim, what price Kent?
1964-01-11: First Surgeon General’s Report released.
From Smoking and Health:
Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men; the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking far outweighs all other factors… Cigarette smoking is much more important than occupational exposures in the causation of lung cancer in the general population … Cigarette smoking is the most important of the causes of chronic bronchitis in the United States, and increases the risk of dying from chronic bronchitis and emphysema … Although the causative role of cigarette smoking in deaths from coronary disease is not proven the Committee considers it more prudent from the public health viewpoint to assume that the established association has causative meaning than to suspend judgment until no uncertainty remains.
President John F. Kennedy had won the 1960 Presidential election by only 0.1 percent of the vote. His vice-president, Lyndon Johnson had successfully delivered the crucial Southern vote. Kennedy had an ambitious program to implement, and was fully aware many congressional committees were dominated by tobacco state legislators.
Yet the 1962 Royal College of Physicians’ Report increased public pressure on Kennedy to take a public stand. At a press conference on May 23, 1962, Kennedy said in reply to a question on the subject, “That matter is sensitive enough and the stock market is in sufficient difficulaty without my giving you an answer which is not based on complete information, which I don’t have, and, therefore, perhaps I will be glad to respond to that question in more detail next week.”
Kennedy soon acceded to American health groups’ long-standing request to create a Presidential Commission to study the matter.
Surgeon General Luther Terry worked closely with the tobacco industry on the commission. The industry was presented with a list of 150 “outstanding medical scientists” and were allowed to cross out any names they wished. Terry remembers only 3 or 4 were so eliminated. Industry views were made known to the committee members.
The scientists worked for a year in a sub-basement of the Nataional Library of Medicine in Bethesday, MD., and when their report was to be printed, it received the same clasification as a state secret.
On a carefully-chosen Saturday morning (to prevent a disastrous slide on Wall St.), January 11, 1964, at 9 AM, 200 reporters were physically locked into the State Department’s auditorium to hear a two hour briefing by surgeon general Dr. Luther L. Terry and a panel of experts. The top-secret measures were felt necessary because of the bold and closely-guarded conclusion reached in a 357-page brown paperback book the reporters received titled Smoking and Health.
When the press conference was over, the reporters ran madly to the telephones. In 1964, in a country where over 50% of adult males smoked, a multi-billion dollar industry seemed to hang by the book’s astounding verdict: smoking causes cancer.
Cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action.
At the time, 46% of all Americans smoked; smoking was accepted in offices, airplanes and elevators, and TV programs were sponsored by cigarette brands.
Within 3 months of Terry’s report, cigarette consumption had dropped 20%, but, as was the pattern in England following the Royal Physicians’ Report, was soon to climb back with a vengeance.
“It was a very dramatic and courageous thing to do,” said Joseph Califano, the top domestic policy aide to then-President Johnson.
But the Johnson Administration had enough wars-domestic and foreign-to fight. The Administration didn’t want to pull its resources from poverty and civil rights to undertake action which would undoubtedly entail severe social, economic and regional disruptions. “We wanted to get schools integrated, the voters’ rights act passed, fair housing passed. And all of those things required us to take on the whole phalanx of Southern states,” Califano said.
Smoking rates since 1965, from National Health Interview Surveys compiled by the U.S. Office on Smoking and Health.
Author: Gene Borio