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Tobacco Executives and Their Top 10 Quotes

» Written by // September 17, 2015 //


The college football season kicked off this past weekend, beginning the daily sports-talk radio and water-cooler discussions about which teams should be ranked in the top 20 and where those teams should be ranked.

College football is, happily, a part of American culture, both past and present.  However, tragically, the cigarette industry is also a part of American culture, both past and present; and an industry we will have to deal with into the future.

So here is a list of the top 10 things that cigarette industry executives have written to each other over the years, giving insight into how little regard this industry has had for people (and sometimes animals) over the last 100 years:

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#10: R.J. Reynolds (1969): “We do not foresee any difficulty in the event a decision is reached to remove certain reports from Research files.  Once it becomes clear that such action is necessary for the successful defense of our present and future suits, we will promptly remove all such reports from our files.”

#9: Philip Morris (1970): Re: Auerbach’s Smoking Beagles – “One dog, which was an inveterate smoker, was placed in a stall to demonstrate how the animal smoked.  We used a University of Kentucky reference cigarette.  The dog’s handler recognized the cigarette to be ‘stronger’ than the brand they were using, and the behavior of the dog showed that he too was not used to this kind of smoke.  I would say that the experiment is a crude one but effective in that carcinoma in dogs has been produced.”

#8: Brown & Williamson (1963): “We are then in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug.”

#7: R.J. Reynolds (1972): “Our industry is then based upon design, manufacture and sale of attractive dosage forms of nicotine, and our company’s position in our industry is determined by our ability to produce dosage forms of nicotine which have more overall value to the consumer than those of our competitors.”

#6 (tie): Brown & Williamson (1962): “As a result of these various researches we now possess a knowledge of the effects of nicotine far more extensive than exists in the published scientific literature.”

#6 (tie): R.J. Reynolds (1972): “We have deliberately played down the role of nicotine, hence the non-smoker has little or no knowledge of what satisfactions it may offer him, and no desire to try it.  Instead, we must somehow convince him with wholly irrational reasons that he should try smoking, in the hope that he will for himself discover the real “satisfactions” obtainable.”

#6 (tie): Brown & Williamson (1978): “Very few consumers are aware of the effects of nicotine, i.e., its addictive nature and that nicotine is a poison.”

#5 (tie): Philip Morris (1966): “The illusion of filtration is as important as the fact of filtration.”

#5 (tie) Brown & Williamson (1976): “The new filter brands vying for a piece of the growing filter market made extraordinary claims.  In most cases, however, the smoker of a filter cigarette was getting as much or more nicotine and tar as he would have gotten from a regular cigarette.  He had abandoned the regular cigarette, however, on the ground of reduced risk to health.”

#4 Tobacco Company Executive [to Hill & Knowlton executive] (1953): “It’s fortunate for us that cigarettes are a habit they can’t break!”

#3 (tie) Hill & Knowlton [industry Public Relations firm] (1953): “There is only one problem – confidence, and how to establish it; public assurance, and how to create it – in a perhaps long interim when scientific doubts must remain.  And, most important, how to free millions of Americans from the guilty fear that is going to arise deep in their biological depths every time they light a cigarette.”

#3 (tie) Philip Morris (1964): “We must in the near future provide some answers which will give smokers a psychological crutch and a self-rationale to continue smoking.”

#3 (tie) Tobacco Institute (1968): Our basic position in the cigarette controversy is subject to the charge, and may be subject to a finding, that we are making false or misleading statements to promote the sale of cigarettes.

#2 (tie) Philip Morris (1977): “Without the compound [nicotine], the cigarette market would collapse, P.M. would collapse, and we would all lose our jobs and consulting fees.”

#2 (tie): British American Tobacco (1984): “Let us provide the exquisiteness [cigarettes], and hope that they, our consumers, continue to remain unsatisfied.  All we would want then is a larger bag to carry the money to the bank.”

#1: R.J. Reynolds (1972): “At the outset it should be said that we are presently, and I believe unfairly, constrained from directly promoting cigarettes to the youth market.  Realistically, if our Company is to survive and prosper, over the long term, we must get our share of the youth market.  Thus we need new brands designed to be particularly attractive to the young smoker.”

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In the ‘Art of War,’ Sun Tzu encourages to “know your enemy …”    The compelled release of cigarette industry documents has opened up a previously secret universe of information to public health authorities fighting the industry. Now, over 20 million pages of these confidential documents exist for public consumption at consumer-friendly repositories like the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents repository. With over 20 million deaths since 1964 in America alone, and many millions more suffering from smoking-related illnesses like C.O.P.D. requiring oxygen every minute of every day, the cigarette industry has globalized its war on the health of the public.  The World Health Organization estimates that, if current global smoking trends continue, there will be up to 1 billion – that’s a b – deaths in this century alone.  No matter how much information about the dangers of smoking exists, we should never, ever, forget who we are up against.


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