Tobacco Under Oath - Round II: New Evidence…New Lies?

Jan. 28 1998

Washington, DC - On April 14, 1994, CEOs from seven tobacco companies appeared before the Health and Environment Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Commerce Committee. Their testimony was as unequivocal as it was controversial -- all testified that nicotine is not addictive, and several denied that tobacco companies have ever marketed their products to kids. On January 29, 1998, CEOs from the five leading U.S. tobacco companies will again swear to tell the truth before the House Commerce Committee. But this time they will have to deal with admissions by the Liggett Group and recently revealed internal industry documents that clearly demonstrate that their companies’ representatives were, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, lying when they testified before Congress just four years ago. Not one of the CEOs who testified in 1994 still serves in that capacity; however, their successors at five of the tobacco companies will appear before the Committee. How will these new CEOs reconcile the 1994 testimony of their predecessors with the truth revealed by their industry’s own documents? The following is a comparison -- on the central issues of nicotine addiction and youth marketing -- of what was said under oath in 1994, and what has been revealed through formerly secret industry documents. The seven executives who testified in 1994 were: • William Campbell, President and CEO, Philip Morris USA • James W. Johnston, Chairman and CEO, RJR Tobacco Company • Joseph Taddeo, President, U.S. Tobacco Company • Andrew H. Tisch, Chairman and CEO, Lorillard Tobacco Company • Edward A. Horrigan, Chairman and CEO, Liggett Group Inc.* • Thomas E. Sandefur, Chairman and CEO. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation • Donald S. Johnston, President and CEO, American Tobacco Company* *Note: Liggett and American (since purchased by Brown & Williamson) will not be represented at the January 29, 1998 hearings. NICOTINE ADDICTION April 14, 1994: Rep. Wyden: Let me begin my questioning on the matter of whether or not nicotine is addictive. Let me ask you first, and I’d like to just go down the row, whether each of you believes that nicotine is not addictive. I heard virtually all of you touch on it. Just yes or no. Do you believe nicotine is not addictive? Mr. Campbell: I believe nicotine is not addictive, yes. Rep. Wyden: Mr. Johnston? Mr. J. Johnston: Congressman, cigarettes and nicotine clearly do not meet the classic definitions of addiction. There is no intoxication. Rep. Wyden: We’ll take that as a no and, again, time is short. If you can just -- I think each of you believe nicotine is not addictive. We just would like to have this for the record. Mr. Taddeo: I don’t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive. Mr. Horrigan: I believe that nicotine is not addictive. Mr. Tisch: I believe that nicotine is not addictive. Mr. Sandefur: I believe that nicotine is not addictive. Mr. D. Johnston: And I too, believe that nicotine is not addictive. Evidence from the Industry: "Moreover, nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms." (July 17, 1963 memo by Brown & Williamson General Counsel Addison Yeaman commenting on research by Battelle Memorial Institute.) "There is increasing evidence that nicotine is the key factor in controlling, through the central nervous system, a number of beneficial effects of tobacco smoke, including its action in the presence of stress situations. In addition, the alkaloid (nicotine) appears to be intimately connected with the phenomena of tobacco habituation and/or addiction." (May, 1993 report from Battelle study for BAT, parent company of Brown & Williamson, on nicotine.) "In a sense, the tobacco industry may be thought of as being a specialized, highly ritualized, and stylized segment of the pharmaceutical industry. Tobacco products uniquely contain and deliver nicotine, a potential drug with a variety of physiological effects." (Memo by RJR executive Claude Teague, Jr., "RJR Confidential Research Planning Memorandum on the Nature of Nicotine and the Crucial Role of Nicotine Therein".) "There are broadly two sets of problems which attend the concept of a safer cigarette. The first is concerned with the ethical question: ‘Is it morally permissible to develop a safe method for administering a habit-forming drug, when, in so doing, the number of addicts will increase?’ The second relates to the technical feasibility of achieving greater safety…" (May 15, 1976 document by Dr. D.H. Corning (Liggett document #LG 0203041), "The Concept of Less Hazardous Cigarettes".) "…do we really want to tout cigarette smoke as a drug? It is, of course, but there are dangerous FDA implications to having such conceptualization go beyond these walls." (Internal memo from Philip Morris scientist William Dunn.) "Without nicotine…there would be no smoking." (Philip Morris researcher William Dunn, "Motives and Incentives in Cigarette Smoking," summary from Center for Tobacco Research Conference, 1972.) "Smoking is a habit of addiction." (Sir Charles Ellis, BAT science advisor, 1962 BAT research and development conference.) MARKETING TO KIDS April 14, 1994: Mr. J. Johnston: We do not market to children, and we will not. Mr. J. Johnston: We do not survey anyone under the age of 18. Mr. Taddeo: As to the allegation that U.S. Tobacco markets its products to persons under the age of 18, that allegation is absolutely false. We strongly believe at U.S. Tobacco that those who enjoy our products should be adults. Evidence from the Industry: "Evidence is now available to indicate that the 14-18 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 in the long term." (March 15, 1996 document, Planned Assumptions and Forecast for the Period 1977-1986 for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.) "…to ensure increased and longer-term growth for Camel Filter, the brand must increase its share penetration among the 14-24 age group, which have a new set of more liberal values and which represent tomorrow’s cigarette business." (1975 memorandum to RJR vice president for marketing C.A. Tucker.) "Men become smokers earlier and consume more cigarettes per capita than women. Cigarettes aimed at the female market exclusively have been flops. Marketing programs have been slanted at certain types of men, but always basically at the male market. The cigarette market may be broken down into age brackets as follows: 16-21 – the formative years; smoking starts and brand preferences are developed…" (1963 report by Arthur D. Little, Inc. (Liggett document #LG0412562), "Development of Cigarette Packaging".) Contrary to its claims to have never surveyed underage smokers, the recently released Mangini documents revealed that RJR conducted surveys of the smoking habits of teenagers for decades. A 1976 survey of over 11,000 teenagers aged 14-17 produced the "Smokers Screening Profile (14-17). (January 14, 1998 letter from Representative Waxman to Representative Bliley transmitting documents from the Mangini trial.) "We must sell the use of tobacco in the mouth and appeal to young people. We hope to start a fad." (1968 U.S. Tobacco meeting summary.) "Skoal Bandits is the introductory product, and then we look towards establishing a normal graduation process." (1985 UST internal newsletter describing what has been referred to as the company’s "graduation" process.) "Cherry Skoal is for somebody who likes the taste of candy, if you know what I’m saying." (Former UST sales representative, quoted in a 1994 Wall Street Journal article on UST’s graduation strategy.) "Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens…The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly important to Philip Morris." (1981 Philip Morris internal document.)

 

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