The Big Tobacco Wolf Sheds Its Sheep’s Clothing
Industry's latest actions put the lie to claims of change
Posted by: Editor | Feb 28, 2011
The tobacco companies claim they've changed and are now responsible corporate citizens. All the while, they continue to market to kids, deceive the public and fight proven measures to reduce tobacco use.
The proof is in recent headlines:
Just weeks before an FDA scientific advisory committee must issue a report on menthol cigarettes, Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds filed suit to block the report — and even to keep the committee from reviewing industry documents. It's their panicked response to knowing that the scientists have evidence that shows menthol increases the number of kids who start smoking and may make it harder for smokers to quit.
The tobacco companies are fighting to weaken public statements a federal judge has ordered to correct their lies about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. They've been found guilty of violating civil racketeering laws and conspiring to deceive and defraud the American people. Yet they remain allergic to the truth.
Philip Morris announced that it is introducing new toothpick-like smokeless tobacco products, under the Marlboro and Skoal brands, in Kansas test markets. Simultaneously, R.J. Reynolds announced new Charlotte and Denver test markets for its Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs, smokeless tobacco products that come in candy-like shapes and flavors. These products provide yet more ways to get people, including kids, hooked on nicotine and to keep those already hooked from quitting. Kids could be using these products at school and even at home without their parents or teachers realizing they're using tobacco.
These actions warn all of us — especially policy makers — that when the tobacco industry claims to have changed, remember the wolf behind the sheep's clothing.
U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, in rejecting the industry's efforts to evade the consequences of its racketeering, said it best: "Defendants will not be allowed to succeed in that endeavor."