Preferred Citation: Glantz, Stanton A., John Slade, Lisa A. Bero, Peter Hanauer, and Deborah E. Barnes, editors The Cigarette Papers. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.

Chapter 2 Smoking and Disease: The Tobacco Industry's Earliest Responses

Chapter 2
Smoking and Disease: The Tobacco Industry's Earliest Responses

The significant expenditures on the question of smoking and health have allowed the industry to take a respectable stand along the following lines—"After millions of dollars and over twenty years of research, the question about smoking and health is still open."
Ernest Pepples, B&W vice president and general counsel, 1976 {2205.01, p. 2}


During the early 1950s scientists began to publish scientific studies suggesting that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases. One of the most influential of the early studies, published by Drs. Ernst L. Wynder and Evarts A. Graham in 1950 (1), showed that smokers had a greater risk of lung cancer than nonsmokers did. Later, Wynder and Graham showed that mice who had cigarette "tar" painted on their backs were more likely to develop malignant tumors than control mice that were not painted with tobacco tar (2). These results were interpreted as important evidence that smoking could cause cancer in humans, and they were widely reported in newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times (May 27, 1950), Reader's Digest (December 1952), and Life (December 21, 1953). The tobacco industry's earliest response to this growing body of scientific evidence was to promote new types of cigarettes, such as cigarettes with filters and "low-tar" cigarettes. The industry implied in its advertisements that these new cigarettes were healthier than the old ones. However, the documents show that the new brands had been created for marketing and public relations purposes, to lull the public into a false sense of security regarding the health effects of smoking.


Part of the industry's response to the evidence linking smoking and disease was the formation of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC), later renamed the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR). The industry claimed that TIRC was an independent organization that would determine the truth about the health effects of smoking by funding independent scientific research. The documents show, however, that TIRC was originally created for public relations purposes, to convince the public that there was a "controversy" as to whether smoking is dangerous. As chapter 8 describes, CTR funded "special projects" whose research results could be used by industry lawyers to defend tobacco companies in court and to influence public opinion and public policy.

The release of two major government reports on the health dangers of smoking—the 1962 report of the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom (3) and the 1964 report of the Surgeon General in the United States (4)—apparently sparked a debate in the industry over how to respond to the growing body of evidence that its products kill. The documents suggest that in the United States B&W and, probably, the other tobacco companies were deeply concerned about the potential for regulation and litigation and reacted to the reports primarily by trying to protect themselves from litigation while maintaining their sales and profits. In the United Kingdom, on the other hand, BAT seemed genuinely concerned about the health problems and embarked on an elaborate effort to develop a "safe" cigarette. Chapter 4, however, shows that this effort ultimately failed.

Filter Cigarettes And The "Tar Derby"

Tobacco companies responded to the growing public concern over the health effects of smoking by heavily promoting new types of cigarettes, such as cigarettes with filters in the 1950s and "low-tar" cigarettes beginning in the mid-1960s. The documents show that these new brands were not clearly "healthier" than the old brands. Instead, the new brands were designed for marketing purposes, so that tobacco companies could claim in their advertisements that their brand had "lower tar" than the others, even though low-tar cigarettes did not necessarily reduce the health risks of smoking. (BAT scientists made a distinction between "health-oriented" cigarettes, which incorporated technological advances that had been tested and were known to reduce hazards, and "health-image" cigarettes, which were designed to give smokers the illusion of smoking a safer product. This distinction was later formalized at the BAT Hilton Head research conference in 1968; see chapter 4.)


The tobacco industry's strategy of developing filter and low-tar cigarettes is the subject of a memorandum titled "Industry Response to the Cigarette/Health Controversy" {2205.01}. This memo, written in 1976 by Ernest Pepples, B&W's vice president and general counsel, provides an overview of the industry's public relations strategies. (This memo, which describes the industry's response to the "smoking and health controversy," is discussed in more detail in chapter 7. We limit our discussion here to the portion that refers to the industry's development of filter cigarettes.)

In his memo Pepples points out that the tobacco industry's first response to the growing public concern over the health effects of smoking was to "produce more filter brands and brands with lower tar delivery" {2205.01}. As a result of this strategy, he notes, the market share of filter cigarettes had grown rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s, giving rise to an atmosphere of fierce competition that became known as the "tar derby," because tobacco companies were competing to deliver the lowest tar possible. Perhaps most important, toward the end of his discussion Pepples concedes that the filters did not actually make the cigarettes healthier, but only gave smokers the illusion of smoking a healthier product.

The industry has moved strongly toward filter cigarettes, which have increased from .6% in 1950 to 87% in 1975. KENT cigarettes were introduced in 1952 with an unusually heavy promotion campaign discussing the micronite filter. Other companies moved strongly into the rapidly growing filter market. In 1951, nine out of twenty brands on the market accounted for as much as 1% of market share. By 1964, 17 of 41 brands had more than 1% share of market. [This proliferation of brands reflects the impact the introduction of filter cigarettes had on consumption patterns.]

This became known as the "tar derby" of the late 1950's. It was characterized by sharply intensified advertising competition. By 1963 well over half of the total unit output was composed of brands which were unknown before 1950.

The new filter brands vying for a piece of the growing filter market made extraordinary claims. There was an urgent effort to highlight and differentiate one brand from the others already on the market. It was important to have the most filter traps. Some claimed to possess the least tars. 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 [emphasis added]. {2205.01, p. 2}

Pepples adds that government regulation had actually helped the industry put a stop to the "tar derby" by allowing tobacco companies to end their expensive television advertising campaigns.

This sort of advertising led to the first attempts by the Federal Trade Commission to regulate the industry. A further consequence of the "tar derby"


was the rapid increase in advertising expenditures during this period. Advertising expenditures in selected media jumped from over $55 million in 1952 to approximately $150 million in 1959. The "tar derby" was ended by a voluntary agreement between the FTC and the cigarette companies in 1960. The competition in advertising continued to be fierce, however, with expenditures doubling again by 1970 to a figure of approximately $314 million.

In announcing the agreement, Earl W. Kintner, then FTC Chairman, stated that in "the absence of a satisfactory uniform test and proof of advantage to the smoker, there will be no more tar and nicotine claims in advertising." Kintner said the tar and nicotine blackout was "a landmark example of industry-government cooperation in solving a pressing problem." The Consumers Union, however, felt that the end of the "tar derby" was to the industry's advantage and to the public's disadvantage. It said that the cigarette industry had succeeded in extricating itself from [an] embarrassing position [emphasis added; pages 3–5 of this nine-page document are missing from our files]. {2205.01, p. 2}

This memo suggests that the tobacco industry promoted filter and low-tar cigarettes primarily for public relations purposes. (Filter cigarettes had been marketed since the 1930s.) Tobacco companies realized that their customers were concerned about the reports that cigarette smoking might be dangerous, and they therefore introduced new products designed to calm those fears.

Early Advertising Claims

Ironically, even before scientific evidence began to suggest that smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases, tobacco companies in the United States were promoting cigarettes with advertisements suggesting that some brands were "healthier" or "less irritating" than others. The documents contain several examples of early advertising claims made by B&W and other tobacco companies {1700.04; 1703.01; 1703.02; 1704.01}.

One document simply lists the advertising slogans for various brands of cigarettes from the 1920s through the 1950s, including Kool, Camel, Lucky Strike, Old Gold, and Viceroy, among others {1700.04}. For example, an advertising slogan for Lucky Strike in 1928 was:

It's toasted. No Throat Irritation—No Cough [emphasis in original]. {1700.04, p. 11}

And in 1929 Lucky Strike advertisements claimed that

20,679 physicians have confirmed the fact that Lucky Strike is less irritating to the throat than other cigarettes. {1700.04, p. 11}


Similarly, advertisements for Kool cigarettes in the 1930s and 1940s suggested that Kools would not irritate the throat. They contained slogans such as

For your throat's sake Switch from 'Hots' to Kools . {1700.04, p. 1}

By the 1950s, when the public was becoming more apprehensive about the health dangers of smoking that were being described in the press, the tobacco industry heavily promoted filter cigarettes and made claims about less tar. In B&W's advertising of Viceroy cigarettes, for example, the "Health-Guard" filter introduced in 1952 was touted:

New HEALTH-GUARD Filter Makes VICEROY Better For Your Health Than Any Other Leading Cigarette! {1703.01, p. 2}

This statement was supported in the advertisements with "facts" designed to downplay the ad claims of other companies. For example, in 1952, at a time when Lorillard was extolling the low nicotine delivery of Kent, B&W trumpeted:

Although most filters help to remove tobacco tars, laboratory analysis proved that smoke from other leading filter-tip cigarettes contain [sic ] up to 110.5% more nicotine than VICEROY [emphasis in original]. {1703.01, p. 2}

Reduced nicotine was a key claim made for several other brands at the time. Before filters, Camel, Chesterfield, and Old Gold all made low-nicotine claims. Kent's health claims were also based on nicotine data, but this claim was not explicit in the advertising at the time (5, 6).

In 1955 B&W drew additional contrasts between Viceroy's Health-Guard filter, which was made from cellulose acetate, and the crocidolite asbestos (Micronite) filter of Kent. Ads in college newspapers posed this question:

Why do more college men and women smoke VICEROYS than any other filter cigarette? ...

Because only VICEROY gives you 20,000 filter traps in every filter tip, made from a pure natural substance—cellulose—found in delicious fruits and other edibles! ...

Besides being non-mineral and non-toxic, this cellulose acetate filter never shreds or crumbles. {1703.01, p. 9}

A 1955 magazine ad proclaimed:



Nonetheless, after an article published in Reader's Digest in 1957 (7) cited Kent as the least toxic filter cigarette, a finding based on a comparison of tar deliveries, Viceroy's sales dropped sharply {1703.02, p. 11}.

These examples of the tobacco industry's advertising claims, along with the "tar derby" memo from Pepples, indicate that the industry began promoting filter and reduced-tar cigarettes during the 1950s primarily to calm public fears about the health effects of smoking. Although the advertisements of the era suggested that the new cigarettes were "healthier," there was no real evidence that this was so. When the evidence finally began to come in (beginning only twenty years later, in 1977), the verdict was that lowering tar with filters had only a very modest effect in lowering the enormous risk of lung cancer caused by cigarettes and no effect in protecting the consumer from the more common threat, fatal heart disease (8, 9).

Today the tobacco industry claims that it markets filter and "low-tar" cigarettes because of public demand, and not because it believes that these products are "safer." For instance, R. J. Reynolds—in its monograph about Premier, a novel nicotine delivery system—refers to the development of filter and "low-tar" cigarettes as manufacturer responses to consumer demand (10). However, the industry itself, through its advertising campaigns, has helped create the illusion that these products are safer.

B&W's Internal Research Program

Before the 1950s the tobacco companies, or at least Brown and Williamson, apparently had conducted very little research on the health effects of smoking, even though they discussed the purported health benefits long before that in their advertisements. Beginning in the early 1950s, however, the industry began to conduct more scientific research to determine the health effects of its products.

The history of B&W's research program is described in a document that chronologically lists all the smoking and health research conducted by B&W from 1906 to 1986 {1006.01}. The entry for 1946 states:

Prior to 1946, the only research done at Brown & Williamson was performed in a laboratory established under the control of the Manufacturing Department. In 1946, the Technical Research Department was formed with Dr. R. C. Ernst as the Director of Research on a consulting basis. ... The majority of research conducted at this time was still in the form of technical support. {1006.01, p. 1}


This entry suggests that, until 1946, B&W had only studied technical issues related to cigarette marketing and development. By 1948, however, B&W had begun developing a cellulose acetate filter. In 1950 the company began work to "eliminate the harsh, irritating smoke in a cigarette that comes from the paper wrapper" {1006.01, p. 2}.

The entry for 1952 suggests that B&W was becoming more concerned about the health effects of its products with each passing year. It also indicates that B&W was particularly concerned about the tar and nicotine content of its cigarettes.

The Tennessee Eastman cellulose acetate filter known as the "Health Guard Tip" is reported to be in production. Cigarettes with this filter produce 42–46% less tar and 19–35% less nicotine than the non-filtered competitors. A review of the scientific literature on arsenic and cancer and the presence of arsenic in smoke and insecticides is conducted. Cancer is "investigated from a literature standpoint" in light of "frightening testimony" from epidemiology studies. A carcinogenic hydrocarbon, benzo(a)pyrene, is partially isolated from tobacco leaf and smoke. {1006.01, p. 2}

By 1952 early epidemiological studies in the United States and the United Kingdom were showing substantial risks for lung cancer related to cigarette smoking. At the time, arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene (or benzpyrene) were the only two known carcinogenic materials suspected of being in tobacco smoke (11). As of 1952, only a single, unconfirmed report, published in 1939, had indicated that benzo(a)pyrene could be found in tobacco smoke. The next published report of similar findings appeared in 1954 (11). Therefore, the unpublished work B&W scientists were doing in 1952, achieving a "partial isolation" of benzo(a)pyrene from tobacco leaf and tobacco smoke, was at the leading edge of the field at the time.

By 1953 B&W had begun a more intensive effort to study tobacco and its effects. Dr. I. W. Tucker was appointed as the first full-time director of B&W's Technical Research Department. In his departmental report at the end of 1953, according to the B&W chronology {1006.01, p. 2}, Dr. Tucker said that the smoking and health situation "will be an important factor in establishing the direction which our research department will take." A few months later, at an industry conference in Bristol, England, Dr. Tucker stated that "tobacco companies' research departments must now conduct work on smoke constituents not only for technological improvements but also for better understanding of their products as a result of the smoking and health controversy" {1006.01, p. 3}.


Unfortunately for the tobacco industry, the results of these early studies were discouraging. As we discuss in the following chapters, by the 1960s BAT scientists had concluded that nicotine is addictive and company-sponsored laboratory tests showed that components of tobacco smoke cause cancer in animals. The company responded to these findings at first by attempting to create a "safe" cigarette, although it publicly maintained that cigarettes had not been proven dangerous to health. When the scientists had concluded that they would not be able to create a "safe" cigarette, the company retreated behind a stone wall of denial, where it remains to this day.

The Council For Tobacco Research

The same memo {2205.01} that discussed the "tar derby" also discussed another public relations strategy adopted by the tobacco industry during the 1950s—the sponsorship of supposedly independent scientific research. (The memo, written in 1976 by Ernest Pepples, describes the industry's response to the "cigarette/health controversy" over time. As stated above, other aspects of this memo are discussed in detail in chapter 7.) This strategy allowed the tobacco industry to claim that there was a "controversy" over the effects of smoking and that more research was needed to resolve the debate.

Pepples notes that, besides producing filter and low-tar cigarettes, the industry reacted to the evidence linking its products to various diseases by supporting scientific research. The purpose of this research was "to refute unfavorable findings or at a minimum to keep the scientific question open" {2205.01, p. 1}. In addition, Pepples states:

The significant expenditures on the question of smoking and health have allowed the industry to take a respectable stand along the following lines—After millions of dollars and over twenty years of research, the question about smoking and health is still open" [emphasis added]. {2205.01, p. 1–2}

The Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC), formed jointly by US tobacco companies in 1954, was the primary institution that helped the industry promote this message. (TIRC was renamed the Council for Tobacco Research-U.S.A. [CTR] in 1964. We will therefore refer to this organization as TIRC when discussing periods from 1954 to 1964 and as CTR when discussing periods after 1964.) By 1985 CTR's annual budget reached $11,278,000.


The industry stated publicly that it was forming TIRC in response to scientific reports suggesting a link between smoking and lung cancer, and that the purpose of TIRC was to fund independent scientific research to determine whether these reports were true. However, the documents show that TIRC was actually formed for public relations purposes, to convince the public that the hazards of smoking had not been definitively proven.

The formation of TIRC is described in detail in a series of internal memos from the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton, Inc. (H&K), which was hired by the tobacco companies in 1953 to help them devise a public relations campaign (12). The H&K memos state that late in 1953 the president of American Tobacco, Paul M. Hahn, sent telegrams to the presidents of the other major tobacco companies, inviting them to meet in New York to develop a campaign to counter the negative publicity surrounding cigarettes. The meeting was convened on December 15, 1953, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City and was attended by the presidents of American Tobacco Company, Benson & Hedges, Brown and Williamson, P. Lorillard, Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, and U.S. Tobacco, as well as the chief executives of Hill and Knowlton. The president of Liggett & Myers was invited to the meeting but did not attend (12). (Liggett & Myers did join TIRC on March 5, 1964, but resigned four years later, on January 8, 1968 {1920.01, p. 23}.)

Following the meeting, H&K submitted a proposal regarding the tobacco industry's public relations campaign (12). H&K recommended that the tobacco companies jointly form a research committee that would sponsor independent scientific research on the health effects of smoking. In addition, an announcement describing the formation of the research committee should be distributed widely as news and placed as an advertisement in newspapers and magazines nationwide. The tobacco industry followed Hill and Knowlton's advice. On January 4, 1954, the industry announced formation of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) in an advertisement titled "A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers" (figure 2.1). This advertisement appeared in 448 newspapers in 258 cities, reaching an estimated circulation of 43,245,000 (12). The advertisement states,

Recent reports on experiments with mice [conducted by Wynder, Graham, and Croninger (2), who found that painting mice with tobacco tar caused cancer] have given wide publicity to a theory that cigarette smoking is in some way linked with lung cancer in human beings. ... Many people have asked



Figure 2.1. The tobacco industry ran this advertisement in January 1954 announcing the creation of
the Tobacco Industry Research Committee in response to growing public concern that smoking causes cancer.


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. ...


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. ...

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. {1901.01}

The "Frank Statement" advertisement also clearly expresses the tobacco industry's concern for the health of its customers:

We accept an interest in people's health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business [emphasis added]. {1901.01}

The documents demonstrate that in subsequent years the tobacco industry did not meet the goal it established for itself in 1954.

Tirc's Organization And Policy

A document on TIRC's general organization and policy {1903.03} states that TIRC is independent of the industry and that its purpose is to fund research into the health effects of tobacco. Although this document was prepared for internal use by B&W staff, it contains the same statements about the role of TIRC that were made publicly at the time—possibly because it was written by a member of B&W's public relations department.

The Tobacco Industry Research Committee is the sponsoring agency of a research program into questions of tobacco use and health. It was organized in early 1954 by representatives of tobacco manufacturers, growers and warehousemen.

Shortly after organization, the T.I.R.C. invited doctors and scientists who were well known for their work in cancer and other diseases to serve on a Scientific Advisory Board to administer a grants-in-aid program. This Board currently consists of nine scientists who maintain their respective institutional affiliations.

Grants by the Board through 1962 have been made to nearly 140 scientists in over 90 hospitals, universities, and research institutions from funds that now total $6,250,000 appropriated by the T.I.R.C. {1903.03, p. 1}


The document then discusses the role of TIRC's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which was always described as being an independent group of scientists that had complete control over awarding funding.

The Scientific Advisory Board has full responsibility for research policy and programming. As a Board it does not directly engage in research for the T.I.R.C. and the T.I.R.C. itself does not operate any research facility.

Grants-in-aid for research are made by the Board to independent scientists who are assured complete scientific freedom in conducting their research. They alone are responsible for reporting or publishing their findings in the accepted scientific manner—through medical and scientific journals and societies. From the outset, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee has made clear that the object of its research program is to encourage scientific study for facts about tobacco use and health. Its position is that research will help provide the knowledge about lung cancer and heart disease for a full evaluation of all factors being studied in connection with these diseases [emphasis added]. {1903.03, p. 1}

Table 2.1 lists the members of TIRC's and CTR's advisory boards from 1964 through 1994. In general, the members of the SAB were well-respected academic researchers whose presence lent credibility to CTR. TIRC and CTR also had a scientific director who was responsible for outlining a research program and allocating research funds to best advance this program {1920.01, p. 34}. However, as described in chapter 8, the SAB and the scientific director did not always make the final decisions about which projects could be funded by CTR. Tobacco industry lawyers were responsible for many of the funding decisions. Nevertheless, in all the public statements that the industry has released over the years, it has staunchly maintained that TIRC, and later CTR, was an independent organization devoted to determining the health effects of tobacco. As we show later in this section and in chapter 8, however, the industry privately admitted that the main purpose of TIRC was public relations: to keep the "controversy" over smoking and health alive.

The document on TIRC's organization and policy also describes its position on the health effects of tobacco—namely, that the links between smoking and disease had not been proven and that more research was needed to determine the role of tobacco in various diseases.

During the past year, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee has continued and extended its support of research.

While these research studies have increased our factual knowledge, they have at the same time continued to make clear and to emphasize the great and critical gaps in that knowledge. ...





Dates of Service

Howard B. Andervont, ScD

Scientific Editor, Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

4/20/64 to 12/31/66; 1970 to 12/31/74

Richard J. Bing, MD

Professor of Medicine, Washington University; Director, Washington University Medical Service, V.A. Hospital; Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Medicine, Wayne State University College of Medicine; Director of Cardiology and Intramural Medicine, Huntington Memorial Hospital; Professor of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine; Director of Experimental Cardiology and Scientific Development, Huntington Medical Research Institute; Visiting Associate, California Institute of Technology.

6/6/58 to present[1]

Roswell K. Boutwell, PhD

Professor of Oncology, McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin.

7/28/80 to 5/31/84

Drummond H. Bowden, MD

Professor and Head, Department of Pathology, University of Manitoba Health Sciences Center.

4/24/81 to present[1]

Michael J. Brennan, MD

President and Medical Director, Michigan Cancer Foundation.

3/23/81 to present[1]

McKeen Cattell, PhD, MD

Professor of Pharmacology, Cornell University Medical College.

3/30/54 to 4/13/73

Julius H. Comroe, Jr., MD

Director, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California Medical Center; Chairman and Professor, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine.

8/12/54 to 3/16/60

John E. Craighead, MD

Professor and Chairman, Department of Pathology, and Director of Laboratories, University of Vermont College of Medicine and Medical Center Hospital of Vermont.

11/76 to 10/77

Joseph D. Feldman, MD

Head, Department of Immunopathology, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation; Member, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic; Editor, Journal of Immunology.

3/74 to present[1]

William U. Gardner, PhD

E. K. Hunt Professor of Anatomy, Yale University School of Medicine.

11/15/71 to 2/26/85

Peter M. Howley, MD

Laboratory of Pathology, National Cancer Institute.

7/7/82 to present[1]

Robert J. Huebner, MD

Chief, Viral Carcinogenesis Branch, National Cancer Institute; Chief, Laboratory of RNA Tumor Viruses, National Cancer Institute; Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute.

4/68 to 12/31/81

(Table continued on next page)


TABLE 2.1 (continued)



Dates of Service

Leon O. Jacobson, MD

Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Medicine, Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences, Regenstein Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Chicago; Director, Argonne Cancer Research Hospital; Director, The Franklin McLean Memorial Research Institute.

4/5/54 to present[1]

Manfred L. Karnovsky, PhD

Harold T. White Professor of Biological Chemistry, Dept. of Biological Chemistry, Harvard Medical School.

5/3/85 to present[1]

Paul Kotin, MD

Paul Pierce Professor of Pathology, University of Southern California School of Medicine; Chief, Carcinogenesis Studies Branch and Associate Director of Field Studies, National Cancer Institute.

4/12/54 to 11/26/65

Averill A. Liebow, MD

Professor and Chairman, Department of Pathology, University of California School of Medicine, San Diego.

9/10/73 to 2/1/77

Clarence Cook Little, ScD, LLD, LittD

Director, Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory.

3/31/54 to 12/23/71

Clayton G. Loosli, PhD, MD

Hastings Professor of Medicine and Pathology, University of Southern California School of Medicine.

10/19/66 to 8/1/73

Henry T. Lynch, MD

Professor and Chairman, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Creighton University School of Medicine; Professor of Medicine, President, Hereditary Cancer Institute, Creighton University School of Medicine.

11/15/73 to present[1]

Kenneth M. Lynch, MD, ScD, LLD

President, Dean of Faculty, Professor of Pathology, and Chancellor, Medical College of South Carolina.

3/31/54 to 11/29/74 (became board member emeritus in 1973)

Hans Meier, DVM, Dr.Med. Vet, MRSH

Senior Staff Scientist, The Jackson Laboratory.

10/31/71 to 5/14/81

G. Barry Pierce, MD

American Cancer Society Centennial Research Professor, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

3/18/82 to present[1]

Stanley P. Reimann, MD, ScD

Scientific Director, Institute for Cancer Research; Director, Lankenau Hospital Research Institute.

3/29/54 to 2/21/68

Gordon H. Sato, PhD

Professor of Biology, University of California, San Diego; Director, W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center.

4/28/80 to present[1]

William F. Rienhoff, Jr., MD

Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine.

4/2/54 to 9/19/72

(Table continued on next page)


TABLE 2.1 (continued)



Dates of Service

Sheldon C. Sommers, MD

Professor of Pathology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; Director of Laboratories, Lenox Hill Hospital.

7/66 to present[1]

Lee W. Wattenberg, MD

Professor of Pathology, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota Medical School.

10/9/75 to 1/9/79

Edwin B. Wilson, PhD, LLD

Professor of Vital Statistics, Harvard University.

7/12/54 to 12/28/64

John P. Wyatt, MD

Professor and Head, Department of Pathology, University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine; Director, Tobacco and Health Research Institute, University of Kentucky.

10/13/72 to 1/22/80

[1] "Present" is December 1994.

Source: {1920.01, p. 28}

The smoking of tobacco continues to be one of the subjects requiring study in the lung cancer problem, as do many other agents and influences in modern living. Science does not yet know enough about any suspected factors to judge whether they may operate alone, whether they may operate in conjunction with others, or whether they may affect or be affected by factors of whose existence science is not yet aware. Indeed, it is not known whether these factors actually are "causative" in any real sense.

As the tobacco industry continues its support of the search for truth and knowledge, it must recognize, as is always the case in true scientific research, there can be no promise of a quick answer. The important thing is to keep on adding to knowledge until the accumulative facts provide the basis for a sound conclusion. {1903.03, pp. 1–3}

The Role of Hill and Knowlton

As described earlier, the Hill and Knowlton public relations firm was integral in the formation of TIRC. In fact, from 1954 to 1958, the tobacco industry's public relations activities were carried out at TIRC with the help of H&K staff (12). In 1958 several states began to propose tobacco regulations, and the industry decided that it needed a more vocal lobbying group than TIRC. The Tobacco Institute was formed in 1958 to take over the industry's lobbying and public relations needs (12). However, Hill and Knowlton continued to provide public relations guidance for both TIRC and the Tobacco Institute. This role of H&K is described


in a memo from John V. Blalock (B&W public relations) to J. W. Burgard (B&W marketing){1902.05}. The memo begins:

This organization [Hill and Knowlton] serves as the Public Relations Counsel to The Tobacco Institute and the Tobacco Industry Research Committee. It is so intimately involved in the affairs of both that a proper separation of functions, as well as a strict definition of operations, is virtually impossible in this brief summary.

However, aside from performing the usual P.R. functions ... Hill and Knowlton can be described as "straddling both T.I. and T.I.R.C. and acting as a buffer for each." {1902.05, p. 1}

The document then explains what he means by "buffer":

Hill and Knowlton decides whether questions from outside individuals or organizations are to be directed to The Tobacco Institute or to the T.I.R.C. {1902.05, p. 1}

Blalock also mentions the substantial overlap of staffs between H&K, the Tobacco Institute, and TIRC. Two of H&K's staff members worked full-time on the Tobacco Institute account; in addition, William T. Hoyt of H&K was the executive director of TIRC as well as the executive secretary for TIRC's Scientific Advisory Board. "Without question, he [Hoyt] is the administrative head of T.I.R.C." {1902.05, p. 2}. The close relationship between H&K, the Tobacco Institute, and TIRC supports the hypothesis that all three were acting as arms of the tobacco industry's public relations efforts.

Public Relations Statements About Tirc: Creating A False Controversy

The tobacco industry often referred to TIRC in its public relations statements. TIRC was used to reinforce the claim that there was a "controversy" regarding the health effects of smoking and that more research was needed. For example, a document titled "Cigarette Smoking and Health: What Are the Facts?" {1903.02}, written after the Royal College of Physicians report was issued (3), disputes the claim that there is "mounting evidence" against smoking and notes that TIRC is attempting to learn the answers to the smoking and health debate, since "medical science has not found the basic causes of lung cancer." The paper does not mention the increased risk of lung cancer among smokers and emphasizes the fact that most people who smoke do not get lung cancer, as though that somehow implies that smoking is not an important cause


of the disease. It diverts attention from any possible role cigarettes may play in the causation of lung cancer by noting that a wide variety of possible causes of lung disease are under study, including "viruses, previous lung ailments, air pollutants, heredity, stress and strain, and other factors." By pointing to the efforts made by TIRC and its Scientific Advisory Board in developing an understanding of the lung cancer problem, the paper, in effect, keeps alive the "controversy" about the dangers of smoking.

The "What Are the Facts" document begins by listing ten common questions about the dangers of smoking and then answering them with the tobacco industry's standard claim that the dangers had not been proven. For example:

Is there "mounting evidence" to link cigarette smoking with lung cancer?

The "evidence" is not medical in the usual sense, because clinical and experimental research does not bear out the anti-cigarette theory. There is no scientific cause-and-effect proof. Only statistical studies provide the "evidence." The curious thing is that most of what has been written against cigarette smoking in recent years is based on a relatively few statistical reports. The "mounting evidence" impression is mainly the result of mounting publicity, rather than scientific findings [emphasis in original]. {1903.02, p. 3}

The statement is grossly misleading. The answer to the question is (and was, of course) "yes," but neither "yes" nor "no" is offered. Instead, the answer seeks to sow doubt and confusion. The reader is led through a maze of different types of evidence mixed up with prejudicial but high-sounding language about medicine, science, clinical work, and experimental work, leaving the false impression that the association of cigarettes and lung cancer must be flimsy.

In the spring of 1962, the Royal College of Physicians issued the first major report reviewing the data on cigarettes and disease (3). Since "What Are the Facts" quotes from this report, it was available to the author. The report meticulously reviewed the literature and carefully evaluated all alternative explanations for the increase in lung cancer. Its conclusion, "Cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer and bronchitis," was the only reasonable one considering all the data available in 1962, and nothing that has been learned since then about smoking and disease has brought this conclusion into doubt. On the contrary, subsequent data have confirmed it many times over.

The "What Are the Facts" memo explains how the industry is responding to the scientific evidence linking its products to cancer and heart disease. Specifically, it describes the research being funded through TIRC.


The tobacco industry recognizes that it has a special responsibility to help find the true facts about tobacco and health. Since 1954, it has been supporting a program of independent research through the Tobacco Industry Research Committee.

... These grants are made "with no strings attached" to encourage scientific study into the complex question of tobacco use and health. Scientific Director of the T.I.R.C. is Dr. Clarence Cook Little, world-renowned cancer researcher and for 16 years managing director of what is now the American Cancer Society.

The entire grants-in-aid program is administered by a Scientific Advisory Board of nine noted doctors, scientists, and educators. ... They determine the research policy and award the grants for research. {1903.02, pp. 3–4}

"What Are the Facts?" also claims that much of the TIRC-supported research has raised uncertainty about the health dangers of smoking and suggests that other things are to blame, so as to deflect attention away from tobacco.

[TIRC research] emphasizes that many clinical and experimental factors still need to be identified, investigated, and evaluated regarding the origin of lung cancer and other diseases. Actually, the number of suspects under study in lung cancer has broadened and now includes viruses, previous lung ailments, air pollutants, heredity, stress and strain, and other factors. {1903.02, p. 4}

Another document summarizes the TIRC's "Position of Tobacco and Health Issue":

While these [TIRC-funded] research studies have increased our factual knowledge, they have at the same time continued to make clear and to emphasize the great and critical gaps in that knowledge. They have confirmed the soundness of the position held and expressed by the T.I.R.C.

This position is that there does not exist the essential experimental and clinical knowledge with which science can even define or identify the multiple factors or influences that may contribute to the origin and progress of these diseases.

... As the tobacco industry continues its support of the search for truth and knowledge, it must recognize, as is always the case in true scientific research, there can be no promise of a quick answer . The important thing is to keep on adding to knowledge until the accumulative facts provide the basis for a sound conclusion [emphasis added]. {1903.03, pp. 2, 3}

These statements make it clear that the tobacco industry believed that TIRC-supported research was accomplishing one of its goals of perpetuating controversy about the adverse effects of tobacco.


A document entitled "10 Assertions about Smoking and Health vs. the True Facts," dated October 3, 1967, advises tobacco industry employees on how to respond to data on the adverse health effects of tobacco. In a foreword to the document, E. P. Finch, president of B&W, states:

Keeping accurately informed on the smoking and health controversy is an increasing problem. Many assertions are being made which tend to condemn smoking and the tobacco industry. Headlines carry these assertions as "news." Unfortunately, the other side is sometimes overlooked.

And there is another side to the controversy! The following section states and gives factual replies to 10 of the most common assertions. {1903.01, p. 1}

The responses to the assertions rely heavily on CTR regular and special projects for support, demonstrating how the projects were used to criticize data on the adverse effects of tobacco. To counter the assertion "All doctors are convinced that smoking is dangerous," the document suggests the following response:

Doctors are by no means unanimous in condemning smoking. ... For example, some of the country's most eminent men of medicine and science—from such renowned institutions as Bellevue Hospital, Columbia University Medical School, Yale University Medical School, and New York Medical College—have testified before the U.S. Congress that the charges against tobacco remain unproved. {1903.01, p. 4}

A document entitled "Those Who Expressed Doubt before United States Congress of Smoking-Disease Relationship" contains excerpts of official testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce and the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in 1965. It states:

Over 30 of this country' most eminent men of medicine and science have submitted their views before the United States Congress that the charges against tobacco remain unproved. They gave detailed evidence as to why they are unwilling to accept statistical evidence as scientific proof of a causal relationship between cigarette smoking and human disease. {1903.07, p. 1}

Five of the thirty scientists (Joseph H. Ogura, M.D., professor of otolaryngology at Washington University in St. Louis; Theodor D. Sterling, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics at the University of Cincinnati; Hiram Langston, M.D., chief of surgery at the Chicago State Tuberculosis Sanitorium; R. H. Rigdon, M.D., professor of pathology at the University of Texas, Galveston; and Henry I. Russek, M.D., former director of cardiovascular research at the US Public Health Service Hospital in Staten


Island, New York) later received funding through CTR's Special Projects Division, which was administered by tobacco industry lawyers and was used to produce scientific data that would be useful to the industry (see chapter 8).

The Evolving Role Of CTR

Although CTR was originally formed as a public relations instrument, its role and importance to the tobacco industry evolved over the years. This evolution is described in an April 4, 1978, memo from Ernest Pepples to J. E. Edens, chairman and CEO of B&W.

Originally, CTR was organized as a public relations effort. The industry told the world CTR would look at the diseases which were being associated with smoking. There was even a suggestion by our political spokesmen that if a harmful element turned up[,] the industry would try to root it out. The research of CTR also discharged a legal responsibility. The manufacturer has a duty to know its product. The Scientific Advisory Board composed of highly reputable independent scientists constitutes a place where the present state of the art is constantly being updated. Theoretically SAB is showing us the way in a highly complex field. There is another political need for research. Recently it has been suggested that CTR or industry research should enable us to give quick responses to new developments in the propaganda of the avid anti-smoking groups. For example, CTR or someone should be able to rebut the suggestion that smokers suffer from a peculiar disease, as widely alleged in the press some few months ago. ... Finally the industry research effort has included special projects designed to find scientists and medical doctors who might serve as industry witnesses in lawsuits or in a legislative forum. All of these matters and more should be considered in asking what kind of research the industry should do [emphasis added]. {2010.02, p. 2}

Pepples's description of CTR is remarkable in several respects. First, he confirms that CTR was formed for public relations purposes. In addition, he notes that CTR has served as a political and legal shield for the industry over the years. Finally, he states outright that CTR's "special projects" were designed to develop research data and scientists that could be used to defend the industry in court and legislative efforts (see chapter 8). All these statements contrast sharply with CTR's publicly stated goal of determining the truth regarding the health effects of smoking.

Similar views on the importance of CTR were expressed by Bill Shinn of Shook, Hardy, and Bacon, a law firm that represents tobacco companies. Shinn's comments are summarized by Pepples in a memo to C. I. McCarty, B&W's chairman and chief operating officer {2010.03}. The


memo is marked "privileged" and is dated September 29, 1978. In it Pepples notes that, according to Shinn, CTR is valuable to the industry because it provides legal protection as well as political and public relations advantages.

Bill [Shinn] mentions two aspects of particular value in CTR: (1) the direct legal protection derived by Brown & Williamson and (2) the political and public relations advantage accruing to the industry. {2010.03}

With regard to legal protection, Pepples mentions the Monroe case against Kool cigarettes, evidently an unreported case or one that was dismissed or settled. He notes that B&W was asked in this case to describe what it had done to keep abreast of the science concerning its product.

Our reply tells about the ten imminent [sic ] scientists who serve on the SAB in an advisory capacity at CTR and it tells about the grants which CTR has made over 10 years. Stated another way, our answer says CTR is our window on the world of smoking and health research. This avoids the research dilemma presented to a responsible manufacturer of cigarettes, which on the one hand needs to know the state of the art and on the other hand cannot afford the risk of having in-house work turn sour [emphasis added]. {2010.03}

Pepples then discusses a problem faced by Liggett. Liggett had filed a report written by an outside lab in support of a patent application, and the report had stated that tumorigenicity was reduced when a particular catalyst was added to the tobacco blend. A newspaper in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a front-page story based on the patent application, declared that Liggett had admitted to laboratory proof of a causal relationship between cigarettes and cancer. Pepples states,

The point here is the value of having CTR doing work in a nondirected and independent fashion as contrasted with work either in-house or under B&W contract which, if it goes wrong, can become the smoking pistol in a lawsuit [emphasis added]. {2010.03}

In other words, CTR gave the tobacco industry not only an opportunity to develop the scientific information it needed to protect its interests but also some insulation against liability for results that could prove to be legally embarrassing. When the work supported the industry's position, it could be trumpeted; when it supported the case against smoking—as in Gary Friedman's work on smoking and heart disease (13), discussed in chapter 8—the industry could walk away from it.

The documents show a marked contrast between what the tobacco industry was saying publicly and what it was saying privately about the


purpose of TIRC, and later CTR. Publicly, the industry maintained, and continues to maintain, that the primary purpose of TIRC and CTR has been to fund independent research to determine whether smoking is truly hazardous to health. Privately, however, lawyers for B&W stated that CTR's primary purpose was to allow the tobacco industry to argue that there was a "controversy" about tobacco's effects and that more research was needed to resolve the "controversy." Furthermore, CTR provided legal and political protection for the industry. Beginning in 1966, CTR began to fund "special projects," which were awarded not by CTR's Scientific Advisory Board but by tobacco industry lawyers. This special project funding was not disclosed to the public. As we show in chapter 8, CTR's special projects were used to develop scientific evidence that the tobacco industry could use selectively to defend itself in court, for public relations purposes, and to influence public policy. Developing data for defense is not in itself problematic, of course. But questions do arise when the research is done in secret, so that only favorable results need be shown; when the fact of industry support for what does get published is concealed from the public; and when the attorney-client privilege is invoked in spite of claims that all relevant information will be made public.

Industry Reaction To The 1964 Surgeon General's Report

At the same time that the tobacco industry was publicly claiming that there was no scientific proof that smoking is dangerous to health, official agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom produced two major reports on the health effects of smoking. The first was the 1962 report of the British Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

RCP Report, 1962

The RCP established a committee in 1959 to examine the data about smoking and health. The committee reviewed the scientific literature and considered all the various explanations that had been put forth about the rise in lung cancer cases and, in particular, about the more common occurrence of lung cancer among people who smoked. The committee also reviewed data pertaining to other conditions thought related to smoking. The Royal College issued its report on March 7, 1962, at a press conference headed by Sir Robert Platt, president of the college. The major conclusions were these:


The benefits of smoking are almost entirely psychological and social. It may help some people to avoid obesity. There is no reason to suppose that smoking prevents neurosis.

Cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer and bronchitis, and probably contributes to the development of coronary heart disease and various other less common diseases. It delays healing of gastric and duodenal ulcers.

The risks of smoking to the individual are calculated from death rates in relation to smoking habits among British doctors. The chance of dying in the next ten years for a man aged 35 who is a heavy cigarette smoker is 1 in 23, whereas the risk for a non-smoker is only 1 in 90. Only 15% (one in six) of men this age who are non-smokers but 33% (one in three) of heavy smokers will die before the age of 65. Not all this difference in expectation of life is attributable to smoking.

The number of deaths caused by diseases associated with smoking is large. (3, p. S7)

Thirty thousand copies of the report had been sold in the United States by May. Reader's Digest and Scientific American , among other publications, gave prominence to articles based on it (14, 15).

The tobacco industry's official statement in response to the RCP report avoided direct disagreement with it but called it "incomplete." The British Medical Journal reported,

On publication of the Royal College of Physicians' report the Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee stated: 'The R.C.P. Committee was set up to consider the effects on health of both smoking and air pollution. By deferring to a separate report its consideration of air pollution the R.C.P. Committee has recognized the importance and complexity of this factor, but in so doing the Committee has, in T.M.S.C.'s view, produced an incomplete assessment of the problems involved.' The Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee regards the three following approaches in research as 'both practical and essential': (a) 'A study of environment and personal characteristics, as well as past medical histories,' may throw important new light on the incidence of lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. (b) 'Much more research is undoubtedly needed into the constituents and effects of air pollution.' (c) 'Further investigation is needed into the chemistry and biological effects of tobacco smoke.' (16, p. 810)

The Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee (TMSC), formed in 1956 by the British tobacco companies, was modeled on the American TIRC. TMSC, like TIRC, funded independent researchers to study issues related to smoking and health. Unlike TIRC, however, TMSC also conducted in-house research at a jointly sponsored industry laboratory in Harrogate, England, The Harrogate laboratory was opened in 1962. It conducted several large-scale studies on the effects of tobacco smoke


inhalation and skin painting in mice (to study cancer) and also did some work on nicotine (see chapters 3 and 4). Shortly after the Harrogate lab was opened, TMSC was renamed the Tobacco Research Council (TRC). The name was later changed again to the Tobacco Advisory Committee (TAC) {1014.01, pp. 11–12}.

Us Surgeon General's Report, 1964

Shortly after release of the RCP report, the US Surgeon General set up the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health to produce a similar report on the effects of smoking. The tobacco industry was allowed to veto any proposed member of the advisory committee that it deemed was not impartial on the issue of smoking and health. The committee therefore consisted entirely of scientists who had not yet publicly expressed any opinion about the health effects of smoking and who were willing to look impartially at the evidence. After working for fourteen months, the advisory committee released its report in 1964.

The major conclusions of the 1964 Surgeon General's report, Smoking and Health (4), were these:

The Effects of Smoking: Principal Findings

Cigarette smoking is associated with a 70 percent increase in the age-specific death rates of males. The total number of excess deaths causally related to cigarette smoking in the U.S. population cannot be accurately estimated. In view of the continuing and mounting evidence from many sources, it is the judgment of the Committee that cigarette smoking contributes substantially to mortality from certain specific diseases and to the overall death rate.

Lung Cancer

Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men; the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking far outweighs all other factors. The data for women, though less extensive, point in the same direction.

The risk of developing lung cancer increases with duration of smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and is diminished by discontinuing smoking. In comparison with non-smokers, average male smokers of cigarettes have approximately a 9- to 10-fold risk of developing lung cancer and heavy smokers at least a 20-fold risk.

The risk of developing cancer of the lung for the combined group of pipe smokers, cigar smokers, and pipe and cigar smokers is greater than for non-smokers, but much less than for cigarette smokers.

Cigarette smoking is much more important than occupational exposures in the causation of lung cancer in the general population.


Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema

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. A relationship exists between cigarette smoking and emphysema but it has not been established that the relationship is causal.

Studies demonstrate that fatalities from this illness are infrequent among non-smokers.

For the bulk of the population of the United States, the relative importance of cigarette smoking as a cause of chronic broncho-pulmonary disease is much greater than atmospheric pollution or occupational exposures.

Cardiovascular Diseases

It is established that male cigarette smokers have a higher death rate from coronary artery disease than non-smoking males. 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.

Although a causal relationship has not been established, higher mortality of cigarette smokers is associated with many other cardiovascular diseases, including miscellaneous circulatory diseases, other heart diseases, hypertensive heart disease, and general arteriosclerosis.

Other Cancer Sites

Pipe smoking appears to be causally related to lip cancer. Cigarette smoking is a significant factor in the causation of cancer of the larynx. The evidence supports the belief that an association exists between tobacco use and cancer of the esophagus, and between cigarette smoking and cancer of the urinary bladder in men, but the data are not adequate to decide whether these relationships are causal.

Data on an association between smoking and cancer of the stomach are contradictory and incomplete. (4, pp. 31–32)

After discussing the role of nicotine in tobacco use and recognizing that tobacco use is "reinforced and perpetuated by the pharmacological actions of nicotine" (p. 32), the committee offered the following summary conclusion:

On the basis of prolonged study and evaluation of many lines of converging evidence, the Committee makes the following judgment:

Cigaretter smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action [emphasis in original]. (4, p. 33)

Reactions By Bat And B&W

As we discuss in chapters 4 and 5, BAT responded to the RCP report with what appears to be a genuine desire to identify and remove any


harmful elements in cigarette smoke. There also appears to have been a spirit of cooperation between different cigarette manufacturers in the United Kingdom, and the British companies stated that they would share any information that would help produce a "safe" cigarette.

The response was quite different in the United States. Even before the US Surgeon General's 1964 report was released, B&W's public relations personnel and its lawyers were discussing how the company and the industry should respond. Despite public commitments to participate openly in the debate over the "smoking and health controversy," as pledged in the "Frank Statement" a decade earlier, B&W and BAT withheld important research findings on nicotine addiction from the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee, which had requested that the industry provide its relevant research. As described in the memos that follow and in chapter 3, B&W appears to have been motivated primarily by a desire to protect itself against regulation and litigation while maintaining its bottom line.

A "Grave Crisis": B&W's Public Relations

The level of concern that the Surgeon General's report aroused in the industry's public relations departments is indicated in a report from John V. Blalock, director of public relations for B&W, to J. W. Burgard of B&W's Marketing Department {1902.01}. A copy of this report was also delivered to B&W's president, E. P. Finch. The report is dated June 18, 1963, six months before the Surgeon General's report was actually released.

In this report Blalock discusses meetings he held with various representatives from the Tobacco Institute, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, and the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton regarding how the industry as a whole should respond to the Surgeon General's report.

The consensus is that the industry is in a "grave crisis," and the philosophy is "to expect the worst and work for the best." Of course the greatest cause for alarm is the forthcoming Surgeon General's report, which is expected to be detrimental to the industry. The only degree of hope is the possibility that, instead of singling out tobacco per se , the report will take into account a list of other agents (environmental and otherwise) which are suspect. However, this is deemed a rather dim hope, because indications point to a strong indictment of tobacco, with possible "root-shaking" consequences. {1902.01, pp. 1–2}


Blalock speaks of "an unmistakable note of pessimism" throughout these discussions {1902.01, p. 2} because of the threat of "mounting organized opposition" against tobacco. Those who attended these meetings were particularly fearful that extensive press coverage of anti-smoking reports being issued by organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association would convince the public to accept whatever was said in the Surgeon General's report {1902.01, p.2}.

Blalock also states that he expects the Surgeon General's report to consist of two phases. First, the Surgeon General will probably release his scientific findings based on a review of the data. Blalock recommends that public relations during this phase be handled by TIRC, which could provide tobacco industry–generated data, with guidance from H&K {1902.01, p. 2}. The second phase will consist of a recommendation for legislative or government action, such as labeling, stricter regulation of advertising, or regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. This phase, Blalock advises, should be handled by the Tobacco Institute, also with guidance from H&K {1902.01, p. 2}.

Apparently, however, neither of these organizations felt prepared to handle the situation that was about to confront them.

[There are] feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and fear that exist among those engaged in representing the tobacco industry on an organized front. However, perhaps this is more healthy than it would seem at first blush. At least these people want to do something in the face of mounting opposition. They want direction—an opportunity to take effective measures in the interest of the industry. {1902.01, p. 3}

Blalock also discusses the reasons for the industry's current state of underpreparedness. He points to a lack of cooperation among the tobacco companies in developing a public relations strategy and notes that the industry's public relations strategy has been affected by legal concerns, and that it would be unwise to assure the public that cigarettes were not dangerous to health.

Litigations, of course, have vastly affected the Public Relations posture—and understandably so. Certainly, no one can quarrel with the urgent necessity of complying with the lawyers' position in regard to assumption of risk. It would be foolhardy indeed to take a form of "aggressive" action which implies assurances, denial of harm, and similar claims [emphasis added]. {1902.01, pp. 3–4}

Blalock concludes his report by reiterating that the industry does not have a plan of action and by recommending that strong leadership will be needed to steer the industry through the crisis.


[T]he great specter of the Surgeon General's Report looms before us, and the inescapable fact remains that the industry, at the moment, does not have a definite plan of action or reaction. There is talk of possibilities—the first step in planning. Yet the disturbing element is that no one seems disposed to suggest measures for meeting these possibilities. Everyone admits to a "wait-and-see" attitude, but this is without individual endorsement. Invariably, the burden of inaction is placed on "a lack of direction" and the need for "policy decisions."

I would suggest that the time is most propitious for leadership in shoring up industry organization and planning. Such leadership should be applied on all levels of participation—Executive, Legal, Trade, and Public Relations. I see Brown & Williamson as having both this opportunity and obligation. {1902.01, p.4}

The Blalock report indicates that tobacco companies in the United States felt that the release of the 1964 Surgeon General's report on smoking and health would dramatically alter public perception of their product and would probably lead to government regulation of tobacco. The industry's public relations departments were unsure how they should respond to the report and were scrambling to develop a new strategy that would maintain public acceptance of tobacco while minimizing the potential for lawsuits.

"An Aggressive Posture": B&W's Legal Department

Just as the tobacco industry's public relations personnel were struggling to develop a strategy for responding to the Surgeon General's report, industry lawyers were analyzing its legal implications—specifically, how to ward off potential lawsuits accusing the tobacco companies of failing to warn consumers about the dangers of smoking once the Surgeon General had issued a statement stating that cigarettes were dangerous to health.

One of the documents {1802.05} describes a strategy proposed by Addison Yeaman, who was B&W's vice president and general counsel at the time. Yeaman's main suggestion is that the industry should engage in a massive program of scientific research to identify and remove any carcinogens present in tobacco smoke. Yeaman begins by stating that his comments are based on an assumption that the Surgeon General's report will conclude that there is a link between smoking and cancer. He recommends that the industry respond by financing an elaborate research campaign to make cigarettes less harmful. While making this suggestion, however, he implies that he believes cigarettes are, in fact, harmful to health.


We must, I think, recognize that in defense of the industry and in preservation of its present earnings position, the industry must either a) disprove the theory of causal relationship or b) discover the carcinogen or carcinogens, cocarcinogens, or whatever, and demonstrate our ability to remove or neutralize them. This means that we must embark—in whatever form of organization—on massive and impressively financed research into the etiology of cancer as it relates to the use of tobacco. ... Certainly one would hope to prove there is no etiological factor in smoke but the odds are greatly against success in that effort. At the best, the probabilities are that some combination of constituents of smoke will be found conducive to the onset of cancer or to create an environment in which cancer is more likely to occur [emphasis added]. {1802.05, p. 1}

Yeaman then explains why the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC), which had ostensibly been created by the industry to fund research into the health effects of smoking, would not be appropriate for the type of research program he is proposing.

[TIRC] was conceived as a public relations gesture and (however undefiled the Scientific Advisory Board and its grants may be) it has functioned as a public relations operation. ... I suggest that for the new research effort we enlist the cooperation of the Surgeon General, the Public Health Service, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, American Medical Association and any and all other responsible health agencies or medical or scientific associations concerned with the question of tobacco and health. The new effort should be conducted by a new organization lavishly financed, autonomous, self-perpetuating, and uncontrolled save that its efforts be confined to the single problem of the relation of tobacco to human health [emphasis added]. {1802.05, p. 2}

At first glance, Yeaman's statements appear to be motivated by a genuine desire to develop a "safe" cigarette. He later makes clear, however, that a motivation behind this proposal is to allow the industry to be more vocal in its attacks on scientific research suggesting a causal link between smoking and disease.

[To engage in the proposed research campaign] would, I suggest, free the industry to take a much more aggressive posture to meet attack. It would in particular free the industry to attack the Surgeon General's Report itself by pointing out its gaps and omissions, its reliance on statistics, its lack of clinical evidence, etc., etc. True we might worsen our situation in litigation, but that I would risk in contemplation of the greater benefits to be derived from going on the offensive. {1802.05, p. 2}

Yeaman is saying that B&W can both do good and do well: develop a safe cigarette to meet critics on positive turf.


This new offensive strike, Yeaman argues, should be carried out by a stronger and more aggressive Tobacco Institute in response to any regulation that might be imposed following release of the Surgeon General's report—for instance, stricter regulation of advertising and requirements for warning labels or content labels.

To meet these threats, which will arise not merely at the Federal but at the state level as well, the Tobacco Institute is available but it can be effective only if the industry abandons its timorous approach to the Institute as a functioning trade association. {1802.05, p. 3}

Furthermore, Yeaman recommends that the industry voluntarily agree to use warning labels on its products in order to protect itself from future litigation.

The question immediately arises: how would such aggressive posture affect litigation? With one exception (Green v. American Tobacco Co.) those actions which have gone to judgement were won by the defendants on the defense of assumption of risk. The issuance of the Surgeon General's Report will, in my opinion, insure the success of that defense as to causes of action arising in the future if the industry can steel itself to issuing a warning . I have no wish to be tarred and feathered, but I would suggest that the industry might serve itself on several fronts if it voluntarily adopted a package legend such as "excessive use of this product may be injurious to health of susceptible persons " and would embody such a legend in pica in its print advertising. This is so controversial a suggestion—indeed shocking—that I would rather not try to anticipate the arguments against it in this note but reserve my defense [italic emphasis added]. {1802.05, p. 3}

Yeaman continues his memo by reviewing the likely conclusions of the Surgeon General's report and by reflecting further on how the industry should respond.

But cigarettes—we will assume the Surgeon General's Committee to say—despite the beneficent effect of nicotine, have certain unattractive side effects:



They cause, or predispose to, lung cancer.


They contribute to certain cardiovascular disorders.


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 [the hypothetical new research agency]. 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? [italic emphasis added]. {1802.05, pp. 4–5}


Yeaman concludes by stating that, if B&W were able to develop a "safe" cigarette, it would be morally obliged to make that knowledge available to other companies. However, he adds, the most important thing is that "we get there firstest with the mostest" {1802.05, p. 5}.

The notion that tobacco companies should engage in certain types of research for legal or political reasons is echoed in another document from the same era. This letter, dated January 2, 1964, and addressed to B&W's president, is marked "private and confidential." Unfortunately, the signature at the end is illegible. However, the return address is BAT's Millbank office, and the contents of the letter suggest that it was written by someone fairly high up in BAT's corporate structure, because it recommends that B&W consider conducting biological tests in case the company is called to testify about the health effects of its products.

We have been coming to the view that Brown & Williamson, and possibly other Companies in the [BAT] Group, should pay more direct attention to biological tests. We have been fortified in this view by the recent visit of Mr. [Ed] Jacob [of the law firm Jacob and Medinger] who referred to the possibility of a Congressional enquiry at which various cigarette companies might be called upon to testify as to the real efficacy of their filters and the methods by which such efficacy has (or has not) been established. . . .

I suggest that in view of the repeated Industry statements that more research is needed and is being undertaken, and with an eye to a possible Congressional enquiry, you might have more to gain than to lose. {1804.01, p. 1}

These tests would demonstrate that the companies are doing everything they can to provide a "safer" product to their customers.

Of course this whole question of biological testing is a very difficult one and in the present state of ignorance of the real causes of cancer and other diseases allegedly connected with smoking (a state which may continue for a long time) any work undertaken must be with a commercial or political motive as well as a scientific motive . In other words, we should like to be able to say that certain of our cigarettes provide smoke in which certain suspect ingredients have been diminished, and that the smoke from these cigarettes has been scientifically proved to produce less change than other cigarettes on animal tissues. From this would follow the conclusion that in the light of all available knowledge, the Company is doing its best to supply a 'safer' smoke [emphasis added]. {1804.01, pp. 1–2}

Although B&W's lawyers initially supported research efforts to develop a safe cigarette and to study the carcinogenicity of their products in biological tests, they later changed their philosophy and strongly urged


the company not to engage in any research that could produce damaging results.


During the 1950s research linking cigarette smoking to adverse health effects was reported. The tobacco industry responded to the growing public concern over the health effects of smoking by promoting filter cigarettes and by forming the Tobacco Industry Research Committee. Although the industry claimed publicly that both of these actions were being taken in the interests of the public health, the documents indicate that the true motivation behind them was to convince the public that the health hazards of smoking had not been proven. The release of the 1964 report of the US Surgeon General, Smoking and Health, created a crisis within the industry. The general counsel of B&W advised that the company should attempt to develop a "safer" cigarette, in part to protect itself against lawsuits. As discussed in chapters 3 and 4, during the 1960s and 1970s the industry conducted research to understand nicotine and to identify and remove harmful elements from tobacco smoke. Ultimately, however, the industry failed to make a safer cigarette.


1. Wynder EL, Graham EA. Tobacco smoking as a possible etiologic factor in bronchiogenic carcinoma: A study of six hundred and eighty-four proved cases. JAMA 1950;143(4):329–336.

2. Wynder E, Graham E, Croninger A. Experimental production of carcinoma with cigarette tar. Cancer Res 1953;13:855–864.

3. Royal College of Physicians. Smoking and Health. A Report of the Royal College of Physicians on Smoking in Relation to Cancer of the Lung and Other Diseases . London: Pitman Medical Publishing Co., 1962.

4. USDHEW. Smoking and Health. Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. US Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1964. Public Health Service Publication No. 1103.

5. Tye J. Sixty Years of Deception: An Analysis and Compilation of Cigarette Ads in Time Magazine, 1925–1985 . Palo Alto, CA: Health Advocacy Center, 1986.

6. Friedell M. Effect of cigarette smoke on the peripheral vascular system. JAMA 1953;152:897–900.

7. Miller LM, Monahan J. The facts behind filter-tip cigarettes. Reader's Digest 1957 July:33–39.

8. USDHHS. The Health Consequences of Smoking: Cancer. A Report of the Surgeon General. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1982. DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 82–50179.

9. USDHHS. Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Dis-


ease Control, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1989. DHHS Publication No. (CDC) 89–8411.

10. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Chemical and Biological Studies on New Cigarette Prototypes That Heat Instead of Burn Tobacco . Winston-Salem, NC: R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 1988.

11. Wynder E. Neoplastic diseases. In: Wynder EL, ed. The Biologic Effects of Tobacco (pp. 102–132). Boston: Little, Brown, 1955.

12. Pollay RW. A Scientific Smoke Screen: A Documentary History of Smoke Public Relations Efforts for and by the Tobacco Industry Research Council (TIRC), 1954–1958. Vancouver, Canada: History of Advertising Archives, 1990. Tobacco Industry Promotion Series.

13. Friedman G, Dales L, Ury H. Mortality in middle-aged smokers and nonsmokers. New Engl J Med 1979;300:213–217.

14. Hammond E. The effects of smoking. Scientific American July 1962;207(1):39–51.

15. Miller L. Lung cancer and cigarettes: Here are the latest findings. Reader's Digest 1962 July:45–50.

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Chapter 2 Smoking and Disease: The Tobacco Industry's Earliest Responses

Preferred Citation: Glantz, Stanton A., John Slade, Lisa A. Bero, Peter Hanauer, and Deborah E. Barnes, editors The Cigarette Papers. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.