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 5 Public Relations in the "Safe" Cigarette Era

Chapter 5
Public Relations in the "Safe" Cigarette Era

Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the "body of fact" that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy. ... If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking and health. Doubt is also the limit of our "product." Unfortunately, we cannot take a position directly opposing the anti-cigarette forces and say that cigarettes are a contributor to good health. No information that we have supports such a claim.
"Smoking and Health Proposal," B&W, 1969? {2111.01, pp. 4–5}


During the 1950s and 1960s B&W and BAT came to realize that cigarettes cause cancer and other diseases and quietly researched how to make a cigarette that would deliver nicotine without the carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals in tobacco smoke. At the same time, they worked to counter growing awareness of the dangers of smoking among members of the scientific and medical community as well as the general public, often hiding the tobacco industry's true role in these efforts.

Getting Out The "Facts"

The documents include what appears to be a fragment from a 1967 employee handbook on how to answer questions about the company's products. A section titled "Smoking and Health" consists of a brief introduction by B&W's president, Ed P. Finch {1801.02}. Finch tells his readers:


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. From these, I hope you will gain a better insight into our position as a part of a viable and responsible industry. I also hope you will add your voice in support of the soundness of our cause. {1801.02}

Six of the ten assertions are available in the documents {1801.03}. In each case the assertion has been chosen and crafted to permit a plausible-sounding rejoinder. By dealing only with peripheral issues, the response to the assertion avoids confronting the real scientific information known at the time about the relationship between cigarettes and disease. For example,

ASSERTION: "People who smoke are select prospects for cancer and other diseases."

FACT: People who do not smoke suffer from all the diseases that have been selectively linked with smoking. Ten to 20 per cent of lung cancer, for instance, occurs in non-smokers. {1801.03, p. 1}

This "fact," although true, sidesteps the uncomfortable truth that people who smoke are more than ten to twenty times more likely to get lung cancer than people who do not smoke. It is grossly misleading in its selection of information.

Another example deals with the attributable risk of death from cigarettes.

ASSERTION: "300,000 adult smokers die prematurely each year because of cigarette smoking."

FACT: No one can accurately make that statement, because there is no valid supporting evidence. The Assistant Surgeon General, when the 1964 Surgeon General's Report was issued, said the Report "Might be as misleading as it was informative" to try to calculate "the total number of excess deaths causally related to cigarette smoking in the U.S. population." In other words, the Advisory Committee acknowledged that any such excess deaths could not be "accurately estimated." {1801.03, p. 2}

Again, the "fact" sidesteps the real issue. The Advisory Committee concluded that a substantial number of smokers were dying prematurely each year. Instead of responding to that fact, the response quibbles about


whether a precise body count can be calculated. The tobacco industry still relies on this technique. James Johnston, CEO of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, in his testimony to Congress in April 1994, claimed that there is no list of dead people that adds up to the number of people who allegedly died because of cigarettes (1).

Some of the "assertions" were simply set up to invite an important-sounding rejoinder.

ASSERTION: "All doctors are convinced that smoking is dangerous."

FACT: Doctors are by no means unanimous in condemning smoking. There are many who have expressed publicly their unwillingness to accept statistical evidence as scientific proof of a causal relationship between cigarette smoking and human disease. 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. {1801.03, p. 2}

As described in chapter 8, many of the "eminent scientists" so often quoted by the tobacco industry were on the industry payroll, often without public disclosures of this fact. The scientists not only received support for research but also were paid to provide testimony favorable to the industry, to perpetuate controversy about the health effects of smoking and, more recently, passive smoking.

Selling Doubt

Following publication in 1964 of the first Surgeon General's report, Smoking and Health (2), concern over tobacco skyrocketed among the public and government policy makers, particularly at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has the authority to regulate cigarette advertising. After an initial period of uncertainty around the release of the Surgeon General's report (see the "Grave Crisis" section in chapter 2), the tobacco industry started an aggressive campaign to create controversy about the scientific evidence that smoking is dangerous and to defend the "right" to smoke. While some of these efforts were overt, many of them were covert, with the industry operating quietly through public relations firms to secure publication of articles from seemingly neutral sources that supported the tobacco industry's position. The documents illuminate four of these efforts.


You May Smoke

In 1966 a book titled YouMaySmoke , which questioned the health dangers of smoking, was published in England. Although the author, C. Harcourt Kitchin, wrote this book on his own, the British cigarette company Carreras Tobacco bought seven thousand copies. Tiderock Corporation, a public relations firm working for B&W, approached Kitchin to publish an American version that would debunk the 1964 US Surgeon General's report, with research assistance from American tobacco companies {2101.02}. On August 16, 1967, Kitchin wrote to Rosser Reeves of the Tiderock Corporation outlining what he could do.

I have given a little thought to that [writing an American edition of YouMaySmoke ]. The book is obviously written first for British consumption, though with the idea in mind that it might find an American publisher. To try and disguise it as an American book would, I am sure, fail. We can, however, introduce material, and make changes, to make it more acceptable, and less "foreign", to the American reader. Although the Surgeon General's report is fuller, and far more technical, than the report of the Royal College of Physicians, it contained no new research and no conclusions that had not already been drawn.

What I think I can do, if I can find the necessary material, is to put more emphasis on arguing against the Surgeon General's report than, at present, against the British one, and to base the arguments upon American, rather than British statistics and research. If the book is to be republished anyhow, I think it will be more convincing to make these changes through the body of the script than, as you first suggested, to write additional chapters.

With this in mind I have listed and attached a few first thoughts on the sort of additional information I shall need, much of which I think is not available in this country. It may be that I could get some of it from my friendly tobacco manufacturers or from the Tobacco Research Council, but I hesitate to invite questions on why I want it [emphasis added]. {2101.03, pp. 1–2}

Kitchin published the US edition of YouMaySmoke (3). In the prologue to the book, Kitchin explains why he wrote it. As a moderate smoker, he had been disturbed by the early reports that smoking could cause lung cancer. When the Royal College of Physicians released its first report on smoking and health in 1962 (discussed in chapter 2), however, he began to sense "a slight scent of propaganda." His own book, Kitchin states, "seeks neither to encourage smoking nor to debunk the reports. It is an attempt to look at the evidence through the eyes of an ordinary member of the general public who neither rejects the possibility that smoking may contribute to lung cancer nor is blinded by propaganda or fear" (3, p. xi).


At the end of the book, Kitchin concludes that more research is needed to prove that smoking is truly harmful to health; in the interim, he suggests, smoking in moderation probably is not too bad.

May you smoke? The answer is for you and for you only. ... If you enjoy your smoking, as opposed to the chain smoker who is seldom conscious of having lit the cigarette that is staining his fingers, you may decide that the answer lies in moderation. If you examine the statistics carefully you will find little condemnation of that. (3, p. 176)

Scientific studies have shown, however, that Kitchin's theory regarding moderation was wrong. The more you smoke, the more likely you are to develop diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease. Even if you smoke only moderately, your risk is still elevated above normal.

Nowhere did Kitchin mention that he had been aided by the tobacco industry to write YouMaySmoke for a US audience, or that some of the information quoted was provided by tobacco industry representatives.

Barron's Editorial

Following publication of the Surgeon General's report in 1964, several states and the Federal Trade Commission began to move to require warnings on cigarette packages and, possibly, on cigarette advertisements. There was also talk of severely restricting or even ending cigarette advertising (4) The tobacco industry aggressively fought advertising restrictions, both at a public relations level and at a political level in Congress. In 1965, however, Congress passed the federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which first required warning labels to be placed on cigarette packages, but preempted the states from taking any action of their own in this area. It contained an automatic review after three years. Although the tobacco industry quietly acceded to the Congressionally mandated placing of warning labels on cigarette packages, which it preferred to regulation by the Federal Trade Commission, because such labels offered protection from products liability lawsuits, it aggressively fought other parts of the legislation and mounted a strong public relations campaign against the regulation of its products generally.

For example, on October 18, 1967, the industry made use of one of its public relations tools when it ran newspaper ads, prepared by Tiderock, featuring a reprint of a front-page editorial from Barron's (figure 5.1). The editorial, as reprinted in the advertisements, criticizes the 1964 Surgeon General's report, Smoking and Health, and attacks government efforts to control tobacco.



5.1. Advertisement run by the Tobacco Institute in 1967 based
on Barron's editorial atacking government actions to control tobacco.


What began a few years ago as a seemingly well-intentioned, if disturbing, effort to brainwash the citizenry into kicking the habit thus has spiraled into a crusade as menacing and ugly as Prohibition. At the time (Barron's ,—January 18, 1965), regarding the gross exaggerations of Emerson Foote [a former advertising executive], who headed the movement, we accused the Public Health Service of "placing the strident claims of the pitchman ahead of the unobtrusive quest for truth." Nothing that PHS has said or done since has changed our view. On the contrary, the anti-smoking forces, putting their worst foot forward, lately have sought to escalate from persuasion to coercion. As inveterate non-smokers, we freely concede that cigarets do one no good. As to the body politic, however, the unchecked arrogance of bureaucracy is invariably fatal. When the choice lies between living dangerously or toeing the party line, we (like most Americans, evidently) would rather fight than switch. [The phrase "rather fight than switch" was later popularized in a cigarette advertisement.]

Since publication in 1964 of "Smoking and Health," which through a kind of guilt by statistical association, condemned the use of cigarets (but not cigars or pipes), officialdom has done its best to pick a fight. Armed with such dubious "proof," the Federal Trade Commission promptly sought to foist its own uncompromising slogans on the industry, a move which led a more tolerant Congress to pass the Federal Cigaret Labeling and Advertising Act.


"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." From the outset, as a few bold scientific spirits insisted, "Smoking and Health" failed to prove that cigarets cause lung cancer or any other of the many ills to which the flesh is heir. With the passage of time, its findings have grown increasingly suspect. Last year Barron's cited the critique of Professor K. A. Brownlee of the University of Chicago, who faulted the Surgeon-General's Report for inadequate and possibly biased sampling methods, as well as for the arbitrary dismissal of conflicting views. This year the medicine men have undercut their own dogma. For, contrary to their previous findings, which exonerated nicotine as a health hazard, the witch doctors, in a remarkable if little-noted change of mind, are now pointing the finger of suspicion at it.

Meanwhile, the Johnson Administration, which never gave the anti-smoking campaign its seal of approval, quietly continues to support the price of the filthy weed with taxpayers' money and, for the benefit of foreigners, who presumably neither know better nor care, to extoll the virtues of U.S. tobacco.


This is the classic rationale of tyranny, the perennial cry of the mob. The public interest, as we have said before, covers a multitude of sins, from the venal to the deadly. Smoking may be a minor issue, but contempt for due process of law looms large. Cigaret advertising, however disagreeable, constitutes an exercise in freedom of speech. Big Brother doesn't take over all at once, he closes in step by step. Here's a chance to draw the line [emphasis added]. {2120.08}


Emerson Foote had been chairman of the McCann-Eriksen agency, where he had handled the Lucky Strike cigarette account, and now headed the National Interagency Council on Smoking and Health, which was pressing for anti-tobacco education, including a warning label in cigarette advertising.

In a letter dated October 26, 1967, J. W. Burgard, B&W's vice president for advertising, marketing research, and public relations, wrote to Tiderock's Rosser Reeves:

The Barron's ad turned out very well. To me, perhaps the most important thing about this ad was that for the first time we have gotten the industry to take a step forward together, and it was a great opportunity to get them together. I would hesitate, however, to attach too much importance to what could be accomplished by the repeated exposure of such an ad. {2101.06, p. 1}

Reeves responded:

I agree with you that the Barron's ad turned out very well. I also agree with you that we should not attach too much importance to what can be accomplished by the repeat exposure of one ad. One advertisement is really one raindrop in a rainstorm ... and we need more than a rainstorm, we need a hurricane.

I also agree with you that the main issue is to make widely known the facts relative to scientific research on the subject of smoking and health.

Before we ran the Barron's ad we had Ted Bates and Company do 2,000 interviews among smokers and nonsmokers in 20 top markets. (So far as I know this is the first research that has ever been done on what the public thinks about this controversy.)

The results were somewhat shocking:



The public at large thinks the Government should assume an active role in warning people against cigarettes. Two-thirds in fact believe that the Government has not done enough.


The majority are convinced cigarette smoking causes health problems.


The majority believe that cigarette advertising is bad.

On the other hand:



The public is opposed to legal prohibition of the sale of cigarettes.


The public believes that it's up to the individual to make his own decision about smoking.


The public believes cigarette manufacturers are not to blame.


Forty percent of the public believes the manufacturers should argue their case in public.

We are giving the True article [discussed below] much thought. What we do with it will be woven into our complete program which we hope to present privately to the Senator [probably Earle Clements, a former Kentucky


senator with strong ties to the White House, who was president of the Tobacco Institute] within the next ten days and to all of the Tobacco Institute within the next three weeks [emphasis in original]. {2101.07, pp. 1–2}

This interchange illustrates the thoroughness with which the tobacco industry was approaching its public relations effort. Not only did it quietly generate support, which was then represented as "independent," but it also used this material in paid advertising.

The True Magazine Article

The publicity regarding the dangers of smoking was accelerating in the popular press following publication of the Surgeon General's report. In January 1968 an article entitled "To Smoke or Not to Smoke—That Is Still the Question," by Stanley Frank, a widely read sports writer, appeared in True magazine. Frank stated that he had reviewed the evidence and found it contradictory and inconclusive; he concluded that "the hazards of cigarette smoking may not be so real as we have been led to believe." The tobacco industry's role in generating and disseminating this article and other articles is summed up in the instructions to the law firm hired to analyze the Brown and Williamson documents (see chapter 1):

TRUE AND NATIONAL ENQUIRER ARTICLES : Documents discussing the True and National Enquirer articles. Joseph Field, a public relations agent for Brown & Williamson, arranged for Stanley Frank to write a smoking and health article entitled, "To Smoke Or Not To Smoke—That Is Still The Question." The article was published in the January 1968 issue of True . Tiderock, TI's [Tobacco Institute's] public relations agency, arranged to run an advertisement promoting the article. Tiderock also purchased and distributed reprints of the article. Stanley Frank later wrote a similar article entitled, "Cigarette Cancer Link is Bunk" for the National Enquirer under the pen name Charles Golden. John Blalock was one of the Brown & Williamson employees involved. {1001.01, p. 13}

Frank did not disclose that he worked for Hill and Knowlton, the public relations firm that created the Tobacco Industry Research Committee and the Tobacco Institute {1902.05} (see chapter 2); that he had been paid on behalf of the tobacco industry to write the article; or that tobacco interests had reviewed the article prior to publication (4). Tiderock Corporation also played a role in creating and placing the True article. This information was later revealed in a series of investigations by the Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports , and US Senator Warren Magnuson (D-WA).


The role of the tobacco industry at the highest levels in the generation and dissemination of Stanley Frank's article in True magazine is outlined in detail in a confidential memo dated March 28, 1967, from J. V. Blalock, director of public relations at B&W, to Addison Yeaman, then B&W vice president and general counsel:

According to Joe Field, True Magazine has asked Stanley Frank for a formal outline of his projected article. This is tantamount, except in the rarest of cases, to a guarantee of publication.

We will receive a copy of the outline. If it is unfavorable, we can exert sufficient influence to change the "tone" before the final article. I need not emphasize, however, the strategic importance of the proper guidance of Frank prior to the writing of the outline. We are assured by Joe that Frank has the desired point of view.

They both intend to talk again this week to Ed Jacob [a lawyer at Jacob and Medinger] in order to amplify the Roswell Park angle. Perhaps you will want to alert Ed to this intention. Certainly, this can be an extremely important part of the article.

As to our financial agreement:

We will pay Frank $500.00 for his time and expenses in preparing the article. This is a firm obligation whether he sells it or not.

If True buys the article, our full obligation is satisfied. The magazine pays $1,750.00 for material of this type.

Should True turn down the article, and Frank does not subsequently sell it to another publication, we will pay him $1,250.00 to make up the difference between our guarantee of $500.00 and the anticipated magazine payment of $1,750.00 [emphasis added]. {2101.11}

Not only did Tiderock place the article with True , but it paid the author and guaranteed him his fee in the event that the deal fell through with True . The fact that this article was essentially a work for hire for the tobacco industry was not disclosed. The tobacco industry distributed 600,000 copies of the True magazine article with a letter from "the editors" to physicians, the media, and business and political leaders without any public acknowledgment that the tobacco industry was distributing it or that tobacco interests had a financial relationship with the author. Not until this arrangement was exposed by the media did the public become aware of it (4).

Using The Same Technique In The 1990s

The tobacco industry's practice of reprinting "independent" articles and statements that favor its position has continued into the present. The subject matter, however, has largely shifted from active smoking to pas-


sive smoking. For example, after the Environmental Protection Agency released its 1992 report concluding that environmental tobacco smoke is a known human carcinogen that causes lung cancer in adults and respiratory problems in children, the tobacco industry reprinted articles that criticized the report (5). R.J. Reynolds ran a full-page ad in the nation's major newspapers with the headline "If We Said It, You Might Not Believe It" (figure 5.2). The ad featured an article by Jacob Sullum, at the time managing editor of Reason magazine, which had originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal and was highly critical of the EPA report. A longer article by Sullum, originally published in Forbes Media Critic , was featured in advertisements by Philip Morris. Philip Morris paid for four straight days of full-page ads to reprint Sullum's article in its entirety (figure 5.3). The result has been that the public has received far more exposure to criticisms of the EPA report than it has to the report itself. None of these advertisements disclosed the fact that Sullum's employer, The Reason Foundation, received a $10,000 donation from Philip Morris or that Sullum received $5,000 from R. J. Reynolds for the rights to use his writings in its advertising campaign (6–9).

Similar attacks have been directed against the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for considering rules to protect nonsmokers in the workplace; against the Food and Drug Administration, for considering the regulation of cigarettes as drug delivery devices; and against the prospect of higher tobacco taxes.

Public Relations Efforts And The AMA

Tiderock also played a role in helping to coordinate Brown and Williamson's efforts to influence the American Medical Association's (AMA) position on smoking. Unlike most of the health community, the AMA did not actively oppose the tobacco industry in the 1960s. Instead, it generally worked with the tobacco industry, both to perpetuate the scientific "controversy" about smoking and health and to keep federal regulation to a minimum (10). On November 10, 1967, J. W. Burgard wrote Rosser Reeves:

Enclosed is a copy of the memorandum I mentioned during our phone conversation. This is an attempt to summarize the comments made to me during the AMA meeting last week. I will not elaborate on the memorandum since I think the trend of the comments is self evident. In view of this, I think we should give immediate attention to the possibility of running ads stating, in effect, that there is no scientific evidence of a causal relation



Figure 5.2 R. J. Reynolds advertisement based on Jacob Sullum's article
attacking the EPA report on environmental tobacco smoke.



Figure 5.3. First of four full-page advertisements Philip Morris
Tobacco ran reprinting Jacob Sullum's article in full during 1994.


between smoking and lung cancer . Do this in a test market, as you originally suggested, to see what the reaction of the people and the various segments of the people are to a campaign.

In considering this, I hope you will also give some thought to an idea which intrigues us at Brown & Williamson of considering in such an ad not only the frontal attack on a causal relation but the "disclaimer" that smoking is an adult habit, or something to that effect. We feel that the combination of the two could well give the ad believability that an attack on the health relationship alone would not have . At the same time, it would let the public know the industry does not encourage smoking among teen-agers [emphasis added]. {2101.09, p. 1}

This campaign apparently was designed to maintain the AMA's neutrality and to encourage the AMA to issue statements that could be used by the tobacco industry as part of its broader public relations campaign. It succeeded (10).

Resisting Government Regulation: Advertising Campaigns

The documents describe several advertising campaigns planned by B&W and other tobacco companies in 1969 and 1970 to counter the increasing threat of government regulation. The first of these campaigns, developed by B&W, was Project Truth, which contained purely political material. Although it was aimed at the public generally, it was intended primarily to influence opinion leaders. Another campaign developed by B&W included political and health messages along with brand advertising. A third campaign, proposed by R. J. Reynolds, and intended to include the participation of all the major cigarette companies, involved the production of a series of spots to be used on prime-time network television. Still another television campaign, intended as an alternative to the R. J. Reynolds idea, was proposed by B&W's advertising agency. Although these campaigns were diverse in design, they had in common the industry's desire to go directly to the public in order to defend itself against the growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating the dangers of smoking.

Project Truth

In late 1969, at the same time that Brown and Williamson's internal scientific staff was working to reduce the toxicity of cigarettes, its advertising agency, Post-Keyes-Gardner, was developing copy for Project Truth, highlighting themes designed to undercut the scientific evidence


that smoking is dangerous. In contrast to the original "Frank Statement" advertisement in 1954, which announced the creation of TIRC and asserted a commitment to a scientific investigation of smoking, the Project Truth advertisements shifted from science to the "rights" arguments.

This advertising campaign was designed to equate any attack on the tobacco industry with an attack on freedom itself. The intent was to create a public backlash against criticism of the tobacco industry by instilling the fear that regulation of the industry would deprive smokers of their individual rights and deprive the industry of its right to operate freely in the marketplace. Rather than focusing on the reality of a powerful industry fending off the feeble attempts of an overmatched government to put some restraints on its sale of a dangerous and addictive product, the ads portrayed the industry as beleaguered and struggling to protect everyone's freedom against an overbearing government. Themes similar to the ones used in this advertising campaign continue to be used by the industry, most notably in its response to the regulation of smoking in the workplace and public places.

The excerpts quoted below are strikingly similar to much of the industry's advertising in the mid-1990s. For example, the industry continues to use hyperbolic language, such as "malicious" and "lynched," to describe government efforts to regulate tobacco use, and it continues to play on the fear that if these efforts succeed, similar efforts could be directed elsewhere. Also, the industry continues to compare proof of the health dangers of smoking with trivial matters, as a way of detracting from the seriousness of the issue. And many of the "buzzwords"—such as "scare-tactics," "freedom," "legal product," "truth," "free speech," "fair play," and "free and responsible enterprise"—are constantly used today in the industry's public relations efforts.

HEAD : Who's next?

COPY : The cigarette industry is being maliciously, systematically lynched. Who is to say it won't happen elsewhere?

As an advertising agency, we view the problem subjectively because we're proud to represent the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. Yet we view the problem objectively, because we're alarmed to witness the lynching of free speech in the marketplace and the American system of free enterprise.

Ten years ago, there was a cancer scare over the wax in milk cartons. And over using iodine to get a suntan. These theories were about as valid as the one that says toads cause warts.

And they're about as valid as today's scare-tactics surrounding cigarettes. Because no one has been able to produce conclusive proof that cigarette smoking causes cancer . Scientific, biological, clinical, or any other kind.


It's more than cigarettes being challenged here. It's freedom.

We will continue to bring to the American people the story of the cigarette and any other legal product based upon truth and taste.

We believe that free speech and fair play are both the heritage and promise in our society of free and responsible enterprise [emphasis in original]. {2110.01}

Twelve years before this statement was written, and five years before the Royal College of Physicians issued its first report, the eminent British statistician Sir Ronald A. Fisher, writing as a consultant to the Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee in the United Kingdom, declared that the association between smoking and lung cancer was unequivocally proven (11). Fisher made a sharp distinction between association and causation. All that remained to be worked out, in his view, was the nature of the relationship. Do cigarettes cause lung cancer? Does lung cancer cause smoking? (Sir Ronald did not think this possible and dismissed it.) Does some third factor lead to both smoking and to lung cancer? Sir Ronald asserted that the obvious conclusion could not be reached until this last possibility had been thoroughly studied and either affirmed or negated. He proposed that genetics, one's constitution, might explain a predilection to smoking and to lung cancer. For the next thirty years, the tobacco industry contrived to fashion this wisp of a hypothesis, the "constitutional hypothesis," into the whole cloth of a scientific controversy (12). The effort never had much credibility, but it permitted the industry and its allies to make loud protestations about the lack of "conclusive proof." Of course, since one cannot conclusively prove a negative, there is always a way to argue in favor of the constitutional hypothesis, regardless of how much evidence piles up in favor of the conventional way of thinking. Those who want to believe that smoking does not cause cancer then have something to believe in.

This campaign was also to include a challenge to the scientific community to "prove" that scientific evidence supports the link between smoking and disease. The back cover of a proposed ten-page booklet, The Truth , would read:


For 20 years, the cigarette industry has remained silent while its product has been viciously, maliciously, unjustifiably attacked.

Despite the claims of anti-cigarette forces, no one has produced conclusive proof that cigarettes cause cancer. Biologically, scientifically, clinically or otherwise.


We will pay one million dollars in cash to any individual, group, organization, or government source who can prove scientifically, beyond all doubt, that cigarettes cause cancer during the next 12 months.

A panel of eminent physicians and scientists will be appointed by Johns Hopkins Medical School to determine the conclusiveness of any claims submitted. {2110.03}

Since it is impossible to prove anything "beyond all doubt," there was little risk that the million dollars would actually be awarded.

Two years later, in 1971, B&W put together a twenty-eight-page briefing paper for its hometown newspapers, the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times , title "The Smoking/Health Controversy: A View from the Other Side" {2110.06}. The arguments are demonstrably false (11, 13–15), yet they were presented as "Project Truth" to the local newspapers. The contrast between the public posture and the private policies of the company is most vividly illustrated by the statement made in Project Truth about the validity of mouse skin–painting experiments.

Much of the experimental work involves mouse-painting or animal smoke inhalation experiments. In mouse-painting, smoke condensates are painted or dropped on the backs of mice, and cancerous skin tumors have been produced in this manner.

However, these condensates are artificially produced under laboratory conditions and, as such, have little, if any, relation to cigarette smoke as it reaches the smoker . Further, the results obtained on the skin of mice should not be extrapolated to the lung tissue of the mouse, or to any other animal species. Certainly such skin results should not be extrapolated to the human lung [emphasis in original]. {2110.06, pp. 6–7}

As discussed in chapter 4, B&W had made cigarette product design decisions based on precisely this animal model since the mid-1960s. At the time, mouse skin painting was the standard the industry used for testing tobacco smoke condensate for carcinogenicity.

Using Cigarette Ads to Counter Health Information

In August 1969 J. W. Burgard wrote to R. A. Pittman, B&W's senior marketing supervisor, requesting that he

undertake a special assignment of drawing up a proposed campaign, to be conducted by B&W, which would bring the industry side of the smoking and health controversy to the attention of the general public ...

It will ... be necessary to work closely with the brand managers and the agencies to marry such a campaign with product advertising. It goes


without saying that each step of this must be thoroughly researched and you will need to call upon the Market Research Department for help in this area. {2111.02, p. 1}

This campaign was to be quite different from Project Truth, which involved straight political advertising aimed at opinion leaders. These ads were to be aimed at the general public and would attempt to associate specific cigarette brands with the message that smoking is not dangerous. The first ad, for Kool cigarettes, included a statement on "the other side of the smoking and health controversy" from a white paper {2111.02, p. 5}. Philip Morris used a similar approach in 1994 and 1995 as a way of protesting restrictions on smoking in enclosed workplaces and public places. In an advertising campaign for Benson & Hedges cigarettes, various ads depicted smokers on an airplane wing, smokers at their desks high up on the outside walls of tall office buildings, and smokers in a convertible taxi. The political message was "Smokers have to fight for indoor smoking areas."

In his memo on the proposed campaign, Burgard instructs Pittman:

I think you should approach this the same as if we were introducing a new brand on the market. You must first develop the product and sell the idea to corporate management, and after it is thoroughly researched submit a specific campaign for approval. What we are contemplating is novel, and the management of the company is going to have to be assured that it is the right thing to do. Certainly, the work done with the initial KOOL ad is an important first step, but when the findings of this research are presented you should be prepared with a recommendation as to the next steps that we should take in development and testing.

I would like to emphasize that, in my opinion, we must confine our campaign to the smoking and health issue and not be drawn into any other aspects such as the economic results, the legality, the unfairness, etc. If this campaign is effective, it will immediately draw fire, and we cannot bear to have in our ads or in our literature a single word that cannot be thoroughly documented. {2111.02, pp. 1–2}

Burgard then spells out the objectives for this campaign:


Objective No. 1 :

To set aside in the minds of millions the false conviction that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases ; a conviction based on fanatical assumptions, fallacious rumors, unsupported claims and the unscientific statements and conjectures of publicity-seeking opportunists.

Objective No. 2 :

To lift the cigarette from the cancer identification as quickly as possible and restore it to its proper place of dignity and acceptance in the minds of men and women in the marketplace of American free enterprise.


Objective No. 3 :

To expose the incredible, unprecedented and nefarious attack against the cigarette, constituting the greatest libel and slander ever perpetrated against any product in the history of free enterprise; a criminal libel of such major proportions and implications that one wonders how such a crusade of calumny can be reconciled under the Constitution can be so flouted and violated.

Objective No. 4 :

To unveil the insidious and developing pattern of attack against the American free enterprise system, a sinister formula that is slowly eroding American business with the cigarette obviously selected as one of the trial targets.

Objective No. 5 :

To prove that the cigarette has been brought to trial by lynch law, engineered and fostered by uninformed and irresponsible people and organizations in order to induce and incite fear.

Objective No. 6 :

To establish—once and for all—that no scientific evidence has ever been produced, presented or submitted to prove conclusively that cigarette smoking causes cancer [emphasis added]. {2111.02, pp. 3–4}

It is interesting to note how these goals, in particular "lift[ing] the cigarette from the cancer identification as quickly as possible," are completely at odds with the quest for a less dangerous cigarette, which had been a major research and development priority for years (see chapter 4). Burgard had direct line authority over research and development at B&W. Meanwhile, the company's parent, BAT (in its laboratories in England and in Germany), was working on technical approaches to reducing the toxicity of cigarettes while at the public level it, too, was pressing forward with disinformation campaigns questioning the health dangers of smoking.

The sequence numbers on the memo from Burgard to Pittman indicate that it was filed in conjunction with another document, titled "Smoking and Health Proposal," which contains the text of a presentation on "a proposal ... for a B&W project to counter the anti-cigarette forces" {2111.01}. The proposal being discussed is the same one suggested in the Burgard memo. Although the document is undated, the context of the discussion places it around 1969, when the Burgard memo was written. The initials "JVB" (most likely those of J. V. Blalock, B&W's director of public relations) and "CM" (probably those of Corny Muije, position unknown, who is referred to in the document) appear in the margin on the first page. Evidently Blalock and Muije made a joint presentation to someone in the company. After summarizing the status of the anti-cigarette activities, the speaker notes that the anti-cigarette forces are better organized and more efficient than the tobacco industry:


I think the anti-cigarette forces can be characterized as dedicated opportunists. They are quick to act and seem to be totally unprincipled in the type of information they use to attack the industry.

The pro [tobacco] forces, on the other hand, and I'm speaking primarily of the Tobacco Institute, seem to be slow to act, mainly defensive, and rather narrow in the area of defense. The Tobacco Institute has probably done a good job for us in the area of politics and as an industry we also seem to have done very well in turning out scientific information to counter the anti-smoking claims. There is no question, though, that we have been inept in getting out side of the story, good though it may be, across to the news media and to the public. {2111.01, p. 2}

Following a discussion of the justification for the project, the speaker indicates that he views the problem as a marketing one. Thus, the project was designed to sell B&W's side of the smoking and health issue just as the company would sell a new brand of cigarettes. And, as the text of the document indicates, the project was clearly designed to confuse the general public about the scientific evidence on smoking and health.

In thinking over what we might do to improve the case for cigarettes, I have looked at the problem somewhat like the marketing of a new brand. Here is a chart where I have defined the basic marketing elements which I see in the smoking and health problem. Our consumer I have defined as the mass public, our product as doubt, our message as truth—well stated, and our competition as the body of anti-cigarette fact that exists in the public mind [emphasis added]. {2111.01, pp. 3, 4}

It seems rather curious that the speaker would suggest selling doubt with a message of truth, but he sheds some light on the rationale in the course of explaining why he has so defined the consumer, the product, and the message:

We have chosen the mass public as our consumer for several reasons:

This is where the misinformation about smoking and health has been focused.

The Congress and federal agencies are already being dealt with—and perhaps as effectively as possible—by the Tobacco Institute.

It is a group with little exposure to the positive side of smoking and health.

It is the prime force in influencing Congress and federal agencies—without public support little effort would be given to a crusade against cigarettes.


Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the "body of fact" that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of


establishing a controversy. Within the business we recognize that a controversy exists. However, with the general public the consensus is that cigarettes are in some way harmful to the health. If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking and health. Doubt is also the limit of our "product." Unfortunately, we cannot take a position directly opposing the anti-cigarette forces and say that cigarettes are a contributor to good health. No information that we have supports such a claim .

Truth is our message because of its power to withstand a conflict and sustain a controversy. If in our pro-cigarette efforts we stick to well documented fact , we can dominate a controversy and operate with the confidence of justifiable self-interest [italic emphasis added]. {2111.01, pp. 4, 5}

Thus, this project was to be a classic example of the tobacco industry's attempts to instill in the public mind the notion that there is a controversy surrounding the scientific evidence about cigarettes and health so that further government regulation would be prevented. The speaker does not suggest that the industry has sufficient facts on its side to refute the evidence on the other side, nor does he believe that is necessary to accomplish B&W's main purpose. According to the speaker, B&W merely has to sell a sufficient amount of doubt about the scientific evidence to establish a controversy; it can then disseminate a sufficient amount of "truth" to sustain a controversy.

The speaker then discusses the potential for using brand advertisements to convey a political message:

We have seen research this morning which indicates that there is at least a potential for using our own ads to communicate the other side of the cigarette story. Before putting this type effort into practice, however, we would want to be absolutely certain that there is no damage to our advertising or to the consumer acceptance of our brands. So the first step for the immediate future would be research. We are recommending basic research to unearth specific problems in smoking and health that we can deal directly with. {2111.01, p. 5}

This effort was part of an organized campaign that was carefully researched and designed by Corny Muije, who describes the research that was needed:

What was shown today specifically demonstrates what happened when a certain type of information was supplied with the KOOL Adios II ad.

Indications are that the KOOL copy effectiveness was enhanced. We need more evidence that this is true. Furthermore, we need to establish whether this solely hinges on the Adios II ad and the specific body copy used.

Also, is this an effective approach when the information is supplied with ads for VICEROY, RALEIGH , and BELAIR ? {2111.01, p. 6}


After noting that there will be two phases to the research program, Muije continues:

It is essential that we ascertain which type of anti-cigarette information has most affected the smoking public. What claimed health hazards are currently accepted by the general public.

A general survey with detailed questioning shoud establish this. During Phase II we should also investigate consumer reaction to at least three distinct anti-cigarette approaches. In addition, consumer reactions to maybe a dozen specific anti-cigarette claims could be probed.

The purpose of Phase II is to establish which past information and which current anti-cigarette claims are most damaging. From this we should learn which information should be of greatest interest to the public. We could then tailor our efforts more precisely to achieve the greatest effect [emphasis added]. {2111.01, pp. 6–7}

This discussion suggests that B&W was not so much interested in the actual scientific evidence about smoking and health as it was in the public perception of the evidence. Once the company could ascertain what the public believed, it could then tailor its own public relations efforts to help smokers rationalize their behavior.

After estimating the costs of the second phase of the research, Muije introduces Phase III, test marketing:

None of the research, up to this point, will have let us know the effect of sustained repeated exposure of B&W cigarette ads with body copy of different content.

Prior to a nation-wide commitment, one or more test markets would be called for.

At this point it is impossible to say whether one or more test markets would be desirable.

Regardless, in each instance we recommend that a consumer survey be conducted prior to the start of the test market and another one at the end of the test market.

A comparison of the pre and post surveys will enable us to evaluate the effect of the total campaign. {2111.01, pp. 7–8}

At this point another speaker, probably Blalock again, replaces Muije:

We would like to have the Executive Committee's approval to initiate the research program that Corny has just explained and at the same time to start a task force study of the smoking and health question and develop a detailed plan of action for B&W.

Such a plan would cover:

Sources of information about smoking and health.

The selection and clearance of information to be used by B&W.


The development of new information about smoking and health.

Means of anticipating and countering the release of misinformation.

Channels other than our own advertising for getting messages to the public.

Ways to use and perhaps focus industry efforts in support of our own program.

Agency participation in the program.

Internal administration and implementation of the program.

Thorough evaluation of potential advantages and disadvantages of public action on B&W and its brands. {2111.01, pp. 8–9}

It is not clear from the documents whether this program moved beyond the concept, design, and test market stages. However, it is clear B&W was actively researching why people believed that smoking is dangerous and was trying to develop specific counterstrategies to allay the fears of the general public. This activity came at a time when public health officials were calling for stronger warnings and a ban on television and radio advertising for tobacco; when anti-cigarette television ads, ordered by the Federal Communications Commission, were reducing cigarette consumption (16); and when discussions that would lead to modestly strengthened warnings on cigarette packages were under way (4).

Rjr's Projects A And B

In 1970 the tobacco industry was actively discussing various public relations strategies to undermine public awareness of the dangers of smoking. The instructions to the law firm hired to analyze the Brown and Williamson documents (see chapter 1), which describe the relationships among Project Truth (see above) and Projects A and B, provide the context for the following discussion:

PROJECT TRUTH / PROJECT A / PROJECT B: Documents relating to any of these public issue campaigns involving the tobacco companies and TI. "Project A," developed in 1970, consisted of three TV spots on smoking and health that would be substituted for some regular TV commercials for which time had already been contracted. The spots were rejected by the network. Ruder & Finn proposed "Project B," which called for TV and print advertising that might position tobacco beside liquor in terms of public tolerance. In the fall of 1970, TI distributed two public service TV spots, produced by Ted Bates, to counteract the anti-smoking spot announcements. This activity was called "Project Truth." {1001.01, p. 12}

On February 20, 1970, J. W. Burgard sent a memorandum to E. P. Finch, B&W's president and chairman of the board, summarizing and


commenting on the recommendations of the Tobacco Institute's Communications Committee for 1970, which evidently included plans for certain advertising campaigns. After stressing the need to prepare and approve effective copy, Burgard discussed the possibility of using the material B&W had already been preparing for presentation to editors and others in connection with Project Truth. Burgard's comment makes it clear that the lawyers were heavily involved in that project:

I suggest this because we are hopeful that we can have such a presentation approved before too long, and I am painfully aware of the fact that we have been working intensively on this for over six months, with the full and almost daily cooperation of not only our own Law Department but of outside counsel. {2112.01, p. 1}

Although Burgard notes that the committee's recommendations did not cover R. J. Reynolds's "Project A" proposal, he offers his opinion of the project:

I still feel that this is quite worthwhile if, again, the copy submitted by Reynolds is approved. If we attempt to make any major changes in their proposal, I am afraid this also will bog down in the pursuit of effective approved copy. {2112.01, p. 2}

A separate document, which is untitled and is neither signed nor dated, but appears to be a summary of various proposed advertising strategies and B&W's analysis of them, has as its first item a discussion of "Project A"—an R. J. Reynolds television series:

Full agreement of group. Esty [perhaps Gil Esterle, International and External Technical Services Dept.] would produce and supply, through Tobacco Institute, the special spots to the six companies for insertion in network primetime schedules. The B&W-proposed share plan was adopted; i.e., each company would give one minute for every 10 minutes of present schedule. Copies of estimates are attached, showing an approximate dollar value for the series of $275,000 per week, or $14,508,000 on a 12-month basis. Except for production costs (on a market share basis), the companies would not be committed to spend any extra dollars for the series, since they would simply be substituting the spots for already purchased time on an allotted basis. Nor would any extra agency commissions be involved; each company's agencies would receive commissions on already contracted time.

In developing the series, Esty would have the legal advice and counsel of some designated lawyer(s), not a committee of company counsels (it is understood that Dave Hardy would act for B&W and Philip Morris). Before the series is run, heads of the networks would be given a special presentation (of course the entire series has to be approved by the network continuity people). {2112.04, p. 1}


The other ideas discussed in this document include newspaper advertising to introduce the television series; a benchmark opinion survey to determine public attitudes toward the smoking controversy; media briefings; communications with physicians on research efforts and studies that cast doubt on the anti-smoking theory; television network specials; participation on educational television programs; and employment of a public relations agency by the Tobacco Institute {2112.04, pp. 1–3}.

As the instructions indicate, "Project B" called for television advertising, and the documents include two of the proposed ads, a one-minute spot and a thirty-second spot. They are worth setting out in full:

STAGE I—One-Minute TV Spot:

This is a message from the people who make cigarettes—and are proud of it. It is a plea for common sense. You've seen the anti-smoking commercials. Dramatic and frightening, they do not appeal to your reason, but rather to your emotions. The fact is, a clear and consistent picture does not emerge from research findings concerning smoking and health. Many statistical connections have been cited against smoking—but these figures work both ways. Some figures which are as questionable as any others, for instance, indicate that people who smoke moderately are actually healthier than non smokers. (PAUSE ) Our common sense tells us the emotional charges and counter charges will not resolve this controversy. Such emotionalism may even discourage needed intensive research by dedicated scientists. In the field of tobacco and health research, we in this industry provide more money, without strings, than all the voluntary agencies in this country combined. We have great confidence that this impartial research will lead the way in providing fair and accurate information regarding cigarette smoking. Until the answers are in, we must count on your common sense and sense of fair play. And we do. {2112.02}


STAGE I—Thirty-Second TV Spot:

This is a plea for common sense. You've seen the anti-smoking commercials. Dramatic, frightening, they do not appeal to reason, but rather to emotion. The fact is, a clear and consistent picture does not emerge from research findings concerning smoking and health. (PAUSE ) Emotional charges will not resolve this controversy. Intensive research by dedicated scientists will. We provide more money for this research than all the voluntary agencies combined, and more than any agency of the Federal Government. Until the dilemma is resolved, we must count on your common sense. And we do [emphasis in original]. {2112.03}

On March 3, 1970, J. V. Blalock wrote a scathing attack on Project B in a memorandum to Finch, Burgard, and Yeaman {2112.05}. In his memo Blalock notes that the project was presented as an alternative to


Project A, that it was presented in three stages, and that B&W had certain responses to each stage:

Stage I—"Person to person dialogue—reasonable and responsible."

Because words are spoken on television, a dialogue is not necessarily established with the viewers, particularly people who have been bombarded by anti-cigarette propaganda. The public doesn't feel it owes the tobacco industry anything. We must believe that people can be persuaded if presented a realistic argument or viewpoint; that is our task—what to say and how to say it. Certainly, we would be foolhearty indeed to put our trust in Ruder & Finn's reasoning by saying on television: "Until the dilemma is resolved, we must count on your common sense and sense of fair play ." We have to do a great deal more than that, or go down with a faint smile of misguided trust!

Stage II—"Reassurance."

Ruder & Finn charges that Reynolds' "Project A" is "an angry attack" and "seems argumentative and accusative." Their suggested print ad (Page 14) calls the anti-cigarette propaganda "widely-distorted, semi-hysterical campaign of fear ..." Nowhere in "Project A" is there such an extreme statement (we may believe the propaganda is just that, but to say so in those terms would immediately destroy credibility). Reynolds' "Project A" takes a position that appeals to reason: "You've been told (about lung cancer, heart disease, etc. as related to smoking) but why haven't the anti-smoking people told you (about the substantial number of scientists who doubt those statement?)" Of course, we should tell smokers about industry research efforts, but we can hardly give them any comfort by telling them that "Being alive today is a risky business" (Page 21). The whole argument made in these print ads smacks of fumbling and sweet dodging.

Stage III—"Risk-benefit."

At this point, we would be ill-advised to equate the amount of risk with the degree of benefit derived from smoking. Ruder & Finn are victims of a misconception when they say: "The broad intention envisioned ... is to achieve for the Tobacco Industry a position similar to that currently held by the liquor and beer industries." Neither industry has ever unitedly spoken of moderation or used a "risk-benefit" argument. These are elements which Reynolds' "Project A" have left out, and I believe Ruder & Finn's "Project B" fails completely to advance a convincing argument for this or other phases of its alternative to "Project A."

There seems little advantage to go further into this proposal, because the basic premise by Ruder & Finn is not supported by their suggested television and newspaper advertisements. What they have done is to say what in their opinion is wrong with "Project A"; they have not proved that their "Project B" is a suitable alternative [emphasis in original]. {2112.05, pp. 1–2}

Blalock attaches comments by Burgard, with which he wholeheartedly agrees:



Doubt that in public mind there is any real difference in feeling about the tobacco industry "sense" and their feeling about liquor.


Suggestions make nice reading to us but fail as "advertising" to capture the interest of the always indifferent public—too long, too wordy, too involved. Any campaign that requires the viewer or reader to make a sequentially reasoned decision is doomed to failure if we can believe past advertising experience.


An unsupported statement by the industry that what you have heard "is not true" is an unbelievable self-serving declaration. It lacks credibility and is so sweeping as to be fraught with danger.


Project "B" fails to consider that the anti-cigarette attacks have been going on for years and we are late in the struggle. You don't talk "common sense" when some one is attacking you with a meat axe.

We can always test the Project A commercials to see what the reaction is [emphasis in original]. {2112.05, p. 3}

Although Blalock and Burgard totally rejected "common sense" as a means of warding off attacks on the industry, eight years later that tactic was to become the centerpiece of the industry's efforts to defeat an initiative measure in California that would have restricted smoking in public places and workplaces. Indeed, the campaign committee established by the industry was called "Californians for Common Sense" (see chapter 10).

Keeping Track Of Science And Scientists

In considering its public relations problems resulting from scientific evidence on smoking and health, BAT recognized that it must not only generate supportive reports in the scientific literature (see chapter 8) but also keep abreast of developing science in general, and of scientists and physicians who might be spreading anti-tobacco information. In a 1968 memorandum to attorney B. G. Pearson in the BAT Public Relations Department, A. D. McCormick, a senior person in BAT R&DE in Mill-bank, writes:

[Mr. Widdup, deputy chairman of the BAT Australian company] suggested that just as we list certain territories as "red territories" for the purpose of information about the Rothmans' group [one of BAT's competitors], we could designate certain territories "red territories" for smoking and health purposes. Obvious candidates would be the U.S., Canada, Australia and, perhaps, South Africa. The idea would be to set up a system whereby we would keep companies in these territories informed of (a) industry policy or contemplated action; (b) a check-list of major scientific papers with industry comments;


(c) list of particularly favorable or unfavorable scientists and doctors, with a warning system should they be travelling to any particular territory .

The kind of situation with which he would like to be able to deal would be—by way of example—when Dr. Keogh, the anti-smoking man from Victoria, asked him what was the industry's answer to Harris's paper showing he had caused some cancers in rats by getting them to inhale cigarette smoke. As Widdup did not know of the paper he couldn't give a sensible reply. T.R.C. had in fact known of the paper and discussed the industry's comments on it some time previously. This would be a case where information should be passed on to "red territory" companies ahead of time [emphasis added]. {2104.01}

The tobacco industry as a whole has adopted this practice and has formalized it through an organization known as INFOTAB, based in London, which keeps track of developments and individuals worldwide that are perceived as threats to the tobacco industry.

The tobacco industry also sponsored reports and meetings to provide citable sources for information that it needed for public policy and political purposes. For example, the lawyers took over control of work on the economic costs of smoking.

INFOTAB, although retaining jurisdiction of the social costs issue, has passed the ball for development of a position back to the U.S. Tim [Finnegan] believes, and understands that the INFOTAB members now agree, that George Berman tends to use unacceptable arguments, perhaps as a result of his personal belief that causation is proven. Recently a SWOP held a workshop at [the] Wharton [School of Business] which Berman conducted. Something like 10,000 invitations were issued and only 22 attended. This turned out to be fortunate because the theme of Berman's presentations was that costs associated with smoking and health are not social costs but transfer payments. Tim's objective is to take the lead of the social cost program away from Berman and put U.S. lawyers in the forefront of preparing an industry position primarily through the development of witnesses who can present a position. I told Tim you had written a superb memorandum describing the application of various disciplines to the subject of social costs and I sent a copy to him when you approved. {1825.01, p. 1}

The tobacco industry's use of economic symposia to advance its argument that tobacco is good for the economy is similar to its sponsorship of workshops on secondhand smoke designed to counter scientific evidence that secondhand smoke is dangerous (17). Here again the industry used its lawyers to develop a response to a smoking-related health problem when it decided that the scientists were using "unacceptable arguments."



The tobacco industry's public relations efforts during the "safe" cigarette era consisted largely of an attempt to confuse the public about the scientific evidence on the dangers of smoking. Whether those efforts involved in-house handbooks, books and magazine articles written on behalf of the industry, or advertising campaigns, the thrust of the material was the same: create doubt in the public mind about what the scientific evidence really says and then attack the notion that the government should meddle in the tobacco industry's business without having definitive proof of harmful effects of smoking. To this end, the industry enlisted the support of powerful friends in the political world as well as in the media, and sometimes failed to disclose the fact that certain people expressing a viewpoint sympathetic to the industry had direct financial ties to the industry.


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4. Wagner S. Cigarette Country: Tobacco in American History and Politics. New York: Praeger, 1971.

5. USEPA. Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders. Indoor Air Division, Office of Atmospheric and Indoor Programs, Office of Air and Radiation, US Environmental Protection Agency, 1992. EPA/600/6-90/006F.

6. Skolnick A. Burning mad tobacco firms turn up heat on major news media. Science Writer 1994 Summer:1–5.

7. Naureckas J. When journalists boost the tobacco industry, follow the money. Extra! 1994 September/October:18–19.

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9. Secondhand smoke: Is it a hazard? Consumer Reports 1995 January:27–33.

10. Wolinsky H, Brune T. The Serpent on the Staff: The Unhealthy Politics of the American Medical Association. New York: Putnam, 1994.

11. Slade J, Kopelowicz A. An analysis of "R. J. Reynolds' position paper on the health effects of smoking": I. The constitutional hypothesis. Tobacco Products Litigation Reporter 1986;1(8):5.97–5.105.

12. Eysenck H. Smoking and health. In: Tollison R, ed. Smoking and Society: Toward a More Balanced Assessment (pp. 17–88). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1986.

13. Slade J, Nissenblatt M. An analysis of "R. J. Reynolds' position paper on the health effects of smoking": II. Lung cancer. Tobacco Products Liability Reporter 1986;1(9):5.107–5.113.


14. Slade J, Hahn A. An analysis of "R. J. Reynolds' position paper on the health effects of smoking": III. Heart disease. Tobacco Products Liability Reporter 1986;1(9):5.115–5.121.

15. Slade J, Kabis S, Vasen A. An analysis of "R. J. Reynolds' position paper on the health effects of smoking": IV. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tabacco Products Litigation Reporter 1987;2(2):5.11–5.21.

16. USDHHS. Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1989. DHHHS Publication No. (CDC) 89-8411.

17. Bero L, Galbraith A, Rennie D. Sponsored symposia on environmental tobacco smoke. JAMA 1994;271:612–617.


Chapter 5 Public Relations in the "Safe" Cigarette Era

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.