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Tobacco firms denied plain pack appeal

The UK supreme court has made a final decision, denying tobacco firms permission to appeal against plain packaging.

http://www.packagingnews.co.uk/news/markets/tobacco/tobacco-firms-denied-plain-pack-appeal-12-04-2017

The decision means that all cigarettes sold in the UK after 20 May must come in the standardised packaging that’s been increasingly appearing in shops during the trial period over the last year.

There will also no longer be packs of 10 cigarettes available in a move designed to deter young people from taking up smoking. For the same reason menthol cigarettes are being phased out but more gradually. They will disappear from shelves by May 2020.

Last November, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International went to the supreme court after the court of appeal claiming that the plain pack law would infringe their human and intellectual property rights but he appeal was rejected.

Any hopes the companies might have had that there was still a slim chance a challenge could be mounted will have been dashed by the final ruling.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, welcomed the supreme court’s decision, saying: “Standardised packaging will cut smoking rates and reduce suffering, disease and avoidable deaths.”

British American Tobacco nabs 40 per cent market share in Bulgaria with its purchase of Bulgartabac brands

British American Tobacco (BAT) has agreed to buy some of Bulgarian cigarette maker Bulgartabac’s top brands in a deal worth more than €100m (£84.8m).

http://www.cityam.com/262852/british-american-tobacco-nabs-40-per-cent-market-share

The move to buy Victory, Eva Slim and GD brands will bring BAT’s market share in the country to 40 per cent from just 12 per cent previously. The deal will include retail and distribution assets in the country and the wider Adriatic region.

BAT, which has operated in Bulgaria for 25 years, said it is proud to be making the biggest investment in the country this year.

“We are committed to the Bulgarian market and are very excited about this investment in a country which is increasingly demonstrating that it has a very bright future. This significant investment demonstrates our confidence both in Bulgaria and our future growth here,” said Richard Widmann, general manager of BAT’s central European cluster.

Subject to regulatory approval, the deal will be complete by mid-2017, BAT said.

A spokesperson for BAT added the transaction aligns financially and strategically with the business objectives for the central European region. The group will grow its business in Bulgaria and further enhance its position in the Balkans, following its acquisition of TDR in 2015.

What the new tobacco and cigarette packaging laws mean

Ten packs and smaller tobacco bags are out, while standard plain covers are in

http://www.theweek.co.uk/83551/what-the-new-tobacco-and-cigarette-packaging-laws-mean

New laws that standardise the appearance of tobacco packets and limit the range of products on offer come into force next month after a bid to halt the legislation was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

What was the Supreme Court ruling about?

Four tobacco giants took legal action in a last-ditch attempt to stop the introduction of mandatory plain packaging on cigarettes sold in the UK.

They argued the law would infringe their human and intellectual property rights by making their products indistinguishable. In addition, they also questioned evidence that plain packaging would deter smokers.

However, Judge Nicholas Green, who heard the original application for a judicial review of the 2015 legislation, ruled the regulations “were lawful when they were promulgated by parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence”.

What happens on 21 May?

All cigarette packets will come in a single shade of “opaque couche” – a muddy green which The Sun describes as “the world’s ugliest colour”.

Brand names will be written in a standard font, size and location on the pack, while health warnings will cover at least 65 per cent of the box or packet. They can also no longer carry words such as “lite”, “natural” or “organic” and menthol cigarettes will be phased out completely by 2020.

Smokers will additionally not be able to buy smaller packs of cigarettes or rolling tobacco. Packets of ten are being axed, as are 10g (a third of an ounce) and 20g packs (0.7oz) of rolling tobacco.

Amanda Sanford, spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), told the Liverpool Echo that banning smaller packers was intended to deter younger smokers who are more likely to buy them because they are cheaper.

Technically, the law came into force on 20 May 2016, but tobacco companies were given a 12-month period to standardise packaging and dispose of old stock. From 21 May this year, anyone breaking the new rules faces strict penalties.

Is this a good move?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said standardised packaging “will cut smoking rates and reduce suffering, disease and avoidable deaths”, while government chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says she was “thrilled” the tobacco industry was not allowed to appeal.

However, smokers rights group Forest said the new rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”.

Is the UK the first country to do this?

No. Australia led the way with a law that meant tobacco products on sale after 1 December 2012 had to carry plain packaging and French packaging legislation came into effect at the start of 2017. Similar laws in Ireland, Hungary and New Zealand have not yet been rolled out.

How tobacco firms flout UK law on plain packaging

Brands use competitive price labels to avoid restrictions on marketing

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/09/tobacco-companies-flout-law-plain-packaging

An insider in the tobacco industry has revealed some of the unscrupulous tactics it is using to avoid new restrictions governing the marketing of cigarettes that come into force next month.

One strategy – sticking competitive pricing labels on packets, a move designed to attract cost-conscious poorer smokers who make up the majority of the market – is already in breach of the regulations, according to legal advice obtained by Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

The whistleblower, until recently employed by Imperial Tobacco, one of the UK’s largest companies, told the Observer that all four of the industry’s main players were employing a range of branding initiatives involving pack design to differentiate their products before the new regulations come into force on 20 May. From this date, cigarettes must be sold in dark green packs of 20 that carry health warnings covering at least 65% of the box.

Plain packaging was first introduced in May last year. “Any branded stock you see out there now will have been produced before 20 May last year,” said the whistleblower who used the pseudonym, Martin Sempah. “So the cigarette companies have been on a massive stock building exercise to make sure they have their branded packs in the market for as long as possible, to leverage the brand benefit.” But, under the new regulations, any packs manufactured after 20 May last year must be devoid of eye-catching price labels, something that severely limits the tobacco companies’ ability to market them aggressively.

“Price with cigarettes is massive,” Sempah said. “It’s what drives growth in market share. You get your price mark wrong and you can lose market share and millions. The issue for Imperial was that from 20 May 2016 until 20 May 2017 they’d have branded packs out there but no way of controlling the price on them.”

The solution was to employ a separate agency to add promotional price stickers to the packets’ cellophane wrappers, a practice known in the trade as “stickering”, that, according to Sempah, involved “millions and millions” of packs and which the tobacco firms insist is not in breach of the regulations because it is not part of the manufacturing process.

Imperial employed an agency called Clipper to add the stickers, Sempah said. Ash has written to the other three major tobacco companies –JTI, BAT and PMI – saying it is aware that they have been employing a similar strategy.

The health organisation has received a legal opinion from Peter Oliver, a barrister at Monckton Chambers, that suggests the strategy breaches the regulations which state that cigarette packets must be wrapped in cellophane that is “clear and transparent” and must not be “coloured or marked”.

“Once again, the tobacco companies seem to be stretching the law to snapping point,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash. “They have already wasted thousands of legal hours and millions of pounds in fees trying to get the standardised packaging rules scrapped and failed miserably. Now it seems they are trying to get round the rules, by adding stickers to cigarette packs after the 20 May 2016 and claiming that this is not part of the production process. But, as our legal opinion confirms, such claims are false and the behaviour unlawful. We would like to see appropriate enforcement action taken against any tobacco manufacturer engaged in this practice without delay.”

Stickering is only one weapon in the industry’s arsenal, Sempah suggested. “When the regulations came out they started to look for loopholes. They said: how can we use particular varnishes and finishes on our plain packs to make them more tactile in a person’s hands, to make them more attractive? Do we use a different type of foil? If you look at a pack of Marlboro Gold it has got a trademark type of foil – it’s resealable. There are methods they are using to get round the regulations to increase the brand equity in their packs.”

Another strategy is to use key words to signify different “strengths” of cigarette – something that is banned. The word “real” is being used to suggest “full flavour” while “bright” denotes cigarettes that were once labelled ‘light’.

Two, separately wrapped, packs of 10 cigarettes inserted inside a 20-size pack have been developed to appeal to smokers who prefer smaller packs.“They’re going to be investing a lot more in festivals and nightclubs,” Sempah said. “You can’t say ‘sponsored by’ but you can create a fantastic experience which kind of looks like a cigarette brand.

“For example, last year Golden Virginia did stuff at the Latitude festival. They had a bar and a smoking area – all green furniture and green T-shirts for staff. It was a slightly different green from Golden Virginia and it was called Roll and Rock rather than Golden Virginia but at the bar you could only buy Golden Virginia.”

In their written responses to Ash all four tobacco companies and Clipper insisted that they complied with all the regulations. Sempah said most in the tobacco industry doubted the marketing strategies would have much of an impact in the long run. “Nobody really expects this to work, but there’s so many big salaries tied up in marketing in the tobacco companies they have to try to make it work.”

Justice Ministry says iQOS product will be treated as ordinary tobacco

Previously, the company asked the US Food and Drug Administration to recognize iQOS as “modified-risk product.”

http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Health-and-Science/Justice-Ministry-says-iQOS-product-will-be-treated-as-ordinary-tobacco-485912

The world’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris International, faced an obstacle in Israel that has apparently influenced its position toward its heated-tobacco product iQOS.

Previously, the company asked the US Food and Drug Administration to recognize iQOS as “modified-risk product.”

Last week, Israel’s Justice Ministry notified the company that it accepted the position of three voluntary organizations in Israel that the product is actually a “tobacco product,” and all the restrictions that apply to tobacco products should apply to iQOS.

In parallel, Philip Morris reversed its previous position towards the FDA and now wants iQOS to first be recognized as a “tobacco product.”

The small Society for Progressive Democracy thus “made history,” as the new position will set the definition of the product for deliberations by the FDA.

The Israel Medical Association, the Israel Cancer Association and the small Society for Progressive Democracy thus “made history,” as the new position will set the definition of the product for deliberations by the FDA.

While the Israel Cancer Association and the Israel Medical Association sent letters to the authorities to protest against Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman for preventing restrictions on the sale and marketing of iQOS in Israel, the Society for Progressive Democracy headed by lawyer Shabi Gatenio actually applied to the High Court of Justice and asked for an Injunction againt him.

“It is a story of the little David toppling Goliath, Philip Morris,” commented lawyer Amos Hausner, the chairman of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking.

The limitations that now apply to all tobacco products will include iQOS, such as prohibiting its sale to minors, prohibiting smoking it in all public places where conventional cigarettes may not be smoked, excluding it from advertising in the electronic media and media for children and teens, and other restrictions for which violators are fined.

Under the rules of administrative law, the position of Justice Ministry professionals is binding upon all governmental agencies in Israel, and their position supersedes the one expressed by any political figure – in this case, the health minister.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has yet to decide on a petition by Avir Naki, a voluntary organization that aims to fight smoking, to prohibit Litzman from having any involvement in decisions on tobacco matters.

Dubek, the Israel tobacco producer and importer, has also filed an application in the High Court against Litzman, arguing that he was giving Philip Morris benefits that Dubek did not enjoy.

Hausner said that Philip Morris “officially changed its position here while its application was pending in the FDA, as a negative consequence in Israel might have negatively influenced the company’s position in its deliberations with the US over iQOS. We clearly learn from this case that politicians cannot determine policy on major public health issues like this; they must leave it to ministry professionals to set policy.

It turned out that Litzman was more protective of Philip Morris than the company itself demanded. As to Philip Morris, Hausner said that their products should meet the requirements of professionals and not only of the politicians.”

Commenting on the Justice Ministry decision, Philip Morris Ltd.’s spokesman in Israel said that it would “continue to market iQOS in Israel in a responsible way according to law so that adult smokers would have better alternatives than continuing to smoke cigarettes.”

The ministry said in a statement after the court decision was announced that “while waiting for the FDA’s position, we plan at this stage to place on the product all restrictions on tobacco products regarding marketing, advertising and smoking in public places.”

How Trump Ally Myron Ebell Spread Misinformation for Big Tobacco and Big Oil

The former head of President Trump’s EPA transition team played a central role in the corporate-led attack on public perceptions about tobacco and climate change.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/how-trump-ally-myron-ebell-spread-misinformation-big-tobacco-and-big-oil

“Frontiers will [change] the debate from one about teenage smoking and industry practices to one about massive tax increases, bigger government and loss of individual freedom.” — Frontiers of Freedom funding proposal to Philip Morris

When Phillip Morris didn’t like new FDA regulations that targeted cigarette sales to children and teens, Myron Ebell—who recently served as the head of President Trump’s EPA transition team—was there to “change the debate” to fit the tobacco giant’s agenda.

The FDA’s proposed regulations included prohibiting outdoor advertising of any tobacco products near schools or playgrounds, strictly regulating labeling and prohibiting tobacco company sponsorships of public events. To fight the new restrictions, tobacco-industry-funded Frontiers for Freedom started a campaign to cast doubt on the validity of the new regulations.

Frontiers, a conservative “educational foundation,” hired Ebell as policy director to help run the campaign, even using his name to raise money for the project. In a fundraising letter to Philip Morris in 1998, Frontiers highlighted Ebell as an example of why more funding was needed to run an organized push to make regulating the tobacco industry “politically unpalatable.”

The Frontiers campaign was pure spin. The tobacco companies’ First Amendment rights were being trampled on, it claimed—more Big Government overreach. From pushing the dubious claim that rules infringed on smokers’ and tobacco companies’ rights to blaming smokers themselves, Ebell oversaw Frontier’s tobacco-industry-funded drive to fight regulation. It took a fourteen-year battle for Congress to pass the regulations and make them stick. In the end, the tobacco advertising regulations made significant progress in curbing teen smoking. No thanks to Ebell and Frontiers for Freedom.

In April of 1998, Ebell and a handful of other marketing experts sat around a table with some of the largest U.S. fossil fuel companies to discuss a plan for a similar attack on climate science. Representatives from Exxon, Chevron, utility giant Southern Company and the American Petroleum Institute worked with operatives from established conservative think tanks and public relations wonks to draft a program designed to attack public and political perceptions about climate change. They dubbed it “The Global Climate Science Communications Plan.”

The plan’s strategy was similar to Frontier’s anti-regulation tobacco campaign. This time the goal was to make climate-change-related regulation politically unpalatable.

The foundation of the plan was to sow doubt about the scientific validity of action on climate change, even though in 1998 the science was already solid. Of the ninety-six papers published on global warming that year, just one disagreed about man’s activities driving warming. That truth about the state of the science was replaced with a push to convince “a majority of the American public” that “significant uncertainties exist in climate science.”

The seven-page directive boldly stated that “victory will be achieved when” the uncertainties about climate science are part of “common knowledge,” when media recognizes and covers those uncertainties and when those promoting action on climate science appear out of touch.

Strategies and tactics of the plan included:

• Recruit and train a team of scientists for media outreach
• Produce a steady stream of op-eds written by these scientists
• Organize and teach conservative grassroots groups
• Become a one-stop-shop for members of Congress, state leaders and teachers looking for information about climate change
• Distribute materials directly to schools and convince a national TV journalist to produce a TV program outlining the supposed uncertainties

It worked.

In 2007, television journalist John Stossel did a bang-up job promoting climate confusion with his special, “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity,” for a special edition of “20/20.” By 2016, a Pew poll found only 9 percent of conservative Republicans believed that climate research reflects the best available evidence, while 57 percent of that same group felt that climate research is influenced not by valid science, but by scientists’ desire to advance their careers.

In 1999, Ebell moved to Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank funded by many of the same oil companies he’d sat around the table with the year before to hatch the plan to misinform the American public. From 1998 to 2005, ExxonMobil provided CEI with over $2 million dollars of funding. As director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, Ebell put the plan to work.

Impacting the voice of elected officials was another key aspect of “victory” named in the 1998 disinformation plan. By that measure success was swift in coming. Just two years after the plan was hatched, CEI joined with conservative Senator James Inhofe as co-plaintiff in a lawsuit over the National Assessment, a federal report on climate change’s impacts on the United State.

The lawsuit was designed to suppress publication and distribution of recent climate science findings. In 2003, CEI sued the U.S. government directly, demanding the National Assessment not be disseminated. In 2005, Senator Inhofe joined with Ebell and other climate science deniers on a speaker’s panel for a CEI panel to discuss the Future of International and U.S. Climate Policy. By 2012, Ebell was bragging on his blog about Inhofe’s legislation to block EPA regulations. It was a victory: Climate-change-related regulation had become politically unpalatable.

Opposition to the validity of climate science skyrocketed among conservative politicians after 1998. Fighting all government action on global warming is now a bullet point on the GOP’s purity test. Over that same period, oil industry financial support for political campaigns and lobbying efforts have overwhelmingly gone to Republicans.

The election of Donald Trump was icing on the climate science denial cake. Ebell was tapped to head Trump’s EPA transition team. Eighteen years of work deceiving the public finally paid off for Ebell. His dream of drastically reducing the power of the EPA is being realized. Ebell headed Trump’s EPA transition team. He oversaw the writing of a policy paper—not available to the public—that will steer fellow climate science denier and EPA antagonist-turned-EPA head Scott Pruitt. Under Pruitt’s leadership, climate-change-related regulations will be rolled back and the EPA’s budget will be cut by 24percent.

Ebell has no background in science. He studied philosophy and has a master’s degree in political theory. His understanding of modern climate science sounds like this:

The models say that much of the warming will occur in the upper latitudes and in the winter. At the risk of further ridicule in kooky blogs in England, where global warming alarmism is now a religion, that sounds pretty good to me. Fewer people will die from the cold.

Fossil fuel industries got what they wanted. Conservative politicians got what they wanted. CEI got what it wanted. Ebell got what he wanted. All at the expense of the environment, public health and the stability of future generations.

Hope Forpeace is a short film producer with AK Productions. She spoke before the EPA’s Scientific Advisory in 2015 and coordinated the effort to have EPA’s fracking study include known cases of water contamination. She has traveled across the country for several years investigating cases of fracking-related pollution.

Inside Big Tobacco’s Academy of Lies, the Inventor of ‘Alternative Facts’

Don’t like the science? Then invent one you do like. It was one of America’s greatest snow jobs, costing millions of lives. And it’s happening again with climate change and this time billions of lives are at stake.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/25/inside-big-tobacco-s-academy-of-lies-the-inventor-of-alternative-facts.html

The world is warmer than it’s ever been since records began to be kept in 1880. The Antarctic ice sheet is melting so fast it alone is responsible for 10 percent of the global rise in sea levels. The coral bleaching of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a direct result of global warming, is now virtually irreversible.

All this as the Trump administration abandons measures to combat climate change and gives climate change deniers full powers to put the brake on any scientific research devoted to establishing a link between climate change and human activity. Goodbye Planet Earth.

This is the willful corruption of science in the cause of ideology. But we’ve been here before. To understand how this game is played, we can go back to what you could call the foundation of the Liars’ Academy, the professionalization of the crafting of alternative scientific facts.

It’s generally thought that the turning point in establishing a direct link between smoking and cancer came with the U.S. surgeon general’s report of 1964. Drawing on 7,000 scientific studies and the work of 150 consultants, the report demonstrated that the death rate among smokers was 70 percent higher than among non-smokers.

In fact, the first really authoritative warning about smoking came in 1953, when Alton Ochsner, president of the American Cancer Society and the American College of Surgeons, predicted that the male population would be decimated unless steps were taken to reduce the cancer producing content of cigarettes.

At this point any link between smoking and cancer had not been acknowledged by the National Cancer Institute or the U.S. Public Health Service or most of the medical establishment. (As late as 1958 a Gallup survey showed that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer.)

A top R.J. Reynolds executive, Claude Teague, had reviewed the same evidence as Ochsner and reported, “Studies of clinical data tend to confirm the relationship between heavy and prolonged tobacco smoking and incidence of cancer of the lung.”

All copies of Teague’s report were collected and destroyed, and a week after Oschner’s speech six tobacco company presidents met to take stock of the threat now facing them. As a result, they called in John Hill, founder of the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. What followed was a strategy described by a lawyer as “the industry’s ultimate public relations sham.”

Hill & Knowlton advised the companies:

“There is only one problem—confidence and how to establish it; public assurance and how to create it—in a perhaps long interim when scientific doubts must remain. And, most important, how to free millions of Americans from the guilty fear that is going to arise deep in their biological depths—regardless of any pooh-poohing logic—every time they light a cigarette.”

This marked the beginning of what became, literally, an industrial scale exercise in the promotion of an alternative scientific reality. It involved not just alternative facts but an entire body of false scientific argument to deny that smoking caused cancer. This was the work of an unholy alliance of tobacco company executives, public relations flacks, corporate lawyers, scientists, politicians, and gullible media.

The full extent of the conspiracy was revealed only in 2001, when David Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and relentless foe of the tobacco industry, published his memoir, A Question of Intent.

(Personal disclosure: I was one of a team of researchers who worked with Kessler on the book.)

It is timely to revisit this story because, among other things, it demonstrates that the daily flood of alternative facts from the White House builds on the foundation of Big Tobacco’s model of disinformation. There is no need to compare this with the propaganda machine of Nazi Germany or of any totalitarian state. In its reach and sophistication it is a wholly American achievement.

For more than four decades Big Tobacco had one objective: to maintain the pretense that the link between smoking and cancer remained unproven. In that method it anticipated the entire strategy of climate change deniers, to argue that even if the earth was warming up there was no link between that and human activity. In order to pursue their disinformation campaign the tobacco industry had to produce its own alternative facts—or alternative science.

Hill & Knowlton outlined a four-point strategy to deal with scientific critics: “(a) smearing or belittling them (b) trying to overwhelm them with mass publication of the opposed viewpoints of other specialties (c) debating them in the public arena; or (d) we can determine to raise the issue far above them, so they are hardly even mentioned, and then we can make our case.”

The first step in pursuing this strategy was to set up a body that looked and sounded like an authoritative scientific enterprise, then to staff it with scientists prepared to sell themselves to the mission. It was named the Council for Scientific Research, CTR, and its director was a Harvard-educated cancer researcher of international renown, Clarence Cook Little. He, in turn, recruited similarly illustrious peers to the cause.

All of these supposed experts were satisfied that they could rest their reputations securely on the narrow premise on the “unproven” link. In this they were abetted by lawyers who discovered that when cases against the tobacco industry came to court juries were inclined to believe that smoking was a personal choice. So-called scientific witnesses supported attorneys who argued that “association cannot prove causation.”

“Everyone was molded according to the script,” one industry official told Kessler later as he investigated the record.

Kessler, respectful of C.C. Little’s reputation, could not understand how he could have gone along with the CTR’s strategy. He went through Little’s private papers and found no answer. He did, however, find a letter to Little from Charles Huggins, a Nobel laureate cancer researcher at the University of Chicago. Huggins pleaded with Little: “Please leave the tobacco industry to stew in its own juice…[it] is criminal to promote smoking. It is dastardly. This is the Age of the Hollow Man. Let it not be known as the age when our finest thinkers sell out.”

Eventually the industry decided that the CTR was not as effective as it should have been. In 1964, following the surgeon general’s report, the alternative facts campaign had another instrument, Special Projects. This had no official address, no incorporation papers, no board of directors, no by-laws and no accountability.

In fact, Special Projects marked the ascendancy of lawyers. David Hardy, of the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, began looking for scientists and physicians prepared to testify against the surgeon general’s report before Congress. Special Projects was run by the general counsels of the tobacco companies, supported by Shook, Hardy and the Washington, D.C. law firm Covington & Butling.

Kessler discovered that every decision, every research project, every public presentation, went through lawyers who had one prevailing concern: liability.

Kessler found an industry source who was prepared to talk as long he remained identified only as “Veritas.” Discussing the lawyers involved in Special Projects, Kessler asked, “Where did they cross the line?”

“When you commission the research and know the outcome, that’s fraudulent. When you market that as the truth, that’s evil,” Veritas replied.

The cynicism of the operation could sometimes catch a rooky lawyer unawares. One recent law school graduate working for another law firm, Wachell, Lipton, involved with Big Tobacco pointed out that the industry money flowing to the firm was being “used to purchase favorable judicial or legislative testimony, thereby perpetrating a fraud on the public.”

He asked for guidance from more senior colleagues. There was no record of the response. We are fond of describing America as a nation of laws. Maybe so, but we are also a nation of lawyers, and you get what you can pay for.

Although the industry’s main effort was directed at squashing litigation, there was a more subtle program of “managing the social climate for tobacco use.” The industry always worked hard to recruit young smokers—after all, the market had always to replace the people being killed off by smoking with another generation of initiates. They noticed that anti-smoking campaigns were beginning to work among teens. In response they branded public health advocates as the enforcers of political correctness, even commissioning a theater group to satirize “the new puritanism.”

Kessler discovered that at Philip Morris successful manipulation of the story wasn’t thought to be enough. Part of a top secret plan called Operation Rainmaker was that they should not only shape the story but own the means of delivering it. Notes for a meeting in 1990 said, “If we are to truly influence the public policy agenda and the information flow to the populace, we must be the media…the only way to do this is to own a major media outlet.”

The proposed targets included the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain; the Copley News Service, United Press International and U.S. News & World Report.

This plot never came to pass. But in some cases Big Tobacco didn’t need to buy the media because the media gave them a pass. Perhaps the most egregious example of this was in a surprising place: the newsroom of The New York Times.

For years some of the most rigorously sustained reporting on Big Tobacco had been the work of Philip Hilts in the Washington bureau of the Times. Hilts had a deep grasp of scientific detail and a passion for pursuing the secrets of how the ingredients of cigarettes were manipulated to create addiction. After a lot of digging Hilts discovered that in Philip Morris’s Benson & Hedges brand there had been a significant rise in the levels of nicotine. Company research had described these levels as “optimum.”

Following publication of the Benson & Hedges story, Philip Morris executives went ballistic and demanded that the paper print a correction. The editors refused, saying that no error had been made.

However, in the Times newsroom some editors had developed a “not another tobacco story” resistance, feeling apparently that there was little left that could surprise. And a week later, Soma Golden Behr, assistant managing editor for national news, called Hilts to New York. Over lunch Behr told Hilts that his tobacco beat was finished and he was reassigned. For two years, until 1999, the Times basically dropped the story.

In that period Alix Freedman of The Wall Street Journal won a Pulitzer for her coverage of Big Tobacco.

Kessler thought Hilts’s reporting had been invaluable and later sought to find out why he had been pulled from the story. He decided that it wasn’t directly a result of the Philip Morris intervention. It was more a dumb misjudgment by editors who thought that the reporter had become too committed to one story.

There is a moral to this, and one I know well from personal experience. Obsession can be the difference between a reporter who sees no further than the news cycle and one who implicitly understands where a story is really going and will stick with it until it gets there. Obsession is good. And when you’re up against alternative facts it’s indispensable.

In his time as FDA Commissioner, under presidents Bush and Clinton, from 1990 to 1997, Kessler was the most formidable opponent ever faced by Big Tobacco. The Supreme Court ultimately refused to accept his case that tobacco should be classified as a drug and therefore that it should be regulated by the agency.

Nonetheless his agency’s investigations finally exposed the lethal secret that the industry had hidden beneath its mountain of alternative facts: cigarettes were, basically, a nicotine delivery system, nicotine led to addiction, everything that could be done to strengthen the dose of nicotine was done, and nicotine addiction killed.

Kessler also proved in chilling detail that the public good can suffer grievous harm as a result of a deliberate and sustained campaign to corrupt science and defer for generations the acceptance of scientific fact. Climate change is a far greater threat than smoking ever was. The ethic of the Liars’ Academy has now been incorporated into main stream politics: the methods of denial haven’t changed, but the stakes are now so much higher. And, as with smoking, there is no concern for future generations, just a greedy defense of the indefensible.

Dutch cancer assoc. files lawsuit against tobacco producers

Dutch cancer fighting association KWF is suing four major tobacco companies for aggravated assault resulting in death and forgery. According to the association, the tobacco companies deliberately incorrectly inform smokers about the damage smoking actually causes, AD reports.

http://nltimes.nl/2017/03/24/dutch-cancer-assoc-files-lawsuit-tobacco-producers

KWF is filing charges against the largest tobacco manufacturers in the world – Imperial Tobacco Benelux, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International.

The association is charging the tobacco companies with forgery because KWF believes they intentionally manipulate the mandatory tests that measure the emission of harmful and addictive substances in cigarettes. In this the KWF points to what they call the “sjoemel cigarette” [tampered cigarette]. These cigarettes have little holes that tests show make smokers inhale less harmful substances. But according to the KWF, this is wrong – smokers partly cover the holes with their fingers, thereby inhaling more harmful substances in practice than the tests indicate.

KWF is suing the tobacco companies with two smoking victims Anne Marie van Veen and Lia Breed and the Youth Smoking Prevention foundation.

PMI to convert Greek cigarette plant to make iQOS sticks

Philip Morris International (PMI) will invest EUR 300 million (USD 323 million) to convert a Greek cigarette factory to into a plant capable of turning out 20 billion tobacco sticks for its iQOS heat-not-burn device, the company said.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/PMI_to_convert_Greek_cigarette_plant_to_make_iQOS_sticks.54155.0.html

Expansion and remodeling the Aspropyrgos plant operated by affiliate company Papastratos will create 400 new jobs in addition to the 800 current ones, PMI said. Construction will begin immediately with operations expected to start in January 2018.

“This investment is further evidence of our progress towards a smoke-free future. We are encouraged by the 1.4 million smokers who have already switched to IQOS around the world, and we expect this momentum to continue,” said Frederic de Wilde, PMI regional president for the European Union.

Aspropyrgos will be the third facility dedicated to iQOS production. Production currently is centred in a specially built facility in Crespellano, Italy and a small scale Industrial Development Centre in Neuchatel, Switzerland.

AMP snuffs out tobacco investment

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/personal-finance/news/article.cfm?c_id=12&objectid=11821645

AMP Capital is to snuff out its investment in tobacco manufacturing companies including millions of dollars invested through its KiwiSaver funds.

The move is part of a decision to pull out of tobacco investments worth A$440 million across its global investment portfolio.

The asset manager will also pull its Australian investments out of cluster munitions, landmines, biological and chemical weapons companies.

The move follows on from its New Zealand arm which pulled out of these investments last year following reports by the New Zealand Herald and Radio New Zealand which highlighted KiwiSaver’s exposure to the controversial sectors.

AMP Capital chief executive Adam Tindall said it had excluded tobacco manufacturers under a new environmental, social and governance and socially responsible framework because their products were highly addictive, could not be consumed safely and impacted non users via second-hand smoke.

He said cluster munitions, landmines, biological and chemical weapons manufacturers were excluded because their products indiscriminately kill through normal use (including during peace time) and their use leaves a legacy of significant and specific danger for civilians.

“We are not prepared to deliver investment returns to customers at any cost to society.

This position has been affirmed through consultation with major institutional clients and engagement with retail customers.”

Divestment from the tobacco investments would occur progressively over 2017 the company said, with impacted investors notified prior to any changes being made.

“The managers of impacted portfolios will be instructed to progressively sell down their holdings of excluded securities in a reasonable manner. This may take up to 12 months from time of formal notification,” a spokeswoman said.

Last year the Herald identified AMP Capital’s KiwiSaver funds had $17,169,091 invested in tobacco companies in the year to March 31, 2015.

It also has investment funds outside of KiwiSaver which are likely to include tobacco investments.

The AMP spokeswoman said it was not giving a regional breakdown for its tobacco investment.