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Explosive quotes from the “tobacco wars”


Source: various; links in text

— Narrated by Walter Cronkite, three-part mini-series makes its North American premiere October 21-22, 1999 —

“It has been a shameful track record. I think it’s been one of deception, cover-up, misleading, intentionally misleading the public. And all in the name of profit.”
— Joseph Bumgarner
Former biochemist, RJ Reynolds Tobacco

“There’s no question what the objective of the other side of this debate is … trying to do. Their objective is to put us out of business.”
— Charles Blixt
Vice President and General Counsel,
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

“These are adults. They’ve made a choice and they want to smoke — increasingly, actually. You know, you see people, they just want to smoke.”
— Bob Bexon
Marketing Director, Brown & Williamson Tobacco

On tobacco and health:
“By the year 2025, 500 million people will die of smoking. Now, that’s a Vietnam War every day for 27 years. That’s the Titanic sinking every 27 minutes for 27 years.”
— C. Everett Koop
Former United States Surgeon General

“It’s a pleasure to come out and say — not a pleasure but refreshing — to come out and say, ‘Yes, (smoking) does cause all these problems. Yes, it is addictive, 100 percent.'”
— Bennett LeBow
Chair, Liggett Tobacco

“If there is any answer to be found, the tobacco industry wants to find it. It wants to close the gaps in information on the smoking and health controversy.”
— Ernest Pepples
Vice President, Brown & Williamson Tobacco

Tobacco industry reports on their (health) research are magnificent works of fiction … When we put money in for research we put the research in straightjackets so that the people were limited how far they looked — and if they came beyond a certain point which would reflect badly on the tobacco industry, it came to an end.”
— Tony Van den Bergh
Former Tobacco executive, Godfrey Phillips Tobacco Company (Britain)

They perverted science, they perverted medicine, they covered up any evidence which worked against them.”
— Prof. John Banzhaf
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health

“Without question, a large part of the reason that President Carter asked me to leave the Cabinet was because of the tobacco campaign, and I think even he would admit that today.”
–Joseph Califano
Former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary and staunch supporter of anti-tobacco regulation

Upon the apparent development of a “safer cigarette”:
“As the prospects of this project grew, everyone thought that (researcher) Jim Mold… would end up on the cover of Time magazine and be nominated (for) a Nobel Prize.”
— Lawrence Meyer
Former Legal Advisor, Liggett & Myers Tobacco

“Well, the attitude initially was a state of euphoria which rapidly turned into a state of schizophrenia.”
— John Bowen Ross
Former Lawyer, Liggett & Myers Tobacco

“When the lawyers got involved, it was a matter of them versus us, it was a conflict. They didn’t want us to proceed.”
— Dr. James Mold
Former Assistant Director Research, Liggett & Myers Tobacco

On passive (or secondhand) smoking:
“When you smoke a cigarette or breathe in secondhand smoke you’re putting cadmium in the air … a whole variety of toxic chemicals which, if they were coming out of a smokestack in an industry, would be very very heavily regulated.”
— Professor Stan Glantz
University of California San Francisco

Public health authorities increasingly are marginalizing themselves by their more and more aggressive and excessive claims about smoking. Basically, they have now decided that the end justifies the means and they engage in junk science to try to make smoking even more less socially acceptable than it already is.”
— Nick Brookes
CEO, Brown & Williamson Tobacco

There are just a number of documents within the company and the industry that clearly indicate that secondhand smoke is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than mainstream smoke — and the documents date back into the 70s.”
Jeffrey Wigand
Former Vice President of Research & Development, Brown & Williamson Tobacco

“Anyone who looks at the science will see that the vast majority of studies on the issue have demonstrated that with the possible exception of young children, there is no statistically significant risk associated with environmental tobacco smoke. The whole issue of smoke in the atmosphere can be solved really as a matter of courtesy and good ventilation. It’s not a scientific issue.”
— Nick Brookes
CEO, Brown & Williamson Tobacco

On the public’s love affair with tobacco, and tobacco marketing:
“There are more smokers in the U.S. today than voted for President Clinton in either of the last two elections. So, I mean, this is hardly a minority activity.”
— Nick Brookes
CEO, Brown & Williamson Tobacco

“You ask me what we need to win this war. I answer tobacco as much as bullets.”
— General John Pershing
Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, World War I

“If you’re smoking a cigarette the world is at peace. Everybody seemed to take smoking as a sort of natural pleasure and the industry as a result prospered and rightly so.”
— Andrew Reid
Former Chairman, Imperial Tobacco

“People are terribly brand loyal. They almost never change. The aim of advertising is to lull people’s fears. Deceptive? Of course it’s deceptive. What are we going to say — ‘Buy our product, it’ll kill you’?
— Fritz Gahagan
Former Market Research Executive for the industry

“One of the executives from RJ Reynolds came over and said ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, “Well I’m smoking.’ And then he said ‘Are you still smoking that stuff?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, how come you guys from RJ Reynolds don’t smoke?And he turned to me and said ‘We don’t smoke the shit, we just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.‘”
— David Goerlitz
“The Winston Man,” 1981-88

“There’s no question in my mind that tobacco companies oughtn’t be following the consumption habits of minors in planning their strategies for the future. Completely inappropriate.”
— Steve Goldstone
Chairman, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company

Warning labels on cigarette packs:
“For a long time there was no warning label on a package of cigarettes, and it looked like the industry was fighting that. Actually, they weren’t. They wanted a label on there and once the label was on there, they wanted to buy time … in so doing, they could transfer the accountability … for any adverse health effects from the industry to the consumer.”
— Dr. Gary Huber
Former Research Scientist funded by the tobacco industry

“(Labels) made it very difficult for any plaintiff lawyers to claim that a smoker was inadequately warned or didn’t know the risks of smoking because, as a matter of law, the Congress had found that they were adequately warned.”
— Charles Blixt
Vice President and General Counsel, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The 1970 television advertising ban:
“It was widely stated as an accusation that the cigarette companies were using the broadcast media because it was effective to reach children. And the best way to answer that was just to get off television.”
— Ernest Pepples
Vice President, Brown & Williamson Tobacco

“I think you could characterize it as a strategy of giving an inch to gain a decade.”
Michael Pertschuk
Former Chairman, Federal Trade Commission responding to the tobacco companies’ willingness to stop advertising on TV

On the 1994 hearings before the .U.S. House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment:
“It was a watershed event and having crossed that point, we’re never going to go back. The tobacco industry is not going to be able to put all this back in a bottle and hide it as they were so successfully able to do for decades.”
Rep. Henry Waxman
Former Chairman, House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment

“It was a perfect example of a show trial, something you don’t expect to see in a free democracy. It was akin to the McCarthy hearings of the 50s.”
— Charles Blixt
Vice President and General Counsel, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

I am debilitated because I cannot move. My life is my bed, my spot in the dining room where I read the newspaper, and from there I do not move. I am to blame for the condition that I am in. I deserve it; I sought it out. I picked up this damn cigarette.
— Latin pop icon Sandro (Roberto Sanchez), who recorded 52 albums and acted in 16 movies. He died Jan. 4 after battling emphysema. / Sandro, known as Argentina’s Elvis, dies / AP, Tuesday, January 5, 2010.

I’d like to think there was good that came of it, but there wasn’t. I know who the winners are. The losers are the American public.
— 69-year-old Merrell Williams, whose groundbreaking secret document disclosures led to lawsuits and eventually, the MSA. / Whistle-blower in Big Tobacco case seeks quiet life in Dunedin / St. Petersburg (FL) Times, Sunday, January 17, 2010.

This is like someone just put a bunch of plutonium in the water supply.
— Stanton A. Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF, on Sigourney Weaver’s smoking-in-space character. / ‘Avatar’ Joins Holiday Movies That Fail an Antismoking Test / New York Times, Monday, January 4, 2010.

The [tobacco] industry understood that the public is in no position to distinguish good science from bad. Create doubt, uncertainty and confusion. Throw mud at the anti-smoking research under the assumption that some of it is bound to stick. And buy time, lots of it, in the bargain.
— David Michaels, the epidemiologist at George Washington University who is President Obama’s nominee to head OSHA, writing about Hill & Knowlton’s tobacco strategy in his book “Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.” / EDITORIAL: The doubt industry / Brattleboro (VT) Reformer, Saturday, December 12, 2009.

The scientific evidence on the health risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke is clear and convincing. Recognizing the negative health effects and high public costs of secondhand smoke, Virginia must act to protect the workers and consumers in its restaurants.
— Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine, who proposed legislation for a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants, standing with members of the Hampton Roads Mayors and Chairs Caucus, the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association, General Assembly members, and medical and public health officials at Hot Tuna Bar & Grill in Virginia Beach. / Smoke Free Restaurants / Office of the Governor of Virginia, Monday, January 7, 2008.

The commercially-available cigarettes that we tested were chock full of bacteria, as we had hypothesized, but we didn’t think we’d find so many that are infectious in humans. If these organisms can survive the smoking process — and we believe they can — then they could possibly go on to contribute to both infectious and chronic illnesses in both smokers and individuals who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.
— Lead researcher Amy R. Sapkota, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland‘s School of Public Health, on the study that will appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. / Cigarettes harbor many pathogenic bacteria / ScienceDaily, Thursday, November 19, 2009.

We collect $25 billion a year — states and localities — from settlement agreements and taxation, and spend less than 3 percent of that on tobacco control.
— Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC. / Smoking Declines Stall as Taxes Sought by CDC Chief (Update1) / Bloomberg News, Thursday, November 12, 2009.

The difference between the states making the most progress and the states not making progress is really stark and shows that government policies make a difference. It’s ironic that when we spend more than $7,500 per person, per year, on clinical curative care, we’re struggling to try to spend $10 a year on prevention.
— Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC. / Smoking Declines Stall as Taxes Sought by CDC Chief (Update1) / Bloomberg News, Thursday, November 12, 2009.

It is not an advertisement if there are no words.
Ms Chim, a vendor who said tobacco companies helped her renovate her stand by adding display boxes, and were still paying her about HK$3,000 a month in “advertising fees”–even though her posters and banners had been taken down as Hong Kong’s final phase of its advertising ban took effect. / Display boxes for cigarettes may be illegal ($$) / South China Morning Post, Monday, November 2, 2009.

Tobacco packaging is no longer the ‘silent salesman’ it once was, now it shouts loudly. These screams for attention are used to defy advertising bans and drown out health warnings. The industry will fight tenaciously but the only consistent and effective policy response is generic packaging.
— Professor Gerard Hastings , lead researcher based at the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling. / Tobacco Research Reveals The Packet Racket / Medical News TODAY(UK), Tuesday, October 13, 2009.

I found no support for the claim that a display ban is likely to cause a reduction in smoking prevalence. In contrast, tobacco price increases, driven mainly by increases in taxes, had a negative and statistically significant impact on smoking prevalence. Furthermore, other tobacco control measures, like bans on smoking in public areas and health warnings on cigarette packages were effective tobacco control measures, as they had a negative and statistically significant effect on smoking prevalence.
— Display bans must be tremendously threatening to Philip Morris if its own report establishes taxes, warning labels and smoking bans as effective tobacco control measures. It seems PM would prefer ANYTHING but a display ban. / The effectiveness of display bans: the case of Iceland (PDF) / Banning the Display of Tobacco Products (Philip Morris International) (ch), Thursday, October 1, 2009.

To be brutally frank Mr Speaker, I’d like to lynch these #$^&** tobacco company executives.
Hone Harawira, MP for Te Tai Tokerau. Tobacco companies seem to have roused New Zealand’s famously war-like Maori. / Harawira: To Smoke or to Choke / Scoop (nz), Wednesday, September 23, 2009.

My family’s not here with me today — at least not in person — because of preventable diseases. While I cannot change my family’s past, I can be a voice in the movement to improve our nation’s health care and our nation’s health for the future.
— Dr. Regina Benjamin, President Barack Obama’s nomination for surgeon general. / Obama Taps Alabama Doctor to Be Surgeon General / HealthDay [HealthScout], Monday, July 13, 2009.

We locals would like to see Yunxiao start its own legal cigarette factory someday.
— Unidentified cigarette broker, in an unprecedented look into the multi-billion $ counterfeit trade in China’s Yunxiao county. / The strange, underground world of Chinese counterfeit cigarettes / Slate, Monday, June 29, 2009.

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