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Tobacco Essay, Research Paper

The tobacco industry seems like a beneficial addition to our economy. It has basically been a socially acceptable business in the past because it brings jobs to our people and tax money to the government to redistribute; but consider the cost of tobacco related treatment, mortality and disability- it exceeds the benefit to the producer by two hundred billion dollars US. (4) Tobacco is a very profitable industry determined to grow despite government loss or public health. Its history has demonstrated how money can blind morals like an addiction that is never satisfied. Past lawsuits were mostly unsuccessful because the juries blamed the smoker even though the definition of criminal negligence fits the industry s acts perfectly. Some may argue for the industry in the name of free enterprise but since they have had such a clear understanding of the dangers of their product it changes the understanding of their business tactics and motives. The success of the industry has merely been a reflection of its immoral practices. These practices have been observed through its use of the media in regards to children, the tests that used underage smokers, the use of revenue to avoid the law, the use of nicotine manipulation and the suppression of research.

Tobacco companies have relied on the media to lure children. They quickly realized that the company that dominates is that which most effectively targets young (Imperial Tobacco document.) To counteract the idea of disease and other negative aspects of tobacco, the industry used imagery in the media such as natural settings and healthy actors doing active things. This helps them to insinuate that smoking leads to success, romance, sophistication and other advancements in their lifestyle, which was easily imprinted in the minds of children. A document found among Imperial tobacco files described their priority: having our imagery reach those non-reading young people who frequent malls should be our chief goal. (1.170) Unaware of how important the under 18 market was to the industry, the government could only attempt to lengthen the distance between schools and billboards because they re ineffective attempts were ignored by the large corporations. With many billboards concentrated in small areas it put the idea in children s minds that smoking was socially acceptable and that the majority of people were smokers. In the Mangini case, the plaintiff s lawyer s goal was to show how RJR was desperate to compete with Marlboro for the 14-21 age group so they created the Joe Camel campaign. Even though they blame its success on peer pressure the companies internal documents show otherwise. (2.a) Most of the evidence was industry studies on new smokers and how to attract them. One expert testimony showed that 90 % of six-year-olds recognized the popular characters on cigarette packs like Joe camel to be as familiar as Mickey Mouse and other childhood heroes. (3) Media advertising has a very subtle yet powerful effect on people and the tobacco companies have taken full advantage of its tools.

The tests using underage smokers reveal the industry s disrespect for the law. In an experiment called Project 16, Imperial Tobacco hired smokers as young as 16 who were interviewed and observed through closed circuit cameras. This revealed popular smoking conventions and traits of young smokers that was an asset in classifying different targets into sections which are reflected through different brands. This practice was pretty common among tobacco companies and are expressed in documents such as Imperial s Fiscal 80 media plan. (1.169) They pursued this project further with another one called plus/minus, which had success in finding that cigarettes targeted to kids should be more bland since irritation would turn them off to cigarettes. Later another project called starting had similar types of psychological probing but was a lot more effective. (1.166-175) Imperial Tobacco, along with various advertising agencies realized that when addiction happened there was almost always a common rationalization in accepting the side effects; this dangerous psychological information could have very well been exaggerated and used in ads to accelerate the addiction process. There have been non-industry studies that show that kids at very young ages have a playful desire to hold cigarettes since they want to be older. Although there is no proof, this led some fanatical anti-smoking groups to the conclusion that there are ties between the tobacco industry and companies who sell candy cigarettes such as pop-eye candy and big league chew. (1.264) Although this evidence has never been used in court it has been considered in a parliamentary discussion involving Imperial tobacco s CEO in 1988. He eased the level of severity of his tests by saying they were only for statistical value (5). There is no excuse for the Industry s blatant disrespect for the law in the case of cigarette tests on underage smokers; they encourage kids to help them break the law.

The huge amounts of revenue received from tobacco sales allowed the companies to maintain powerful regardless of how wrong they were. The ability to change people s opinions in regards to tobacco was very easy with the influence of money; this was no exception for politicians. Even though the companies explain their motives for political charity as, …for the satisfaction of contributing they must be aware that such excessive charity almost always influences the vote on tobacco laws to their benefit. (1.155) It seems strange that tobacco is still not a part of the Food and Drug Act or that there has been many obvious loopholes in regulations unless political connections are considered. In 1993, Imasco alone gave away $200 000, which was spread to many different leaders but when combined with many other contributions and the temptation of for tax money, the potential for political control was very great. Government leniency accepted the companies self-regulations which allowed them to create a deceiving complaint system where they could choose who complains. (4) Money is also used in excess by the industry to win court battles since one person s victory could easily lead to a thousand when dealing with tobacco. A large settlement is a lot better to the industry than a loss in court since they have so much money to spare. An internal memo from an American lawyer explained his court strategy in the 1996 case that resulted in the first out of court settlement: the way we won these cases was not by spending all of the company s money, but by making that other son of a bitch spend all of his. (1.150) The tobacco industry has realized that they have a great green power in their pockets and have grown very rich because of it. People don t seem to realize that a loss in court means a lot more than simply losing money; it also means a loss of credibility, which is usually worth more to the business. With this in mind, the tobacco industry uses its money to escape the law and ultimately become richer because of it.

The use of tobacco manipulation has shown that companies are totally aware of the true nature of their product. They have tried over and over again to argue that nicotine and other chemicals are vital to the taste of the cigarette and by taking them away, the customers would be unsatisfied, but confidential documents point otherwise. In 1945 a company-funded study called The Role of Nicotine describes the reality of their product as nicotine cleverly packaged in the cigarette. In some cases ammonia was found in the mix which was probably added to speed the intake time of nicotine into the system even though this is a dangerous chemical to the human body. While questioning Dr. Wigand, former president of research for Brown and Williamson, he exposed that his company was using coumarin in their pipe tobacco, a known carcinogen that was needlessly added to cigarettes. When he asked his supervisor why they were using a form of rat poison in their product, Brown and Williamson s CEO replied that taking it away would affect the taste, which would ultimately affect sales. (2.B) Brown and Williamson actually released a nicotine-free cigarette onto the market but quickly took it off because it never succeeded in making any money. Instead they began focussing on producing a more potent tobacco, which they succeeded in growing with a Brazilian plant called Y1 that had twice the nicotine as usual. Eventually though, a tobacco supplier revealed to the industry the reconstitution process which could control the exact amount of nicotine and other constituents. One supplier, the Contraf Group, was bold enough to describe its product as Pure nicotine and other special additives. (1.151) Despite their broad knowledge of nicotine addiction, the companies still urged people to believe that it wasn t addictive and consequently created a large population of unhealthy slaves to fill their wallets.

By suppressing vital research the industry has betrayed the safety of mankind. The earliest substantial health risk discovered by the industry was in 1956 and cancer in 1961, decades before most scientists ever did. (4) In the Cipollone case, the president of Ligett and Myers explained that his twenty million-dollar research was only for the purpose of saving rats from tobacco caused tumors and that it had nothing to do with humans. In attempts to deny knowledge of cigarettes causing cancer in humans, Kinsley VanDey was very inconsistent in his testimony, which probably led to a guilty verdict in regards to his willful blindness at least. The word insubstantial was very helpful to the industry; by hiring reputable scientists to create inconclusive research health risks were eased in the public since they thought that science wasn t even capable of determining any side effects. The public relations firm that directed the research for Imperial tobacco was called Burston and Marstellar a very corrupt and crooked public relations firm. Their credibility to the industry was shown in their involvement in worldwide scandals such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Dow Corning breast implant problems and various other crimes that needed to be kept secret. To acquire lawful secrecy the projects were directed by lawyers. Almost all of the experiments would be under the supervision of these lawyers because there is a law that provides privacy between lawyers and their clients. The people opposing the companies with lawsuits did not hear much of the research that companies did, and without this information their defense was not nearly as effective. By suppressing research the industry has willfully hurt many peoples lives.

Tobacco has been a growing parasite to our society but luckily our growing knowledge of their scandals prepares us with skepticism toward their never-ending trickery. Their reign of control over people s habits would be hard to destroy but their manipulation is over and their punishment has only begun. Cigarettes are a very ironic product; the image of sophistication and success that they sell, along with the nicotine, is actually what they take and achieve through money. The law is not perfect since these corporations have escaped guilt for so long and still make money, but throughout the past two decades, the realization of folly has called for a step in a new direction. For our society to finally rid ourselves of this parasite the change would have to be very slow; it would have to start with putting the entire industry in the hands of the government. In this way the corporation owners would truly be penalized while the product would be safer and the country would benefit from the profits. Marketing to children, testing underage smokers, using money to avoid the law, manipulating nicotine and suppressing research are among many of the immoral practices of the industry. Although they are very numerous and diverse they all share the same motive: to get rich. Money has become more important than compassion in the minds of the industry s players. The success of the industry is merely a reflection of its immoral practices.


1.) Smoke and Mirrors: The Canadian Tobacco War 1996 Rob Cunningham

2.) Galen.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco A)/mangina/report/exhibits.html


3.) www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Jdb%2txt.html

4.) Smoking, The Artificial Passion; 1989 David Krogh

5.) http://www.tobaccopapers.org/DocofWeek-apr28.htm

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