Reviews tobacco industry positions on smoking and health issues. Notes that while these positions have changed over time, "the industry has taken a consistent position that proof is lacking of adverse health effects from smoking, passive smoking, or any of the constituents found in tobacco smoke." Touts industry expenditures used for research and adult-oriented cigarette advertising. Discusses issues of whether smoking causes disease, industry research efforts, ingredients and constituents of smoke, addiction, and advertising and promotional activity. Duplicates Bates 91820980.
- Position paper
- Author (Organization)
- Shook, Hardy & Bacon
- Spears, Alexander White, III (LOR President & CEO)
Associated with CTR, used as an expert in the Mississippi case.
- Named Person
- Little, C. Dr.
- Kornegay, H.
- Hockett, R. Dr.
- Cullman, J.
- Sommers, S. Dr.
- Gray, B.
- Allen, G.
- Named Organization
- The Tobacco Institute
- Council for Tobacco Research
- Tobacco Industry
- Research Committee
- American Cancer Society
- Science and Smoke
- carbon monoxide
- and nitrogen oxides
- hydrogen cyanide
- beta naphthylamine
- Parkinson's disease
- Fact or Fancy?
- The Cigarette Consumer Controversy
- Thesaurus Term
- cigarette ingredient
- smoke constituent
- government organization
- research activity
- lung cancer
- tobacco use
- tobacco industry structure
- industry position
Page 1: 87657263
PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL
ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT
PRIOR TOBACCO INDUSTRY POSITIONS
ON SMOKING AND HEALTH
This paper reviews the positions taken by the tobacco
industry on smoking and health issues, both in testimony before
Congress and in publications and programs of The Tobacco
Institute. Not surprisingly, the positions of the industry
have changed to some extent over the years as the scientific
studies and debate on smoking and health have evolved. This
paper merely outlines these positions and notes some of the
specific statements that may be challenged by our opponents
in future legislative hearings.
In general, the industry has taken a consistent
position that proof is lacking of adverse health effects from
smoking, passive smoking, or any of the constituents found in
tobacco smoke. Industry research expenditures have generally
been characterized as substantial, more generous than those
of other private groups, and having no restrictions. In
addition, the industry has denied any addictive qualities of
smoking. Finally, advertising of cigarettes has been stated
to be merely related to brand preferences, and to have no
effect on recruiting youth, or non-smokers, to smoke.
I. WHETHER SMOKING CAUSES DISEASE
The industry has consistently taken the position
an "open question" whether there is a causal link
- 1 -
Page 2: 87657264
between smoking and various diseases, and that further research
is necessary. This position has been maintained throughout
the various congressional hearings and industry publications.
Industry members have admitted that statistical
associations exist between smoking and certain diseases, but
they have emphasized that such a statistical relation does
not establish causation. Industry spokespeople have consis-
tently denied that there is sufficient proof of a causal link
between smoking and lung cancer; cardiovascular disease
(including stroke and high blood pressure); chronic obstructive
pulmonary diseases (including emphysema and bronchitis);
cancers of the pancreas, larynx, esophagus, bladder, and
urinary tract; oral and pharyngeal cancer; ulcers (including
peptic ulcers); and overall mortality rates. The industry
has similarly criticized the claim that there are 300,000
excess deaths per year due to smoking, characterizing this
claim as "sheer speculation." See, e.q., The Ciqarette Contro-
versy, Eiqht Questions and Answers 26.
There have been similar statements on the effect of
smoking on women, especially during pregnancy. The industry
has acknowledged that "smoking mothers, on the average, have
slightly lighter weight babies." The C~qarette Controversy 8
(1974). But the industry has denied that there is proof of a
causal link to the following conditions which have been statis-
tically linked to tobacco use: increased perinatal mortality,
- 2 -
Page 3: 87657265
abortion, stillbirth, birth defects, early menopause, decreased
child development, disease in those using oral contraceptives.
The industry has likewise stated that there is no
scientific evidence linking passive smoking to any disease.
Statements on passive smoking tend to be stronger than those
regarding primary smoking. See, e.q., Testimony of Horace
Kornegay 633 (1972) (claim "seems extremely far-fetched").
The questioning of adverse health effects includes questioning
any effect on children of smoking parents. Cf. Women and
Smokinq 7 ("Is it true that smoking mothers can harm their
children by smoking around them? Studies in this area report
There have been a number of strong statements denying
causal links. Dr. Clarence Little, in 1969 written testimony
as Scientific Director of the Council for Tobacco Research
("CTR") (April/May hearings), said that "[i]f anything, the
pure biological evidence is pointing away from, not toward,
the causal hypothesis." In 1978, Horace Kornegay testified
that "there has been no highly qualified, reputable person
who has made a statement that [smoking] affects mr adversely
affects the health." A TI publication argues that "statistics
can be twisted and misrepresented for scare propaganda."
Fact or Fancy? 49.
There are also, however, some industry statements
- 3 -
Page 4: 87657266
which may raise questions as to adverse health effects, includ-
ing the following:
(i) Dr. Little, testifying for the Tobacco Industry
Research Committee ("TIRC") at 1957 congressional hearings,
stated that any chronic irritation "is a bad risk in any form
of cancer" and that "inhalation of smoke" is an irritant.
Dr. Little also referred during his testimony to an article
in which he said "it would seem unwise to fill the lungs
repeatedly with the suspension of fine particles of tobacco
products of which smoke consists."
(2) Industry statements have acknowledged that
smoking has a role "in depressing ciliary mobility" but have
denied that this has any proven relation to the development
of lung cancer. See, e.q., Testimony of Dr. Robert Hockett
810 (1965 - March~April hearings).
(3) Joseph Cullman, speaking as Chairman of the
Executive Committee of TI at 1969 congressional hearings
(April/May hearings), stated that "Caution: Introduction of
polluted air into lungs, including cigarette smoke, is
injurious to health" was "a fair statement," but then also
said "I don't think people really know" if smoking is injuri-
(4) Dr. Robert Hockett, in October 5, 1978 testi-
mony, stated that it is a "plausible possibility" that smoking
has "an effect on small airways,,; that smoking causes "a
- 4 -
Page 5: 87657267
certain amount of irritation"; that for a small group of
persons who "for genetic reasons are highly susceptible to
chronic pulmonary disease" smoking can be "a grave danger";
and that smoking reduces muscle and tissue production in youth.
(5) In May 1983 congressional testimony Dr. Sheldon
Sommers stated that those with preexistinq emphysema should
not smoke and that for them smoking "is going to cause diffi-
In addition, the industry has stated that "[y]oung
people should not smoke." Fact or Fancy? 51. In October 5,
1978 congressional testimony, Dr. Robert Hockett similarly
stated that nicotine "and perhaps other ingredients in smoke
reduced somewhat the efficiency of the production of muscle
and other body tissues" in youth, such that smoking could
cause harm absent adjustments to diet.
There has also been some conflict as to whether
smoking can cause an allergic reaction. Thus, Science and
Smoke (1978), quotes testimony that "it has not been clearly
established that allergens for man are present in tobacco
smoke." A TI newsletter, however, merely states that "True
tobacco allergy . . . is rare." Smoking and the PubliG 5. A
CTR report, introduced at 1965 congressional testimony
(April/May hearings), notes research that "certain tobacco
effects . . . may be due to specific allergic susceptibility
of particular individuals " and an exhibit to testimony in ,
Page 6: 87657268
1972 by Horace Kornegay states that "there may be people who
have an unusual hypersensitivity to tobacco smoke."
As noted above, the industry has acknowledged that
there is a statistical link between smoking and various dis-
eases, even if statistics do not prove causation. In some
instances, however, even the statistical link of smoking to
disease has been disputed. For example in The Ciqarette
Controversy: Why More Research is Needed 9 (Feb. 1984),
statistical links to "perinatal problems, including low birth
weight, fetal growth retardation, perinatal mortality and
congenital abnormality" are questioned in light of recent
studies. See also Testimony of Dr. Sheldon Sommers 1080 (1969
- April/May hearings) ("evidence both favoring and opposing"
Some industry statements also argue that if a causal
relation of cigarettes to disease were ever established, the
industry would take action to modify its product: "If one or
more of these compounds, as found in smoke, can be proved
harmful, modern technology certainly would be applied in
efforts to modify the product accordingly." The Ciqaret~e
Consumer Controversy 13 (Jan. 1981). See also Testimony of
Bowman Gray 160 (1964) (if harmful effects were found "We get
awfully fast to work to see what we can do about it"); Testi-
mony of George Allen 943 (1965 - March/April hearings) ("If
there is something in tobacco that is causally related to
- 6 -
Page 7: 87657269
cancer or any other disease, the tobacco industry wants to
find out what it is"). As Dr. Little stated at the 1957
congressional hearings, "I don't think there is one of them
[i.e., tobacco executives] that is stupid enough to want to
bluff for a minute" regarding any adverse health effects.
In responding to these criticisms, the industry has
noted that there are a variety of other factors which may be
causal agents for the diseases that have been statistically
linked to smoking. Most emphasis has been on the role of
heredity and personality, as well as the role of viruses and
of environmental pollution. See, e.q., The Answers We Seek
and The Need to Know (two TI films). One often-cited position
is that it is not smoking that causes disease, but rather the
underlying personality of those who are most likely to smoke.
See, e.g., Fact or Fancy? 29 ("It may be the smoke__r rather
than the smoking that should be investigated").
Finally, the industry sometimes noted the potential
benefits of smoking, particularly in the area of stress reduc-
tion. One publication in particular, The Smoking Controversy;
A Perspective (Dec. 1978), argues strongly for the beneficial
effects of smoking, including the risk that some persons might
be subject to "critical levels of hypertension" if they could
not smoke. Dr. Robert Hockett, in October 5, 1978 congres-
sional testimony, similarly notes benefits from smoking in
the areas of relieving anxiety and tension, aiding in diges-
- 7 -
Page 8: 87657270
tion, and reducing the number of cases of Parkinson's disease
and aphthous ulcers. Testimony of Dr. Sheldon Sommers on
March 12, 1982 notes beneficial effects of smoking for those
with "severe psychic or psychologic problems."
II. INDUSTRY RESEARCH EFFORTS
The industry's descriptions of its research efforts
usually consist of statements regarding the amount of money
spent on research (either during the prior year or since the
establishment of CTR) and the names of recipients of grant
money. Industry spokespersons also consistently stress that
the grantees have complete freedom in their research and in
the decision whether to publish the results. The research
funding is usually described as "no-strings-attached," with
"complete freedom and autonomy" given to the researchers.
The nature of the research is also usually described
only in general terms. Some publications have described
tobacco industry research as directed at "smoking and health,"
and congressional testimony has used similar phrases, such as
"the relationship between tobacco use and health." among the
stronger statements is one (repeated on several occasions by
Dr. Sheldon Sommers) that from 1970 to 1982 $14 million was
spent on "whether cigarette smoking causes lung cancer in
animals," and the results "proved negative." Dr. Sommers
also stated in March 1983 testimony that two-thirds of CTR's
research grants were spent on cancer research. In 1972 testi-
- 8 -
Page 9: 87657271
mony, Dr. Sommers, speaking as Chairman of CTR, noted that
grants are awarded based on "competitive scientific merit
and relevance of the proposals received to smoking and health
problems." Nevertheless, Dr. Little, in 1957 congressional
testimony, stated that grant money is given out in a "very,
very broad" range of ideas "not confined to the effects of
tobacco or any tobacco product." Dr. Robert Hockett of CTR
stated in 1969 testimony (April/May hearings) that CTR is
"concentrating study on the ~iseases that have been reported
to be associated statistically with tobacco use."
Industry statements have also criticized research
by private organizations active in anti-smoking work, such as
the American Cancer Society. One paper characterizes the
research of these organizations by saying that "there is good
reason to suspect waste and misdirection." The Smoking Cont~Q-
versy: A Perspective 19 (Dec. 1978). The usual citations
are more mild, however, and merely note that the tobacco
industry has spent more on smoking and health research than
any of the other organizations interested in these issues,
such as the American Cancer Society.
III. ~NGREDIENTS/CONSTITUENTS OF SMOKE
The industry has stated that no constituent of
tobacco smoke has been found to be a cause of cancer in humans
in the amount in which it is present in smoke. The denial of
any harmful effect has encompassed the following substances:
- 9 -
Page 10: 87657272
"tar," nicotine, carbon monoxide, benzpyrene, nitrosamines
and nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, and beta naphthylamine.
The precise formulation of this position varies.
Most often, the industry has made the general statement that
the concentrations of these substances in smoke are so minute
as to be inconsequential, and that only sophisticated research
tools can detect these constituents. Cf. Testimony of Dr.
Robert Hockett 105 (1972) (cigarette smoke is "about 2 or 3
percent carbon monoxide by volume"). At other times, the
focus is on the absence of any smoke inhalation studies finding
adverse health effects, or the absence of studies on primates.
For nicotine there have been further statements that not only
is nicotine not harmful, but also that it may have beneficial
effects, including that it "stimulates the learning process."
Nicotine's effect is often paralleled to that of "mild exer-
cise." See, e.q., Testimony of Dr. Robert Hockett 1112 (1969-
April/May hearings) ("effects similar to those of light
exercise on the work of the heart").
Statements regarding "tar" focus on arguments that
"tar" is not actually an ingredient in smoke, and that analysis
of it is not an accurate method of research. Similarly, there
is repeated criticism of skin-painting of "tar" as a method
of research, since such studies "involve the wrong material
(that is, the condensate instead of whole smoke), in the wrong
- i0 -