Describes unforeseen industry complications in responding to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) release of "first CO [carbon monoxide] 'scorecard'" and chronicles multiple communication breakdowns. Notes despite advance preparation/clearance of TI statement cautioning "health implications of CO have not been established", discrepancies between FTC and industry CO data and FTC's "call for including CO yield data in cigarette advertising" caught industry and TI off-guard. Concludes "our staff still lacks the mechanism necessary for immediate response action."
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Anticipating FTC's first CO "scorecard" release, The
institute staff prepare~ and cleared a statement (I) for the
media urging cautious interpretation on the ground that any
health implications of CO in cigarette smoke havenot been
Two complications were foreseen: first, that the FTC
scores might not coincide with those provided from The
Institute's laboratory, and, second, that the FTC might call
for including CO yield data in cigarette advertising. Both
might require quick cOmsultation about media responses with
member companies. In this instance, the latter complication
did not develop, but the former did.
Efforts to learn the FTC scores in advance were
unsuccessful. At 8:10 a.m. on May 5, the editor of our Tobacco
Observer was notified according to his previous request that the
FTC release (2) was available for media pickup and immediate use.
~ At 9 a.m. our staff began to distribute our cleared state-
~ent and to compare the FTC and Institute CO yields, brand by
~(-Srand, and quickly observed an apparently significant difference.
ZOur laboratory director was called in promptly to provide
By noon we had computer conf~rmatlon" " of average CO readings
nearl II ercent higher b FTC than by TI In a conference call
Y P Y -~
. . .
to company chief counsel, during whmch we were able to reach four
of the five who took part in clearing our original media statement,
we proposed a supplemental statement further warning the public
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that the published data m~ght be misleading (3). We felt that
individual brand yields as reported might be unfair to
manufacturers and deceptive for smokers. None of those involved
in the conversation, however, was able to advise us without
further time to consider the matter and consult internally about
it. So we wired the proposed statement to them.
One of the attorneys called back that afternoon with his
comments. Another called the next morning. A third called two
days later. Two said they did not fa¥or the statement. One
said "we kind of a~ree" with the others. ~e never heard from
the rest.~ However, even if we had distributed the statement the
and the appropriate moment of timing had passed.
This incident demonstrates that, in spite of the experience
of many years of working together on khe matter of clearance,
especially in the face of breaking news, our staff still lacks
the mechanism necessary for immediate response action.