Corporate Capitulation To The Zealots — 15 Comments

  1. Big tobacco only have themselves to blame for not standing up to the anti-smokers and health nazis while they still could. Now it’s too late, all legal and political avenues for redress have been closed off to them.

    And those court ordered ‘corrective media statements’ are nothing more than the modern version of cardboard signs hung around the necks of the hanged in Nazi Germany detailing their ‘crimes’…like being ‘ a jew’ or ‘spiv’.

  2. I see a different issue here Nisakiman…that Big T is forced by the courts to run those ads isn’t surprising to me…after all, look at the packs in EU…that’s even worse. What bothers me are statements like this one:

    ##Murray Garnick, Altria’s executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement that “this industry has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, including becoming regulated by the FDA, which we supported. We’re focused on the future and, with FDA in place, working to develop less risky tobacco products.”##

    If they had any balls and self respect (not to mention respect for their customers) Big T would never say such BS. They’d say something like, ok, we have to run these ads because we’re under court order. But me personally and our legal team don’t believe the statements that we’re forced to make.

  3. Yes, I agree with you that they should have said they were running the ads under duress, but can you imagine the howls of rage that would emanate from Tobacco Control if they were to do so? They would be publicly hung, drawn and quartered by the MSM and then slapped with some extra taxes and/or spiteful legislation at the behest of the tobacco haters.
    To be honest, I would have been surprised if they had said anything other than what they did say. Better to keep your head down and go with the flow is doubtless their philosophy these days. Why stir up a hornets’ nest?

  4. Yes, they’ve been tried and found guilty by the TC kangaroo court, and there is no parole. At least, not before TC (and PH in general) itself is no longer the fashionable PC trend for the ‘progressives’.

  5. Sorry about the length of this comment.
    I’ll address the 2006 judgement at the end but the real key to this is the MSA (Master Settlement Agreement).
    I have no special inside knowledge about this but my understanding is:

    First of, the ‘Master Settlement Agreement’ (MSA). This was not a court case as such but an agreement, and an extremely corrupt one at that, between the biggest 4 tobacco companies and the Atourneys General of 46 American States. The other states made similar arrangements. In gross violation of the American constitution BTW.


    Many senior tobacco executives were forced to give evidence in court prior to the mid 1990s and they all followed the company line saying that: ‘they did not believe that smoking had been shown to cause lung cancer’. The anti-smokers lost all of these cases although some were won initially and then overturned on appeal.

    However many of the executives would have had little or no knowledge of the science and indeed may have been fairly recently head hunted from a completely different company. Hence they tended to believe the propaganda and occasionally said so in private internal memos.

    Then, in the 1990s, BATs archive became public. Apparently thousands of documents were stolen and passed to the anti-smokers. A court case ruled that they had therefore entered the public domain and so could be used as evidence in court. The stolen documents contained some of these private memos which proved that the executives had lied about their belief in court. These memos implicated all of the big four tobacco companies.

    The MSA:
    By entering the MSA, they were able to protect themselves from the charge of perjury.
    Specifically, they gained immunity from prosecution and did not have to pay any fines or damages at all. In return, they arranged for the companies that they worked for (basically ran) to agree with everything that the anti-smokers claimed. And for the companies to pay vast sums of money into State coffers, ostensibly to pay for medical costs (non-existent) and anti-smoking crusades (considerable). Several hundred BILLION dollars.
    They were also able to force current and potential rivals to pay too. This meant that the entire cost could and was, passed on directly to their customers. No impact on company profit or stock market value.
    It seems to me that there weren’t really any suppressed tobacco company science documents. The internal memos were the only secret information that the anti-smokers found.

    The 2006 case that the article refers to was basically window dressing that followed on from the MSA. The prosecution was for racketeering (RICO). No additional fines or other penalties were levied, presumably because immunity had already been agreed. But getting a RICO conviction was great PR for the anti-smokers.

    I suspect the anti-smokers prefer to reference RICO rather than the MSA.

  6. That’s an important reason why antismoking went into overdrive the past 20yrs or so…how can one start to defend a product when its makers go out of their way to convince you it’s crap. People should stop buying Big T’s products and try ryo, pipes or cigars. These gutless wimps don’t deserve our money.

  7. Not sure if ‘gutless wimps’ is really fair…at least not back in the MSA days as Tony so kindly reminds us. The rot started with the American firms because-and I am no expert- US corporate law is much much tougher than European , in regards to criminal liability of individual managers and Execs. Those company men who knowingly (or ‘strongly suspected’ ) gave false testimony might easily have gone to prison . Also the US allows mammoth class claims in civil law, the tobacco companies could quite easily have faced being wiped out in civil litigations so in their fear they turned to the now High Chancellor Adam…oops wrong quote…

  8. The assertion that smoking is injurious is based on “spurious statistics” and is advocated in “a reprehensible propaganda campaign,” Heimann testified. “Most physicians have little or no knowledge of statistical nuances and would be easily taken in, misguided by the improper use of statistics,” he said.

    Is the Surgeon General “more qualified . . . than you” to determine whether smoking is hazardous to health? Davis asked. “No,” Heimann said.

    Robert Heimann, who was chairman of American Tobacco, from a deposition in 1987

    They don’t make them like that anymore…today we have guys like the one mentioned in this post or like the Greek CEO of PMI, Calantzopoulos, who claims he wants to stop selling cigs and flogs IQOS (for those with low IQ :)) )

  9. Thanks for that, Tony. I was aware of the bare bones of the MSA, but your comment fills quite a few gaps I was unaware of.
    The business about the memos makes a lot of sense, and seems a very likely explanation as to how Tobacco Control gained the whip hand.

  10. A little more on RICO:

    As I said above, I think the RICO (2006) result was inevitable given the MSA (1998). Perhaps the most important thing about the RICO judgement is that judge Kessler dismissed the submissions from the tobacco industry’s witnesses on the basis that they lacked ‘public health’ credentials. Which makes a mockery of the judicial process.

    I find very difficult to navigate these days so here are the links to a couple of articles about RICO, written by journalist and lifelong non smoker John Luik.

  11. My understanding of the MSA is a summary based on various articles I’ve read. I’ll try to find them all and make a list of references one day. Some are probably available on if only I knew where to look.

    One detail that may have contributed to the issue was that apparently, during the 1990s when the tobacco industry execs gave evidence, they were forced under the threat of contempt to answer a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to some questions that needed a much more nuanced approach.

  12. Another detail about the memos:
    Chris Snowdon mentions the theft of thousands of BAT documents in his VGIF book. These were given to Stanton Glantz. In the 1990s a judge ruled that, although they were obtained illegally, they were now in the public domain. BAT stated that they had nothing to hide so the judge ruled that if someone requested sight of a specific document then BAT would have to comply.
    Glantz and an accomplice then hatched a plan whereby they would spend months in BAT’S offices both in the UK and US. They requested sight of every single document in the archive in turn and photographed them. Hence the online tobacco archive. I think it was a £1 million grant from CRUK that paid for this.

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