Selections from the Tobacco BBS

1964: Surgeon General Luther L. Terry releases reports concluding smoking causes lung cancer.

1965: Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requires surgeon general's warnings on cigarette packs.

1967: Government requires one antismoking advertisement for every three cigarette ads.

1971: Broadcast ads for cigarettes are banned.

1979: Top 20 Brands Sold (billions of cigarettes):

  1. MARLBORO (Philip Morris) 103.6
  2. WINSTON (R. J. Reynolds) 81.0
  3. KOOL (Brown & Williamson) 56.7
  4. SALEM (R.J. Reynolds) 53.2
  5. PALL MALL (American) 33.9
  6. BENSON & HEDGES (Philip Morris) 27.8
  7. CAMEL (R.J. Reynolds) 26.3
  8. MERIT (Philip Morris) 22.4
  9. VANTAGE (R. J. Reynolds) 20.7
  10. KENT (Lorillard) 19.3
  11. CARLTON (American) 15.0
  12. GOLDEN LIGHTS (Lorillard) 13.2
  13. TAREYTON (American) 12.2
  14. VICEROY (Brown & Williamson) 11.7
  15. TRUE (Lorillard) 11.5
  16. RALEIGH (Brown & Williamson) 11.3
  17. VIRGINIA SLIMS (Philip Morns) 10.5
  18. NEWPORT (Lorillard) 9.8
  19. PARLIAMENT (Philip Morris) 7.7
  20. L & M (Liggett) 7.5
Source: Business Week December 17,1979.

1980: Superman II film: Lois Lane lights up. In fifty years of comic book appearnces, Lois Lane never smoked. For a reported payment of $42,000, the company purchases 22 exposures of the Marlboro logo in the movie featuring the children's comic book hero, and Lois Lane, strong role model for teenage girls, gets a Marlboro pack on her desk and begins chain smoking Marlboro Lights. At one point in the film, a character is tossed into a van with a large Marlboro sign on its side, and in the climactic scene the superhero battles amid a maze of Marlboro billboards before zooming off in triumph, leaving in his wake a solitary taxi with a Marloro sign on top. The New York State Journal of Medicine published an article titled "Superman and the Marlboro Woman: The Lungs of Lois Lane." Thoughout the 80s, Superman II is frequently re-run on TV in prime time.

1983: US Tobacco introduces Skoal Bandits -- a starter product, with the tobacco contained in a pouch like a tea bag.

1983-04-28: Stallone letter agreeing to use B&W tobacco in 5 films for a payment of $500,000.

1985: Brown & Williamson sues CBS and Chicago news commentator Walter Jacobsen for libel for his 1981 commentary. B&W wins a $3.05 million verdict--the largest libel award ever paid by a news organization.

1988-01-06: Merrell Williams begins work for lawfirm Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs analyzing secret Brown & Williamson tobacco documents.

1988-06: Liggett Group (L&M, Chesterfield) ordered to pay Antonio Cipollone $400,000 in compensatory damages for its contribution to his wife's death. In the years before the 1966 warning labels, Liggett found to have given Cipollone an express warranty its products were safe. First ever financial award in a liability suit against a tobacco company; award later overturned on technicality; plaintiffs, out of money, drop case. Cipollone trial reveals "Motives and Incentives in Ciragette Smoking," a 1972 confidential report prepared by the Philip Morris Research Center of Richmond, Virginia. It reads in part, The cigarette should be conceived not as a product but as a package. The product is nicotine. . . . Think of the cigarette as a dispenser for a dose unit of nicotine. . . . Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle of nicotine. . . . Smoke is beyond question the most optimized vehicle of nicotine and the cigarette the most optimized dispenser of smoke.

1988-Fall: Ross Johnson informs RJR Nabisco board he intends to lead a management buy-out, and purchase the company for $17 billion. The ensuing debacle will become the largest LBO ever, with Henry Kravitz' KKR emerging the winner in 1989, paying a record $29.6 billion. RJR released Premier in 1989, its smokeless cigarette, for test-marketing, but Premier is abandoned after several months of unsuccessful test-marketing in Arizona and Missouri. In 1990, RJR begins test-marketing "Uptown" cigarettes targetting blacks. Health and Human Services secretary Louis Sullivan, along with many black civic and religious leaders denounce the cigarette. RJR cancels the cigarette. In the 1993 made-for-HBO film Barbarians at the Gate James Garner gave a positive portrayal of Ross Johnson fighting to keep his company from the evil clutches of Henry Kravis played by Jonathan Pryce. American Express chairman Jim Robinson is played by Fred Thompson, former lawyer for the Senate Watergate Committee who switched careers from movie actor to U. S. Senator in 1994.

1988-12 to 1993-03: Jeffrey Wigand works at Brown & Williamson.

1994-03: ABC produced "Tobacco Under Fire" for the Turning Point show but the documentary was shelved under threats from tobacco companies.

1994-03-28 & 04-07: ABC-TV airs Day One segments concerning tobacco industry manipulation of nicotine.

1994-04-14: Seven Tobacco Company executives begin testimony in Congressional hearings. The officers who appeared before Henry Waxman's (D-CA) Committee beginning April 14, 1994, were: William Campbell, CEO, Philip Morris; James Johnston, CEO, RJR Tobacco Co; Joseph Taddeo, President, U.S. Tobacco Co; Andrew Tisch, CEO, Lorillard Tobacco Co; Thomas Sandefur, CEO, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co; Ed Horrigan, CEO, Liggett Group; Donald Johnston, CEO, American Tobacco Co. The following was the most famous exchange (April 15, 1994): REP. WYDEN: Let me ask you first, and I'd like to just go down the row, whether each of you believes that nicotine is not addictive. I've heard virtually all of you touch on it--yes or no, do you believe nicotine is not addictive? WILLIAM I. CAMPBELL (Philip Morris): I believe that nicotine is not addictive, yes. . .

1994-04-28: ex-Philip Morris scientist Victor J. DeNoble testifies on his research into nicotine and addiction in rats; claims PM suppresed his findings. Time and US News and World Report each run cover stories on tobacco; as with the June 6, 1983 Newsweek, neither has a single tobacco advertisement. 1994-05-07: New York TImes front-page article reviews "secret" Brown & Williamson tobacco papers. 1994-05-12: Stanton Glantz at UCSF receives a box of "secret" Brown & Williamson tobacco papers from "Mr. Butts."

1995-03-19: CBS on 60 Minutes airs segment featuring ex-tobacco lobbyist Victor Crawford

1995-05: First appearance of Tobacco BBS on the internet.

1995-06-30: "Secret" B&W papers become available on Internet one day after the California Supreme Court rejects B&W's attempts to suppress the information. The California State Supreme court has let stand a lower court's decision allowing the University of California at San Francisco to post on the Internet all 4,000 pages of the notorious Brown & Williamson "secret" papers. Observers have said the papers show that tobacco companies knew of the dangers of smoking 30 years ago. UCSF has already started posting scans of the photocopies of the original pages. While the pages are graphics, they are organized by subject in a searchable index, and accompanied by abstracts. The entire project is due to be completed by the fall. The website is at

1995-07-12: The American Medical Association blasted the tobacco industry today, claiming that a year-long study of now-publicly available papers showed "massive, detailed and damning evidence of the tactics" by which "for more than 30 years the tobacco industry concealed evidence that nicotine is addictive and tobacco smoke causes cancer." "The evidence is unequivocal -- the US public has been duped by the tobacco industry. No right-thinking individual can ignore the evidence. We should all be outraged, and we should force the removal of this scourge from our nation and by so doing set an example for the world," the AMA said in an editorial in an issue of its journal which is essentially one long all-out attack on the industry.

The editorial will appear in the July 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and is signed by executives of the AMA and all the members of the AMA's Board of Trustees. The signers vow that "the AMA will not relent in its opposition to tobacco use." What has suddenly become an unprecedented war between the premier organization of the nation's doctors and the US's most profitable industry reached fever-pitch today with the pre-release of reports from JAMA issue, which reports on investigations of 8,000 pages of documents from tobacco company Brown & Williamson. The AMA released the report a week early. The documents which are the focus of the JAMA issue are primarily internal memos from B&W and its parent company, London-based BAT Industries, and span the period from 1962 to 1984. Half were provided to Congress by B&W, and half were delivered anonymously to University of California at San Francisco researcher Stanton Glantz. These are apparently the same papers photocopied in 1989 by paralegal Merrell Williams, who was working for B&W's law firm at the time. Williams is being sued by Brown & Williamson.

The AMA claims the papers show that: -- B&W "knew but withheld findings on health risks of second hand smoke." -- "Tobacco industry lawyers have been involved in research projects, including involvement of a public relations campaign to promote tobacco as safe" -- "Private documents are at odds with public statements." -- "The documents show that the role of nicotine in tobacco products is that of a pharmacological agent: B&W and BAT value nicotine not for what it does to taste and olfaction but for what it does to the brain. . . ." -- "The public relations posture of B&W differs markedly from the internal working views expressed by B&W and BAT during the last 30 years. While the public posture is that nicotine is not addicting, company internal writings 30 years ago assumed addiction. . . ." -- "Today, B&W publicly accepts one, and only one conclusion from the 1964 surgeon general's report: that nicotine is habituating, not an addicting drug."

1995-11-09: The New York Times reports that CBS has killed broadcast of a 60 Minutes interview with a former tobacco executive (soon revealed as Jeffrey Wigand). That day, a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, KCBS, killed an anti-tobacco ad that had been running for weeks.

1995-11-29: Ex-B&W research executive Jeffrey Wigand testifies to federal and state prosecutors in Pascagoula, Miss.

1996-02-04: CBS airs Wigand Interview on 60 Minutes. Wigand claims B&W Chief Sandefur lied when telling Waxman's committed he believed nicotine was not addictive.

1996-05: Vanity Fair contains a massive, 22-page article by Marie Brenner on the inside story of the CBS/Wigand story. The issue contains no tobacco ads.

1996-05-20: The May 20, 1996 People Weekly carries 2 tobacco articles, a profile of Stanton Glantz, and an excerpt from Grisham's The Runaway Jury. The issue contains no tobacco ads.

1997-06-20: Landmark settlement provides for unprecedented restrictions on cigarettes and on tobacco makers' liability in lawsuits. Industry to spend $368 billion over 25 years, mainly on anti-smoking campaigns, use bold health warning on packs, curb advertising and face fines if youth smoking drops insufficiently. Subject to congressional approval.

1997-07-03: First state to settle with tobacco, Mississippi agrees to $3.6 billion deal with companies including Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris and Lorillard Tobacco.

1998-01-29: Tobacco CEOs Appear Before the House Commerce Committee regarding Clinton's opposition to the proposed settlement to end lawsuits by all 50 states: Laurence A. Tisch, Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Loews Corporation, Geoffrey Bible, Chairman, Philip Morris Companies, Inc, Vincent A. Gierer Jr., Chief Executive Officer, UST, Inc., Steven F. Goldstone, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, RJR Nabisco and Nicholas G. Brookes, Chairman, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Companies.

1998-04-22: 39,000 super-secret documents are posted on the House Commerce committe web site.

1999-05-23: Rupert Murdoch's Fox Network runs the filmIndependence Day, the world's most expensive cigar commercial--and popular kid favorite--in prime time. Fox also produced the film (cigar product placement by Feature This).

1999-11-04: The Disney-produced film The Insider opened nationwide but came in 4th in the weekend boxoffice. According to Lew Irwin's Studio Briefing Nov. 8, "Hundreds of filmgoers leaving theaters showing Disney's The Insider were met by poll takers for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, which said that the results of the poll will be used to help it decide whether to sue Disney for libel, Bloomberg news reported today (Monday). The financial news service said that audience members exiting theaters were handed cards asking them to dial a toll-free number to answer "a few important questions" about the movie. (Brown & Williamson figures prominently in the film, since it was the tobacco company that industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, the movie's central character, worked for.) However, Bloomberg observed, neither the cards nor the recorded questions on the phone line disclosed that Brown & Williamson was behind the poll. A spokesman for the tobacco company said that it did not disclose its name in order to prevent the results from becoming skewed."