The following are quotes from the book Merchants of Doubt, Chapter 1, Doubt Is Our Product, 2010, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, regarding cigarette smoking and the tobacco industry, except for statements added in italic. Pages numbers added for reference.
December 15, 1953, was a fateful day. A few months earlier, researchers at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City had demonstrated that cigarette tar painted on the skin of mice caused fatal cancers. This work had attracted an enormous amount of press attention: the New York Times and Life magazine had both covered it, and Reader’s Digest— the most widely read publication in the world— ran a piece entitled “Cancer by the Carton.” Perhaps the journalists and editors were impressed by the scientific paper’s dramatic concluding sentences: “Such studies, in view of the corollary clinical data relating smoking to various types of cancer, appear urgent. They may not only result in furthering our knowledge of carcinogens, but in promoting some practical aspects of cancer prevention."
These findings, however, shouldn't have been a surprise. We're often blinded by a ‘bad people can do no right' line of thought. German scientists had shown in the 1930s that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer, and the Nazi government had run major antismoking campaigns; Adolf Hitler forbade smoking in his presence. However, the German scientific work was tainted by its Nazi associations, and to some extent ignored, if not actually suppressed, after the war; it had taken some time to be rediscovered and independently confirmed. Now, however, American researchers— not Nazis— were calling the matter “urgent,” and the news media were reporting it. “Cancer by the carton” was not a slogan the tobacco industry would embrace.
With the mounting evidence, the tobacco industry was thrown into a panic. So industry executives made a fateful decision, one that would later become the basis on which a federal judge would find the industry guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud— a massive and ongoing fraud to deceive the American public about the health effects of smoking. The decision was to hire a public relations firm to challenge the scientific evidence that smoking could kill you.
On that December morning (December 15th), the presidents of four of America’s largest tobacco companies— American Tobacco, Benson and Hedges, Philip Morris, and U.S. Tobacco— met at the venerable Plaza Hotel in New York City. The French Renaissance chateau-style building— in which unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in its famous Oak Room bar— was a fitting place for the task at hand: the protection of one of America’s oldest and most powerful industries. The man they had come to meet was equally powerful: John Hill, founder and CEO of one of America’s largest and most effective public relations firms, Hill and Knowlton.
The four company presidents— as well as the CEOs of R. J. Reynolds and Brown and Williamson— had agreed to cooperate on a public relations program to defend their product. They would work together to convince the public that there was “no sound scientific basis for the charges,” and that the recent reports were simply “sensational accusations” made by publicity-seeking scientists hoping to attract more funds for their research. They would not sit idly by while their product was vilified; instead, they would create a Tobacco Industry Committee for Public Information to supply a “positive” and “entirely ‘pro-cigarette’” message to counter the anti-cigarette scientific one. As the U.S. Department of Justice would later put it, they decided “to deceive the American public about the health effects of smoking.”
At first, the companies didn’t think they needed to fund new scientific research, thinking it would be sufficient to “disseminate information on hand.” John Hill disagreed, “emphatically warn[ing] … that they should …
sponsor additional research,” and that this would be a long-term project. He also suggested including the word “research” in the title of their new committee, because a pro-cigarette message would need science to back it up. At the end of the day, Hill concluded, “scientific doubts must remain.” It would be his job to ensure it.
Over the next half century, the industry did what Hill and Knowlton advised. They created the “Tobacco Industry Research Committee” to challenge the mounting scientific evidence of the harms of tobacco. They funded alternative research to cast doubt on the tobacco-cancer link. They conducted polls to gauge public opinion and used the results to guide campaigns to sway it. They distributed pamphlets and booklets to doctors, the media, policy makers, and the general public insisting there was no cause for alarm.
The industry’s position was that there was “no proof” that tobacco was bad, and they fostered that position by manufacturing a “debate,” convincing the mass media that responsible journalists had an obligation to present “both sides” of it. The industry’s position was that there was “no proof” that tobacco was bad, and they fostered that position by manufacturing a “debate,” convincing the mass media that responsible journalists had an obligation to present “both sides” of it. Representatives of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee met with staff at Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, BusinessWeek, Life, and Reader’s Digest, including men and women at the very top of the American media industry. Their purpose was to “explain” the industries commitment to a “long range research…program devoted primarily to the public interest” – which was needed since the science was unsettled – and so to stress to the media their responsibility to provide a “balanced presentation of all the facts” to ensure the public would not be needlessly frightened.
The industry did not leave it to journalists to seek out “all the facts.” They made sure they got them. The so-called balance campaign involved aggressive dissemination and promotion to editors and publishers of “information” that supported the industry’s position. But if the science was firm, how could they do that? Was the science firm?
The answer is yes, but. A scientific discovery is not an event; it’s a process, and often it takes time for the full picture to come into clear focus. By the late 1950s, mounting experimental and epidemiological data linked tobacco with cancer— which is why the industry took action to oppose it. In private, executives acknowledged this evidence. In hindsight it is fairto say— and science historians have said— that the link was already established beyond a reasonable doubt. Certainly no one could honestly say that science showed that smoking was safe.
But science involves many details, many of which remain unclear, such as why some smokers get lung cancer and others do not (a question that remains incompletely answered today). Some scientists remained skeptical.
One of them was Dr. Clarence Cook Little.
C. C. Little was a renowned geneticist, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and former President of the University of Michigan. But he was also well outside the mainstream of scientific thinking. In 1954, the tobacco industry hired Little to head the Tobacco Industry Research Committee and spearhead the effort to foster the impression of debate, primarily by promoting the work of scientists who’s views might be useful to the industry. Little's committee prepared a booklet, A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy, which was sent to 176,800 American doctors, Fifteen thousand additional copies were sent to editors, reporters, columnists, and members of Congress. A poll conducted two years later showed that "neither the press nor the public seems to be reacting with any noticeable fear or alarm to the recent attacks."
The industry made its case in part by cherry-picking data and focusing on unexplained or anomalous details. No one in 1954 would have claimed that everything that needed to be known about smoking and cancer was known, and the industry exploited this normal scientific honesty to spin unreasonable doubt. One Hill and Knowlton document, for example, pre- pared shortly after One Hills meeting with the executives, enumerated fifteen scientific questions related to the hazards of tobacco. Experiments showed that laboratory mice got skin cancer when painted with tobacco tar, but not when left in smoke-filled chambers. Why? Why do cancer rates vary greatly between cities even when smoking rates are similar? Do other environmental changes, such as increased air pollution, correlate with lung cance? Why is the recent rise in lung cancer greatest in men, even though the rise in cigarette use was greatest in women? If smoking causes lung cancer, why aren’t cancers of the lips, tongue, or throat on the rise? Why does Britain have a lung cancer rate four times higher than the United States? Does climate affect cancer? Do the casings placed on American cigarettes (but not British ones) somehow serve as an antidote to the deleterious effect of tobacco? How much is the increase in cancer simply due to longer life expectancy and improved accuracy in diagnosis?
None of the questions was illegitimate, but they were all disingenuous, because the answers were known: Cancer rates vary between cities and countries because smoking is not the only cause of cancer. The greater rise in cancer in men is the result of latency - lung cancer appears ten, twenty, or thirty years after a person begins to smoke-so women, who had only recently begun to smoke heavily, would get cancer in due course (which they did). Improved diagnosis explained some of the observed increase, but not all: lung cancer was an exceptionally rare disease before the invention of the mass-marketed cigarette. And so on.
When posed to journalists, however, the loaded questions did the trick: - they convinced people people who didn’t know otherwise that there was still a lot of doubt about the whole matter. The industry had realized that you could create the impression of controversy simply by asking questions, even if you actually knew the answers and they didn’t help your case.al And so the industry began to transmogrify emerging scientific consensus into raging scientific "debate."
The appeal to journalistic balance (as well as perhaps the industry's large advertising budget) evidently resonated with writers and editors, perhaps because of the influence of the Fairness Doctrine. Under this doctrine, established in 1949 (in conjunction with the rise of television), broadcast journalists were required to dedicate airtime to controversial issues of public concern in a balanced manner. (The logic was that broadcasts licenses were a scarce resource, and therefore a public trust.) While the doctrine did not formally apply to print journalism, many writers and editors seem to have applied it to the tobacco question, because throughout the 1950s and well into the 1960s, newspapers and magazines presented the smoking issue as a great debate rather than as a scientific problem in which evidence was rapidly accumulating, a clear picture was coming into focus, and the trajectory of knowledge was clearly against tobacco’s safety. Balance was interpreted, it seems, as giving equal weight to both sides, rather than giving accurate weight to both sides.
By the end of the 1950s, the tobacco industry had successfully developed ties with doctors, medical school faculty and public health authorities across the country. In 1962, when U.S. Surgeon General Luther L Terry established an Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health, the tobacco industry made nominations, submitted information, and ensured that Dr. Little "established lines of communication” with the committee. To ensure that the panel was "democratically'' constituted, the surgeon general invited nominations from the tobacco industry as well as from the Federal Trade Commission (who would become involved if restrictions were placed on tobacco advertising). To ensure that the panel was unbiased, he excluded anyone who had publicly expressed a prior opinion. One hundred and fifty names were put forward, and the tobacco industry was permitted to veto anyone they considered unsuitable.
Despite these concessions, the 1964 report was not favorable to the tobacco industry. Historian Allan Brandt recounts how half the members of the panel were smokers, and by the time their report was ready, most of them had quit. For those close to the science, this was no surprise, because the evidence against smoking had been steadily mounting. In the U.S. Public Health Service had concluded that smoking was "the principle etiological factor in the increased incidence of lung cancer." In 1959, leading researchers had declared in the peer-reviewed scientific literature that the evidence linking cigarettes and cancer was "beyond dispute." That same year, the American Cancer Society had issued a formal statement declaring that "cigarette smoking is the major causative factor in lung cancer." In 1962, the Royal College of Physicians of London had declared that "cigarette smoking is a cause of cancer and bronchitis and probably contributes to . . . coronary heart disease," a finding that was prominently reported in Reader's Digest and Scientific Ameican. Perhaps most revealingly, the tobacco industries own scientists had come to the same conclusion.
As University of California professor Stanton Glantz and his colleagues have shown in their exhaustive reading of tobacco industry documents, by the early 196os the industry's own scientists had concluded not only that smoking caused cancer, but also that nicotine was addictive (a conclusion that mainstream scientists came to only in the 198os, and the industry would continue to deny well into the 1990s). In the 1950s, manufacturers had advertised some brands as "better for your health," implicitly acknowledging health concerns. In the early 1960s, Brown and Williamsons in-house scientists conducted their own experiments demonstrating that tobacco smoke caused cancer in laboratory animals, as well as experiments showing the addictive properties of nicotine. ln 1963 the vice president of Brown and Williamson concluded, presumably with reluctance, "We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug." Two years later, the head of research and development for Brovm and Williamson noted that industry scientists were "unanimous in their opinion that smoke is . . . carcinogenic." Some companies began secretly working on a "safe" cigarette, even while the industry as a whole was publicly denying that one was needed.
It’s one thing for scientists to report something in peer-reviewed journals, however, and another for the country's doctor in chief to announce it publicly, loud and clear. The 1964 surgeon general’s report, Smoking and, Health, did just that. Based on review of more than seven thousand scientific studies and testimony of over one hundred and fifty consultants, the landmark report was written by a committee-in this case selected from nominations provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the American Medical Association, and the Tobacco Institute - but its conclusions were unanimous. Lung cancer in the twentieth century had reached epidemic proportions, and the principal cause was not air pollution, radioactivity, or exposure to asbestos. It was tobacco smoking. Smokers were ten to twenty times more likely to get lung cancer than nonsmokers. They were also more likely to suffer from emphysema, bronchitis, and heart disease. The more a person smoked, the worse the effects.
Luther Terry (Surgeon General, 1964) realized that the reports release would be explosive, so when he gathered two hundred reporters into the State Department for a two-hour briefing, the auditorium doors were locked for security. The report was released on a Saturday to minimize impact on the stock market, but it was still a bombshell. Nearly half of all adult Americans smoked - many men had picked up the habit while serving their country during World War II or in Korea - and the surgeon general was telling them that this pleasurable habit, at worst a mild vice, was killing them. The government not only allowed this killing, but promoted and profited from it: the federal government subsidized tobacco farming, and tobacco sales were an enormous source of both federal and state tax revenues. To argue that tobacco killed people was to suggest that our own government both sanctioned and proffited from the sale of a deadly product. In hindsight, calling it the biggest news story of 1964 seems insufficient; it was one of the biggest news stories of the era. One tobacco industry PR director concluded that the cigarette business was now in a "grave crisis." They did not sit idly by.
Immediately, they redoubled their effort to challenge the science. They changed the name of the Tobacco Industry Research Council to the Council for Tobacco Research (losing the word "industry'' entirely), and severed their relations with Hill and Knowlton. They resolved that the new organization would be wholly dedicated to health research, and not to "industry technical or commercial studies." They "refined" the approval and review process for grants, intensifying their search for "experts" who would affirm their views.
Given the evidence produced in their own laboratories, the industry might have concluded that the "debate" game was up. The PR director for Brown and Williamson suggested that perhaps the time had come to back off "assurances, denial of harm, and similar claims." Others suggested identifying the hazardous components in cigarette smoke and trying to remove them, or adopting voluntary warning labels. In 1978, the Liggitt Group-makers of L&Ms, Larks, and Chesterfields - filed a patent application for a technique to reduce the "tumorigenicity of tobacco. Tumor genicity is the tendency of something to generate tumors, so this was an implicit acknowledgement that tobacco did indeed cause tumors, as one newspaper realized.
The cigarette manufacturers did not give up. Rather, they resolved to fight harder. 'A steady expansion in our program of scientific research into tobacco use and health has convinced us of the need for more permanent organizational machinery" one press release concluded. The industry had already given more than $7 million in research funds to 155 scientists at more than one hundred American medical schools, hospitals, and laboratories; now it would give even more. When Congress held hearings in 1965 on bills to require health warnings on tobacco packages and advertisements, the tobacco industry responded with "a parade of dissenting doctors," and a "cancer specialist [who warned] against going off “half cocked” in the controversy."
Sometimes further research muddies scientific waters, as additional complications are uncovered or previously unrecognized factors are acknowledged. Not so with smoking. When a new surgeon general reviewed the evidence in 1967, the conclusions were even starker. Two thousand more scientific studies pointed emphatically to three results, enumerated on the reports first page: One, smokers lived sicker and died sooner than their nonsmoking counterparts. Two, a substantial portion of these early deaths would not have occurred if these people had never smoked. Three, were it not for smoking "practically none" of the early deaths from lung cancer would have occurred. Smoking killed people. It was as simple as that. Nothing had been learned since 1964 that brought into question the conclusions of the earlier report. How did the industry respond to this? More denial. "There is no scientific evidence that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and other disease," Brown and Williamson insisted.
Although 125 lawsuits related to health impairment were filed against the tobacco industry between 1954 and 1979, only nine went to trial, and none were settled in favor of the plaintiffs. Still, industry lawyers were increasingly concerned, in part because their insistence that the debate was still open was contradicted not just by academic science, but by their own internal company documents. To cite just one example: in 1978, the minutes from a British American Tobacco Company research conference concluded that the tobacco-cancer link "has long ceased to be an area for scientific controversy." (Brown and Williamson lawyers recommended the destruction or removal of documents that spoke to this point.)
How could the industry possibly defend itself when the vast majority of independent experts agreed that tobacco was harmful, and their own documents showed that they knew this? The answer was to continue to market doubt, and to do so by recruiting ever more prominent scientists to help.
Collectively the industry had already spent over $50 million on biomedical research. Individual tobacco companies had invested millions more - bringing the total to over $70 miilion. By the mid-196os, that figure had exceeded $100 million. One industry document happily reported that "this expenditure exceeds that given for research by any other source except the federal government." Another noted that grants had been distributed to 640 investigators in 250 hospitals, medical schools, and research institutions. The American Cancer Society and American Lung Association in 1981 devoted just under $300,000 to research; that same year, the tobacco industry gave $6.3 million. It was time to do even more.
In the 1950s, the tobacco industry had enlisted geneticist C. C. Little – a member of the US National Academy of Sciences – to lend credibility to their position. This time they went one step further, they enlisted Dr. Frederick Seitz – the balding man introduced to Reynolds executives in 1979 – a former president of the academy. (29) Seitz no doubt enjoyed the perks he received while working for the tobacco industry, such as flying to Bermuda with his wife when the R.J. Reynolds Advisory Committee met there in November 1979, as well as the heady feeling of distributing money to researchers he had hand-picked. Given his views that genetic weakness was the crux of disease susceptibility, and that modern science had become narrow-minded, Seitz may well have honestly believed that tobacco was being unfairly attacked, and that Reynolds money could do some real good. But we know from tobacco industry documents that the criteria by which he chose projects for funding were not purely scientific.
By May 1979, Seitz had made commitments for over $43.4 million in research grants. During this time, he corresponded frequently with H. C. Roemer - R.J. Reynolds's legal counsel - discussing with him which particular projects they planned to fund and why; all press releases regarding the research program had to be cleared by the legal department. It’s not normal for granting agencies to consult legal counsel on each and every grant they make, so this connection alone might suggest a criterion related to legal liability. But we don’t have to speculate, because industry documents tell us so: "support [for scientific research] over the years has produced a number of authorities upon whom the industry could draw, for expert testimony in court suits and hearings by governmental bodies." The industry wasn’t just generating reasonable doubt; it was creating friendly witnesses-witnesses that could be called on in the future.
One of these witnesses was Martin J. Cline, who had earlier caught Seitz’s attention. Cline was one of the most famous biomedical researchers in the United States. Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at UCLA's medical school, he had created the world's first transgenic organism: a genetically modified mouse. In 1980, however, he was censured by UCLA and the National Institutes of Health for an unapproved human experiment injecting bone marrow cells that had been altered with recombinant DNA into two patients with a hereditary blood disorder. Cline was found to have misrepresented the nature of the experiment to hospital authorities, telling them that the experiment did not involve recombinant DNA. He later admitted that he had performed the experiment, but claimed that he did it because he believed it would work. Cline lost nearly $200.000 in research grants and was forced to resign his position as division chief, although he was permitted to stay on as a professor of medicine.
Many years later - in 1997 - Cline was deposed in the case of Norrna R. Broin et al. v. Philip Morris. (Broin was a nonsmoking flight attendant who contracted lung cancer at the age of thirty-two, and sued - along with her husband and twenty-five other flight attendants - charging that their illnesses were caused by secondhand smoke in airline cabins, and the tobacco industry had suppressed information about its hazards.) In the deposition Cline acknowledged that he had been a witness in two previous trials, one in which he testified that a plaintiff’s cancer was not caused by exposure to toxic fumes, and another in which he testified that a plaintiff's leukemia was not caused by exposure to radiation. He had also served as a paid consultant in a previous tobacco litigation case, had given seminars to a law firm representing the tobacco industry, and had served on a so-called Scientific Advisory Board for R. J. Reynolds. (The scientists that Seitz supported were also sometimes called upon as an advisory group, attending periodic meetings to offer "advice and criticism." One letter suggested that they might also act as an advocacy group - although this was later struck out.)
When asked point blank in the Norma Broin case, "Does cigarette smoking cause lung cancer?" attorneys for Philip Morris objected to the "form of the question." When asked, "Does direct cigarette smoking cause lung cancer?" the attorneys objected on the grounds that the question was "irrelevant and immaterial." When finally instructed to answer, Cline was evasive. Cline: “Well, if by "cause" you mean a population base or epidemilogic risk factor, then cigarette smoking is related to certain types of lung cancer. If you mean: In a particular individual is the cigarette smoking the cause of his or her cancer? Then . . . it is difficult to say "yes" or "no." There is no evidence.”
When asked if a three-pack-a-day habit might be a contributory factor to the lung cancer of someone who’d smoked for twenty years, Cline again answered no, you "could not say [that] with certainty. . . I can envision many scenarios where it [smoking] had nothing to do with it." When asked if he was paid for the research he did on behalf of the tobacco industry he acknowledged that the tobacco industry had supplied $3oo,ooo per year over ten years - $3 million b ut it wasn’t "pay," it was a "gift.”
What Cline said about cancer was technically true: current science does not allow us to say with certainty that any one particular person’s lung cancer - no matter how much she smoked - was caused by smoking. There are always other possibilities. The science does tell us that a person with a twenty-year, three-pack-a-day habit who has lung cancer most probably got that cancer from smoking, because other causes of lung cancer are very rare. If there's no evidence that the woman in question was ever exposed to asbestos or radon, or smoked cigars or pipes, or had prolonged occupational exposure to arsenic, chromium, or nickel, then we could say that her lung cancer was almost certainly caused by her heavy smoking. But we couldn’t say it for sure. In scientific research, there is always doubt. In a lawsuit we ask, Is it reasonable doubt? Ultimately, juries began to say no, but it took a long time, in large part because of witnesses like Martin Cline, witnesses that the industry had cultivated by supporting their research. Reynolds supported scientists, and when the need arose they were available to support Reynolds.
Stanley Prusiner would have been an even better witness for the industry - his work on prions was groundbreaking and his reputation untarnished - and his name did appear on a list of potential witnesses in the 2004 landmark federal case against the tobacco industry: U.S. vs. Philip Morris et al. (He evidently did not testify; available documents do not indicate why.) The industry was finally found guilty under the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). In 2006, U.S.district judge Gladys Kessler found that the tobacco industry had "devised and executed a scheme to defraud consumers and potential consumers" about the hazards of cigaettes, hazards that their own internal company documents proved they had known about since the 1950s.
But it took a long time - just about half a century - to get to that point. Along the way the tobacco industry won many of the suits that were brought against it. Juries, of course, were much more likely to believe scientific experts than industry executives - especially scientists who appeared to be independent - and neither Ciine nor Prusiner ever worked "directly'' for the tobacco industry; many of the funds were channelled through law firms. External research could also help bolster the industry's position that the public should decide for themselves. "We believe any proof developed should be presented fully and objectively to the public and that the public should then be allowed to make its own decisions based on the evidence," they had argued, seemingly reasonably. The problem was that public had no way to know that this "evidence" was part of an industry campaign designed to confuse. It was, in fact, part of a criminal conspiracy to commit fraud.
Cline and Prusiner were reputable scientists, so one might ask, didn’t they have a right to be heard? In later years Seitz and his colleagues would often make this claim, insisting that they deserved equal time, and their ability to invoke the Fairness Doctrine to obtain time and space for their views in the mainstream media was crucial to the impact of their efforts. Did they deserve equal time?
The simple answer is no. While the idea of equal time for opposing opinions makes sense in a two-party political system, it does not work for science because science is not about opinion. It is about evidence. It is about claims that can be, and have been, tested through scientific research - experiments, experience, and observation - research that is then subject to critical review by a jury of scientific peers. Claims that have not gone through that process -or have gone through it and failed-are not scientific, and do not deserve equal time in a scientific debate.
A scientific hypothesis is like a prosecutor's indictment; it’s just the beginning of a long process. The jury must decide not on the elegance of the indictment, but on the volume, strength, and coherence of the evidence to support it. We rightly demand that a prosecutor provide evidence - abundant, good, solid, consistent evidence-and that the evidence stands up to the scrutiny of a jury of peers, who can take as much time as they need.
Science is pretty much the same. A conclusion becomes established not when a clever person proposes it, or even a group of people begin to discuss it, but when the jury of peers - the community of researchers - reviews the evidence and concludes that it is sufficient to accept the claim. By the 1960s, the scientific community had done that with respect to tobacco. In contrast, the tobacco industry was never able to support its claims with evidence, which is why they had to resort to obfuscation. Even after decades and tens of millions of dollars spent, the research they funded failed to supply evidence that smoking was really OK. But then, that was never really the point of it anyway.
The tobacco industry was found guilty under the RICO statute in part because what the Hill and Knowlton documents showed: that the tobacco industry knew the dangers of smoking as early as 195l and conspired to suppress this knowledge. They conspired to fight the facts, and to merchandise doubt.
But it took a long time for those facts to emerge, and the doubt to be dispelled. For many years, the American people did continue to think that there was reasonable doubt about the harms of smoking (and some still do). While hazard labels were strengthened, it was not until the 1990s that the industry began to lose cases in courts. And although the FDA sought to regulate tobacco as an addictive drug in the early 1990s, it was not until 2009 that the U.S. Congress finally gave them the authority to do so.
More details regarding the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement from the Wikipedia:
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was entered in November 1998, originally between the four largest United States tobacco companies (Philip Morris Inc., R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard – the "original participating manufacturers", referred to as the "Majors") and the attorneys general of 46 states. The states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of their tobacco-related health-care costs, and also exempted the companies from private tort liability regarding harm caused by tobacco use.:25 In exchange, the companies agreed to curtail or cease certain tobacco marketing practices, as well as to pay, in perpetuity, various annual payments to the states to compensate them for some of the medical costs of caring for persons with smoking-related illnesses. The money also funds a new anti-smoking advocacy group, called the American Legacy Foundation, that is responsible for such campaigns as The Truth. The settlement also dissolved the tobacco industry groups Tobacco Institute, the Center for Indoor Air Research, and the Council for Tobacco Research. In the MSA, the original participating manufacturers (OPM) agreed to pay a minimum of $206 billion over the first 25 years of the agreement.
Regarding The U.S. Government's racketeering case against Big Tobacco via RICO: Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
In September 22, 1999, the United States Department of Justice, under the Admistration of then President William J. Clinton, filed a racketeering lawsuit against the major cigarette manufacturers and two industry affiliated organizations:
· Philip Morris Companies (now Altria)
· R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR), now Reynolds American
· Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation (BW), now part of Reynolds American
· Lorillard Tobacco Company
· The Liggett Group
· American Tobacco (now part of Reynolds American)
· British American Tobacco Industries (BATCo)
· The Council for Tobacco Research (CTR)
· The Tobacco Institute, Inc.
On August 17, 2006 Judge Kessler issued a 1,683 page opinion holding the tobacco companies liable for violating RICO by fraudulently covering up the health risks associated with smoking and for marketing their products to children. “As set forth in these Final Proposed Findings of Fact, substantial evidence establishes that Defendants have engaged in and executed – and continue to engage in and execute – a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO.”
Based on the evidence presented in the case, Judge Kessler ruled that:
Defendants knew for fifty years or more that cigarette smoking caused disease, but repeatedly denied that smoking caused adverse health effects. Defendants publicly distorted and minimized the hazards of smoking for decades.
Defendants concealed and suppressed research data and other evidence showing nicotine is addictive, and withheld information about their internal research on addiction, from the American public, the government, and the public health community, including the United States Surgeon General. The Defendants acted this way to maintain profits by keeping people smoking and attracting new consumers, to avoid iability, and prevent regulation of the industry.
Defendants falsely denied that they can and do control the level of nicotine delivered to smokers to create and sustain addiction.
Defendants falsely marketed and promoted low tar/"light" cigarettes as less harmful than "full flavor" cigarettes to keep people smoking and sustain corporate revenues.
From the 1950s to the present, different tobacco companies using different methods have intentionally marketed cigarettes to young people under the age of 21 in order to recruit "replacement smokers" who would ensure the future economic viability of the Tobacco Industry.
Defendants publicly denied, while internally acknowledging, that secondhand tobacco smoke is hazardous to nonsmokers.
At various times, Defendants attempted to, and did suppress and conceal scientific research and destroy documents relevant to their public and litigation positions.
As part of this RICO settlement, a Federal Court has ordered RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Philip Morris USA, Atria and Lorilard to make the following statement about the health effects of smoking, appearing in the New York Times, November 26, 2017 and January 7, 2018, as well as many more: