San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Bigwigs smoked into a corner

What spreads like smoke and smells worse than tar?

Lies.

The first scientific reports attributing smoking to lung cancer, heart disease and numerous other health problems began to emerge in the late 1920s. By the 1950s, these studies were attracting major attention, and tobacco companies were hit with their first lawsuit in 1954. In 1964, the surgeon general released a report on the dangers of smoking, and warnings appeared on cigarette packages two years later.

Then the infamous Brown and Williamson papers were leaked to researchers and the press in 1994. Suddenly the courts had extra ammunition. In their own industry papers, tobacco companies seemed to have admitted to all the nasty stuff like addiction and youth-aimed advertising. The only problem was that tobacco companies shared an unspoken pact to protect industry secrets at all costs.

Then on March 20, in a court settlement, the Liggett Group, makers of Chesterfield, Lark and L&M cigarettes, broke that pact by disclosing all the secrets the tobacco industry has guarded for so long. The company acknowledged that nicotine was addictive and caused lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. It also admitted to targeting teenagers in advertisements.

The terms of the settlement may call for a ban on cartoon characters in advertising, a warning on cigarette packages about the addictive character of nicotine and 25 percent of Liggett’s pretax profits over the next 25 years. But nothing this company suffers will come close to what the industry will suffer if Liggett is forced to release secret industry papers.

Predictably, four of tobacco’s giants Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard

have moved to block the release of those papers. They claim they seek protection for secret ingredients that make their cigarettes better than other brands. But it is more than obvious that what they really fear is an exposure of the truth concerning the dangers of those ingredients. No court should protect an industry that sells lies.

R.J. Reynolds responded to the Liggett settlement with repeated denials that cigarettes can be proven addictive. This deception will never end unless the tobacco industry’s papers all of them are released to the public. The Daily Aztec advocates the release of industry studies on cigarette production, tobacco advertising and the effects of smoking. Following this exposure, people who smoke will at least have a wealth of knowledge to aid their decision on whether to continue or to quit smoking.

The court states that no other tobacco companies can or will receive the kind of easy settlement the Liggett Group did even if they also come clean. the court might want to rethink this decision. The Big Four seem on the verge of admittance, but they will only do so if they receive the monetary incentive.

Someone in this game must decide whether money is more important than truth. By standing its ground on denying concessions to bigger companies if they tell the truth, the court impedes a final exposure of truth. If it takes an out-of-court deal to stop industry lies and denial, then The Aztec votes for a deal in the name of public enlightenment.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Bigwigs smoked into a corner