R.J. Reynolds (RJR) may be funding a South Carolina anti-tax group to oppose a cigarette tax for health care. The Cover Carolina Collaborative, a group of health care organizations, is proposing that the state's tax be raised to $1.00 a pack, to help cover uninsured employees. South Carolina currently has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at seven cents a pack.
Philip Morris has quietly disbanded its controversial External Research Program (PMERP), through which it funded academic and scientific research at major universities. The funds doled out by the program were substantial: in the 2006-07 fiscal year, the University of California system alone received around $16 million through PMERP.
A February 9 Los Angeles Times article about University of California, Los Angeles professor Edythe London taking a $6 million grant from Philip Morris to study the brains of child smokers and monkeys addicted to nicotine once again raises questions about the appropriateness of university researchers accepting tobacco industry funding. Philip Morris denied that they have a stake in this particular project, but the denial had little credibility since the company no doubt will benefit from understanding more about youth smoking and nicotine addiction. After all, the future of their business depends on these two topics. Still, we wonder why any person curious enough to be engaged in scientific research isn't also curious enough to find out what's in it for Philip Morris before they accept the funds? These days, the answer is as close as your computer.
When the dangers of smoking first became widely known, cigarette companies secretly hired biomedical scientists to create confusion.
"Here's a recipe for academic controversy," observes Richard C. Paddock: "First, find dozens of hard-core teenage smokers as young as 14 and study their brains with high-tech scans. Second, feed vervet monkeys liquid nicotine and then kill at least six of them to examine their brains. Third, accept $6 million from tobacco giant Philip Morris to pay for it all.
With marketing constraints increasing and cigarette usage declining in the developed world, Philip Morris (PM) is increasingly targeting smokers in other countries. PM now makes sweet-smelling cigarettes with cloves and other flavors that have twice the tar and nicotine as conventional products, created to appeal to smokers in developing countries.
"The American public deserves to know when someone is trying to persuade them." — U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Thursday, January 17, 2008
Front Groups Beware of Full Frontal Scrutiny
Today, the Center for Media and Democracy and our partners at Consumer Reports WebWatch launched an exciting new project: Full Frontal Scrutiny. The site seeks to shine a light on front groups -- organizations that state a particular agenda, while hiding or obscuring their identity, membership or sponsorship, or all three. Google the term "front groups" and the number one return is CMD's extensive articles on its SourceWatch site.
Actress Suzanne Pleshette's recent death from "respiratory distress" was sad. Most of the articles about it briefly mention that she had been fighting lung cancer, but fail to mention that she had been a cigarette smoker in the past. Cigarette smoking is the single biggest cause of lung cancer.
It is rarely discussed, but tobacco has taken an extraordinarily heavy toll on Hollywood. The list of beloved celebrities killed by smokers' diseases is huge, and growing: George Harrison, Johnny Carson, Dana Reeve, Yul Brynner, Lucille Ball, Walt Disney, Nat King Cole, Joe DiMaggio, Michael Landon, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Betty Grable, and Babe Ruth to name just a few. Despite this, the failure to mention a person's smoking history in obituary columns is the norm in celebrity deaths. In just one glaring example, a four page obituary about the 2005 death of prominent news anchor Peter Jennings published by his own network, ABC, fails to mention the contribution that smoking made to Jennings' tragic and untimely death. A CNN's column about Jennings' death didn't mention it either. Something is up when major news organizations omit any mention the single most prominent cause of the death of a renowned news anchor.
We need help tidying up Tobaccowiki's expansive database of people involved with the tobacco industry. Many of the descriptions in the database are currently in fragmented sentences. For example, the description of Betsy Agle says "(EPA Indoor Air Branch employee)." We would rather it say "Betsy Agle was a U.S.
The General Chairman of Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection, Seto Mulyadi, called tobacco companies' corporate social responsibility programs "hidden cigarette campaigns." Mulyadi said that cigarette companies "do free advertising through their CSR programs." Mulyadi is proposing a complete ban on cigarette advertising in Indonesia, after a study by the country's Pub