Nearly 50 million pages of once secret tobacco industry documents are today freely available and fully searchable online. Collectively, they paint a disturbing picture of an industry fully aware that its business is drug addiction.
The industry cannot ignore that, historically, roughly 27% of new smokers have been age 13 or younger, 60% age 15 or under, 80% age 17 or younger, and 92% under the age of 19.
Contrary to "corporate responsibility" image campaigns, with nearly five million annual tobacco related deaths worldwide, the industry knows that it must either face financial ruin or somehow entice each new generation of youth to experiment and get hooked.
As a Lorillard executive wrote in 1978, "The base of our business is the high-school student."
Philip Morris USA (PM) is America's largest tobacco company, holding a 49% share of the U.S. retail cigarette market in 2011. Based in Richmond, Virginia and founded in 1854, PM brands include Alpine, Basic, Benson & Hedges, Bristol, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Commander, Dave's, English Ovals, L&M, Lark, Merit, Parliament, Players, Saratoga and Virginia Slims.
Today, Philip Morris' website openly proclaims, "PM USA agrees with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking is addictive" and "smokeless tobacco products are addictive."
Remember that fateful "what the heck" moment when you surrendered and gave tobacco that first serious try? What you probably don't recall are the thousands of invitations to surrender and experiment that tobacco industry marketing had by then burned into your subconscious.
As shown by the following quotes from once secret Philip Morris corporate documents, it was fully aware that it was in the drug addiction business while hammering your brain with those invitations:
1972 - "The cigarette should not be construed as a product but a package. The product is nicotine. Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle for nicotine. The cigarette is but one of many package layers."
"There is the carton, which contains the pack, which contains the cigarette, which contains the smoke. The smoke is the final package. The smokers must strip off all these package layers to get to that which he seeks."
May 1975 - "... decline in Marlboro's growth rate is due to ... slower growth in the number of 15-19 year-olds ... changing brand preferences among younger smokers."
"Most of these studies have been restricted to people age 18 and over, but my own data, which includes younger teenagers, shows even higher Marlboro market penetration among 15-17 year-olds."
"The teenage years are also important because those are the years during which most smokers begin to smoke, the years in which initial brand selections are made, and the period in the life-cycle in which conformity to peer-group norms is greatest.
November 1977 - "I was amazed at the trend that the [Council for Tobacco Research] work is taking. For openers, Dr. Donald H. Ford, a new staff member, makes the following quotes: 'Opiates and nicotine may be similar in action' ... 'There is a relationship between nicotine and the opiates.' ... It is my strong feeling that with the progress that has been claimed, we are in the process of digging our own grave."
Based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, R.J. Reynolds' Tobacco Company (RJR) has been around since 1874. Before RJR's 2004 merger with Brown and Williamson, its cigarette brands included Camel, Doral, Eclipse, Monarch, More, Now, Salem, Vantage and Winston.
While RJR cigarette store marketing claims that smokers smoke its brands for a host of reasons (flavor, pleasure, adventure, price, to be true, make new friends, have fun, great menthol or to look more adult), its once secret documents tell a different story.
A nine page 1972 confidential memo by a senior RJR executive is entitled "The Nature of the Tobacco Business and the Crucial Role of Nicotine Therein." The next 11 paragraphs share direct quotes from this now famous and extremely informative memo:
"In a sense, the tobacco industry may be thought of as being a specialized, highly ritualized and stylized segment of the pharmaceutical industry. Tobacco products, uniquely, contain and deliver nicotine, a potent drug with a variety of physiological effects."
"Thus a tobacco product is, in essence, a vehicle for delivery of nicotine, designed to deliver the nicotine in a generally acceptable and attractive form. Our Industry is then based upon design, manufacture and sale of attractive dosage forms of nicotine ..."
"If nicotine is the sine qua non of tobacco products and tobacco products are recognized as being attractive dosage forms of nicotine, then it is logical to design our products -- and where possible, our advertising -- around nicotine delivery ..."
"He does not start smoking to obtain undefined physiological gratifications or reliefs, and certainly he does not start to smoke to satisfy a non-existent craving for nicotine. Rather, he appears to start to smoke for purely psychological reasons -- to emulate a valued image, to conform, to experiment, to defy, to be daring, to have something to do with his hands, and the like."
"Only after experiencing smoking for some period of time do the physiological "satisfactions" and habituation become apparent and needed. Indeed, the first smoking experiences are often unpleasant until a tolerance for nicotine has been developed."
"This leaves us, then, in the position of attempting to design and promote the same product to two different types of markets with two different sets of motivations, needs and expectations."
"If, as proposed above, nicotine is the sine qua non of smoking, and if we meekly accept the allegations of our critics and move toward reduction or elimination of nicotine from our products, then we shall eventually liquidate our business."
"If we intend to remain in business and our business is the manufacture and sale of dosage forms of nicotine, then at some point we must make a stand." "If our business is fundamentally that of supplying nicotine in useful dosage form, why is it really necessary that allegedly harmful 'tar' accompany that nicotine?"
"There should be some simpler, "cleaner", more efficient and direct way to provide the desired nicotine dosage than the present system involving combustion of tobacco or even chewing of tobacco ..."
"It should be possible to obtain pure nicotine by synthesis or from high-nicotine tobacco. It should then be possible, using modifications of techniques developed by the pharmaceutical and other industries, to deliver that nicotine to the user in efficient, effective, attractive dosage form, accompanied by no 'tar', gas phase, or other allegedly harmful substances."
"The dosage form could incorporate various flavorants, enhancers, and like desirable additives, and would be designed to deliver the minimum effective amount of nicotine at the desired release-rate to supply the 'satisfaction' desired by the user."
As shown, more than 40 years ago, RJR's 1972 memo accurately predicted both the arrival of nicotine replacement products (NRT) and the combustion-free electronic or e-cigarette.
The lines between the tobacco and pharmaceutical industry nicotine are now blurring horribly. A 2003 nicotine gum study found that 37% of gum users were hooked on the cure, each being chronic long-term gum users of at least 6 months. It's a trend that will continue.
Brown&Williamson (B&W) was a cigarette company that merged with RJR in 2004. B&W brands - now owned by RJR - include Barclay, Belair, Capri, Carlton, GPC, Kool, Laredo, Lucky Strike, Misty, North State, Pall Mall, Private Stock, Raleigh, Tareyton and Viceroy. Here are a few quotes from once secret B&W corporate documents:
Founded in 1760, Lorillard Tobacco Company is the oldest U.S. tobacco company. Its brands include Kent, Maverick, Max, Newport, Old Gold, Satin, Triumph and True. The following telling quotes are from once secret Lorillard documents:
Last but not least is British American Tobacco (BAT), which dates to 1902 and sells more than 300 brands worldwide. BAT's international brands include Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Vogue, Rothmans, Peter Stuyvesant, Benson & Hedges, Winfield, John Player, State Express 555, Kool and Viceroy. It does not own all these brands but is licensed by other companies to distribute them. Here are a few BAT admissions.
In light of the above tiny sampling of tobacco industry admissions, should there be any doubt in our minds as to who was slave and who was master, who profited and who lost?