Smoke in the Eye - The Fight Against Big Tobacco

Essay by tn2k2High School, 12th gradeA-, March 2002

download word file, 4 pages 3.5

Downloaded 150 times

At the same time that the tobacco industry was publicly claiming that there was no scientific proof that smoking is a health hazard, official agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom had their hands tied researching and compiling information in an attempt to prove the contrary. The British Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the American Surgeon General produced almost identical conclusions not only identifying the health hazards and risks of smoking, however chastising the tobacco industry and demanding immediate appropriate remedial action. Big Tobacco called the reports incomplete and denied that their products were hazardous. On May 12, 1994 an unsolicited box of tobacco documents was delivered to Professor Stanton Glantz at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The documents (dated from the early 1950s to the early 1980s) consisted primarily of confidential Brown and Williamson (B&W) reports. These reports clearly indicated that the United States? number one tobacco company executives were aware of the health hazards their products were linked with, and they continued to deny them for over thirty years.

These documents were the basis of the U.S. Congress criminal investigation and trial of Big Tobacco in 1998. Many smokers felt that their natural rights had been infringed upon, as the tobacco companies knew that they were putting their customers at risk, yet denied it, and did nothing about it. Also, knowing that they too were at risk, many non-smokers believed that they too had had their rights infringed upon, as second-hand smoke became a large issue as well. Along with the help of former tobacco executive, turned whistleblower, Jeffery Wigand (who testified against the companies claiming he, as well as others, knew about the existence of the documents), the tobacco companies were finally brought down, and the momentum from those settlements had carried...