Say what? Actual ‘Big Tobacco’ quotes

Emerging markets – targeting poor countries

  • “If we stop selling cigarettes here (Indonesia) someone else is going to do it instead”
    (Anne Edwards, Philip Morris, on Sex, Lies and Cigarettes)
  • “The average life expectancy here is about 40 years, infant mortality is high: the health problems which some say are caused by cigarettes just won’t figure as a problem here”
    (Rothmans representative in Burkina Faso [Africa], 1988)
  • “The Chinese domestic tobacco industry is a major frontier for international tobacco companies”
    (Philip Morris, 1994)
  • “You know what we want, we want Asia”
    (Unhealthy Alliance, 1998)
  • “They have to find a way to feed the monsters they’ve built. Just about the only way will be to increase sales to the developing world”
    (Former tobacco marketing executive, 1991)

Big Tobacco’s ethics (or lack thereof)…

  • “What I think is clear is if someone came to us with a cigarette today and said, hey, here is a new product, I’m going to bring it to market. Would it be allowed in the market anywhere? No, it would not. It is a very harmful product” (Anne Edwards, Philip Morris, on Sex, Lies and Cigarettes)

Children and smoking

  • “There is no doubt tobacco is a very harmful product that’s addictive and it kills people…it’s very, very sad that people do get sick from smoking” (Anne Edwards, Philip Morris, in a Melbourne radio interview 2011)
  • “If it was legal to sell to ‘em, we’d be glad to. But it’s not”
    (Walker Merryman, Tobacco Institute, WHCS-TV Portland, Maine, August 5, 1992, in a discussion about tobacco use among youth)
  • “If children don’t like to be in a smoky room, they’ll leave. At some point, they begin to crawl”
    (Charles Harper,R.J. Reynolds Chairman , in Carrig, David, “RJR Wins Fight”, USA Today: B1, April 18, 1996)
  • “The tobacco industry would do their own research into smoking and children, but we aren’t allowed to, so of course, we don’t”
    (David Crow, Managing Director, British American Tobacco, on 4 August 2011, before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on health and Ageing, on inquiry into the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011)
  • “We do realise that today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer”(Philip Morris Memo, 1981)
  • “The desire to quit seems to come earlier now than before, even prior to the end of high school…attempts to quit are very painful, they thought they could quit easily, but they soon learn….they have become slaves to their cigarettes”(Imperial Tobacco)
  • “It’s also a well known fact that teenagers like sweet products. Honey, for example, might be considered [as an additive]”
    (B&W 1972, from John Schwartz, Documents Indicate Strategy of Targeting Teen Smokers, Washington Post, February 5, 1998)
  • “Because after all, young people are important. They represent tomorrow’s cigarette business. As this 14-24 age group matures, they will account for a key share of the total cigarette volume-for at least the next 25 years”
    (RJR’s marketing plan presented to the company’s board of directors in 1974)
  • “Irrespective of how many children take up smoking in a year, no-one’s immortal-everyone dies sooner or later”
    (R Berryman, Tobacco Institute, Australia 1989)
  • “What if you are right-and smoking declines? As time passes…the population will be larger, and its average age will increase, because smoking-related diseases will disappear. The health system will be faced with treating a larger number of people, especially elderly people, which would tend to offset the savings of not having to treat people for smoking related diseases”
    (Tobacco Institute Australia, c 1989)
  • “What do you think smokers would do if they didn’t smoke? You get pleasure from it, and you get some other beneficial things, such as relief. Maybe you’d beat your wife”
    (Geoffrey C. Bible, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Philip Morris Companies, New York Times Magazine, June 21, 1998)

Common goal – better…health

  • “I don’t think I’d set money above public health…(But) I have responsibilities to employees, stockholders, to the community generally…I would say they’re all equally important”
    (Quote from testimony of Geoffrey C Bible, CEO and Chair of the Board of Philip Morris Companies, Wall Street Journal, March 3, 1998)
  • “Smoking and health is an issue that my company and the industry take very seriously”
    (P Sheehy, Chairman, BAT 10/82)
  • “So are potatoes. Cancer-causing that is. Tobacco is in the same family. You inhale the fumes of potatoes when you’re cooking them”
    (R Berryman, Tobacco Institute, Australia, 1989)
  • “There still isn’t a single shred of substantial evidence to link cigarette smoking and lung cancer directly”
    (R. J. Reynolds, 1954)
  • “Let’s face it. We are interested in evidence which we believe denies the allegations that cigarette smoking causes disease”
    (Philip Morris, 1970)

Scientific evidence

  • “I think on some things we must simply agree to disagree-like on the issue of medical judgments, because your interpretation of the issue is not the same as ours-and perhaps that is inevitable”
    (ADC Turner, Tobacco Advisory Council, UK 5/88)
  • “I mean, a substantial body of scientific and medical opinion links smoking with various diseases on the basis of statistical association”
    (BAT employee information booklet)
  • “Despite a never-ending stream of research on the possible health hazards of smoking, there is no proof of a cause and effect relationship between cigarette smoking and various alleged smoking diseases”
    (Dr L Blackman, Director of R&D, BAT 11/81)
  • “Set aside in the minds of millions the false conviction that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases; a conviction based on fanatical assumptions, fallacious rumours, unsupported claims and the unscientific statements and conjectures of publicity-seeking opportunists”
    (Glantz SA, Slade J, Bero LA, Hanauer P., Barnes DE (eds). The Cigarette Papers. Berkley. University of California Press 1996)
  • “Whilst it [tobacco] is addictive, it is not that hard to quit”
    (Philip Morris International CEO Louis C. Camilleri, in response to a question at PMI’s annual shareholder meeting in New York. Philip Morris International head says it’s not that hard to quit tobacco/Associated Press (AP), Wednesday, May 11, 2011)
  • “Virtually every household has products that could be hazardous to children, like cleaning supplies, medicines, health and beauty products, and you compare that to 20 to 25 percent of households that use tobacco products…well, where is the real danger?”
    (David Howard, a Reynolds spokesman, on Camel Orbs. / Flavored Tobacco Pellets Are Denounced as a Lure to Young Users / New York Times, Monday, April 19, 2010)
  • “The tobacco manufacturers do not believe that the alleged dangers to health have been scientifically proven, but agree that smokers should continue to be made aware of such allegations”
    (P J Hoult, President, RJR Macdonald, Canada 9/87)
  • “We acknowledge the health risks associated with tobacco and believe that it should be subject to sensible restrictions”
    (BATA website)

Health warnings

  • “Dictating what goes on the label infringes on the product’s major selling angle. The label is the image of the packet, and image is what we sell”
    (D Fairweather, Amatil 6/85)
  • “We strongly oppose warning labels on cigarette packs for several reasons: first and foremost, warning labels may improperly imply that it has been scientifically established that smoking causes disease”
    (R.J. Reynolds, South China Morning Post, January 1999)
  • “The Plain Packaging legislation is not supported by any research or evidence and would have the unintended consequences of job losses and a potential increase in illicit trade with no public health benefit”
    (BATA and the Australian Regulatory Landscape: response to the Preventative health Taskforce Technical Report 2, Tobacco Control in Australia: Making Smoking History: January 2009, at pages 25- 26)
  • “When a younger adult smoker pulls out his pack, takes a cigarette from it and lays the pack upon the table, he is sending an important message to his peers. The medium for that message is the pack itself. The message should communicate commitment and acceptance of the brand and what it stands for”
    (RJ Reynolds Report: Effects of sampling and image projection among young adult smokers, 1984)
  • “Plain packaging makes it easier for packaging to be copied by counterfeiters, exposing consumers to products with unknown and potentially dangerous ingredients”
    (Jeffrey Hardy, Coordinator of ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative 28/5/2011,
  • “Organised crime will have a blueprint to mass produce illegal cigarettes to flood the Australian black market”
    (Scott McIntyre, Communications Manager for BATA, Sydney Morning Herald 28/5/2011)
  • “We have a current illegal trade in this country of 16%, or one in five cigarettes”
    (David Crow, managing Director, British American Tobacco, on 4 August 2011, before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing, on inquiry into the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011)
  • “Plain packaging… makes it more difficult for consumers to identify the manufacturer responsible for responding to complaints or problems. It also would reduce the brand owners’ ability to take action against counterfeiters… in the face of escalating counterfeiting and piracy throughout Australia and worldwide”
    (Jeffrey Hardy, Coordinator of ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative 28/5/11,

Alliance of Australian Retailers

  • (Plain packaging) will create significant unintended adverse consequences for small business retailers and merely shift their business to the large retail chains and to the illicit tobacco market.
    (Alliance of Australian Retailer’s submission to the Plain Packaging Consultation Paper)
  • “With every state in Australia already moving to ban the display of tobacco products, customers won’t be able to see cigarettes when they walk into our stores, so how will plain packaging make a difference” (Sheryle Moon, Alliance Spokeperson, 2010)