Study: Tobacco Cos. Wooed Female Smokers

Boston, MA
Michael Kunzelman

OCF Note: And tobacco companies keep telling us they are not targeting any specific groups of people……

Tobacco companies did elaborate research on women to figure out how to hook them on smoking – even toying with the idea of chocolate-flavored cigarettes that would curb appetite, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health said they examined more than 7 million documents – some dating back to 1969, others as recent as 2000 – for new details about the industry’s efforts to lure more women smokers.

Carrie Carpenter, the study’s lead author, said companies’ research went far beyond a marketing or advertising campaign.

“They did so much research in such a sophisticated way,” she said. “Women should know how far the tobacco industry went to exploit them.”

The report, published in the June issue of the journal Addiction, says tobacco companies looked for ways to modify their cigarettes to give women the illusion they could puff their way into a better life.

One of the documents, a 1993 internal report from Phillip Morris, extolled the virtues of making a longer, slimmer cigarette that offered the false promise of a “healthier” product.

“Most smokers have little notion of their brand’s tar and nicotine levels,” the report states. “Perception is more important than reality, and in this case the perception is of reduced tobacco consumption.”

A Phillip Morris spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying the company hasn’t had a chance to fully review it.

The Harvard researchers spent more than a year sifting through an online database of internal documents made public following the 1998 settlement between tobacco companies and 46 states.

Carpenter said they found at least 320 documents that focused on women’s smoking patterns, including a 1982 report from British-American Tobacco Co. that said women buy cigarettes to help them “cope with neuroticism.”

“We can safely conclude that the strength of cigarettes that are purchased by women is related to their degree of neuroticism,” the report stated. Other internal studies showed that companies explored adding appetite suppressants to cigarettes.

In 1980, for instance, R.J. Reynolds Co. proposed creating a cigarette with a “unique flavor that decreases a smoker’s appetite, including brandy, chocolate, chocolate mint, cinnamon, spearmint and honey.” However, researchers didn’t find any evidence they followed through with that idea.

The report says worldwide smoking rates among women are expected to increase 20 percent by 2025, “driven by the growth of female markets in developing countries,” while men’s smoking rates are steadily declining.

Jack Henningfield, a professor of behavioral biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he hopes the report serves as a “call to action” for government officials to focus their anti-smoking efforts on women, particularly in developing countries.

“It’s a time bomb,” said Henningfield, director of the Innovators Combating Substance Abuse Program at Johns Hopkins. “They’ve got to act now to prevent the time bomb from exploding.”

Carpenter said there is no evidence in the trove of documents that suggests tobacco companies have stopped targeting women.

“Without regulation from government agencies, we don’t know what they’re doing today,” she added.

The Harvard research project was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute.

Death, disease not linked to smoking: high court


Staff writer

OCF Note: Reported by The Japan Times…… What, these people don’t read the studies done in the rest of the world?

The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal filed by former smokers, some now deceased, who were each demanding 10 million yen in compensation from Japan Tobacco Inc. and the government for tobacco-induced illnesses.

The six plaintiffs claimed to have contracted lung cancer, throat cancer and emphysema from smoking cigarettes for periods ranging from 33 to 50 years. Three of the plaintiffs died after the lawsuit was filed in 1998 and family members have continued to press their cases.

Presiding Judge Toshinobu Akiyama said Wednesday that he supports the Tokyo District Court’s ruling in July 2004 that the court “cannot affirm the causal relationship between smoking and the diseases of the plaintiffs and the deceased plaintiffs.”

In Wednesday’s ruling, Akiyama noted that while smoking does endanger one’s health, there are other substances in the environment that can lead to cancer.

Such factors must be considered comprehensively when referring to the dangers brought about by smoking, the judge said, adding that the effects of tobacco on the human body have not yet been thoroughly clarified.

Akiyama also ruled that compared to other addictive substances, including heroine, cocaine and alcohol, nicotine addiction is relatively weak.

The plaintiffs’ head lawyer, Yoshio Isayama, slammed the ruling, saying it virtually denies the existence of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Japan ratified last June and took effect this February. The preamble of the FCTC states that “scientific evidence has unequivocally established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability.”

“With (the ruling) almost completely denying the contents of the international convention, what does the government plan to do now?” Isayama asked. “Is it planning to withdraw from the convention?”

Jun Araki, the son of one of the deceased plaintiffs, also expressed anger. “This ruling placed priority on the annual 2.3 trillion yen in (tobacco) tax revenue over the precious lives and health of the Japanese people,” Araki said, adding the plaintiffs will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Tobacco lozenges snare ‘Virginia’s Finest’ seal


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot
Associated Press

Smithfield hams, peanut brittle and maple syrup are prominent among the hundreds of products that proudly display the “Virginia’s Finest” label.

But one health-care group thinks the state may have gone too far when it endorsed spit-free tobacco lozenges that carry labels warning they may cause tooth loss and mouth cancer.

“The last time I checked, if consumed as intended, eating a Smithfield ham won’t kill you,” said Matt Barry, senior policy analyst with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, D.C. “I love ham, and I love bacon, but it doesn’t have nicotine, so I know I can quit anytim