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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette

There is a very interesting little article in this month's print edition of Mother Jones called The book big tobacco doesn't want you to read by Michael Mechanic. Unfortunately it is not on the web edition or I would link to it.

The article is about Robert Proctor, a Stanford professor who has written a book about the tobacco industry called Golden Holocaust. Proctor, a science historian, is an expert witness who has participated in quite a few major tobacco lawsuits and what he has to say is quite interesting.

The cigarette companies were so concerned about his forthcoming book that they subpoenaed the unfinished manuscript in 2009. It was an unsuccessful attempt but followed a pattern of harassment against Proctor that included  attempts by tobacco lawyers to convince a judge to let them troll through his private emails.

Proctor unmasks the master plan of a few companies to market what the author of the article calls the "mass marketing of the most lethal product on the planet." And I learned a few things already. Proctor gained access to over 100,000 internal tobacco documents including a 1970 Lorillard memo that suggests that menthol was smoked my negroes to mask their "real/mythical odor." He found detailed plans on how to market to young "starters."

We learn that a rodent anal secretion is added to cigarettes to enhance what is termed as "pack aroma." Yum. That 90% of american licorice supply is used to sweeten smokes. 4% of the weight of a cig are humectants like propylene glycol antifreeze. Other ingredients cited in the article are pine oil, beeswax, patchouli, rum, caffeine and urea.

Cigarettes kill 400,000 people a year. It is estimated in the article that that works out to about $10,000.00 in profits per casualty.

Looks like a very interesting read.

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