Tobacco Industry Quotes

October 2004

Below is a selection of tobacco industry quotes. To search for more quotes, try the Tobacco BBS Quotes Database and ASH UK's compilation document Tobacco Explained: The Truth About the Tobacco Industry... In Its Own Words.


Charles Harper,
R.J. Reynolds Chairman

"If children don't like to be in a smoky room, they'll leave." When asked by a shareholder about infants, who can't leave a smoky room, Harper stated, "At some point, they begin to crawl."
Carrig, David, "RJR Wins Fight", USA Today: B1, April 18, 1996


Walker Merryman
Vice President, The Tobacco Institute

"About 90% of legislation at the state level [adversely] affecting our industry will not be enacted... [Why?] Because we're good. That may sound arrogant, but I don't know any other way to put it."
Governing, May 1989

"When you have 95,000 local units of government in this country, and you have a finite amount of resources, then the smart thing to do is to try to limit the potential for mischief [i.e. seek preemption]."
Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1990

"It's barely controlled chaos [at the local level]. We can't be everywhere at once. I give the anti-smoking people credit for their vision in that area."
San Francisco Examiner, May 12, 1991

Part of the proposed global settlement of tobacco litigation calls for the elimination of the Tobacco Institute and the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR). When asked about this, Merryman replied "All we're going to do is change the name on the door." Merryman further stated, "We're going to continue to do what we've always done. I don't really understand why they're going through this exercise, frankly."
Cimons, M., "Tobacco Institute workers confident of reincarnation", Los Angeles Times: A9, June 24, 1997


Ron Saldana
Tobacco Institute spokesman

"I've learned from experience that as soon as I'm identified as a representative of the Tobacco Institute, I lose all credibility. They just sneer us away... so I try to work behind the scenes whenever I can."
Los Angeles Times, August 24, 1986


Steven Parrish
Senior Vice President, Philip Morris

"It's unfair to the American public not to be honest."
Wall Street Journal, August 14, 1995

"There are aspects with which we disagree... with which do not necessarily agree..[we were] looking for a new era of tolerance with regard to the tobacco industry."
Alix M. Freedman and Suein L. Hwang, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 1997.


George Knox
Vice President, Philip Morris Companies

When asked why Philip Morris Companies contributed $1,687,478 in 'soft money' donations to political parties during the 15 months ending March 31, 1996, Knox said it was because "we hope to get good government out of participating in the process."*
Clymer, A., "Senate Debates Bill to Ban 'Soft Money' From Elections", New York Times: B6, June 24, 1996.


Peggy Carter
Director of Legal, Regulatory and Science Issues, RJR Nabisco

Remarking about the $831,053 RJR Nabisco contributed in 'soft money' donations to political parties in the 15 months ending March 31, 1996, Carter stated that the contributions "allow us to get our toe in the door" and "present our side of the issue."*
Clymer, A., "Senate Debates Bill to Ban 'Soft Money' From Elections", New York Times: B6, June 24, 1996.

"Tombstone ads don't communicate anything. What makes our products appealing is their taste and their image. You can't convey either of those things [in a tombstone format]." Farhi, P., "Clinton move expected to alter cigarette ads; opponents vow to fight action in court."
Washington Post, August 11, 1995.


Jane Shea
Editor, "Tobacco International"

"Putting an end to the litigation would free the cigarette makers to reassess their business. Initially the settlement would force the companies to make some changes, but throughout its long history the tobacco industry has always been as flexible as a rubber band snapping back into shape despite events that have stretched it to the limit."
Shea, Jane, [TI editorial re: global settlement], Tobacco International 199(5): 3, May 1997


Martin Broughton
CEO of B.A.T. Industries PLC

"They want a big payoff, and we want a peaceful life."
[n.a.], "U.S. cigarette firms, states negotiating: lawsuits reportedly could be settled for as much as $250 billion", Philadelphia Inquirer: 1, February 18, 1997

"This gives shareholders and employees more certainty and consumers a respite from constant demonization of cigarettes."
Alix M. Freedman, Suein L. Hwang, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 1997.


Steven Goldstone
CEO of RJR Nabisco Holding Corporation

"Most important, the agreement secures the tobacco industry's rightful place in the mainstream of legitimate U.S. commerce."
Alix M. Freedman, Suein L. Hwang, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 1997.


Geoffrey C. Bible
CEO and Chairman of the Board of Philip Morris Companies

"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.
Wall Street Journal, March 3, 1998

"A: We should not be marketing cigarettes to young people. It is certainly anomalous to the Philip Morris I know.
Q: If we keep seeing more anomalies, sooner or later it becomes usual, doesn't it?
A: Well, it's a large company, and we sell a lot of products."
Bible/Ciresi exchange in Minnesota trial.
New York Times, March 4, 1998

"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."
New York Times Magazine, June 21, 1998


Dr. Anthony Colucci,
R.J. Reynolds (RJR)

Refering to EPA scientist James Repace's work on ETS: "We anticipate that if Repace runs true to form there will be a good deal of media copy written about their analyses and thus we should begin eroding confidence in this work as soon as possible."
Feb. 25, 1985, letter by RJR scientist Dr. Anthony Colucci, Wall Street Journal, 04/28/98


Bennett LeBow,
CEO Liggett Group

Bennett LeBow of the Liggett Group testified in Philip Wiley's lawsuit against the tobacco industry that he believes cigarettes are addictive. When asked about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s estimate that 3,000 nonsmokers die from lung cancer per year as a result of secondhand smoke exposure, LeBow stated he had "no reason to disagree with that." The lawsuit alleges that Mildred Wiley, a nonsmoker, contracted lung cancer as a result of secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace.
O'Neill, J.R., "Tobacco firm owner takes the stand", Indianapolis Star: 1+, February 24, 1998.


James Morgan
Former president & CEO of Philip Morris (PM)

"We did not look at the underage market even though I am holding a document in my hand that says we did."
Videotaped testimony in the Minnesota lawsuit.


Dorothea Cohen,
former Council for Tobacco Research employee

"When CTR researchers found that cigarettes were bad and it was better not to smoke. we didn't publicize that."
Wall Street Journal, February 11, 1993


Philip Morris International

"We must attack the anti-smoking groups and zealots more confidently than we have in the past. If we can cool their zeal just a bit, not only might smoking as a subject become less of an issue, but also smokers might begin to feel less embattled... Here perhaps we could commission a book on the 'anti-industry industry" and show that our attackers actually make money out of their activities, a situation quite at variance with their image today. Possibly, too, we can discredit our critics..... If we dig around, we will certainly find anomalies which we can exploit."
1985 PM document, "Smoking and Health Initiatives - P.M. International" (Bates 2023268329 - 49.)


*When asked how a $50 billion tax break for tobacco companies was written into the July tax bill, Kenneth Kies, Staff Director, Joint Committee on Taxation replied, "The industry wrote it and submitted it, and we just used their language."
"Tobacco Settlement Isn't a Done Deal for Capitol Hill", Bill Adair, St. Petersburg Times, 9/14/97