95.05.31 Tobacco News

TOBACCO NEWS May 31, 1995


Contents

  • HEALTH
  • Smoking and Breast Cancer
  • LOCAL ISSUES
  • LA Police Smoking Ban

  • INTERNATIONAL
  • Gibraltar Border Checks
  • Furor over Australian Race Car Ads

  • BUSINESS
  • Philip Morris Recalls 8 Billion Cigs--Marlboro Friday II
  • PM's Advisory to Consumers
  • An Important Announcement To Philip Morris Customers.
  • Products involved

  • LAWSUITS
  • Secret Tobacco Papers to go on Internet?

  • Judge Oks Release Of "Mr. Butts" Papers
  • Castano Delayed on Certification Appeal
  • Manville drops RJR Suit

  • World No-Tobacco Day: May 31, 1995


    HEALTH

    Smoking and Breast Cancer

    From "Weighing Ways to Avoid Breast Cancer" by Jane Brody.

    New York Times, May 17, 1995

    Smoking

    A new study at the University of Buffalo has for the first time indicated that smoking can be carcinogenic to the breast. Dr. Christine Ambrosone and colleagues showed that women who smoke and have a slow-acting version of an enzyme that detoxifies carcinogens in tobacco smoke were up to eight times as likely to develop breast cancer as women who smoked but had a fast-acting version of this enzyme. The risk was highest among women who had started smoking in their teen-age years and in those who smoked more than a pack a day.


    LOCAL

    LA Police Smoking Ban

    Los Angeles, CA. May 17, 1995. AP reports that the Los Angeles Police Commission banned smoking in public by LA Police Officers and civilian personnel.

    The Police Commission's policy reads, "Department employees shall not smoke any type of tobacco product in any enclosed place of employment. Sworn, retired, and civilian employees shall refrain from smoking or holding any pipe, cigar or cigarette while in uniform, on- or off-duty, in public view.

    "On-duty, non-uniformed sworn and civilian employees, having identified themselves as such, shall refrain from smoking in public view."

    Smoking areas outside public view will be established by various commanders.


    INTERNATIONAL

    Gibraltar Border Checks Fuel Tension

    Gibraltar, May 17, 1995. Spanish-British tensions are high again this week. Britain objects to Spain's stringent border checks; Spain claims they are necessary to stem the booming cigarette/liquor smuggling business.

    Furor over Australian Race Car Ads

    West Australia may lose its round of the Shell Australia touring car championship in a battle with the WA health department over cigarette promotional ads on the cars and drivers' uniforms.


    BUSINESS


    Philip Morris Recalls 8 Billion Cigs--Marlboro Friday II

    New York, NY. May 30, 1995. Philip Morris Cos. Friday instituted the first ever recall of cigarettes, pulling up to 8 billion, including the brand packings of Marlboro, the best-selling cigarette in the world. Saying that a filter material combined with other chemicals to create a pesticide which would cause "temporary discomfort" if smoked, the company, "out of an abundance of caution," began a $200 million recall. The move could leave retail shelves bare of Philip Morris' best-selling products for as long as a week.

    PM said that only a small percentage of the 3 billion cigarettes distributed between May 16 and 19 were contaminated, and that most of those 3 billion had not reached stores. But when PM realized it "cannot be absolutely certain that none of the products" had made it through the complex cigarette distribution system to reach retail shelves, it decided to implement an unprecedented recall all the "brand packings" involved.

    THE EFFECTS

    PM said the contaminated cigarettes may--or may not--give off a "noticeable odor.. .

    Continued use . . . could result in temporary discomfort, including eye, nose and throat irritation, dizziness, coughing and wheezing"

    "Pregnant women and persons suffering from respiratory conditions should avoid exposure to MITC."

    The effects are "short term and reversible," but PM felt smokers wouldn't inhale that much. "You'd notice it immediately," said a spokesman. "If you're smoking something that tastes bad, smells bad and irritates your throat, you're going to say 'This is not my regular cigarette' and stop."

    THE CONTAMINATION

    Cigarette filters are normally sprayed with a plasticizer to help stiffen and hold the fibers together. Philip Morris claims "half a dozen chemical contaminants" were in the plasticizer of the filters it received from its supplier, Somerville, New Jersey-based Hoechst Celanese, the US arm of German chemical giant Hoechst AG.

    These contaminants combined with other filter materials to form MITC, methyl isothiocyanate--a cyanide derivative which is commercially used as a pesticide.

    Hoechst released a statement Friday which read, "Hoechst Celanese has reviewed and retested our manufacturing processes, the exact product in question and shipping containers. Those activities show that all processes and products are within specification.

    "Hoechst Celanese will continue to vigorously investigate the situation and, at Philip Morris request, will cooperate with the .company to resolve this issue."

    A similar statement was issued Monday from Hoechst AG in Frankfurt. The statement pointed out that other suppliers provide the stabilizer for PM.

    THE DISCOVERY

    PM says it "detected an odor problem" in the raw materials of its filters on Friday, May 19. Such cigarettes were identified and pulled. The MITC was identified by the following Wednesday. However, by Thursday at 8 PM, the company discovered MITC in cigarettes that were not identifiable by odor. The recall announcement came late Friday afternoon, when "only hours ago we determined that we could not guarantee with absolute certainty that none of the product was at retail and possibly available to consumers."

    PM claimed only its domestic cigarettes ere affected.

    The company appears mystified as to how the contamination got past its rigid quality control. Sabotage is an option to consider.

    THE RECALL

    The company said its sales force of 3,000, along with personnel from its Kraft Food and Miller Beer divisions, would be pulling the cigarettes from retailers' shelves through the Memorial Day weekend.

    The company advised customers they could return affected cigarettes to retailers for a full refund, and gave out a 24-hour-a-day 800 number for consumers, wholesalers or retailers (800-757-2555), which leads to a recording for consumers, and a place for wholesalers and retailers to leave their phone number.

    PM is giving retailers a poster and certificate once its people had cleared a store.

    THE REACTION

    8 billion cigarettes represents about 4 % of PM's annual US production of 220 billion cigarettes.

    Since the announcement came late Friday afternoon, the stock market had little time to react. In the half-hour of trading left, the company's stock was beaten down $2, to close at $69.875.

    Competitors and others have asserted the recall was timed at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend to minimize its impact on Wall St. and the public.

    Observers don't think the recall will significantly hurt PM's income. They point to General Mills' recall last year of "Cheerios."

    The anti-smoking movement took the opportunity to jab at the industry.

    "A company that makes products that are lethal and responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States a year seems suddenly to have taken an interest in a little dizziness. That's what most of us that get around smoking experience anyway.," said Dr. Alan Blum, Doctors Ought to Care

    "The question I'd have for them is, 'Is the substance they found more toxic than regular cigarette smoke itself?' It's hard to believe it could be," said Stanton A. Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco.

    THE LOGISTICS

    Philip Morris has 370,000 retail outlets where its products are sold.

    News reports flowed in over the weekend citing stores which were not heeding the prohibition, either because they had not heard directly from PM, or had not heard of the recall. The New York Post quoted a sales clerk at Woolworth who said that, "their cigarettes had checked out all right and therefore Woolworth was not participating in the recall."

    Other non-participating outlets of major chains included 7-Eleven, and New York's Duane Reade and Genovese drug stores.

    Although the New York Post's checks of local retailers found only one case of an actual customer refund, one proprietor refused to refund the cigarettes for a reporter, in apparent fear that people could buy them at discount stores, then try to make money by "returning" them to a higher-priced outlet.

    News services were full of reports of smokers who remained either ignorant or non-chalant about the recall.

    AP quoted one saying, "What difference does it make what I smoke? All this stuff is going to kill you, anyway."

    A casual check of New York City outlets found few stores without the cigarettes for sale..

    Philip Morris claimed at least 50% of its major retail outlets would be contacted by Tuesday morning..

    HISTORY

    PM's appears to take the dubious honor of hosting the first recall in the 100+ year history of the mass production of cigarettes.

    The announcement could have been termed "Marlboro Friday II." It was a spring Friday just over 2 years ago--April 2, 1993--that Philip Morris announced drastic price cuts in its premium Marlboro line. The move was an ultimately successful ploy to restore Marlboro's market share, which was being eroded by discount cigarettes. PM's announcement triggerred an industry-wide price war, and sent PM's stock price plummeting 15 points to end up at 49 3/8--a two-year low.


    PM's Advisory to Consumers

    The following is the text from Philip Morris' full page announcement placed in The New York Times on Sunday, May 28, 1995:

    An Important Announcement To Philip Morris Customers.

    Because a very small percentage of cigarettes manufactured recently by-Philip Morris USA has been found to have defective filters, we are voluntarily initiating a precautionary recall of all the cigarette brand styles listed below.

    What happened The defect is attributed to a material used in manufacturing filters. This material, which is made by an outside supplier, was contaminated before it arrived at Philip Morris facilities.

    No evidence of affected product in stores We have no evidence that any of the affected product is being sold at retail. In fact, it is possible that none ever reached retail shelves. Nevertheless, in the interest of absolute caution, Philip Morris is recalling all the cigarette brand styles that are involved.

    Return for a full refund

    If you believe you may have purchased one of the brand styles on the list, please return it to your retailer for a full refund of the purchase price. Cigarettes made with the defective filter may give off a noticeable odor and have a metallic or other off-taste. Continued use of the affected product could result in temporary irritation or discomfort.

    Products involved

    While it is not likely that our customers will encounter any of the affected cigarettes, we want them to know that very small quantifies of the following brand styles were involved: ~

  • MARLBORO RED BOX
  • MARLBORO RED SOFT PACK
  • MARLBORO 100'S GOLD BOX
  • MARLBORO 100'S GOLD SOFT PACK
  • MARLBORO LIGHTS GOLD BOX
  • MARLBORO LIGHTS GOLD SOFT PACK
  • MARLBORO LIGHTS 100'S GOLD BOX
  • MARLBORO LIGHTS 100'S GOLD SOFT PACK
  • MARLBORO MENTHOL SOFT PACK
  • MARLBORO LIGHTS MENTHOL BOX
  • MARLBORO LIGHTS MENTHOL 100'S BOX
  • BENSON & HEDGES 100'S SOFT PACK
  • BENSON & HEDGES 100'S MENTHOL BOX
  • BENSON & HEDGES LIGHTS 100'S SOFT PACK
  • MERIT 100'S SOFT PACK
  • MERIT ULTRA LIGHTS KING SIZE SOFT PACK
  • VIRGINIA SLIMS 100'S
  • VIRGINIA SLIMS 100'S LIGHTS MENTHOL
  • VIRGINIA SLIMS LIGHTS 120'S
  • VIRGINIA SLIMS ULTRA LIGHTS 100'S
  • VIRGINIA SLIMS ULTRA LIGHTS MENTHOL 100'S
  • VIRGINIA SLIMS SUPER SLIMS
  • BASIC 100'S
  • BASIC 100'S MENTHOL
  • BASIC LIGHTS 100'S
  • BASIC LIGHTS KING SIZE
  • BASIC ULTRA LIGHTS KING SIZE
  • CAMBRIDGE LIGHTS 100'S
  • CAMBRIDGE ULTRA LIGHTS 100'S
  • ALPINE LIGHTS 100'S SOFT PACK
  • BRISTOL LIGHTS 100'S
  • PREMIUM BUY LIGHTS 100'S
  • PREMIUM BUY LIGHTS KING SIZE MENTHOL
  • BEST BUY KING SIZE FULL FLAVOR
  • SHIELD KING SIZE FULL FLAVOR
  • BRONSON KING SIZE FULL FLAVOR
  • Look for the blue Quality Label.

    For a very short time--no more than a few days--you may not be able to find your favorite Philip Morris cigarettes at your local stores. We are in the process of manufacturing and shipping new product now.

    To further reassure our customers, we are posting a special blue Quality Label in all stores where all affected products have' been replaced.

    Call anytime. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. For more information, please call 1-800-757-2555, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    PHILIP MORRIS U.S.A.


    LAWSUITS



    Secret Tobacco Papers to go on Internet?

    San Francisco, May 19, 1995. Will the entire world soon have access to tobacco company Brown & Williamson's "secret" tobacco papers--papers some viewers say prove the company for years has covered up its knowledge of the addictiveness of nictoine? Yes, if the University of California, San Francisco has its way. No, if B&W succeeds in a suit to halt further dissemination of the papers. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court, according to AP.

    B&W claims the 10,000 pages were stolen by a paralegal, and, having been addressed to the company's law firm, are therefore protected by the attorney-client priviledge.

    The university claims that by addressing research results to their lawyers, the company merely "laundered" the studies.

    The university has been supported by friend-of-the-court briefs filed by the American Library Assn., health organizations, and 4 states--Flordia, Massachusettes, West Virginia and Minnesota.

    AP's story made no mention of exactly where on the Internet the papers may be placed.

    gopher://itsa.ucsf.edu/.

    http://www.ucsf.edu/

    .


    JUDGE OKS RELEASE OF "MR. BUTTS" PAPERS

    San Francisco, CA. May 25, 1995. In a potentially devastating decision for the tobacco industry, a judge in California has approved the release of Brown & Williamson documents which critics charge prove that the company has known for decades about the adverse health effects of cigarettes.

    "There is a strong public interest in permitting this information to remain available for use by the university and by others who may obtain it from the university," said San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stuart Pollak, who placed public welfare above B&W's argument that the papers had been stolen by a paralegal, and were protected by attorney-client privilege.

    Besides, Pollack said, since the papers have been disseminated to newspapers and even Congress, "The genie is out of the bottle," and the papers in the public domain.

    However, Pollack also issued a 20-day stay, to give B&W a chance to appeal.

    Last summer the papers arrived at the University of California at San Francisco doorstep of Dr. Stanton Glantz, in a box bearing the return address of only "Mr. Butts." Since then the University has quietly allowed lawyers and researchers access to the papers. When B&W found out, it sued to stop dissemination.

    UCSF has announced they plan to upload the papers to the Internet, where anyone in the world with a computer will be able to download all 10,000 pages in digital form.


    Castano Delayed on Certification Appeal

    New Orleans, May 17, 1995. Judge Okla B. Jones II has granted a motion by tobacco companies to halt proceedings in the case until an appeal of his class certification is reviewed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    "The Court remains convinced of the propriety of the decision, as well as the soundness of its foundation," Jones wrote. "Yet, the system of law is not designed to have one court control the economies and lives of so many in a case of such legal importance." Referring to the unprecedented nature of the case, he said, "Quite obviously, this is a developing area of law over which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion . . . it is in the interest of judicial economy and efficiency to stay this matter."

    In his ruling, Jones referred to the 7th Court of Appeals' recent decertification of hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS from contaminated blood supplies. Tobacco analysts see a strong parallel to the Castano case.

    The ruling halts the discovery and notification processes.

    The case, brought by the Peter Castano's widow and three others, claims the defendants knew nicotine was addictive, yet hid the fact.


    Manville drops RJR Suit

    May 17, 1995. Manville Corp. unit Schuller International Inc dropped its lawsuite against RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp. today, claiming the issue is "settled." No details of the settlement were released. Schuller said it "dismisses the subject case with prejudice, with each party to bear their own costs, expenses, damages and attorneys' fees," according to the Wall St. Journal.

    Asbestos-litigant Manville had agreed in 1992 to provide glass fibers for experimental cigarette filters. When it became clear RJR planned to use the filters in a consumer product, reportedly the still-unreleased "smokeless" Eclipse cigarette, Manville sought to be released from the contract.

    Manville undoubtedly was mindful of the recent West Virginia state lawsuit which dragged in cigarette-paper and reconstituted-tobacco supplier Kimberly-Clarke. That company, whose primary business is in the area of more health-oriented paper products (Huggies, Kleenex, Kotex), has been under intense shareholder pressure. Last week it was spinning off its tobacco businesses.



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  • 1996 Gene Borio, Tobacco BBS (212-982-4645). WebPage: http://www.tobacco.org).Original Tobacco BBS material may be reprinted in any non-commercial venue if accompanied by this credit

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