Secret memos detailing how the American Civil Liberties Union works as a hired gun for the Tobacco Industry will be revealed at a press conference on Wednesday, November 13th, 10 a.m, at 132 West 43rd Street (bet. 6th & Broadway), outside the A.C.L.U.. For the first time, the memos expose an intentional A.C.L.U. cover-up of a quid pro quo - direct work for funding - relationship with Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, the world's two largest tobacco manufacturers.

The confidential documents detail how the A.C.L.U., the 76-year-old sacred cow of American liberalism and defender of the Bill of Rights, has received over $1 million dollars in combined funding from the two tobacco giants in exchange for aggressive advocacy on their behalf. The A.C.L.U.'s work for cigarette company donations is in direct conflict with its status as a tax-exempt, non-profit institution.

Investigative journalist and former A.C.L.U. employee, John Fahs, author of the Berkley Publishing Group's new book, CIGARETTE CONFIDENTIAL: THE UNFILTERED TRUTH ABOUT THE ULTIMATE AMERICAN ADDICTION, will distribute the internal A.C.L.U. documents at the press conference. Joe Cherner, President of SmokeFree Educational Services, will describe his experience with the A.C.L.U.'s refusal to support non-smokers rights.

In 1993 major news headlines reported the A.C.L.U.'s acceptance of cigarette money but the agency denied any link between funding and their defense of tobacco industry issues. These secret memos not only reveal a clear conflict of interest but also demonstrate a concerted cover-up and campaign of disinformation after the acceptance of cigarette money had been brought to light.

NY Coalition for a Smoke-Free City



CONTACT: Cynthia Malmuth: (212) 744-7476

Tina Mosetis: (516) 487-5866

Joe Cherner: (212) 912-0960 :


375 South End Avenue, Suite 32F

New York, NY 10280

Phone (212) 912-0960 Fax: (212) 488-8911

Statement of Melvin L. Wulf

I was legal director of the national ACLU from 1962 to 1977. I have practiced law in New York since that time. This is the first critical word I've had to say publicly about the Union, to whose principles I am still deeply attached I do so now because the information in "Cigarette Confidential" about the receipt of large amounts of money by the Union from the tobacco industry threatens the basic integrity of the ACLU. The justification that the money is used to support workplace rights is a sham. There is no constitutional right of smokers to pollute the atmosphere and threaten the health of others. The revelations in the book support the conclusion that the ACLU's mission is being corrupted by the attraction of easy money from an industry whose ethical values are themselves notoriously corrupt and which is responsible for the death annually of 350,000 to 400,000 persons in the US alone. I am saddened by the fact that the ACLU allows itself to be used in this manner. The ACLU board of directors has an obligation to take stern steps to protect the Union from further corruption of its values.


THEN (Before Tobacco Money)

  • The ACLU did not oppose banning cigarette advertising on TV and radio.

  • The ACLU did not oppose warning labels on cigarette packages or print ads.

  • The ACLU did not oppose prohibiting cigarette sales to minors.

  • The ACLU did not oppose smokefree workplace laws.

  • The ACLU did not oppose nicotine being regulated as a drug.

  • The ACLU did not oppose counter-advertising.

  • The ACLU did not oppose tombstone advertising.

    NOW (After Tobacco Money)

  • The ACLU opposes FDA rules to regulate nicotine as a drug and place restrictions on cigarette ads aimed at minors.

  • The ACLU opposes legislation to prohibit or restrict tobacco advertising and promotion.

  • The ACLU opposes legislation for new, larger warning labels. The ACLU opposes legislation that would strip the tax deductibility of tobacco advertising. The ACLU opposes Congressman Waxman's smokefree public places bill. The ACLU ignored employee pleas and a petition for a smokefree workplace.

  • The ACLU does not believe that tobacco advertising entices young people to smoke.

  • The ACLU does not oppose life insurance companies discriminating against smokers by charging them more for life insurance (three tobacco companies own life insurance subsidiaries that charge smokers more for life insurance).

  • The ACLU opposes campaign finance reform that would limit soft money donations (tobacco companies rank among the largest soft money donators).

  • The ACLU turned a blind eye to attempts by cigarette makers to silence whistle blowers, such as Jeffrey Wigand. (Nadine Strossen claims the ACLU doesn't have the resources).

  • The ACLU- NY Affiliate opposed New York City legislation to require counter-advertising on all City property where tobacco is advertised, even though the ACLU previously called for such legislation.



    1. The ACLU has taken over $1,000,000 in donations from the tobacco cartel, while at the same time, allying itself with the tobacco industry on capitol hill.

    2. Lew Maltby deceitfully writes to ACLU's supporters that "no single donor contributes a significant portion of our income." Maltby fails to mention that his smokers' rights department receives 90% of its funding from the tobacco cartel.

    3. The ACLU refuses to tell its members that it solicits and accepts tobacco money. In a memo to Ira Glasser, Jim Shields (of the ACLU's North Carolina affiliate) shows the secrecy of tobacco money: "My microfiche shows a September 1991 $1,000 RJR donation to ACLU-NJ foundation. I imagine RJR forgot to ask for anonymity."

    4. In a handwritten fax to Ira Glasser, Jim Shields displays the necessity of tobacco money: "My affiliate will end up $30K in the red this year if we do not receive the RJR support."

    5. The ACLU refuses to open to the public or reporters portions of its 1994 board of directors meeting pertaining to tobacco issues.

    6. The ACLU's positions and rhetoric is almost identical to the tobacco cartel's. One memo to Ira Glasser cites the need for "effective slogans" and "pithy phrases." As code words for smokers' rights, both groups use "workplace privacy" and "lifestyle choices."

    7. For 3 years, the ACLU has refused to answer our questions about their positions on a number of tobacco related issues.

    8. Lew Maltby flew to Copenhagen on the tobacco industry's behalf to attend a smokers' rights convention.

    9. Lew Maltby flew to Winston Salem on a corporate jet to meet with five RJR executives for a formal strategy session about coordinating ACLU/RJR efforts. After his trip, Maltby writes Glasser, "The discussions were very candid. I explained my belief that smokers' rights is a losing issue and must be broadened into a general campaign to protect people's privacy... "

    10. Lew Maltby lobbied ACLU affiliates on commercial freedom of speech issues which was out of his workplace task-force jurisdiction. In a memo to Glasser, Maltby writes, "Josh Slavit of Philip Morris recently called me to discuss the possibility of increasing the ACLU's involvement with defending commercial speech... PM would be willing to provide funding for such a program. This would be in addition to our ongoing funding for workplace privacy. They provided the funding for our Mississippi affiliate's recent conference on free speech."

    11. Lew Maltby appealed to his North Carolina affiliate to ask a North Carolina state senator to write a letter to Philip Morris praising the ACLU for it work on behalf of smokers' rights. Maltby felt that such a letter would be influential in securing additional funding.

    12. Lew Maltby constantly meets with tobacco representatives to coordinate State efforts for passing smokers' rights legislation.

    13. Invoices for conferences, newspaper ads, radio ads, and fulfillment of ad responses are constantly forwarded by the ACLU to Philip Morris

    14. The ACLU ignored our repeated attempt to ascertain its position on Henry Waxman's smokefree workplace bill. In a memo to Ira Glasser, Maltby states, " I put in a call to PM's Washington office... (I didn't want to raise our profile by calling Waxman's office)."

    15. The ACLU claims that no one influences its agenda, but tobacco companies frequently controlled the agendas at brainstorming meetings with Lew Maltby.

    16. The ACLU held strategy seminars for local affiliates and allies on smokers' rights issues and submitted vouchers to Philip Morris for reimbursement.

    17. The ACLU allowed Philip Morris to produce a solicitation brochure for Philip Morris' mailing list. The brochure, entitled "Should the people who run your office tell you how to run your life," never mentioned Philip Morris' name and used the ACLU's return address for contributions and literature. In a memo to Ira Glasser, Lew Maltby writes in favor of the campaign, "Philip Morris provides no general contributions to the ACLU. .. This is a golden opportunity to raise badly needed funds. We should capitalize on it."

    18. The ACLU's relationship with the tobacco cartel is too cozy. The ACLU has rolled out the red carpet for the tobacco industry and has given it first class treatment.

    19. The ACLU has tried to get as much money as possible from the tobacco cartel and even considered compromising its ideas to get more money.

    20. The ACLU's board of directors includes lawyers from firms representing tobacco companies in wrongful death suits, publicity, and other tobacco related matters. Clearly, this is a conflict of interests.

    21. On several occasions, Glasser suggests using the ACLU's relationship with Board Member David Waxse to open doors at Philip Morris. Waxse works for Philip Morris' main legal firm in wrongful death suits, and, according to Glasser, has great relationships with Chuck Wahl and Steve Parrish (Philip Morris' in house legal chiefs).

    22. The ACLU claims that none of its tobacco money is for issues directly related to tobacco company interests, while memos show funds specifically earmarked by Philip Morris for seminars on smokers' rights.

    23. Glasser claims that the ACLU "never seeks or accepts fees for its services." Internal memos show that the ACLU sought and accepted tobacco money for specific tobacco related projects. It even submitted invoices and expense vouchers to the tobacco giants.

    24. Glasser and Maltby constantly made misleading statements to the press and its members about the ACLU's close relationship to the tobacco cartel.

    25. RJR agreed to fund an ACLU public opinion research project for $450,000. Ira Glasser claims that the research has no connection to tobacco-related issue, but American Talk Issues (the company hired to do the research) backed out because "this simultaneous advocacy of smokers' rights and the acceptance of RJR's grant will have very unfortunate public relations ramifications. At the very least, it puts a cloud over ACLU's status as an objective crusader for individual human rights, rather than just another lance for hire."

    26. Philip Morris scheduled Lew Maltby to meet with a Japanese journalist interested in the issue of smoking in America. Philip Morris set the agenda and a secretary wrote to Maltby, "I would like to know if you have any favorites (restaurants) before booking a reservation."


    The ACLU has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar. It appears that the ACLU has changed a number of its positions on tobacco related issues since the acceptance of tobacco money. Lew Maltby and Ira Glasser frequently discuss ways for the ACLU to get more tobacco money. Maltby has become so addicted to tobacco money that he even contemplates further bending of ACLU positions to accommodate the tobacco cartel.

    In a memo to Sandy Sedacca (ACLU Fundraising Dept.), Maltby writes that Philip Morris wants a report from him describing ACLU "accomplishments... " "in terms of smoking restrictions." Maltby adds, "I will have a rough draft completed by the end of the week." Later in the memo, Maltby asks, "To what extent are we prepared to expand our definition of the issue? PM would clearly love to have us take a position that people should be able to smoke at work and in public buildings. . . If we were to do so, it would have a significant impact on their (funding) decision..."

    Rather than ask what is the proper decision, Maltby writes, "The crucial question, however, is whether the benefits of taking an expanded position are worth the costs. We have taken a great deal of heat over our present position. The reaction to an expanded position would be far worse."

    Lew Malt by's department would be out of business if not for tobacco cartel funds. As Maltby, himself, writes in a thank you letter to Philip Morris, "As you know, this is not the type of glamorous issue that attracts major donors... "

    If the ACLU wants to continue fighting for the tobacco cartel, it should immediately cease the acceptance of tobacco money.

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