Before Press Conference with Senator Bradley and Dr. Mats
The Capitol on Bradley's Bill For a Label on Cigarette Packages and Advertising Concerning Addiction
September 15, 1988
This very short statement is included in this archive really to emphasize something in the "tobacco wars" that was
never part of a specific lecture. The Public Health Service had planned to get rid of the old timeworn Surgeon General's
warning: "The Surgeon General has determined that smoking is detrimental to your health". We planned to replace it
with 5 different labels that would rotate so the same label would not appear on the same advertisement or the same cigarette
package for more than 3 months in a row.
As soon as the tobacco industry found that this was in the Public Health Service plans, they made it very clear that they
would fight to the death not to have new rotating labels. Before the fight really got started word trickled down to us that
if we would drop one of the five labels they would give us no trouble on the other four. The one they wanted us to drop was:
"Tobacco contains nicotine which is an addictive drug".
Addiction was one word that the tobacco industry never wanted to have associated with tobacco period. In those days if you
asked a room full of smokers how many of them were addicted to nicotine, no hands would go up. Today the same question would
get about an 80% response positive for addiction. So a political compromise was made. We would offer four labels instead of
five and drop the fifth label. The statement contained herein was by me on the occasion that Senator Bradley had a press conference
announcing that he was going to submit legislation to include another label on cigarette packages advertising concerning addiction.
It never happened.
The statement was brief and I recalled to mind the publication of "The Health
Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction", which had been the 1988 Report to Congress as mandated by law. I emphasized
the three overall conclusions of the Report which appear on page 2 of the statement. I then stated that we needed to increase
our efforts to discourage tobacco use especially now that we recognize nicotine as an addictive drug. After noting how many
ways we could call attention in educational campaigns to the addictive nature of tobacco, I closed with reminding the audience
of the annual death toll in the Untied States and suggested that with our nation having mobilized enormous resources to wage
a war on drugs . . . illicit drugs, we should give priority to the one addiction that is killing more Americans each year
than any other single cause - nicotine.