Tag Archives: rj reynolds

23.6 Billion Ruling Against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

A lawsuit ruling brought by chain smoker’s widow against R.J. Reynolds was awarded the largest dollar amount of damages in history of any ruling against big tobacco.

“The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes,”

Stated Christopher Chestnut, one of Robinson’s lawyers.

It took 11 hours for the Jury to determine the case. Upon returning they awarded a compensatory payout of $7.3 million to Robinson and $9.6 million to the couple’s son.

Seven Hours Later

Then the jury took another 7 hours to determine the punitive award. This is when the multibillion-dollar damage award was dropped like a lead hammer.

Big Tobacco Fuming

pic-rj-logo-bulding“This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” said company vice president and assistant general counsel J. Jeffrey Raborn.
He vowed to appeal the “runaway verdict” that Robinson’s legal team said was the largest wrongful death payout for a single plaintiff in Florida history.

To read more about this story be sure and visit NY Daily News.

Injunction Made in Lawsuit Fighting FDA Cigarette Warnings

Five tobacco manufacturers filed a lawsuit August 2011 against the FDA over the agency’s requirement that all cigarette packages carry a graphic warning label depicting the dangers of smoking.

By September 2012 the FDA requires all packaging to have a warning label. The main argument in the lawsuit was that this requirement threatened the constitutional rights of the tobacco manufacturers.

On November 8, 2011 U.S. District Attorney Judge Richard Leon granted an injunction on behalf of the tobacco manufacturers.

Big Tobacco Win Injunction

Judge Leon suspended the FDA’s requirements until the lawsuit is resolved. Therefore, the FDA cannot require tobacco manufacturers to include one of the nine proposed graphic warnings on cigarette packaging. Judge Leon noted that forcing the companies to do so violates their 1st Amendment rights of free speech.

Graphic FDA WarningAdditionally, the images proposed by the FDA went beyond portraying fact, and appear to be a form of advocacy as they carry a powerful emotional component. Judge Leon wrote in his ruling:

It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking – an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information.

The five tobacco manufacturers involved are R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc., Ligget Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. The lawsuit is expected to take years to resolve.

Camel Brand Dissolvable Tobacco Products

Dissolvable Tobacco Products Especially Appealing to Kids

The consumer demand for cigarettes has been decreasing, and Big Tobacco companies are looking to fill these sales gaps with cigarette alternative products. This includes cigars, chew, snuff, and nicotine replacements.

As the dangers of second-hand smoke becomes more prevalent, most areas have in place smoking bans in public places.

Big Tobacco companies are seeking out new products to keep addicted smokers dependent on their habit. Wikipedia defines the newest nicotine delivery devices as dissolvable tobacco products.

Nicotine Alternatives

Dissolvable tobacco products carry a significant risk of nicotine addiction and even poisoning if consumed by kids or teens. Additionally, these products have similar cancer and heart disease risks as traditional tobacco products.

Flavored—to make them taste “less harsh”—as well as dissolvable, these products are made from “finely milled tobacco” and are ingested similar to breath mints.

FDA Concerns

Camel Brand Dissolvable Tobacco ProductsThe FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) has expressed its concern with these products to Big Tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Star Scientific Inc. Because the packaging is brightly colored, appearing like a candy product, and small enough to be easily concealed, the CTP questions the appeal of these products to kids and teens.

The CTP has asked both companies to provide research and marketing documentation on the perception people aged 26 years and younger have towards these products, the age of new users, and information on product misuse.

Tasty Nicotine?

Star Scientific Inc. manufactures the dissolvable tobacco products Ariva and Stonewall. These products, similar in appearance to breath mints, come in wintergreen, coffee, and tobacco flavors. A Star Scientific spokesperson points out that these products provide adult users a tobacco alternative, but are not made to be attractive for non-users.

R.J. Reynolds Inc. produces Camel Orbs (tablets), Camel Strips, and Camel Sticks (toothpick style), all available in mint flavor. A spokesperson for the company stated that not only are their products strictly market to and designed for adults, but they carry the same warnings and age restrictions as other tobacco products.

Camel Orbs are currently being test marketed in Columbus, Ohio, Portland, Oregon, and Indianapolis, Ind.

To learn more: Dissolvable Tobacco Products

Reference: http://www.cigarettesflavours.com/smoking-campaign/fda-dissolvable-tobacco-appeals-to-kids/

R. J. Reynolds Backs Campaign Against Tobacco Tax Hike

Cigarette tax proposal would change tax from 7 cents per pack to 30-50 cents if the plan passes.

However,  the country’s second-largest cigarette company is an anonymous backer of a campaign opposing a bill to raise South Carolina’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax.

The message began showing up in mailboxes last week — 10,000 postcards sent to Republican activists by the S.C. Association of Taxpayers.

The postcards express concern about a proposed plan to raise the state’s cigarette tax, now 7 cents per pack, to between 30 and 50 cents per pack.

Some legislators have suggested the new tax revenue could go toward providing employers tax credits to buy employee health insurance.

Featuring a graph showing a “$190 million unfunded taxpayer mandate,” the postcards ask voters to “stop this HillaryCare styled welfare plan.”

Several state Senate staffers said the chart on the postcards is the same chart that R.J. Reynolds lobbyists showed some state senators in recent weeks. The postcard also warns that the “hospital industry and insurance company special interests want Legislators to raise your taxes!”

“We just have issues with what they’re talking about,” said Don Weaver, president of the S.C. Association of Taxpayers. “A lot of people don’t realize what this program will do.”

The association is a private group that often takes corporate donations, Weaver said. The group is best known for giving out its annual “Friend of the Taxpayer” award.

Supporters of the insurance plan, known as the “Covering Carolina Collaborative,” say the postcards distort the plan to expand health insurance options in the state and its cost.

“We got some donations,” Weaver said, when asked if R.J. Reynolds paid for the postcards. “We get a lot of corporate donations, let’s put it that way.”

R.J. Reynolds declined to comment for this article.

Tax MapIn past years, R.J. Reynolds was at the forefront of the cigarette-tax debate, hosting events and urging those opposed to increasing the tax to call lawmakers. R.J. Reynolds’ views are different from that of the top-selling cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, which supports a small tax increase.

Supporters of raising the tax to provide health insurance, including the S.C. Hospital Association, said the postcards misrepresent the proposal.

Patti Smoak, spokeswoman for the S.C. Hospital Association, said the options offered in the Covering Carolina Collaborative would depend on the state’s ability to pay for them.

Although the hospital group is not advocating a cigarette tax hike, it is logical that smokers help pay health care costs caused by smoking, Smoak said.

It is unclear when the Senate will vote on the tax, which has not been increased since 1977.

Source: John O’Connor The (Columbia) State

The “Sunny Side” of Tobacco

Washington, DC, February 22, 2008

In 2008, the truth® youth smoking prevention campaign unleashes music, dancing and cartoons to reveal the “sunny side” of tobacco use and the tobacco industry.

The American Legacy Foundation®’s edgy truth® campaign is designed to educate teens about tobacco by exposing Big Tobacco’s marketing practices, as well as highlighting the toll of tobacco use in relevant and innovative ways.

Facts About the Tobacco Industry

The industry has been found by a Federal judge to have manipulated the amount of nicotine delivered by its cigarettes to create and sustain addiction.1 At the same time, research indicates that nicotine is highly addictive.

Research has shown that the tobacco industry “youth prevention” ads aimed at parents actually increased the likelihood that teens will smoke in the future

Finally, according to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2005 the industry spent nearly 36 million dollars each day marketing its products in the U.S. alone.

The latest truth® campaign aims to shine a light on some of these activities and satirically point out some of the “hidden positives” associated with tobacco.

The “Sunny Side of truth®” television ads unfold in a way reminiscent of previous truth® ads – with young people on the streets doing real truth® stunts like gathering in front of tobacco industry headquarters buildings. But then the spots continue in a saccharin sweet, yet super-sarcastic fashion.

When the young people consider a tobacco fact and the “sunny side” of Big Tobacco, a live singin’-and-dancin’ musical number breaks out. Despite the musical diversion, the ads remain gritty, real, and true to the campaign, delivering a strong anti-tobacco message or illuminating facts about tobacco.

In reality, there is no sunny side to the issue of tobacco use in America; more than 400,000 Americans die each year from tobacco-related diseases, specifically 45,000 African-Americans have lost their lives to tobacco use. The tobacco industry continues to use questionable practices in promoting and marketing its products despite these recent morbidity statistics.

Case Against Major Tobacco Companies

On August 17th, 2006, in the Department of Justice’s racketeering case against the major tobacco companies, a federal court found that the tobacco industry was guilty of more than 50 years of racketeering and fraud in promoting its deadly products.

More recently, in the spring of 2007, one company – R.J. Reynolds – introduced a new product called Camel No. 9, which featured slick black and fuchsia packaging and was heavily advertised in many publications that reach millions of young women. Despite the female-friendly packaging and placement in leading women’s fashion magazines, the tobacco industry maintained that Camel No. 9s were not designed for young women. In November 2007, R.J. Reynolds announced that in 2008, it would not spend money on print advertising, including the Camel No. 9 campaign. However, the product continues to be sold on store shelves and R.J. Reynolds will continue to devote resources to promoting the brand through “bar nights” and other activities.

Sunny side cigarettes

The “Sunny Side of truth®” campaign will roll out the week of January 22, 2008 and run through the end of October 2008. In addition to national television and online advertising, a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will extend the campaign to smaller, rural markets that have high smoking rates and limited exposure to truth® ads. The CDC recently renewed a three-year $3.6 million matching grant that will allow for higher penetration of truth® ads in smaller television markets.

“With the Foundation continuing to face a decline in funding, our strategy is always to try and extend our resources as best we can while staying relevant with teens,” said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr. P.H., president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation®. “Whether it’s by watching American Idol and High School Musical, or by tuning in to music on their I-Pods, we know this generation of teens is enthralled with singing and dancing. The ‘Sunny Side’ ads and their music, dancing, and animation are a terrific new approach for truth® to continue to engage teens and share important tobacco facts with them. ” Healton added that the campaign’s robust online presence – both through thetruth.com Web site and various truth® homepages on social networking sites, will also capitalize on music and animation to capture teens’ attention.

The “Sunny Side” television spots all feature music, dancing and lyrics written by established Broadway professionals and performed by actors joined by cartoon characters such as unicorns, Cupids, storks and others. The Sunny Side campaign marks the first time truth® has used animation in its advertising.

Anti-Tobacco TV Spots

The first two television spots, Magical Amount and Typo, roll out in January and February 2008 respectively.

In Magical Amount, a teen is shown setting bear traps in a park in New York City, with a pack of cigarettes as bait. The bear traps serve as an analogy for the addiction faced by potential smokers. A teen begins to speak into a bullhorn, informing the passersby that “In 2006, a federal judge found that, to keep smokers addicted, Big Tobacco manipulated nicotine levels. But too much nicotine can make you sick.” The teens are interrupted by a unicorn who explains “That’s why they need the magical amount.” The unicorn is joined by other fantastical creatures that begin to sing about how the tobacco companies have found the “magical amount” to keep smokers addicted. The ad ends with the teen and the magical characters looking at each other in disbelief. The words “The Sunny Side of truth®!” appear on screen before it fades to black.

Typo opens on some teens in front of a tobacco company headquarters unrolling an enormous document with the heading “Tobacco Related Deaths” printed on it. One teen says “Wait until we show tobacco executives the five million people around the world who died from their products last year,” when the teen with him suggests that “Maybe we’re being too negative. Look on the bright side. Like, maybe it’s a typo or something.” Animated typewriters, documents, and liquid paper then fill the screen and accompany the teens as they sing about how statistics on the millions of deaths from tobacco could have just been a typo. Again, the ad ends with the teens and the characters looking at each other in disbelief. The words “The Sunny Side of truth®!” then appear on screen before fading to black.

Talent and Production

David Yazbek, a Tony-nominated lyricist and composer, wrote the music featured in the campaign. Yazbek is best known for his career as a Broadway composer and lyricist. His two shows, The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, are both hits that have played all over the world (more than 20 countries and counting). The shows received 21 Tony Award nominations combined and Yazbek was twice nominated for Best Score. His score for The Full Monty won him the Drama Desk award for Best Music.

Tom Kuntz directed the truth® television ads. His career spans both advertising and music television, having received awards for his work for well-known companies like Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Virgin Mobile. His music video for The Avalanches was awarded Video of the Year at the CADs, the United Kingdom’s premiere video award show, while one of his videos for the band Electric Six was named the 4th best video of all-time by Q Magazine

Web and Social Networking

The television spots will be supported by a new Web site design and social networking profiles. The truth.com Web site will feature applications that allow teens to interact with each other and share information related to tobacco and truth®. For the first time, the site will also feature sound effects – from guitar riffs and guitar chords, to game-related “dings, beeps and bongs.”

Similar applications will be used on MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Hi-5 and Xanga. Features will include:

  • Log Blog – a messaging system enabling teens to send each other virtual messages that appear to be written in poop. This tactic is used to draw attention to the fact that the ammonia found in feces is also a key ingredient in cigarettes.
  • Games like “Key-tar Slayer” – a game that encourages users to play/jam out to the music from the truth® television ads with nothing but their keyboards. A leader board keeps track of those who excel at the game. Previously released truth® games that were popular with teens will also be available on the site.
  • “The Useful Cigarette” – a feature where visitors can learn how the ingredients found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke can also be found in such common household products as toilet bowl cleaner and nail polish remover, along with rocket fuel.
  • Polls – tongue-in-cheek interactive polls related to facts about tobacco.
  • Downloads – Posters, computer desktops kits, desktop wallpaper and buddy icons.
  • Embedded video of Sunny Side ads.

Animation Advertisements

The “Sunny Side of truth®” campaign marks the first time truth® has incorporated animation into its television advertisements. Curious Pictures in New York worked with truth® to create the unique campaign. Curious Pictures is a diversified design and entertainment company producing live-action, special effects, graphics, comedy and animation of all types. Some recent TV shows include Sheep in the Big City and Codename: Kids Next Door, for Cartoon Network, Little Einsteins on Disney, and Hey Joel for VH 1.

Anti-Smoking in the Cinema

“Sunny Side of truth®” will be seen in 2,065 Screenvision theaters across the country. All told, the campaign will be run on nearly 10,000 screens in all 50 states. Screenvision encompasses some the nation’s largest theater chains, including AMC, Hollywood Theaters and Cinema Productions. The campaign will run through the month of April and then again in September.

The “Sunny Side of truth®” campaign was created by the American Legacy Foundation and its partners, Arnold Worldwide of Boston and Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami.

Background on the truth® Campaign

truth®, launched in February 2000, is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign and the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social consequences of smoking. truth®, allows teens to make informed choices about tobacco use by giving them the facts about the industry and its products. The campaign was created by the American Legacy Foundation, which was founded as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry, 46 states and five U.S. territories. Payments to the American Legacy Foundation are made on behalf of the settling states.

In February 2005 the American Legacy Foundation released the results of an evaluation of the national truth® campaign that was published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study found that 22 percent of the overall decline in youth smoking during the first two years of the campaign (2000-2002) is directly attributable to truth®. This equates to 300,000 fewer youth smokers in 2002 as a result of the campaign.

The American Legacy Foundation, which provides strategic direction and funding for the truth® campaign, received in 2003 what is likely its final payment to the National Public Education Fund established by the Master Settlement Agreement. Despite its success, the truth® campaign now faces an unprecedented funding challenge.

Source: Black PR Wire Release

Tobacco Companies Target Young Female Smokers: Hot Pink Ladies-Only

We don’t see much of the Marlboro Man anymore, but what about the “Virginia Slims” woman? Everybody knows what happened to him – or them, two of whom died from lung cancer.

She, however, was never quite as iconic. But that doesn’t mean the tobacco companies don’t have a soft spot for women, especially the young ones, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the report alleges tobacco companies are trying to cultivate a generation of new users with fruity flavored cigarettes and marketing campaigns that target young people, including young women and girls.

In particular, the report takes issue with a recent R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company campaign that it says is clearly designed to attract girls with hot pink product packaging, ladies-only nights at clubs and cutesy party giveaway bags containing cigarettes, berry-flavored lip gloss and cell phone “bling.”

David Howard, spokesman for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, said the Camel No. 9 marketing campaign is not about reaching young people. There are 20 million adult women smokers, Howard said, and 19 million of them smoke some brand other than Camel. Health organizations involved with the report, however, insist the ads cross the line against marketing tobacco products to youth. The report was released in collaboration with the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.

“It seems pretty clear that the ads were designed to appeal to young girls and 20-somethings,” said Ellen Vargyus, counsel for the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking organization. “From [tobacco companies’] point of view, it’s sound marketing to do that. We know that 80 percent of smokers start before they’re 18.”

“In the days when tobacco companies were not so careful about what they said they used to call teens ‘replacement smokers,’” Vargyus said.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 178,000 women die from smoking-related diseases in a year. While death from uterine and stomach cancer has decreased in the last 70 years, lung cancer has surged among women, with an increase in incidence of almost 400 percent in the last 20 years.

The Camel No. 9 campaign caused quite a stir last fall. A group of 40 U.S. House members sent letters to 11 magazines calling on them to stop carrying the ads. The magazines, and their parent companies after them, either did not respond or refused.

Courtesy of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.If the goal of the ads was to get cigarettes in the hands of young women and girls, tobacco companies chose the right style and place, said Rosemarie Conforti, a professor of media literacy and education at Southern Connecticut State University.

“In the age of age aspiration, there are many teen girls who are reading these magazines because they want to be older,” Conforti said. “Magazines, and they know this, are absolutely the manual on how to be a young woman.”

Conforti said the fashion layout especially is the kind of guide girls love. It tells you how to be sophisticated and fashion-forward in three simple steps, she said, and it shows you the lifestyle that goes along with it through the cigarette ad on the right.

“Obviously, the fourth implied step is: ‘And smoke,’” Conforti said.

As these kinds of ads define what it means to be a woman, Conforti said, they also establish a benchmark against which girls and women measure themselves, having a cumulative impact that is more about long-term effects on lifestyle and less about one particular product.

R.J. Reynolds has said it will not advertise in print magazines in 2008. The Camel No. 9 campaign, however, continues online and through other promotional materials that are given away at bar parties.

“The innocence mixed with the sophistication – the roses and the pink mixed with the black — it’s the two sides that every girl wants to be,” Conforti said. “Sweet and sexy, sweet and sexy, that’s what women hear over and over again. You can either be an angel or a whore, and we don’t have a lot of choices for what’s right down the middle.”

Source: Kahrin Deines, Medill Reports/Chicago

Tobacco May Kill 1 Billion in This Century, WHO Says

Tobacco use will kill 1 billion people in this century.

This is a 10-fold increase over the past 100 years, unless governments in poor nations raise taxes on consumption and mandate health warnings, the World Health Organization said.

No country fully implements these most important tobacco – control measures, according to a 330-page report released today by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Geneva-based UN agency.

Bloomberg, who helped fund the study, joined WHO Director-General Margaret Chan at a news conference in New York to discuss the findings. “This is a unique point in public health history as the forces of political will, policies and funding are aligned to create the momentum needed to dramatically reduce tobacco use and save millions of lives by the middle of this century,” Chan said in a foreword to the report.

The WHO said the tobacco “epidemic causes the deaths of 5.4 million people a year due to lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. That figure might rise to 8 million per year by 2030, including 80 percent in countries whose rapidly growing economies offer their citizens the hope of a better life,” the report said.

American States

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said states are falling short on U.S. recommendations to boost insurance coverage of proven anti-smoking treatments that fight nicotine addiction.

The Atlanta-based U.S. government agency said eight states’ Medicaid programs, which serve the poor, fail to reimburse for any tobacco-dependence programs, and only Oregon covered them all. About 35 percent of Medicaid patients are smokers, it said.

Tobacco is the “single most preventable cause of death” in the world, the WHO said. Yet governments in low-and middle- income countries that collect $66.5 billion in taxes from the sale of tobacco products spend only $14 million on anti-smoking measures, and 95 percent of the world’s population is unprotected by the type of anti-smoking laws Bloomberg has pushed in New York.

Commitment Sought

“Now for the first time ever we have reliable data, a system of analysis and clear standards to promote accountability,” Bloomberg said of the report, which examines tobacco use in 179 countries.  “What we are still missing is a strong commitment from government leaders, but we believe this report will empower more leaders to act.”

Bloomberg, 65, the billionaire founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, announced in 2006 he intended to donate $125 million to worldwide smoking-cessation efforts.

Bloomberg’s Health Department has made fighting tobacco use its top priority, enforcing age limits on smoking, distributing free nicotine patches and chewing gum though the city’s 311 telephone information number and producing television ads featuring a former smoker who lost his voice to throat cancer at age 39.

The Health Department reported in January that teenage cigarette use has been cut by half — to one in six teenagers — since Bloomberg became New York City’s mayor in 2002. That year, he persuaded the state legislature to ban smoking in indoor workplaces including bars and restaurants. He also fought for and won a cigarette tax increase of $1.50 that lifted the average price to about $7 per pack.

Role of Taxes

Smoking Pink LipstickThe WHO said raising taxes was the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, noting that a 70 percent increase would prevent a quarter of all tobacco-related deaths.

The report cites a 2001 study titled “Critical Issues in Global Health,” by epidemiologists Richard Peto and A. D. Lopez, edited by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, as support for the assertion that population and smoking trends during the next several decades might lead to as many as 1 billion lives lost to smoking.

China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco, was highlighted by the UN agency. Almost 60 percent of men smoke cigarettes in China, compared with 21 percent in the U.S. At the same time, the report cited a survey that said most urban residents of China support a ban on tobacco advertising, higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free public places.

David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which reported $8.5 billion in U.S. sales of brands such as Camel, Kool and Pall Mall cigarettes, said his company has expressed “the very clear opinion that smoking causes serious diseases.”

The company, owned by Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc., continues its sales efforts, Howard said, because “there are about 45 million adults who are aware of the risks and have made the conscious decision to use tobacco products, and it’s a legal product.”

Source: By Henry Goldman and Bill Varner, Bloomberg [02-07-08]

Tobacco Harvester’s Rights: Tobacco’s Other Victims

Ideally, tobacco should be outlawed.

But as long as people continue to use the deadly stuff, those who harvest it for the great profit of tobacco companies deserve far better than the miserable pay and working conditions imposed on them.

“Miserable” is not an exaggeration. Consider North Carolina, the country’s leading tobacco producer. The state’s $500 million-a-year crop is harvested by more than 25,000 workers, most of them Mexican immigrants. Some are documented “guest workers,” some undocumented. Some are as young as 12, as state law allows.

The harvesters make at most about $7 an hour or about $7,100 a year for dangerous, backbreaking work.

Most work for growers who do not provide health-care benefits and are exempt from the law that requires workers’ compensation payments for employees who are hurt on the job. Thousands of the workers are afflicted yearly with “green tobacco sickness,” caused by overexposure to the highly toxic nicotine in tobacco leaves absorbed into their bodies.

Harvesting TobaccoSymptoms often last for several days. Victims may feel a general weakness or shortness of breath, for instance, headaches, vomiting, dizziness, cramps, heightened blood pressure or speeded-up heart rates. At the least, they break out in rashes.

The nicotine also raises workers’ body temperature, already high because of the heat in which they work, even higher, sometimes to the point of causing life-threatening dehydration and heatstroke. Yet many workers get little or no medical attention. They’re lucky if they even get rest breaks during their working hours.

Living conditions are generally as bad as the working conditions. Most of the workers live in crowded, dilapidated, frequently rodent-infested shacks in labor camps or in broken-down trailers, many without so much as a fan to cool the stifling summer air and most near fields that are regularly sprayed with dangerous pesticides.

Workers who dare complain about their working or living conditions face the prospect of being fired or turned over to government authorities for deportation.

But there’s finally hope for change, thanks to the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), an AFL-CIO affiliate that has helped thousands of workers win agreements from employers in several states to raise their pay and benefits and otherwise treat them decently. That includes some 7,000 farmworkers who harvest other North Carolina crops for pay at least $2 an hour higher than the tobacco workers get.

Backed by an array of community and religious groups, including the National Council of Churches, the FLOC has launched a drive to win agreements from tobacco growers, primarily through pressure on one of the largest and most influential of the tobacco companies that buy their crops.

That’s RJ Reynolds, whose eight brands account for one of every three cigarettes sold in this country. As the FLOC notes, Reynolds continues to make billions while those who pick the tobacco that goes into its products live “in abject poverty.”

Reynolds officials have so far refused even to meet with FLOC representatives to discuss the union’s demand that tobacco workers be granted union rights and an agreement that would recognize “their need for dignity, respect and safe working conditions.”

Reynolds asserts that it should not deal with the union or other worker representatives because the tobacco workers are not employed by the company. They work for the growers who sell the tobacco they pick to Reynolds and other companies, which set the price and thus determine how much the growers can afford to pay the workers.

But as FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez notes: “The farmers don’t control the system. Those companies control the money, and they benefit the most from the stoop labor of these workers. We’re saying, ‘Hey, you need to own up to the situation that you’re implicated in.’ ” And if they don’t own up?

Velasquez points to the union’s five-year-long boycott that finally forced another major North Carolina corporation, the Mount Olive Pickle Co., to raise the price it pays growers for cucumbers in order to finance higher pay for their workers and to allow union organizers into their labor camps.

Velasquez also mentions the possibility of union demonstrations at meetings of Reynolds shareholders and actions against companies that Reynolds does business with.

Dick Meister has covered labor issues for a half-century. He is co-author of “A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America’s Farm Workers” (Macmillan). Contact him through his Web site, www.dickmeister.com. The articles is distributed by Scripps Howard News Service (www.shns.com).

Source: The Korea Times

Tobacco Industry Puts Profits Before Kids in Defeating Oregon Ballot Initiative

Statement of William V. Corr, Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Tobacco or Kids? Who has values?

Washington, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — By telling $12 million worth of lies, the Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds tobacco companies have again protected their profits at the expense of children.

By defeating a ballot initiative to increase Oregon’s cigarette tax and fund health care for children it is pretty evident where big tobacco stands.

The tobacco companies will profit by selling more cigarettes, while Oregonians will pay a terrible price with more kids addicted to tobacco, more lives lost and more kids without health care.

Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds opposed this initiative because they know that increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among children, and they also know that the public strongly supports increasing the cigarette tax.

These tobacco companies knew they couldn’t win by arguing against the cigarette tax increase, so they spent a record $12 million to change the subject and deceive the voters of Oregon. In fact, the tobacco companies made this election about anything but the cigarette tax increase, which is the one issue they truly cared about.

Throughout the campaign, media reports regularly exposed the industry’s deceptive tactics, including the creation of an industry-funded front group — Oregonians Against the Blank Check; RJR’s distribution of a mass-mailed letter that appeared to come from a first-grade teacher, but was mailed from the office of the company’s lobbyist; and false claims in TV ads.

The tobacco companies’ ads falsely claimed that the money raised would not be spent on children’s health care and manufactured controversy about amending the Oregon Constitution despite the fact it has similarly been amended many times (and the tobacco companies themselves have proposed constitutional amendments in other states).

The $12 million spent by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds more than doubled the previous record for an Oregon ballot initiative and was nearly four times what proponents of the initiative spent. Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds should be held accountable for the high cost in health, lives and money that the people of Oregon will pay.

Because this measure was defeated, 29,000 more kids will become smokers, 13,000 lives will be lost to tobacco-caused disease, and Oregon will pay $662 million more in long-term health care costs. In addition, more than 100,000 deserving Oregon children will go without the health coverage Measure 50 would have provided.

Image of KidsThe Oregon outcome does not change the fact that the public strongly supports increasing tobacco taxes. National and state polls across the country show overwhelming support for tobacco tax increases — support that extends across party lines, from smokers and non-smokers alike, throughout
all regions.

Since Jan. 1, 2002, 44 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have increased their cigarette tax rates more than 75 times — more than doubling the national average cigarette tax from 43.4 cents to $1.09 a pack. Increasing federal and cigarette taxes remains one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids, and the public will continue to support it.

Source: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Tobacco Campaign Tops Record $11 million (Oregonian)

The tobacco money against Oregon’s Measure 50’s proposed cigarette tax increase keeps piling in.

Philip Morris has donated another $1.1 million to the campaign, putting total contributions to that effort over $11 million.

Philip Morris, the Richmond, Virginia,-based maker of Marlboro cigarettes, and its parent company have donated $6.9 million to Stop The Measure 50 Tax Hike. Reynolds American, the maker of Camels, has contributed $4.8 million to another committee opposing the proposal, Oregonians Against The Blank Check.

Kids Versus CigarettesMeasure 50 would raise cigarette taxes by 85 cents a pack and Oregon could use the money for children’s health insurance and other health programs.

The campaign supporting the measure, Yes on the Healthy Kids Plan, has reported raising and spending $3.2 million so far. The proposal is one of two statewide measures on the Nov. 6 vote-by-mail ballot.

Only one campaign for or against a statewide ballot measure had ever topped $7 million in contributions in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Democracy Reform Oregon, which monitors campaign finance activity. That was a 1992 effort against two measures proposing to shut down and close the Trojan nuclear power plant, which raised just more than $7 million in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Source: The Oregonian, davehogan@news.oregonian.com — Dave Hogan

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