Driving while smoking

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Driving while smoking

A customer writes to R.J. Reynolds in 2001 to follow up on a complaint he had sent the company regarding a problem he experienced with Winston cigarettes around 1998 (the time RJR started marketing Winstons as "100% natural no additives"). The lit heads of his cigarettes had started coming off frequently while he was driving. The lit heads blew back into the car and burned his shirt, pants, upholstery, etc.

The letter reads,

Please review the following correspondence dating back to January 1998.

I responded to your letter of February 18,1999 twice via fax, on June 12, 2000, and again November 21, 2000, without a reply from RJR.

This was not a pressing matter and as I stated previously that I am not a letter writer by nature, to this was not aggressively persued (sic). However I am still experiencing the same problem with lit heads falling off--last week while driving a lit head flew back into my car and landed between me and the seat back burning yet another shirt, which is prompting me to write again.

It is possible that both faxes were misdirected, but please note there are no contact numbers on your letterhead.

Thanks. Tom Voelker

P 631-752-0140

F 631-752-0298

Document Date 20010216
Bates Number 525460335

Additional documents of interest

Further searches on the name of this customer reveal the rest of his correspondence with RJR. In the first letter he wrote to RJR in 1998, the customer said he had smoked Winston cigarettes for 20 years and recently had noticed a change in how they tasted and burned. He told RJR that a lack of smoking areas had led him to smoke in his car, where a lit cigarette heads had fallen off and burned his pants, the sleeve of a nylon jacket and his car seat. He wrote RJR asking for compensation. RJR had asked him to mail in the cigarette(s) that had done the damage, plus the package(s) they had come in and "any small items" that had been damaged for which the customer sought repair or replacement. The customer sent RJR an estimate for repair of the car seat. It was for $613.00. [1]. He had also mailed RJR his burned shirt, which had cost $45.00 [2]. There were no documents indicating whether RJR ever compensated the customer for his losses due to their defective products, after asking him to supply extensive documentation and after working with this customer over three years. It sounded from the correspondence as though they were considering it, however.

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