Horace R. Kornegay

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

Horace Robinaon Kornegay, Jr.

Horace R. Kornegay, Jr. was a Tobacco Institute President and Executive Director. He was also a Congressman for North Carolina, and later a lawyer and Vice President of Leaf Operations at R.J. Reynolds. He served as a Tobacco Institute Chairman circa 1985 and was noteworthy for his most aggressive attacks on anti-smoking activists and health researchers.


Kornegay was born in Asheville, North Carolina (NC) and was raised in Greensboro, NC. He graduated from Wake Forest University, where he also earned a law degree. He interrupted his University education to serve in World War II as a machine gunner in France. He earned a Purple Heart after being hit by shrapnel. He served as a prosecutor in the 1950s, and was elected to Congress in 1960, where he was a conservative Democrat. Kornegay retired from the Tobacco Institute in 1986, and returned to Greensboro to practice law. His wife, Annie Ben Beal, died in 2004. While working at the Institute, Kornegay smoked Viceroy Lights. He quit smoking quietly after leaving the Institute. On Christmas Eve 2008, Kornegay suffered a stroke from which he never recovered. He died Wednesday, January 21, 2009, at the age of 84, at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro. [1][2]

Participation in Tobacco Institute

Horace Kornegay joined the Tobacco Institute and served as Vice President and Counsel in 1969.[3] He was President and Executive Director of the Tobacco Institute from 1970 to 1980 [4] and Chairman of the Tobacco Institute 1981. Kornegay was Vice President of Leaf Operations at R.J. Reynolds in 1994-95. [5]

Kornegay was known for his spirited portrayals of public health/tobacco control advocates as nothing more than a bunch of shrill, over-emotional zealots. On December 11, 1979, Kornegay gave a speech to the Tobacco and Allied Industries Division of the American Jewish Community in which he likened attacks on the tobacco industry to the repression experienced by Jews, and likened the tobacco industry's struggle for survival to Jewish historical efforts to "[combat] bigotry and [protect] civil rights... He repeatedly invoked passages from what he calls "the Jewish Bible."
Kornegay referred to federal health advocate and Health, Education and Welfare Department Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr. as "Ayatollah Califano" and compared public health advocates to axe-murderers, declaring that, "The hatchet-swinging heart of Carrie Nation beats within the breast of the typical anti-smoking zealot."

Yet, after all this frenzied buildup, Kornegay tried to minimize his emotionalism, saying:

Naturally, some people will suspect that we at the Tobacco Insitute have spent so long fighting the cigarette controversy that we have become a little paranoid. But let me assure you that paranoia is justified. They are out there; they are out to get us ...

Kornegay went on to make "dire" predictions that smoking would eventually be banned on airlines, in federal buildings, and that the industry would have to place tar and nicotine numbers on the packages, and strengthen the health warnings, predicting that these measures will cause the industry great harm. Then, ironically, he made what we now consider to be a very strong case in favor of policies to eliminate public smoking:

Consider this: If the pressure of anti-smoking laws and regulation succeeds in stopping each American smoker from lighting up just one cigarette each day, the annual consequences are devastating: Cigarette consumption would drop by more than 18 billion units. Personal spending for cigarettes would decline by more than half a billion dollars.[6]

Kornegay Timeline

1924 Mar 12 Born Asheville, NC
1941 Graduated Grimsey Senior High School
1942 Dec-44 Feb Infantry training then War service (Europe)
1945-1946 Georgia School of Technology
1946-1949 Wake Forest University (within the RJ Reynolds campus)
1949-1951 Practiced law
1951-1953 Assistant District Solicitor
1954-1962 District Prosecutor NC
1961 Jan-1969 Jan Congressman for North Carolina - a conservative Democrat
1969 Jan-70 Jun Vice President and Counsel of the Tobacco Institute
1970 Jun-81 Feb President of TI - fierce partisan warrior.
1979-1980 President and Executive Director of the TI
1982 Feb-86 Dec Chairman of the TI and political lobbyist
1987 Jan Returned to practice law in Greenboro
1994-1995 Director of Leaf Operations at RJ Reynolds in NC
2000 /e Quietly quit smoking
2004 Wife died
2009 Jan 21 Died after Xmas stroke


Additional notable Kornegay quotes

On pregnancy outcomes:

Although the... 1978 Health Education and Welfare (HEW) report to Congress concludes that cigarette smoking is "probably causally associated with increased perinatal mortality"....The data suggest that such factors as...hospital pay status (public vs. private) have greater effects on pregnancy outcomes than maternal smoking.

On the sharply increasing rate of lung cancer:

What some have called the "epidemic" in lung cancer mortality in this century has been linked by some to the increased popularity of smoking. However, it has been speculated that this reported increase may in fact have been created largely by improvements in diagnostic techniques -- in other words, more lung cancer cases have been reported because physicians were better equipped to find them.[7]

On banning smoking on commercial airlines:

Eastern Airlines has entered an unconscionable agreement with Prohibitionist "consumer groups" to squeeze travelers who enjoy tobacco into the rear third of its flight cabins. The agreement was reached was privately in spite of its implications of potential second-class citizenship for 55 million Americans! As of today, it's on file at the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board where the airline and the anti-tobacco activists are pushing for its approval.
One of these activists, the self-appointed head of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), says his groups caught Eastern Airlines in violation of federal regulations about smoking in airplanes, to the point where Eastern was faced with more than $20,000 in fines. In an effort to settle for $10,000, the airline volunteered to set aside two-thirds of its seats for non-smokers and to reduce its back-of-the-plane smoking sections to only a third of the available seats. Apparently, that's inviolate, even if two-thirds of the passengers want to smoke!

Related SourceWatch resources

External resources


  1. Rob Christensen, Raleigh News & Observer Kornegay, keeper of Big Tobacco's flame, dies January 22, 2009
  2. Associated Press, Asheville Citizen-Times.com Former NC Rep. Horace Kornegay dies at 84 January 21, 2009
  3. Kornegay HR, Tobacco Institute Plaintiff's Exhibit 34A Letter. 3 pp. March 27, 1969. Bates No. TITX0006639/6641
  4. Kornegay HR, Tobacco Institute Untitled letter 1970. Bates No. TIMN0081955
  5. Source: R. J. Reynolds Summary - R.J. Reynolds Liability Notebook & R.J. Reynolds Org. Chart 5/95
  6. Kornegay HR, Tobacco Institute Horace Kornegay Speech Tobacco and Allied Industries Division of the American Jewish Committee Speech. December 11, 1979. Bates No. TIMN0094652/4662
  7. Kornegay HR, Tobacco Institute Smoking and Health 1964-1979: The Continuing Controversy Report. January 10, 1979 Bates No. 2046738051/8216, at pages 8 and 10
  8. Horace R. Kornegay, Tobacco Institute An Urgent Message Letter. 2 pp. June 27, 1977. Lorillard Bates No. 01254556/4557

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