Philip Morris' internal response to 1964 Surgeon General's report on smoking

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

Philip Morris' internal response to 1964 Surgeon General's report on smoking

George Weissman, President of the Philip Morris Tobacco Company (PM), sent this 3-page confidential memo to Joseph Frederick Cullman, III, (PM's Chair and Chief Executive Officer) on January 29, 1964, barely three weeks after the first U.S. Surgeon General issued the first Report on Smoking and Health to the public on January 11, 1964. The 1964 report was America's first widely publicized official recognition that cigarette smoking causes cancer and other serious diseases. This memo reveals PM's internal reaction to the report.

Weissman refers to the Surgeon General's Report as a "propaganda blast" and launches into a list of ideas about how the industry can counteract it. He suggests that the industry "take the initiative in securing a mild federal labeling act to thwart the efforts of the various states" to require health warning labels on cigarettes.

Weissman also suggests the industry work clandestinely to make fun of the Surgeon General's health concerns, saying

While it should not be done in the industry's name, someone ought to be contacting all the cartoonists, television gag writers, satirical reviews, etc., to apply the light touch to this question...

Wiessman also suggested the industry's next move, which turned out to be the tobacco company's chosen direction for decades:

...[W]e must in the near future provide some answers which will give smokers a psychological crutch and a self-rationale to continue smoking...

This document has been used as a trial exhibit in several cases against the industry, including Florida, Minnesota and Texas.

Per. Author WEISSMAN,G
Date 19640129
Bates 1005038559/8561
Collection Philip Morris
Pages 3

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