Project Coumarin

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

" Project Coumarin - Top Secret" is a 1987 Philip Morris document that reveals PM's concern that public health officials in Europe might find out that coumarin was an additive in cigarettes. The writer of the document also says how public health investigations into this additive could be staved off. In the movie "The Insider," (about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey S. Wigand, the Brown & Williamson Vice President who blew the whistle on B&W to CBS news for their show "60 Minutes"), Dr. Wigand was concerned about an additive B&W put in their cigarettes called coumarin. In the movie, Wigand said coumarin (defined as a fragrant organic compound used in perfumes, flavorings and soaps, according to the dictionary) was a "lung-specific carcinogen." He had the same statement to the investigative television show, "60 Minutes" on February 4, 1996.[1][2]

In his testimony against the tobacco industry in the U.S. racketeering case against the tobacco industry, Dr. Wigand held that from a chemist’s point of view, coumarin is an “immediate precursor” to coumadin, which is a rat poison. Coumadin, he said, was found in tobacco, specifically in Sir Walter Raleigh Aromatic Pipe Tobacc. Dr. Wigand stated later in his testimony later that coumarin itself is dangerous enough, having been banned by the FDA for addition to human food in 1954.[3]

Related Sourcewatch resources


  1. Jeffrey Wigand on 60 Minutes Transcript. Feburary 4, 1996
  2. P. Danielsen, Consultas Project Coumarin - Top Secret Letter. March 16, 1987. 4 pp Bates No. 2501046314/6317
  3. Tobacco On Trial Blog Archive Dr. Wigand and The Solicitous Solicitor, January 31, 2005, Blog. U.S. v. Philip Morris, et al. January 31, 2005

[[Category:Tobacco industry