Smoker discrimination

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

This Philip Morris document describes industry-held beliefs about "smoker discrimination."

This is a portion of a transcript of an internal "Corporate Affairs World Conference" plenary session held at a Philip Morris annex called Rye Brook, in New York in 1984. The invited speaker in this portion of the transcript is Dr. Harvey Sapolsky, a professor of political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Sapolsky gives his listeners examples of situations that illustrate "smoker discrimination," to show why the industry needs to take action to reverse the trend of such "discrimination." To make his point, Dr. Sapolsky describes a situation in which a friend of his, a smoker, applied to take the Bar Exam (an all-day test). Another document revealed that this friend submitted a note from her doctor saying she was addicted to nicotine and thus had to smoke during the test. In order to accommodate her, test marshalls escorted her out of the building every hour for a smoke. Dr. Sapolsky characterizes this as an injustic, explaining that not only did the other (nonsmokers) taking the test have more time to concentrate on it, but his friend suffered discrimination...she should have been able to smoke while taking the test. He also gives other, similar illustrations to make his point.

Key quotes

(From page A-40 of the document)

Well I don't think you can deal with the public's fear of the health fears [about smoking], but I think you ought to be able to shift the guilt. And for discrimination, people ought to be told that they're practicing discrimination [against smokers]. I have some outlandish examples of discrimination where they really aren't being challenged. A friend of mine a few years back [took] the Federal Bar Exam. And I assume it's a tense experience. I haven't taken it, but I presume that smokers who have taken that wouldn't mind lighting up every once in a while. But she wasn't permitted to do that. She was marched out every hour for a cigarette break out in the hall by a marshall and had to stand there and waste time on her exam while the non-smokers were allowed to continue. I think that's unfair -- discriminatory. I've also seen clips in the newspapers that there are now jury rooms, I think the state is Oregon, where there's no smoking around. Perhaps it's more widespread than that. That's terrible. It's unfair to the people on trial as well as the people who are on the juries. And that's discrimination (laughter). I accompanied someone to an emergency room and I was in the waiting room. And they didn't allow smoking in the waiting room. That's discriminatory. People are waiting there for their loved ones, maybe a terrible accident and they're not allowed to show any signs of being human and smoking at that time. They're supposed to go out in the rain or something like that, [and] that's unfair. And something ought to be done about that. And then there also, something ought to be done to buck up the feelings of smoker if they're so oppressed. If smokers are going to be in the back of the airplane, that ought to be the place where there's free movies or free drinks or something to reward them for their experience as opposed to penalizing them....


This document was originally found using the search criteria "Rye Brook" at the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.

Title 840000 Corporate Affairs World Conference Rye Brook New York 840912 Plenary Session
Per. Author Clephas VR, Maxwell H, Pittman D, Sapolsky H, Scott ss, Leonard S. Zahn
Date 19840912/E (September 12, 1984)
Type Transcript, list
Bates 2025421658/1712
Master Bates 2025421657/2239
Pages 55