Thoughts on using biotech to help blame the smoker

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

In this letter, Michael Johnson, the Director of Media for Philip Morris' PR firm Burson-Marstellar in London, invites PM to team up with an "advanced biotech research organization" in Britain that is involved in the human genome project. Johnson proposes that perhaps through human genome research they could locate a gene that predisposes people to smoking-related diseases. Johnson helpfully suggests that this could both encourage smoking while relinquishing Philip Morris from liability for selling a deadly product. Johnson says,

This work could be interesting to Philip Morris for at least three reasons:

--A simple test might eventually be devised to tell a smoker whether or not he is at risk. This would put the burden of any consequence from smoking on the individual, and would clear the way for the non-susceptible population to smoke with a clear conscience.

--Philip Morris would be seen to be contributing to research into the health effects of smoking...

--Finally, someone will eventually get around to this kind of research. Wouldn't it be better to be leading it?

Organization Author: Burson-Masteller
Person Authors: Michael Johnson
Document Date: 19960925 (September 25, 1996)
Document Type: Letter
Bates Number: 2060546551/6552
Master Bates: 2060546544/6552
Collection: Philip Morris
Pages: 2