McSpotlight on the
Tobacco Industry
| Philip Morris | RJR-Nabisco | British American Tobacco | Brown & Williamson | American Brands |

Each year smoking kills more Americans than alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, automobile accidents, fires and AIDS combined ... victims die more than twenty years before the life expectancy of non-smokers.
(U.S. Centers for Disease Control)

Tobacco is a plant which grows in a wide range of soil and climate conditions. Its non edible leaf is dried and used to produce cigarettes, pipe tobacco, cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff. According to the World Health Organisations, tobacco kills more than two and a half million people prematurely every year. The industry that sells these products has been well aware of the dangers for decades but continues to put their own profits before peoples health. It has been said, that these merchants of death are guilty of nothing short of murder, now you can judge for yourself.

The six American cigarette companies alone, annually spend more than $4 billion for advertising. Successfully selling poison that causes disease and death requires all of the tricks of big business; aggressive advertising, legal action to silence critics, donations to ensure the support of politicians and manipulating scientific evidence to confuse consumers. The stakes are high; for the industry, billions and billions of dollars profit, and for the customers, premature death.

Tobacco contains over 4,000 different gases, particles and compounds including tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. Tobacco smoke "tar" is composed of several thousand chemicals that can damage lung tissue and cause several diseases. Some of these chemicals include: acids, alcohol's, aldehydes, ketones, aromatic hydrocarbons and corrosive gases such as cyanide and nitrogen oxide.

The average age for first use of tobacco is 12 years. Although smoking continues to drop among all major age, race and sex groups, teenage smoking has not declined. In fact, the smoking rate for teenage girls has risen over the past few years. This trend is perhaps due to the increasing number of advertising campaigns directed towards the young.

The risk of developing lung cancer is 10 times greater for smokers than for non smokers. Those who smoke 2 or more packs of cigarettes a day are 15 to 25 times more likely to die of lung cancer than non smokers. This year, more than 450,000 Americans will die prematurely of diseases linked to smoking. That's as many Americans as have been killed in all the wars fought in this century and more than the combined annual death tolls from alcohol, illegal drugs, traffic accidents, suicide and homicide.

Smoking causes about 30% of all cancers, including cancer of the lungs, mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, bladder and pancreas. It is also a major cause of heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Pregnant women who smoke have higher rates of miscarriage, still birth, premature birth and complications of pregnancy. More of their babies die soon after birth than the new borne of non-smoking mothers.

Philip Morris in the McSpotlight
Philip Morris Co.s Inc. ?

Philip Morris Co.s Inc. is one of biggest tobacco companies, with 45% of the U.S. market and 12% of the world market. Tobacco accounts for about 72% (1989 figure) of the company's profits. It's Marlboro brand alone (the world's best selling brand) was estimated to have killed 75,000 Americans in one year.

Philip Morris also owns Kraft General Foods, criticised by the BUAV for tests on cats in the development of a 'stomach-friendly' coffee. Philip Morris licensed South African companies to manufacture Kraft General Food products and Chesterfield cigarettes in South Africa during the years of economic sanctions.

Philip Morris produces Benson & Hedges, Marlboro, Merit, Virginia Slims, and other brands.

Americans for Non-smokers' Rights has released a confidential internal Philip Morris memo from 1990 that reveals Pete Wilson, then a candidate for Governor of California, returned $16,000 in contributions that could be directly linked to the tobacco industry, but kept $84,000 that could not be traced to pro-tobacco forces.

RJR-Nabisco in the McSpotlight
Anyone got their corporate address?

RJ Reynolds - Nabisco is the second biggest U.S. cigarette maker with Camel, Magna, More, Salem, Vantage, Winston and other brands.

  • RJR Reynolds document

    British American Tobacco &
    Brown & Williamson in the McSpotlight
    Anyone got their corporate address?

    Brown & Williamson is the third largest tobacco company in the U.S. They recently purchased American Brands, producers of the top two selling cigarette brands in the UK, thus increasing their market share in the U.S. by 6.7%. The parent company of B&W is BAT Industries previously known as the British American Tobacco Company. BAT is the second largest private cigarette manufacturer in the world.

    Sylvester Stallone is one of the tobacco industry's most valued sales personalities. In a letter from him on April 28, 1983 he confirmed his intention to promote Brown & Williamson products for a fee of a half a million dollars. On June 14, 1983 Brown & Williamson's responded confirming the agreement and expressing pride in having Sylvester Stallone promote their nicotine products.

    Other 'merchants of death'

    Tobacco industry critics on-line

    Major on-line resources

    Selected background resources

    Credits: The information on this page was taken from
    the wide variety of the sources already listed on this page