Need to catch up. Life gets in the way sometimes. So moving forward, an explanation is required, even though I haven’t been asked to provide one. I need to explain why after all this time, I’ve decided to throw my hat back into the ring surrounding the controversy on tobacco issues, both for and against. I am not selling anything, promoting anything, asking anyone for anything except an open mind to the challenges we face everyday and what we mere humans can do when given the opportunity to attempt to do something good, just like we were raised to do. (hopefully). I know my former employers on both sides of the tracks wish I would just crawl off and slither away somewhere. we don’t do lunch anymore.
I was the Winston Man for 7 years (give or take). I quit for my own personal reasons. It caused quite a stir. I became the symbol for a movement that I honestly thought would help people struggling with tobacco and their health and even coping with the aftermath of what usually follows a lifelong smoker. Remember, I said usually and not always. I really mean that. There was nothing more in it for me, but I quickly found out why they needed a “golden boy”, “poster boy”, “whistleblower” and / or tattle tale. The Anti-Tobacco Movement at some point became the Anti-SmokeR movement. It became clear to me that this controversy was not about public health. It was about CONTROL. I can’t say for sure when things started to really change for me as I got caught up in the mix somewhere in the first few months. The first few days after I announced my decision to quit on the Great American Smokeout in Nov. of 1988, and immediately after I no longer did ads for R.J. Reynolds, I was wisked away to Washington, D.C. to meet with Matt Myers and Cliff Douglas. Matt Myers is currently President of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and has been for quite sometime. He heard my story and interviews and was intrigued. He introduced me to the following people who eventually became the “usual suspects” and the “Whos Who” in the Anti-Tobacco (smoker) Movement. . Dr. Ron Davis, (Dir. Office on Smoking and Health). Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Sen. Al Gore, Senators Lautenberg, Chaffee, Bingham, Helms and too many more to mention. From 1989 – 2007, I met politicians and lawmakers in 49 states. One state I didn’t seem to be welcome in was North Carolina. ( I wonder why?) I spent almost 18 years traveling over 200 days per year in schools, colleges, universities, every major health organization and health department imaginable telling , what I was being told was an interesting story. I met the headliners in the tobacco control machine. Patrick Reynolds, grandson of RJR who turned his back on the family fortune, Stanton Glantz some guy from California who you wanted to stay clear of, Greg Connelly from Boston and Mass. Health, Joe Tye, Director of Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco, Michael Cummings of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, Russ Sciandra, Dick Daynard etc. etc. etc. etc. HEADLINES AND SYNOPSIS; Winston Man helps move brand to # 2 in sales…..Winston Man quits smoking product (publicly) that generates billions of dollars for the tobacco industry….. Winston Man admits tobacco industry markets kids……Winston Man testifies in Congress against the Big Tobacco Corruption…..Winston Man becomes poster boy for organizations against those killing, maiming, addicting, and marketing to kids………. Its difficult to put in paragraph form 18-19 years of full time work while trying to create history on this product and all that it entails politically, emotionally , medically. physically and ultimately most important financially. You’ll just have to take my word for it I guess , but if not, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
As I said,not exactly sure when Tobacco Control went in the toilet in my opinion and everyone has their own guess. I happened to be on the front lines watching, listening and learning. Didn’t even question what I was learning ! Why would I question the experts in their field. I was only a bimbo doing their bidding. I guess it’s true, you are what you’re taught. I spent year after year going to almost every state, being warmly received in elementary, middle and high schools primarily since my story dealt with young kids and teens. i was sitting on medical panels, doing news conferences with highly respected scientists and physicians. I was given keys to cities and counties. I was on the radio and television in all the areas I visited. I was joined by Wayne McLaren, the Marlboro Man, Janet Sackman, the Lucky Strike Lady. Both had been diagnosed with cancer and Wayne died shortly thereafter. Joined by Rick Bender who lost half his face to mouth cancer. It was win win for the Anti’s since even smokers couldn’t debate that kids were the target market for tobacco companies and it was coming from an Insider, just like Jeff Wigand, the other “Insider” they made a movie about. Everyone knew it, but I was saying it out loud and quite well, if I must admit. My story, along with the others made quite an impact especially on kids and teens. It helped the organizations who brought me into their communities and gave them credibility.. I loved doing this kind of work , by trying to undo some of the damage I had done. The Anti-Tobacco movement was PAYING me for all this information and the tobacco industry didn’t do anything to me for a while anyway. The reponse to the reporters and journalists from RJ Reynolds was basically to call me a “former disgruntled employee”…….no wait, I was an “over-the-hill former disgruntled ….In response to the Marlboro Mans Cancer and Lucky Strike models cancer, their canned response was, sorry but they were warned. Well, o.k, maybe, but NOT WHEN THEY STARTED IN THE 60’S”. The Tobacco industry said there was no truth to the alleged claim that they target kids, except for all the documents that said their target market was 14-18 year olds and ironically 92% of new smokers start between 14 and 18. (RJR private documents from Claude Teague Asst. Chief of Research at RJR). Yes, we have the documents. In his 1973 secret memo he wrote. ” It should be said that we are presently, and I believe unfairly, constrained from directly promoting cigarettes to the youth market……Realistically, if our company (RJ Reynolds) is to survive and prosper, over the long term, we must get our share of the youth market”……….and so on and so on. This is just one of the thousands of documents the Surgeon General had already had for several years, but did little until he was forced to claim this some 11 or 12 years later in 1984 that we needed a smoke free society, but gave no plan on how we might achieve those goals. As I stated earlier, I was used to bring all these claims to the forefront along with other claims that I came to find out later were just blatant lies, but I continued to perpetuate those myths and there were so many that it became almost the “Never Ending Story”. I’ll be listing all that I told the media in the next few days, so you might be able to see the conundrum I was involved in. By the way, there already was enough truth to what we were saying through education and good health promotion, that most of the theories, lies, junk science and cherry picking of data that would further the cause of the Anti movement were TOTALLY unceccessary, so when I asked the Powers that be why the truth had to be embellished and misinformation had to be given, along with misdirection and smoke and mirrors, I was told that when battling the enemies, you have to play the same games your opponent is playing. I said ” you mean lie,cheat, and be dishonest, and I was told emphatically……Do whatever it takes because Big Tobacco is Evil”. So for many more years, I continued to do as I was told in order to help fatten the wallets and keep those grants rolling in by showing the progress we were making and promote not only myself, but put feathers in the caps of not only the “grass roots” anti-tobacco movement , being local , county and state organizations who were not privvy to the inner workings of their corporate higher ups. but also American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Tobacco Product Liability Project, National Cancer Institute, CDC, American Medical Association, Office on Smoking and Health, American Legacy Foundation and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Millions and Millions and Millions of Dollars would be at stake if progress could not be made on the anti-tobacco mission, both in the U.S and overseas. I would be travelling to China, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Canada to add credibility to the unfolding story of whistleblowing, corruption, cover-up and ultimately the strategy behind the “myth”that enemies do make “strange bedfellows”. No one was concerned about the closed door meetings between Big Tobacco, Big Gov’t., Big Pharma, and the Anti-Tobacco . Except Me. I started to ask questions and they tried to quickly put me in my place as the threats of lawsuits started with me in the cross hairs. You when there’s a bullseye on your back and your expendable, there is a tendency to cover your ass. You start gathering and nesting. I may have only been a puppet in their eyes. I may have been a bimbo to them. I may not have had enough starch in my collar. But I loved flying under the radar. When you are thrown under the bus so many times, after a while you don’t even feel it anymore. You just want to get even. The devil is in the details. First, you have to identify who really is the devil and exactly how many are there?????????????