In the early 1990’s I spent a lot of time getting prepped for depositions that would be given by me at several pending lawsuits against the Tobacco Companies by several attorneys who were retained to sue Big Tobacco. Having never really been a fan of lawyers, the right to sue, the inability to take responsibility for his/her own actions and decisions, and the exercise in futility this would become since only a couple of tobacco trials ever made it to court, I was of course reluctant. Most lawsuits were settled out of court, or thrown out on appeal and certainly would become exercises in futility. The first trial that looked as though it would take place after my deposition became the nightmare of nightmares. My worst fears were imagined. After being put on the trial list as an expert witness against the tobacco industry, the hell started. I was asked for all my tax records for the past 15 years, I was required to prove that I actually was the Winston Man since apparently my picture on billboards , magazines, vending machines, posters, push/pull door stickers, clocks and other advertising paraphonalia didn’t cut it. They needed more proof of my employment and it was suggested that I really didn’t do the ads. I was asked to provide all correspondence and telephone records of the past 10 years and a plethera of other bullshit. To their amazement, I had the contracts, paystubs, and tax information they required. RJ Reynolds denied that their executive ever told me that the right to smoke was reserved for “the young, the poor, the black and the stupid”. I needed to provide proof. I provided the required proof with affidavits from other witnesses to that quote “the young, the poor, the black and the stupid”. Just more of the same tricks used by defense counsel to rattle my cage and bust my cajones. Of course I was forewarned of the tactics that would be used and that it was just how big litigation works. uh huh!!!! The biggest trial was historical when the family of N.J. resident Rose Cippolone in 1983 sued for her death caused by tobacco . The trial took a long time , but the outcome was that her husband Tyrell was awarded $400,000 in damages, but was overturned in Appellate Court in 1990 and the damages were set aside and never paid out. Marc Edell was the attorney who was successful in suing the Asbestos industry years before. It was discovered that the tobacco industry was willing to spend tens of millions of dollars in court to drag it out and wear the family down so as not to have to be found guilty and have precedent set for future litigation. Of course they had millions and millions to spend on litigation. Lawsuits were being filed but with little hope the Tobacco Industry would be held accountable and responsible. They seemed invincible against litigation. In 1994 the 7 tobacco Executive went before Congress and testified under oath that their cigarettes and tobacco was not only not harmful, but not addictive as well. hmmmm, now there is a “sticky wicket”. If they can get away with lying, since every study done proves beyond doubt that there product kills, what chance would I have in bringing the industry to its knees. Probably, none. Since payouts seemed to be non-existent it became fodder and banter and attorneys don’t like NOT to get paid. Whats the saddest thing is that if the common citizen LIED under oath in Congress, the common citizen would get the book thrown at them and punished. Not with Big tobacco. For sure. I was beginning to see the definitive strategy between, Government and Tobacco. Things changed significantly after Attorney General Mike Moore of Mississippi sued the Tobacco Industry in 1994 and WON. I’m sure it was done on a lark, and as previously reported in my previous post, it was historic and 3 more states went on to sue and win. In 1998 the remaining 46 states settled the Master Settlement Agreement that surely would bring the Tobacco Industry to its knees. 240 Billion Dollars would be paid out to reimburse states and settle this annoyance. The thing is, the public knew little of this or didn’t really care. Those who did talk about it, thought it was great that Big Tobacco would finally be held accountable and force to pay for corruption, lies, and killing 400,000 Americans each and every year. Boy, they got it good, Right? Wrong, as all the tobacco industry did was to raise the price of cigarettes across the board some 40 cents per pack to pay for their sins.
The Master Settlement Agreement in of itself looked like a good thing to now further the education, prevention and help those who want to quit smoking with cessation programs that were proven to work. Only cessation programs weren’t working and good money was being spent for no good reason. The states decided to use the monies for everything other than what they said they wanted it for. To save the children became the mantra of organizations like The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, The American Legacy Foundation and American Lung Association, The American Cancer Society and many more. I was a part of many of those programs that were geared for education of kids. That lasted until the money started to get funneled into other parts of each states budget. It was fraud, misdirection, smoke and mirrors and cash flow was phenomenal. The money diversion was tactical. You scream and plead for money for the kids, you get the money, and you do what you want with the money and perpetuate your own financial interests. Simply put, Tobacco Control over a few years FAILED miserably and no one seemed to care or could answer the simplest questions as to what the ##$% was happening ? Lets just put this blog today out of its misery, as I could drone on and on, but the result would still be the same. I was a one man show, an Army of myself, with knowledge of not only bad behavior, irresponsible misinformation, and ultimately corruption.
The information I provide here is for interested readers to follow the patterns of what is still happening today. It is difficult to give all the information and details of my involvement of over 25 years on both sides of this issue in this “blog”, but I can assure you, it is STILL going on and the only thing that has been consistent through MY EXPERIENCES is the discrimination of smokers and tobacco users from the beginning and initiation into smoking (through tobacco marketing) …to the attempts smolers fervently are making to quit once and for all. One of the best alternatives comes along to help in Tobacco Harm Reduction, the aid of cessation and quitting and the same wackos, hypocrits, grabbag chock full of nutjobs are trying to ban, control, regulate and heavilly TAX the Electronic Cigarette and Personal Vapers that are sweeping the country. The media is useless, the politicians are evil and corrupt, the science they use is mythical, and I see nothing good coming out of this for the tobacco users UNTIL the E-Cigarette Industry organizes and speaks loud and clear sooner rather than later, or its going to be curtains for the e-cig industry.
As of this writing Big Tobacco is in the E-Cigarette industry. Lorillard owns Blu….Altria has bought Greensmoke….RJ Reynolds has VUSE….Imperial Tobacco has Puritane….BAT has Vape…. and while the e-cig manufacturers and distributors are screwing around with attempts to change the PERCEPTION AND THINKING OF THE POLICY AND LEGISLATORS …..I’m afraid most of you are as dillusional as I was some 25 -26 years ago. Look around, do the research and see the history you are trying to change. It is not going to happen, because its the Right Thing To Do. It’s not going to happen because they have been caught in the corruption and scandal..It’s not going to happen because you think you’re smarter than they are and you have the science, research, clinical trials, data, and the army you have created to this point is strong enough to take this on in order to save the Electronic Cigarette. It’s not going to happen because you are passsionate. IT WILL HAPPEN WHEN WE CHANGE THE VIEWS OF THE PUBLIC ABOUT THIS LIFE SAVING DEVICE. IT WILL HAPPEN WHEN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE WAKES UP THE MEDIA TO TELL THE TRUTH AND NOT ALLOW THEM TO SPREAD THEIR LIES IN SO CALLED JOURNALISM THAT IS ONLY A SOUNDBITE TO THE AVERAGE PERSON WHO STILL IS CLUELESS ABOUT WHAT COULD POTENTIALLY SAVE MILLIONS OF LIVES……..
I’m real frustrated and I know of no other way to get a few of you on my side, then to put myself out there in the hopes that there is someone who can help raise the level of awareness to help the little guy/gal who is making a living, perpetuating the device at an affordable price and at the same time regulating it for safety sake, monitoring the ingredients safely, market only to adults, and keep the clinical and research trials transparent for public view. To ultimately take charge of this endeavor without the government doing what they always do and the rest keep getting thrown under the bus and accept it as status quo. THEY WIN…WE LOSE.