- The Tobacco Settlement and the Marbles Game
- May 1998
- Dear Friends
The recent announcement by the tobacco industry's spokesman, RJR Nabisco's Chief Executive, Stephen Goldstone, reminds me of the game of marbles. In marbles, a hit entitles you to take your opponent's marble. At the end of the game, the one who has all of the marbles is the winner. But poutey brats, who don't get their way, sometimes interrupt the game, grab their marbles, and go home. Such is the case with the tobacco industry.
They now choose to refuse the settlement proposed by Senator John McCain of Arizona, because they argue that it will cost them too much money and does not give them enough protection against law suits. They are more concerned about law suits than anything else, because of the constant reminder that their product kills innocent people, beginning with the adolescents to whom they push their lethal product. The settlement in dollars is actually a bargain for the tobacco industry.
Goldstone also announced a public relations campaign aimed at the 45 million people that continue to smoke for one reason or another. "That's more people than who voted for Clinton", he boasts. What a jerk. 221 million people in the United States, wisely choose not to smoke. Goldstone says of his campaign, "We are going to tell the public the truth about what happened in Washington". This is a remarkable comment from a representative of industry whose executives unanimously swore to Congress under oath that they had no knowledge of tobacco's addiction. They are all jerks! Goldstone was obviously angry because all of the lobbying money tobacco companies have given both Republicans and Democrats hasn't done much good. Today there is a powerful bipartisan movement to curtail advertising to children and to raise tobacco taxes. Goldstone says his advertising doesn't cause kids to buy cigarettes. He proudly displays the traditional Camel cigarette package to distract us from "Joe Camel", which has had a huge success in seducing kids into the bondage of tobacco addiction. He said that the underaged purchase of tobacco is only 2% of sales. Who does think he is kidding?
Goldstone and his counterparts are not winning in their constant efforts to mislead the public right now, so they are grabbing their marbles and going home pouting. I think we will next see them at the courthouse when they will finally have to pay up for their long history of contributing to tobacco addiction, and the 450,000 tobacco deaths that they cause in the United States every year.
I will be in touch next month.
- Thomas Petty, MD