George Seldes on Tobacco

Cigarettes and the Press

January 1, 1945 P. L-3

One answer to the question why corporations which have no goods to sell are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising is this: they advertise to keep the good will of the newspapers (as well as the public).

The tobacco industry has few w cigars, no unsold cigarettes, nevertheless the magazines and newspapers are full of tobacco ads. And this is one reason the magazines and newspapers never tell the public about poison in tobacco.

The best evidence is the John Hopkins case as told by the famous Dr Raymond Pearl to the NY Medical Society. The NYTimes and NYWorld-Telegram buried a paragraph or two, but the great and tremendously sensational story -- sensational in the fact it would have warned millions about their health -- was suppressed totally in the NYSun, Post, News, Mirror, Journal-American and Herald Tribune. Dr Pearl's investigations at Johns Hopkins prove beyond question that there is a relationship between the use of tobacco and the shortening of life. (The Pearl report is reprinted in full in Facts & Fascism, pp 284-286).

Mayo Clinic Report

ON July 13 1944 the Mayo Clinic issued a report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn, on its new experiments showing that nicotine causes constriction of blood vessels. It was signed by Grace M Roth, John B McDonald, captain, USArmy Medical Corps, Charles Sheard, of the Mayho Clinic.

A change in the rate of heart beat was observed. Doctors were advised to tell patients that "smoking of standard cigarettes should be avoided in the presence of peripheral vascular disease," which involve the smaller arteries.

The NYTimes did print this story: July 15, last page, last news item. Search

Missing Page here?

This is surprising on several counts. Scientists customarily give full details about all their experiments. They tell what kinds of animals they use; they describe their equipment and the conditions under which they work. Nor is the scientist under any special obligation to the tobacco companies. Many of the magazines for which he writes run no general advertising. Is it fear of indirect pressure? But if such pressure does exist, surely one scientist would have defied that pressure at least once. The layman, especially the layman who lives in frequent contact with the world of advertising, promotion, and publicity can only wonder.

Names Suppressed

Getting back again to our Virginia researchers they also found that tightly rolled cigarettes produced less irritation than loosely rolled cigarettes and that moist tobacco produced less irritation than dry tobacco. But again they did not reveal which cigarettes are the most tightly rolled or which contain the greatest proportion of moisture. All they said was that each brand was standard and that the same brand always produced the same effect. From this experiment, the average smoker will conclude -- what he already knows from his own experience -- that the loosely rolled cigarette he makes for himself -- gives off a hotter smoke than the tightly rolled, machine made cigarette. But for all he knows the tobacco in Bull Durham, for example, may be much less irritating than the tobacco in Lucky Strike.

Big Business

The various cigarette manufacturers make various claims in their advertising--based the preference of doctors on the proportion of irritants that they say their brands contain. If these claims are no more satisfying than the veiled findings of the doctors, perhaps the reason in both cases is that no one test can be applied to any one tobacco or cigarette. One may be more irritating; another may contain more nicotine. The effect of the same cigarette on different people may be quite different. What's one man's meat can be another man's poison -- as sufferers from allergies know all too well. Moreover, tobacco is big business here in the United States, and an important item in world trade. It's the chief cash crop of hundreds of thousands of our farmers. Why disturb the goose that lays so many golden eggs? . . .

Verdict of "Lancet"

Let us listen rather to a British physician, Dr Lennox M Johnston, writing to the Lancet, his country Is foremost medical Publication. "In my view"--says Dr Johnston--"based on 12 years as a cigarette inhaler followed by 20 as a non-smoker -- there is no virtue in tobacco smoking just as there is none in opium smoking.

Cigarets and Long Life

January 29, 1942 P. 2

PRESS reports Jan 15 said card-rationing for cigarets were proposed, that average of 15 cigarets a day for smokers is in sight.

Credit NYTimes (Dee 23) with tiny' item headed: "Suggests Longer Life From Cigaret Lack." "The cigaret shortage may lengthen lives, according to Northwestern Mutual Life Ins Co," the Times had the courage to report. Most newspapers suppress all items telling American public greatest scientists have shown tobacco not only shortens life, but makes heavy smokers liable to diseases, suffering, misery.

Johns Hopkins report (given in full in Facts & Fascism) shows vast difference, in number of deaths among heavy, light, non-smokers. However, IN FACT's editor was informed that light smokers must use ten or less a day, not the 15 presently being manufactured for civillians, or the 20 most people smoke daily.

Columnist a Suicide

February 12, 1945 P. 3

COLUMNS of praise for Dr Logan Clendening followed suicide of this newspaper columnist Jan 31. It is a fact that like many fellow columnists Clendening listened to his master's voice, wrote medical buncombe which did not offend patent medicine fakers who advertise dangerous or useless drugs in most newspapers. Clendening kissed the brass check every time Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic or other authoritative scientific sources condemned cigarets.

News Usually Suppressed

November 26, 1945 P. 4

BECAUSE tobacco is the second largest advertiser in America -- the first is the auto industry which helps keep the newspapers anti-labor--the press suppresses all news unfavorable to cigarets. Congratulations are due an exceptional paper, the Durham N C Morning Herald for printing the following news on its front page:


Cancer of the lung is on the increase and there is a distinct parallel between that increase and the increase in the sale of cigarets. So declared Dr Alton Ochsner of New Orleans (Tulane), regional medical director of the American Cancer Society and one of the nation's authorities on cancer, at Duke University . . . "Incidence of cancer of the lung," Dr Ochsner said, "definitely has risen within the past two decades, although cancer incidence in other organs has remained about the same or is somewhat less. Today cancer of the lung represents from 10 to 15% of all cancers found in the body.... Prof Roffo, director of the Institute for Malignant Diseases in Buenos Aires, has shown that tobacco contains a tar which has a carcinogenic (cancer-producing) effect....

"Smoking is a factor because of the chronic irritation that it produces."

Everybody Suppresses

December 2, 1946

(No. 321) Vol. XIV, No. 9

EVERYONE in the newspaper business knows that the daily fraud orders of the Federal Trade Commission are a daily challenge to the integrity of the press and prove its corruption daily. About 99% of the U S press suppresses them. If IN FACT had 24 pages it would print them all. Here are extracts.

Oct 30. Stipulation 7515. Eversharp, Chicago, agreed "to cease and desist from misleading and deceptive advertising of Eversharp fountain pen and pencils . . . claims as to the gold content . . . self-blotting properties. . . ."

Nov 8. "American Tobacco Co of NY. Hearing set for Wed Nov 13 . . . St Louis. Misrepresentation in the sale of Lucky Strike cigarets.

"P Lorillard Co Inc, Jersey City. Hearing ... Nov 13 ... St Louis. Misrepresentation in the sale of Old Gold cigarets and other tobacco products."

Nov 15. "Congoleum-Nairn Inc of Kearny, NJ. Argument on the merits set for Tues Nov 19 at 2 pm. Alleged misrepresentation in the sale of floor covering." (Note: NJ Senator Albert Hawkes, former head of USChamber of Commerce, headed this firm.)

"Emerson Drug Co of Baltimore. Hearings ... Philada. Dissemination of false advertisements concerning a headache remedy (Bromo Seltzer)."

"Procter & Gamble Co of Cinn. Hearings . - . Cleveland ... Louisville. Misrepresentation of a liquid dentifrice (Teel)."

Every big advertiser in America has been caught at one time or another. But not 1% of the U S press--17 papers--publishes this important and sensational news.

Press Bias Measured

THE amazing thing about all press discussion is that factual evidence is always disregarded by defenders of the newspapers.

It is possible for universities, schools of journalism, public opinion polls, public service institutions, and even individuals to make scientific tests of press bias, coloration, headline treatment of news, suppressions, fake items, etc, and to arrive at absolutely truthful conclusions. But, inasmuch as the result will surely be conclusive evidence against the press, little is ever done about this.


January 20, 1947 P. 3-4

ALL POPULAR CIGARETTES are the same. Tobacco firms which spend millions boasting of a superior brand are fooling the people.

This is official. The Federal Trade Commission has investigated these claims and has said so. Yet, although the vast majority of newspaper readers are also cigarette smokers and therefore would be interested in this news, few papers in the whole land have printed this information. Behind this suppression, of course, is the fact that the cigarette manufacturers are among the biggest advertisers, ranked only by the makers of drugs and toilet preparations.

Lucky Strike Paid $3,000,000 to Papers in 3 Months.

Here is a recent example of how the long arm of advertising coincidence keeps vital news out of the newspapers. Last summer, the FTC reopened its case against the American Tobacco Co, makers of Lucky Strike cigarettes, which had been shelved during the war. By coincidence, Luckies launched a $3,000,000 newspaper advertising campaign at the same time.

This weekly inquired at the agency of Foote, Cone & Belding, which placed the ads, and was told that the $3,000,000 was spent during June, July and August, and that the ads went to every English-language daily newspaper in the U S.* This covered about 1,750 papers.

Last month, investigators for the FTC testified that the makers of Luckies bribe tobacco "experts," that their famous "toasting" claim is a fake, that they, do not contain any "superior" tobacco, that the advertising is a fraud.

Although the nation's newspapers had accepted $3,000,000 to spread these false claims, there is no record of a single paper which received these ads printing this official sensational disclosure.

Investigation of FTC records reveal that, as of today, every major brand of popular cigarette is being investigated for making similar fraudulent claims. These brands are Luckies, Old Golds, Camels, Chesterfield and Philip Morris. The same papers which carry the fake advertising from these firms also suppress the FTC charges.

Here is an example of the kind of cigarette news suppressed. The FTC's action against Philip Morris & Co Ltd Inc, which also manufactures Dunhill cigarettes and Revelation pipe tobacco, is similar to the action against the other four major brands.

Philip Morris Cited

The FTC says that Philip Morris is "one of the largest manufacturers of tobacco products in the US" and that its ads in newspapers, magazines and over the radio claim that:

a) Philip Morris' cause no throat or nose irritation; when smokers have changed to Philip Morris every case of nose and throat irritation due to smoking has cleared completely or has definitely improved.

b) Philip Morris' may be smoked as much or as often as one likes unhampered or unmarred by throat irritation; that such cigarettes can be enjoyed to the full without worry and with never a thought of throat irritation.

c) Throats and mouths are as fresh and comfortable and the breath as pure and sweet after a full day of smoking Philip Morris' as it is in the morning.

d) Philip Morris smokers are assured real protection in unusual degree against smoking penalties, smoker's cough, and effects of inhaling. No other cigarette provides protection like Philip Morris, that the difference between PM's and other leading brands is vital, and more than important.

e) The superiority of PM's is recognized by eminent medical authorities, has been scientifically proved, and is so outstanding as to be without parallel in the history of cigarettes.

Four other leading brands [presumably Lucky Strike, Camels, Old Gold and Chesterfield] are 3 times as irritating, and irritation caused by these other brands lasts 5 times longer than irritation caused by Philip Morris.

f) Philip Morris also has the world's finest tobacco.

Don't Call for Philip Morris

To these claims, the FTC replied:

In truth and fact,

a) Philip Morris' causes throat and nose irritation, and when smokers change to PM's irritation does not clear up.

b) Philip Morris does not reduce irritation of nose and throat.

c) Throats and mouths of PM smokers are not as fresh and comfortable, nor is their breath as pure and sweet as in the morning, after smoking PM's all day.

d) Superiority of PM's is not recognized by eminent medical authorities. PM's have no superiority over other brands and their superiority was never established scientifically.

e) Purported scientific findings were not authoritative, scientific or complete and, in fact, are contrary to authoritative, scientific and complete findings.

f) The tests were not made by distinguished doctors for the sole benefit of their own profession; they were made for Philip Morris cigarettes, which paid for them. The persons who made the tests were without sufficient training and experience to make the tests accurate.

g) Philip Morris cigarettes are no different from any others, and statements which make any of the foregoing claims are inaccurate, deceptive, false and misleading.

h) The same thing applies to Revelation pipe tobacco that applies to PM's.

About Dunhill's, which formerly sold for a high price because it was imported from England, the FTC said, that brand is now manufactured domestically and advertising which leaves the impression that Dunhill's "is now available at the same price as any other cigarette" is false because it leaves the impression it is still an imported cigarette.

Lucky Strikes Don't Mean Fine Tobacco

About Lucky Strike cigarettes, the FTC investigated the accuracy of its claims, found all of them to be false and misleading. Taking the Lucky slogan, "With men who know tobacco best, it's Luckies two to one," and its corrolary claim that "sworn records prove" two out of every three tobacco buyers smoke Luckies exclusively because they know it is made of the finest tobaccos, the FTC had investigators check these claims. Taking a list of 2,110 tobacco buyers given to them by Luckies, as "experts" who smoke Lucky Strike exclusively, the FTC located 800 of them and swore them to tell the truth.

The FTC found:

1. Many of them had nothing to do with the tobacco business. They were railroad employees, undertakers, etc. Many of them didn't smoke cigarettes at all, prefering pipes and cigars, or "anything they get hold of."

2. American Tobacco Co sent agents into the field, held out a carton of Luckies and asked, "Do you smoke Luckies?" Naturally, the answer was "yes." Then the agent returned to his office, wrote down the names of these men and they suddenly became the "independent tobacco experts"--the "men who know tobacco best."

"Coffin Nails" Are All Alike

3. "Key" men selected from this list were feted by Luckies, mailed free cartons monthly, taken on trips and their photographs were used in the advertising.

4. As to the claim that Luckies are "toasted," thus eliminating from the tobacco much "nicotine, tars and resins," making them "less irritating" than other cigarettes, the investigators found there is no "toasting" whatsoever, merely a "tobacco drying process" which all cigarette manufacturers use.

5. Luckies' claim that they pay a higher price for tobacco is also the bunk. All the big tobacco companies have an elaborate "percentage buying" system which automatically assures that each gets its share of the tobacco at every market at the same average price.

What is more, all of the companies were indicted for anti-trust violations because of this buying practice.

Ali of the "popular" brands of cigarettes, FTC found, contain the same kinds of tobacco in about the same proportion and all are "treated" about the same way.

In short, all cigarette advertising is the bunk, and all newspapers which accept money from the cigarette firms to print these fraudulent claims, and then further cheat their readers by not printing the FTC exposés of these falsehoods guilty of violating every tenet of a really free and honest press.


In fact



(No. 355) Vol. XV, No. 17

July 28. 1947

TWENTY-FIVE million Americans heard Walter Winchell announce in his broadcast on the night of July 13 that a Mrs Kvetan of Mont Clare, Penns, had won the Damon Runyon Fund cancer slogan prize, a house and lot worth $40,000.

The winning slogan: "Arrest Cancer. It's Wanted for Murder."

Winchell has been the leading spirit in raising the fund, which will reach a million dollars or more.

As cancer deaths have increased, the nation has become aware that there has not been enough research, enough medical scientific investigations to provide checks, if not a cure.

City, state and national government appropriations have been small. The Winchell-sponsored fund has won the approval of the whole nation.

Tobacco Money Pays Press and Radio

In the same month in which Winchell told 25,000,000 that cancer is a killer, the American Institute of Homeopathy met in annual convention at Swampscott, Mass, and heard, among other reports, one giving the latest scientific findings which show -- not for the first time -- that the use of cigarets, cigars and pipe tobacco have a direct relation to the increase of cancer.

Since 52% of the American adult population of the nation now smokes (Gallup poll 12/20/44) this would have been startling news to at least 52% of the readers of the newspaper press, and to Winchell's 25 million.

Winchell is not sponsored by a tobacco company, but every one of the radio networks owes a good share of its financial stability and its profits to the makers of Luckies, Camels, Chesterfields, Old Golds, Philip Morris and Raleighs, and apparently no radio station will permit the facts to become known. Neither will the press.

Cancer Cases Increase With Cigaret Sale

There are, of course, a few exceptions in the newspapers. Immediately after the adjournment of the Institute of Homeopathy convention, the Dayton Daily News had its staff writer, Herbert A Shaw (who merits a Pulitzer prize for this and other work) interview Dr J D Varney, one of the physicians reading papers on the relation of the use of tobacco to cancer and heart diseases. Shaw's article appeared July 21, and the following are the most noteworthy paragraphs:

"If Dr J D Varney ... had his way, the nation's cigaret manufacturers would have to close up shop....

" 'I found [the doctor said] that since the advent of cigaret smoking and the practice of inhaling, the two afflictions noted above (certain types of cancer and heart trouble) have increased about 1000%. There's no doubt in my mind that the cigaret is to blame.'

"Dr Varney pointed to a report carried in the July 1944 issue of the American Medical Assn Journal regarding an experiment....

"As to cancer of the lungs caused by nicotine, Dr Varney points to another report, carried in recent issues of 'The Diseases of the Chest.' In this report a New Orleans chest surgeon wrote that cancer of the lungs is one of the most frequent and important primary lesions, secondary to cancer of the stomach In autopsy findings. he pointed out that rejected inhalations of tobacco smoke produce chronic irritation and the incidence of bronchial cancer directly parallels the increase In cigaret sales.

"Aside from cancer and heart disease, Dr Varney has another theory an the harmful results of cigaret smoking as it applies directly to prospective mothers.

"'I've noted that the newborn baby whose mother has been smoking during pregnancy Is very fretful after birth. I believe this Is directly due to the fact that the baby is being broken of the cigaret habit. I don't know that the nicotine poison forced into the unborn baby's blood stream by a cigaret smoking mother is the direct cause of many still births, but it certainly does give the baby a bad start in life."'

Campaign Omits Tobacco Cancer Facts

The publication of such news items as the foregoing by a commercial newspaper -- which takes tobacco advertising--is something rare in U S journalism. In 1945 IN FACT credited the Durham, N C Morning Herald with publishing a frontpage news item headed "Cancer of Lung Increases With Sale of Cigarets." This item dealt with a report read to the American Cancer Society by Dr Alton Ochsner of New Orleans. The meeting was held at Duke University, an institution which owes its existence to the use of tobacco.

The NYTimes on Oct 3 1946 carried a large news item under this heading: "Scientists Discuss the Possibility of Getting Cancer From Smoking." Dr Wm Rienhoff of Johns Hopkins, addressing a medical symposium at the U of Buffalo, discussed the possibility of an increase in lung cancer among women due to the fact that smoking among women has been increasing for 20 years.

The Times must also be credited with publishing (12/23/44) an item (2 1/2 inches) saying the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co believes the shortage of cigarets in wartime may lengthen human lives. The firm reported that "long-term studies of large groups of policyholders ... had shown 26 to 100% rises in death rates among heavy smokers in the 30 to 50 year age brackets as compared with nonsmokers."

But, generally speaking, the U S press has suppressed at least 90% of the news items in which tobacco, and especially the use of cigarets, have been mentioned unfavorably. In the Aug 1946 issue of Reader's Scope, Leonard Engel pointed out that although the death rate from cancer is increasing and the use of cigarets is increasing, "the anti-cancer campaign makes no mention of this fact: there is now scientific evidence which indicates that tobacco may be a cause of widespread, terrible forms of cancer."

U S Press Whitewashes Tobacco

In addition to the suppression of news adversely affecting tobacco, the press also obliges its tobacco advertisers in other ways.

It is always possible to find one, or a dozen, doctors who will accept a commission to write an article saying that tobacco is harmless. It is even possible to get certain medical schools to issue reports which the cigaret manufacturers are glad to see reprinted in the lay press. There are also news items and feature articles intended to whitewash the matter. Here are a few samples:

New York Times. In its May 18 1947 Sunday magazine it carried a glowIng tribute to tobacco by staff writer W B Hayward. Title: "Why We Smoke -- We Like It." Inserted in this article was a boxed item pretending to give the other side of the story. It contained three quotations, one from Ben Johnson, a poem by Philip Frenau, and a cockeyed piece written by Tobias Venner in 1620. Nothing of new medical research on cancer and heart diseases, of course.

The Times (10/28/43) also ran: "Body Dissipates Nicotine. Some Factor Alters the Danger, Virginia Doctors Report." While the Times does not suppress all tobacco items -- although it suppresses most of the Federal Trade Commission fraud orders against tobacco firms, and others -- it frequently reminds the manufacturers it is in business for money by publishing items such as the above.

Time. The color page ads in Time bring in $8000 each. Students of journalism could write theses on Standard Oil, American Tobacco, and other ads and Time's reporting of the Standard "treason" charge by Senator (now President) Truman, and medical reports on cigarets. Recently Time has been running numerous pieces in favor of tobacco. Sample: "A Pleasant Smoke. A sacred creed of most doctors -- that smoking is bad for diseased hearts -- was disputed by Dr Robt L Levy and a group of colleagues at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Levy's group found that patients with various heart diseases who smoked two cigarets in succession show no harmful effects.... Dr Levy's conclusion: moderate smoking is all right for many heart patients. ... But patients with such diseases as congestive heart failure, active rheumatic heart disease and acute heart damage, should let tobacco alone."

Find Doctors To Approve Cigarets

Newsweek. Under the heading "Smoke, Drink, and Get Well" this magazine (12/2/46) also was able to find a doctor on the side of tobacco and alcohol. Newsweek reports: "Sipping a highball while smoking was recommended for smokers suffering from heart disease by a prominent health specialist last week. Dr Wm D Stroud, professor of cardiology at the Graduate School of Medicine U of Penna, made the recommendation. . . ."

Glamour. This is one of the many publications whose chief function is to publish ads for cosmetics, clothes, and other items for young women. The tobacco Industry, having almost reached the saturation point of male smoking, is out to get a majority of women. Glamour hired Dr Henry C Link to write an article (Jan '40) saying that smoking cigarets is one of the most innocent of all bad habits.

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