George Seldes on Tobacco

School Paper Finds 300% Increase

The Progressive. Protesting an article by T Swann Harding entitled "Fads, Facts and Frauds About Cigarets," Joy Elmer Morgan, editor, Journal of the National Education Assn, wrote this weekly (1/28/46): "The article . . . is itself something of a fraud. It is full of misstatements . . . Enclosed herewith is a statement entitled 'Cigaret Smoking Causes Lung Cancer,' which will appear in the NEA Journal for Feb. The facts in this statement show a 300% increase in lung cancer paralleling almost perfectly a 300% increase in the use of cigarets."

Tide. Leading magazine of advertising trade published (11/1/46) reproduction of a big ad by the Atlantic Mutual Ins Co showing a burning cigaret and blaming cigarets for a vast number of fires and the loss of many lives. A Tide reader thought this kind of advertising "ill-advised," suggested including a bottle of whiskey in the ad "because inebriated smokers are no doubt responsible for a proportion of the fires."

Pathfinder. The venality, subservience or prostitution of the press (newspaper and magazine) is nothing new, but documentary evidence is quite scarce.

Here is an instance where a magazine threw out a small, perhaps $25, advertisement in order to retain the full page ads of the big cigaret firms. The little man thrown out had offered a cure for tobacco. The advertising manager of Pathfinder wrote to his adv agency:

"We regret to advise that we are returning the White Cross Co order herewith. We have been forced to discontinue acceptance of all 'tobacco cure' advertisements because of pressure from our subscribers and large advertisers. By eliminating such types of advertising to which these groups object, we believe we will enhance Pathfinder's power as an advertising medium generally for all other advertisers, including perhaps some of your own other clients." (The Pathfinder at that time was owned by Emil Hurja.)

Fortune. The height, or perhaps depth, of journalistic venality, however, was reached by Luce's Fortune magazine (9/35) when it reported on "Alcohol and Tobacco," two of its chief sustainers. It concluded (page 98) that "the sum total of our knowledge of the 'evil' of smoking does not add up to much more than a zero." This, of course, adds up to one of the great falsehoods of our time.


THE first exposé of the control of the press (and now the control of radio) by the tobacco interests, resulting in the suppression generally of all sorts of news items, from FTC fraud orders to important findings announced at medical conventions, was made by IN FACT Dec 14 1942.

Since then we have been flooded with everything from clippings and letters to scientific reports on smoking. Here is a short summary of the two main items we first reported, and the new evidence:

1. Johns Hopkins. The document quoted in 1942 is now out of print and so is our issue, but it can be found in Facts & Fascism. (pp 284-6). Dr Raymond Pearl, Dept of Biology, found that man for man, age for age, group for group, etc, the heavy smoker's chances of living a certain number of years was less than the non-smoker's. Moreover, it was his contention that the use of tobacco opened the body to the inroads of disease, so that the heavy user (two packs a day is heavy; 10 cigarets a day is moderate) had a worse time of it even in his shorter life. Dr Pearl's conclusion:

"The net result is obvious. In this group of nearly 7000 men [observed and investigated at Johns Hopkins for the test] the smoking of tobacco was associated definitely with an impairment of life duration and the amount or degree of this impairment increased as the habitual amount of smoking increased."

2. Grace Clinic, Brooklyn. Dr Edwin J Grace, head of this noted cancer clinic, contributed to IN FACT one of the first scientific reports on the relation of nicotine and tar in tobacco to the marked increase in cancer. Dr Grace's conclusions: "Cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, larynx and pharynx is more prevalent in smokers than in nonsmokers."

3. American Medical Assn. Its Journal (7/15/44) published as its main item "The Effects of Smoking Cigarets," written by Dr Grace M Roth, Captain John B McDonald, Medical Corps, USA; and Dr Charles Sheard, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. This is probably one of the most authoritative scientific reports on the subject. All tests were made with only two cigarets, and it was shown that they affected bodily temperature, the basal metabolic rate, electrocardiographic tracing, increase of blood pressure. An absolutely reliable report such as this contrasts with buncombe certain doctors have been writing in popular publications. The item however, was generally suppressed. (NYTimes July 14 ran 6 inches, last page, last item.)

4. Dr Sheard. The AP reported (3/15/46) that Dr Sheard of the section on physics, Mayo Clinic, had told a meeting of biologists in Atlantic City that the use of two cigarets causes a delay of 15 to 30 minutes in seeing well in the dark. The AP tacked on to this a report that 3 doctors at the Medical College of Va had found that rats subjected to tobacco smoke lived as long as "nonsmokers." This gave the Chi News a chance to headline "Nicotine Loses and Wins."

Most papers didn't use the Mayo item. VanDevanter used it on WOR-Mutual. IN FACT has been Informed by Dr Sheard that his experiments were made with reference to night flying. They also apply to driving. (An abstract appears in "Federation Proceedings," Feb '46.)

5. American Heart Assn. A member of the College of Physicians & Surgeons sends IN FACT a reprint of the April 1945 Issue of the association's publication "The Effect of Smoking Tobacco on the Cardiovascular System," written by Dr Roth of the Mayo Clinic. This article lists many of the authorities of the 20th Century who have investigated the effects of tobacco on all forms of heart troubles.

6. Dr Martin Gumpert. Writing in "Tomorrow," May issue, this authority confesses that a year earlier, although aware of "possibly harmful consequences", he smoked 2 packs a day. He stopped on July 17 1946 when he suffered a heart attack. "For a physician it is not possible to make excuses for continuing to smoke after such an occurrence," he states. He also confesses that most doctors' attitudes towards tobacco are based on their own smoking habits, rather than science. (Thousands of doctors are advertised as endorsing Camels.)

Finally, Dr Gumpert quotes the latest scientific data: "There undoubtedly exists a close relationship between the smoking habit and disturbances of the circulatory system, including the heart."


IT DOESN'T matter what the subject is, you cannot get the facts in the American newspaper or magazine press.

And the facts concern you: your health (as the foregoing item on tobacco well illustrates), or your security (as our exposés of the landlords' lobby showed), or your general welfare (as most of IN FACT'S items for more than 7 years have pointed out).

There are good newspapers--and we name them. There are great men in Congress -- and we name them too. But, there are also agents of the NAM, the electric light interests, the 8 big banks, and 800 lobbyists who in Congress work to make profits for the corporations, and to rob you.

We name them. Few publications do. No one has done as much as this newsletter -- we say this as a matter of measurable fact.

The biggest issue of our time is the attempt of the few to rule America. FDR said so and fought the enemy. Republicans like Sen Aiken, Democrats like Sen Murray, are united on this. But even when they make it an issue in Congress, the press suppresses the news. The magazines are no better. The radio is controlled by the same people.

For more than a year, in all my spare time, I have been collecting important material for a book. Book publishing still maintains some freedom. All this evidence is new (except two or three documents for the appendix which are from IN FACT). The book will startle you, and if you will help circulate it, it will startle America.

I hope to finish the book this week, and to give you the details on this page, next week.


Cigarets for Children

ALTHOUGH there has been a 300% increase in smoking between the two world wars (and a 300% increase in cancer; see wide column) the tobacco makers are trying to raise the percentage of U S smokers, now 52% of adult population

Only new markets possible are women and children. Only 33% of women now smoke. Makers hope to lower age level for boys and girls.

Reports Tide, advertising weekly (5/23/47): "Since most men are already cigaret smokers, the male market is pretty well saturated; competitors can only pit brand against brand, advertising technique against advertising technique, in an effort to woo male customers away from their rivals.

"Actually most cigaret experts think there are only two directions in which the market can expand substantially: toward a younger age level and toward women.

"The first is somewhat limited because there is an age level, of course, below which cigaret marketing cannot go. The fact remains, however, that the trend toward disk jockey shows, and such advertising as the American Tobacco Co just started on the Intercollegiate Network, indicates that the business believes at least part of its potential is among the younger people."

Bookburning U S A

THE power which $50,000,000 worth of annual advertising by an industry exerts in the press extends all the way to the book reviewing depts. Two examples:

The YMCA published "Tobacco & Health," sent it to the newspapers. IN FACT asked YMCA Press for a report. James Rietmulder replied only PM reviewed the book. Months later Sales Manager W H Davies informed IN FACT that Scholastic, The Churchman and some religious publications reviewed the book, but not one commercial newspaper.

Dr Jesse Mercer Gehman of Paterson NJ published a most comprehensive study on the subject (572 pp), "Smoke Over America." Dr Gehman informed IN FACT: "Some really big publications received the book, among them large newspapers, the socalled free press. None reviewed it."

Army Dr on Tobacco

August 4, 1947 P. 2-3

IN conformity with the practice of most magazines and newspapers this weekly omits names of persons in the armed services (unless they specifically request their names be published). The following communication is from a doctor member of the Medical Corps, stationed in a Flagstaff, Arizona, hospital:

"I once had a copy of the contract which the tobacco companies make with the newspapers and magazines in which they advertise: it provides that no news and no adverse comments, on the tobacco habit must ever be published.

"In my own experiments and tests of the contents of cigarets I have always found that in addition to tobacco and the usual sweeteners and moisteners they contain something else. I also found it strange that every time Congress tries to pass a bill to analyze cigaret contents the tobacco firms go to Washington in droves and stop any such investigation. What are they afraid of? I have reason to believe that imported Turkish tobacco contains more than a trace of Cannabis Indica, or Indian Hemp as an 'impurity.' When I visited Turkish tobacco fields in 1935 1 found Cannabis Indica to be one of the most common field weeds. And while making country calls around Wisconsin a few years ago I found Cannabis Indica in the farm area owned by the tobacco company growers. I got in tough with the US narcotics inspector and he went after the big growers, and shortly afterwards word came that no more Indian Hemp would be raised there. To me all this is evidence that the tobacco cigaret makers want to put a small amount of this habit-forming drug into their product in place of Turkish."

Smoking & Cancer

September 8, 1947 P. 3

THE first cancer symposium in the history of Kentucky was held Aug 21, in Louisville, 400 doctors attending. Dr Wm A Ochsner, head of Tulane U Medical School surgery dept ' declared "it is reasonable to suppose that the continued irritation (caused by smoking) may be responsible for the development of carcinoma (cancer)." He added that there is "definite parallelism" between the increased sale of cigarets and the incidence of cancer.

Six noted speakers returned to this theme. The news was reported by the Courier-Journal on the front page, 2-col head. This is one newspaper that deserves to be on the honor roll.

(IN FACT's exposé of tobacco as a cause for cancer, entire issue of July 28, may be had for the asking by new subscribers).

327,000,000,000 Cigarets

YEAR ending June 30 U S public smoked 327 billion cigarets, producers made 360 billion cigarets, two and a third times more than prewar average.

Chesterfield ad show "kings of sports," Bobby Riggs, Sid Luckman, Adolf Kiefer, Nat Holman, Stan Musial, Ted Williams and Lloyd Mangrum endorsing this brand. An adman writes (Space & Time, Aug 18): "This is what I call real vicious advertising--practically telling the young of the land it's all right to go ahead and smoke. These athletes are heroes to young adolescents worthy of emulation." Actually all such testimonials are bought and paid for; frequently from athletes who never smoke.


In fact


(No. 370) Vol. XVI. No. 6

November 10. 1947

NEXT WEEK, the nation's advertising geniuses, the hucksters with the "sincere" $50 neckties who run a $2-billion a year business, will meet in New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to plot new forays Into the nation's pocketbook.

At their annual meeting last November, they listened politely and then just as politely ignored some sound advice by Bernice Fitz-Gibbon, the $100,000 a year ad ace who helped put Macy's and Gimbels on the map. In a few well-chosen words she told them what is wrong with advertising. It stinks, she said.

Press, Radio Suppress Story of New Frauds

This year, in legal language, a more serious charge comes from the Federal Trade Commission. Advertising, it says, particularly the million-dollar campaigns peddled in the newspapers, magazines and radio by the tobacco companies, is false, deceptive, unfair, misleading, and in some instances downright dishonest.

There is little likelihood that this official complaint will receive any more attention than Miss Fitz-GIbbon's advice. The big item on the admen's agenda is how to sell its multi-million dollar propaganda campaign to big business (IN FACT Oct 6). The ad agencies and their clients are not too concerned with FTC charges as long as they receive so little publicity. People who are victimized by false claims harbor no resentment If they don't know they've been gypped.

The new FTC material, which was available to all papers Sept 5, when public hearings were held in Washington, was suppressed as completely as similar complaints in the past. Radio, which raked in loads of tobacco advertising money, did not air the charges. Even the usually alert labor-liberal press, with few exceptions, either missed the story or else took it for granted that honesty in advertising Is not to be expected.

Modern Ads Have Bad Odor, Hit As Real Menace

According to the September FTC hearing, which involved the R J Reynolds Tobacco Co, makers of Camel cigarettes and Prince Albert smoking tobacco, virtually every advertising claim it has made is untrue. The same stigma was slapped on the claims of every other popular brand of cigarette, FTC records Show. The sweeping government indictment bolstered Miss Fitz-Gibbon's attack. She told the ad men:

"Advertising Is in bad odor today. Many are denouncing it as an out-and-out menace... Now, we are all to blame, of course, but . . . it's the agency writers who are pulling down the whole shining edifice. Theres too much sizzle and too little steak .... [They] blithely take over the field of morals, metaphysics and theology .... [They] guarantee that .[the reader] and everyone dear to her will live happily and untouched by tragedy for the rest of their natural days If she only has this Jar of skin cleanser.... The unclogging of her pores ... will shield her from toil, trouble, disease, disaster and divorce....

"The things we have to sell won't take the place of the Ten Commandments.... Copy can be casually optimistic, but no more. National ads are all loused up with the over-excited, over-eager, over-happy faces.

Her conclusion to the ad men: "Tone it down."

The FTC hearing showed they didn't.

Wide Variety of Falsehood Found in Ads

The government complaints show an amazing assortment of utopian claims which the FTC alleges are untrue.

Pan Mall (Docket No 4826) promises that nicotine finger stains will fade or disappear and all throat irritations will also disappear. "In truth and in fact, none of these representations Is true," the FTC charges.

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