George Seldes on Tobacco


(No. 440) Val. XVIII, No. 24

March 14. 1949

FROM the NYTimes Feb 27: "Cigarettes Linked to Cancer in Lungs. Study of 200 Male Sufferers Shows 95.5% Were Heavy Smokers 20 Years." Same paper, March 1: "American Tobacco Reports Good Year. Not Profit Up to $43,912,204, or $7.58 a Share."

Ever since this weekly's first big expose nine years ago of the suppressed Johns Hopkins report showing a link between tobacco and lung cancer, the subject has come up at virtually every cancer conference held. Invariably, the stories were suppressed or played down for fear of offending the cigarette companies, which were then, and still are, among the biggest advertisers in the country. The most recent report Feb 27 received big play in the Times, Herald-Tribune, some other Sunday papers, was not mentioned in any weekpaper the following day.

Cost of Cigarettes

October 24, 1949 p. 2-3 I

MORE than 9 years ago In Fact began publishing the suppressed news about debility and death due to the use of cigarettes and tobacco in all forms, pointing out that the free US press will not publish the news because tobacco firms spend about 50 million a year in advertising. The most important document was the report of Dr Raymond Pearl of Johns Hopkins showing that tobacco shortens life.

Up to now the Pearl report was available only in Facts & Fascism (by the editor of this weekly). Now Andrew Salter in "Conditional Reflex Therapy" (Creative Age) has used the documented facts. Salter writes:

"Consider the following:

Average Age at death

Nonsmokers 67.7 years

Moderate smokers 65.5 years

Heavy smokers 57.7 years

"Notice in the table that while moderate Smokers paid with 'only' 2.2 years of life, heavy smokers had 10 Years less of life than nonsmokers.

"Some computations also show:

"The moderate smoker pays with 12.7 minutes of life for each cigaret he smokes.

"The heavy smoker pays with 34.6 minutes of life for each cigaret he smokes.

The pack a day smoker pays with 111/2 hours of life for each pack of cigarets he smokes."

Credit for reviewing the book and quoting frightening facts goes to NYPost.

Within the past 5 years In Fact has reported numerous times on American Medical Society and medical convention reports on tobacco as the cause of increased lung cancer. About 90% of the US press, taking money from cigaret firms, suppressed this.

(No. 475) Vol. XX. No. 7

November 14. 1949


One of the most important documents in the long history of the fight by American doctors against cancer has been suppressed by a large part of the American press.

The reason for the suppression is simple: it deals with the effect of cigaret smoking as a cause of lung cancer.

The cigaret companies along with the soap and auto industry are the three largest advertisers in the United States, each spending about $50,000,000 a year, largely in the newspapers, to get the American public to use their products.

The document is the report made by Dr Evarts A Graham to the InterAmerican Congress of Surgery, Chicago, October 23.

In New York City, the Herald Tribune published about 300 words of this news item on page 11, in the last column of its theatrical page. It was suppressed by the New York Times (which says it prints "all the news fit to print") and the other 7 NYC dailies. (The 600 word Associated Press report is given in full below). Of all major cities, the N Y press, supposed to be the best, had the worst record.

A Few Papers Published All Or Part of News

St Louis: The Post-Dispatch, one of the 1% of the U S press which is always rated as honest, responsible, and worthy of an honor roll, published the Chicago AP story in full, more than a half-column.

Chicago: The Tribune, voted "the worst newspaper in the U S" by correspondents, published half a column on the 6th page of its 3rd section Oct 24. The story was on the obit page. Column 2 was marked "Obituaries," column 3 was the cigaret-cancer item, and columns 6, 7 and 8 were most appropriately "Death Notices."

The Chi Daily News used a 2-column head ("DOCTOR CITES CIGARETTES AS LUNG CANCER FACTOR") on a story about 8 inches long.

It was, of course, a Chicago origination and no paper could afford to suppress it there. Such news in the past has been generally suppressed. In this instance Chicago did well--especially in contrast with New York, with almost 90% suppression.

Here is Full Cigaret-Cancer Item Sent by AP

Burlington Free Press: the AP item, cut to about 6 inches, was printed by this Vermont paper, with the head emphasizing the cancer danger to smokers.

Cleveland Plain Dealer: about half the AP item was used.

Los Angeles Daily News: in one edition this paper ran most of the tiny UP item the NYHerald-Tribune had run, but in another edition (also sent us by readers) even this small item was cut in half, so that only about 3 inches remained -- and this on page 40. In the same paper there was a huge ad proclaiming: "No Cigaret Hangover," boosting Philip Morris. Anyone could miss the cancer story; no one could miss the ad.

Throughout the 9 1/2 years of its existence this weekly has published documentary evidence that the press suppresses news because of advertisers. The press and its apologists deny this, is, never take up any specific instance. Inasmuch as the as the latest report contains new facts of vital interest to every smoker, we publish herewith the entire AP story, just as it was received by NY papers over the ticker--and not used.

"AGENCIES OUT 113 "A 114 CK (450)

"CHICAGO, OCT 23-(AP))-A St Louis surgeon said today that in his study of 400 cases of lung cancer, 'it has been very rare' to encounter a man with the most common form of the disease who had not been an 'excessive' cigaret smoker at one time.

"Dr Evarts A Graham, professor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and surgeon -in-chief at Barnes and St Louis Children's Hospitals, addressed the sixth Inter-American Congress of Surgery.

"Dr Graham said that lung cancer, a rare condition 50 years ago, has become so common in recent years 'that now there is evidence indicating that, at least in males, it is the most common visceral cancer.'

"Seeking an explanation, Dr Graham noted that Internal Revenue Department figures 'show an enormous increase in the production and sale of cigarets during the last 50 years.'

"So, with the cooperation of a number of surgical clinics, he has been making a statistical study.

"He told the congress 'it is too early to give even a preliminary report of this study, but it can be stated that in 400 cases of proven bronchiogenic carcinoma (lung cancer) it has been very rare to encounter a man with a squamous (scaly) bronchiogenic carcinoma who had not been an excessive cigaret smoker for years, or at least who had not formerly smoked cigarets excessively.

"'By "excessive" smoking is meant more than one pack a day. It should be emphasized that it is not necessary that at the time he should be an excessive smoker, because from the abundant work on the experimental development of cancer in animals it is well known that there is a considerable time lag between the application of the carcinogenic (cancer forming) agent and the development of the cancer, which in the human apparently may be a matter of five years or more.'

Cigar and Pipe Less Dangerous Than Cigaret

"Dr Graham added: 'The use of tobacco in other forms, as in pipes or cigars, appears not to bear the same important relationship. It would seem, therefore, that if smoking is an etiological (cause) factor, it is something in the composition of cigarets which contains the carcinogenic agent.

"'Various possibilities suggest themselves, perhaps something used in the curing of tobacco, insecticides employed during its growth, or maybe even something in the paper.'

"He went on to say that 'the remarkable etiological relationship between cigarets and bronchiogenic carcinoma which seems to be developing applies chiefly, if not entirely, to squamous, or epidermoid, carcinoma.

"'This is the carcinoma which is by far the most common lung tumor, and it is the one which has shown the striking increase. It is overwhelmingly a male disorder (in our last 75 cases 18 males to one female).

"'It arises usually in a major bronchus (windpipe) and it represents a transformation of adult epithelium (cellural tissue covering a free surface or lining a tube or cavity) into cancer tissue.

"'In our experience when a woman has such a tumor, almost invariably she is or has been a heavy cigaret smoker. It is a common belief that, at least in this country, women are as much or even more addicted to cigaret smoking than men.

"'However, a statistical study of this question, not yet published, indicates that only about 40 percent of the women of cancer age smoke at all and of these only a small percentage smoke to excess. The younger women who have not yet reached the cancer age are more likely to be heavy smokers.'

In treating lung cancer, Dr Graham said, 'the results of many surgeons show that the condition is curable' if the cancerous lung is removed early enough." ER731PCS NM"

New York Papers Suppressed News Ever Since 1938

The fact that even a small part of this important news item was printed in certain newspapers marks progress--although at the same time it reveals the press of the American metropolis about as bad as it has always been.

The first important test resulted from the Town Meeting debate Jan 12, 1939 on "Do We Have a Free Press" between Harold L Ickes, then Secy of the Interior, and Frank E. Gannett, owner of a newspaper chain and main backer of the Committee for Constitutional Govt, exposed in Congress several times as "America's No 1 fascist outfit"

The present editor of IN Fact furnished Mr Ickes with numerous items including a documented report on the suppression of the 1938 address in NY by Dr Raymond Pearl of Johns Hopkins on the tests at that medical. school proving that tobacco actually shortens life. (The whole story is told in "Facts & Fascism," pages 268-273; with the Pearl document, 284-286).

Mr Ickes mentioned the suppression casually, whereupon the NYC press leaped upon him, challenged him, denounced him. In Fact's editor sent the Herald Tribune, Times, World-Telegram's then columnist Westbrook Pegler and others who smeared Ickes the factual documentation. The facts were that Pearl's expose before the NY Medical Assn had been covered by the NY press and that the reporters had turned in their stories, and this is what happened:

Herald Tribune: total suppression.

Sun: total suppression.

Daily News: total suppression.

Post: total suppression.

Journal-American: total suppression.

Mirror: total suppression.

World-Telegram: published a few lines, buried.

New York Times: published a half-column story on page 19 on the Pearl address, discussing hard work and alcohol in relation to long life; buried in two paragraphs at the bottom the sensational news that Johns Hopkins had discovered that tobacco shortens life. The Times, however, is to be credited with the fact that two months after the NYC appearance of Pearl he repeated his findings in Chicago and the Times ran the item "Tobacco Called a Life Shortener" for half a column.

Ad Agency Power Shown in This And Other Cases

One of the curiosities of the case was the stand taken by Dr Pearl when the scandal resulting from the Jekes debate became nationwide: he issued a statement that his report had been widely reported, that he had 250 clippings from every "crossroads town" in America proving advertisers do not control the press. He could not, however, produce clippings from big city papers which take cigaret advertising.

Heywood Broun in one of his Iast columns in the World-Telegram--just before Roy Howard refused to renew the contract of his one liberal writer--declared advertisers do influence the press, that Dr Pearl was wrong.

The New Republic declared Dr Pearl owed an apology to the present editor of In Fact; published the entire story accusing the press of suppressing the tobacco story for financial motives.

In the winter of 1932 a sensational suit involving the American Tobacco Co, its head, George Washington Hill, and Lucky Strikes, was heard in New York before Supreme Court Justice W T Collins. Every newspaper knew about it, the news services covered it, and: The New York Times suppressed the story.

So did the News, Post, World-Telegram, Journal-American, Mirror, Herald Tribune, Sun -- in fact all the commercial dailies.

It was testified that Albert D Lasker of Chicago, former president of Lord & Thomas, leading advertising agency, then representing American Tobacco, made a loan of $250,000 which found its way into the pocket of Judge Martin Manton, Chief of the U S Circuit Court of Appeals. One month later Judge Manton ruled against a stockholder who was suing American Tobacco. In 1939 Judge Manton went to prison as a common criminal.

A Few Facfs Are Printed in the Press, Magazines

The first complete,documented, and authoritative story on tobacco as a cause of diseases and a shortener of life appeared in the Dec 14 1942 issue of IN Fact. The three leading authorities quoted were:

Dr Pearl, Prof I F Ashley Montagu, of Hahnemann Medical College, and Dr Edwin J Grace of the Grace Clinic, Brooklyn, which specializes in cancer. The last two items were written for In Fact by the specialists.

Dr Grace was the first to discuss the prevalence of cancer among smokers in a layman's publication. Since then, as cancer increased throughout America, there have been more and more references in many publications, as for example:

The NYTimes Dec 23 1944 mentioned the Mutual Life Ins Co report saying the present cigaret shortage "may lengthen lives." The Times reported: "Long-term studies of large groups of policyholders, it stated, had shown 26 to 100% rises in death rates among heavy smokers in the 30 to 50-year age brackets as compared with non-smokers." (This important news was buried in a 3-inch item).

Durham (N Car) Morning Herald frontpaged (Oct 24 1945) the report to Duke University by Dr Alton Ochsner, regional director, American Cancer Society, under heading: "CANCER OF LUNG INCREASES WITH SALE OF CIGARETTES."

Reader's Scope, the liberal but now deceased rival of the reactionary Reader's Digest, featured Leonard Engel's "CIGARETTES CAUSE CANCER?" in its Aug 1946 issue.

NYTimes Oct 3 1946 published an important story under a 2-col headline: "SCIENTISTS DISCUSS THE POSSIBILITY OF GETTING CANCER FROM SMOKING. Malignancy in Women's Lungs Is Pondered With Their Growing Use of Cigarettes."

An entire book could be written on the facts established in the past ten years, and the failure of most American papers to adequately report on a matter affecting the health and lives of millions.

Tobacco & Cancer

THE morning newspapers of July 18 carried reports of the fifth International Cancer Research Congress in Paris. In New York the News had a 2-col head p 7: "Scientists Declare Smokers Tend to Higher Cancer Rates." Readers of In Fact from 1940 on have had the reports of the greatest clinics, scientists, medical conventions, showing that there is a relationship between cancer and tobacco, and that smoking is not only harmful but the heavier the smoking the more chance of earlier death, more sicknesses, and cancer. We also stated that the newspaper and magazine press, living on advertising, has for a generation suppressed all this news *(with 1% exception in the newspapers, at times).

The Herald Tribune p 13 carried a story of the opening of the congress, but not one word about tobacco and cancer. The NYTimes did not carry one word about tobacco and cancer. The Journal-American and all Hearst papers suppress all news which might lose tobacco or drug or similar advertising.

The Post and Compass carried 5-col, full page lines, on smoking as a direct cause of cancer covered the story in full. Some radio stations mentioned it. But John B Kennedy, speaking on WJZ-American Broadcasting system for a reducing tablet said after giving the news that it "doesn't DOOM to me to prove very much as nonsmokers also contract cancer." He laughed off the highest medical scientific evidence in the world.

July 19 the NYTimes ran a full column by its science editor reporting all the news about cancer from the great Paris congress but not one line about tobacco. The Herald Tribune ran a half column, not one line about cancer due to tobacco.

The tobacco-cancer story is one of a thousand subjects distorted, suppressed, buried, dishonestly reported by 99% of the US press; it is one of the scores of subjects which In Fact alone in America has presented to the public.

Cancer and Tobacco News Suppressed

October 2, 1950 p.3

Not all the exposes in In Fact dealt with fascism in America, falsehood in the press or the anti-labor plots of big business, the NAM and the like. We found that the American press, living on advertising, will to the extent of 75% to 90% suppress the sensational reports made at medical meetings of the effect of cigaret smoking as a cause for cancer; or of advertised medicines which harm millions. Incidentally, we found that the Federal Trade Commission issues certain press releases every day -- known as stipulations, complaints, and fraud orders -- and we have a letter from the Associated Press confirming our view that the AP does get them and does send them to its 1500 or so clients, but that the majority of the press suppresses them because they deal with well known products, cigarets, food, drugs, automobiles. You may not think this is important, but it is something that may affect your health, and always your pocketbook, but the press suppresses the news. The NYTimes wrote In Fact it runs FTC when it has space, but that is about once a week, and the Times is one of the few papers which ever mentions fraud orders. Yet most of the 1750 dailies, suppressing unfavorable news about advertisers, maintains we have a free, meaning an honest, press.

Refused Financial Assistance

We could go on with this story. All I want to say to my loyal readers is take any issue of In Fact and read it again. And then recall that in my May 22nd issue, celebrating the tenth anniversary of In Fact, I warned you as follows:

"We therefore say to every reader: ask yourself if you are one of the many thousands who want to be informed. Ask yourself if you want In Fact to go on for another ten years doing the job it has done in the past.

"If you say Yes, you want us to continue, you will have to act now. You will have to raise our subscription list again to 100,000.

"Your enemies, the reactionaries, are in power in the press, in politics, everywhere. The voices against reaction are few and small. I You must decide now that you want this publication to continue in this fight against reaction."

I concluded with the words: "You must do something. Now." A few did, the majority did not. It was the apathy of the liberal Left which caused In Fact to suspend publication at this vital moment.

Other independent publications are subsidized by rich liberals, or by a group or association of friends. Persons and groups have offered to help In Fact financially. This I refused. I believed that it was possible to publish without advertising and without financial assistance, relying entirely on voluntary aid in subscription getting by loyal and enthusiastic, readers, but it seems I was mistaken.

We Fought A Good Fight

To those who have worked for In Fact I am more than grateful. I have always felt that we were together in this fight against reaction, and I was not helping you nor were you helping me, but you and I were together in this desperate battle against the real enemies of America.

The fight will go on. We hope this period of suspension will be a short one. I do not feel defeated and I am sure that/You too will never give up in this conflict with your real! enemies, the enemies of all the American people, including the apathetic majority. Thank you, faithful readers. Hail -- and for the time being -- Farewell.

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