VCU and the Tobacco Industry (9/28/07)

Dwane Powell ( archive, bio, email ) of the Raleigh New & Observer penned this cartoon dated 9/2/06.

Tobacco activist Anne Landman (bio, email), while at the American Lung Association of Colorado, documented how tobacco companies paid retailers generous fees to strategically place self-service cigarette displays out of the line of sight of clerks and near the doors, resulting in cigarettes being shoplifted, primarily by youth. Her efforts culminated in CBS Evening News broadcasting an April 12, 1999 “Eye on America” segment , “Tempting Teens with Tobacco.”

Now she has written an interesting September 12 blog entry for PRWatch exposing Virginia Commonwealth University’s connections with the tobacco industry. This university which includes the Medical College of Virginia receives a lot of money from tobacco giant Philip Morris. Additionally its president, Dr. Eugene Trani, who has worked to make VCU a smoker-friendly campus, on February 11, 2000,

was appointed a director of the Universal Corporation, a holding company that owns Universal Leaf Tobacco, the country’s largest purchaser and supplier of tobacco leaf. According to Universal’s Web site, Trani still sits on the company’s Board of Directors as of 2007. An August 9, 2007 filing with the Securities Exchange Commission available online reveals that he currently owns 6,250 shares of common stock in the Universal Corporation, thereby profiting personally from domestic and foreign cigarette sales.

Landman edits the Sourcewatch portal TobaccoWiki, which examines the tobacco industry because its

strategies, propaganda tactics and corporate behaviors … can give insight into the behavior of other multinational industries and corporations. To that end,TobaccoWiki seeks to increase public understanding of tobacco industry strategies to deceive the public about the health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke; delay regulation of cigarettes, influence regulation and standards in their favor;market their products more heavily in the third world, where there is less regulation; market to young people; form front groups, coalitions and fake “grassroots” groups to do the industry’s bidding; leverage human emotional and psychological needs to make cigarDwane ette advertising more effective; target less-educated, low income and minority ethnic groups; alter the American judicial system to block lawsuits (“tort reform”); intimidate legislators, regulators, public health scientists and voluntary health organizations; draft and pass laws in their favor; preempt local efforts to limit indoor smoking; engineer cigarettes for addiction, and much, much more.

Landman’s trove of tobacco documments can be found online here, along with others made available through the American Legacy Foundation (ALF), started in March 1999 as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between a coalition of attorneys general in 46 states and five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. It’s purpose is to discourage smoking in youth. ALF is also co-sponsoring TobaccoWiki.

When U was finishing up the llrx article on schip. I noted that several Democrats who voted against the measure come from tobacco states. Presumably, they objected to the taxing of cigarettes to fund children’s healthcare.


Helped Mike with progressive link list.



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