Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2011

Big Tobacco

Scandal: Big Tobacco's big lie

Best quote from the testimony: "I believe nicotine is not addictive." — William Campbell, former president and CEO of Philip Morris USA; the same statement was subsequently made by the other six executives

In 1994, seven Big Tobacco executives defended their deadly wares before a congressional subcommittee, most infamously raising their right hands and swearing that nicotine was not addictive. The panel, led by Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California, was having none of it: for six hours — all televised — members interrupted the witnesses in midsentence, ridiculed their testimony and all but accused them of lying. One exec insisted that cigarettes were no more addictive than coffee, tea or Twinkies. "The difference between cigarettes and Twinkies," Waxman shot back, "is death." It's pretty hard to work up a comeback to that zinger.