The Frank Statement

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation. Help expose the truth about the tobacco industry.

"A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers" was a historic ad run by the major American tobacco companies on January 4, 1954 that was carefully worded to counteract early published studies indicating cigarettes cause disease, and to lull the public into belief that the tobacco industry was doing something about the problem. The ad marked the turning point in the tobacco industry's history: the beginning of the industry's lengthy U.S. misinformation campaign about the health effects of tobacco.

On January 4, 1954, in response to continuing scientific reports on the detrimental health effects of smoking, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee ran a full-page editorial-advertisement in more than 400 newspapers throughout the U.S. aimed at an estimated 43 million people. The advertisement announced the founding of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, and was a seminal moment in the history not just of tobacco, but of public relations.

The ad read as follows:

A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers

RECENT REPORTS on experiments with mice have given wide publicity to a theory that cigarette smoking is in some way linked with lung cancer in human beings.

Although conducted by doctors of professional standing, these experiments are not regarded as conclusive in the field of cancer research. However, we do not believe that any serious medical research, even though its results are inconclusive should be disregarded or lightly dismissed.

At the same time, we feel it is in the public interest to call attention to the fact that eminent doctors and research scientists have publicly questioned the claimed significance of these experiments.

Distinguished authorities point out:

  • That medical research of recent years indicates many possible causes of lung cancer.
  • That there is no agreement among the authorities regarding what the cause is.
  • That there is no proof that cigarette smoking is one of the causes.
  • That statistics purporting to link cigarette smoking with the disease could apply with equal force to any one of many other aspects of modern life. Indeed the validity of the statistics themselves is questioned by numerous scientists.

We accept an interest in people's heath as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business.

We believe the products we make are not injurious to health.

We always have and always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health. For more than 300 years tobacco has given solace, relaxation, and enjoyment to mankind. At one time or another during those years critics have held it responsible for practically every disease of the human body. One by one these charges have been abandoned for lack of evidence.

Regardless for the record of the past, the fact that cigarette smoking today should even be suspected as a cause of a serious disease is a matter of deep concern to us.

Many people have asked us what we are doing too meet the public's concern aroused by the recent reports. Here is the answer:

We are pledging aid and assistance to the research effort into all phases of tobacco use and health. This joint financial aid will of course be in addition to what is already being contributed by individual companies.

For this purpose we are establishing a joint industry group consisting initially of the undersigned. This group will be known as TOBACCO INDUSTRY RESEARCH COMMITTEE.

In charge of the research activities of the Committee will be a scientist of unimpeachable integrity and national repute. In addition there will be an Advisory Board of scientists disinterested in the cigarette industry. A group of distinguished men from medicine, science, and education will be invited to serve on this Board. These scientists will advise the Committee on its research activities.

This statement is being issued because we believe the people are entitled to know where we stand on this matter and what we intend to do about it.

THE AMERICAN TOBACCO COMPANY, INC.
Paul M. Hahn, President

BURLEY TOBACCO GROWERS COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION
John W. Jones, President

PHILLIP MORRIS & CO. LTD., INC.
O. Parker McComas, President

BENSON & HEDGES
Joseph F. Cullman, Jr., President

LARUS & BROTHER COMPANY, INC.
W. T. Reed, Jr., President

R. J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY
E. A. Darr, President

BRIGHT BELT WAREHOUSE ASSOCIATION
F. S. Royster, President

P. LORILLARD COMPANY
Herbert A. Kent, Chairman

STEPHANO BROTHERS, INC.
C. S. Stephano, D'Sc., Director of Research

BROWN & WILLIAMSON TOBACCO CORPORATION
Timothy V. Hartnett, President

MARLYAND TOBACCO GROWERS ASSOCIATION
Samuel C. Linton, General Manager

TOBACCO ASSOCIATES, INC.
(An organization of free-owned tobacco growers)
J. B. Hutson, President.

BURLEY AUCTION WAREHOUSE ASSOCIATION
Albert Clay, President

UNITED STATES TOBACCO COMPANY

J. W. Peterson, President


Title A FRANK STATEMENT TO CIGARETTE SMOKERS
Org. Author TIRC, TOBACCO INDUSTRY RESEARCH COMMITTEE
Date 19540104/E
Type ADVE, ADVERTISEMENT
Bates 86017454
Collection Lorillard
Pages 1
URL:http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/qxp91e00

SourceWatch resources

External resources

  • Kelly D. Brownell and Kenneth E. Warner, Yale University; University of Michigan [x-msg://167/#news280601 The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar Is Big Food?] The Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 87, No. 1, 2009 (pp. 259–294)
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