The Strickman filter was a cigarette filter developed by Robert Strickman, an industrial chemist from River Vale, New Jersey, who started working on designing a new type of filter around 1959, because both his parents died of cancer.
Strickman claimed that the filter he developed was 70 percent more effective than the filters currently in use at that time, in keeping tars and nicotines and certain gases away from cigarette smokers. He said it was no more expensive to make than existing filters of that time, and that it did not affect the taste of the cigarette. Around July, 1967, Mr. Strickman turned over the patent rights to the University of Columbia and kept only a minority interest himself. The money Columbia got as a result were to go to support education and research. Strickman requested any money the University made off the filter go towards medical and cancer research. Strickman would not reveal what was in the filter. He would only say that it was a "new polymeric substance," that it was non-toxic, made of materials that were readily available at low cost In the United States and most other countries, and that it could be adapted to meet the needs of any particular brand of cigarettes.
By January, 1968, Columbia agreed to sell the rights and financial interest in the filter to Imperial Tobacco of Canada, saying that the school had "made a well-intentioned mistake by entering a highly controversial and competitive field" when it got involved with the filter.
Controversy over the filter erupted almost immediately after its existence was revealed. Senator Magnusen, Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee and an outspoken advocate of tobacco control, believed the Strickman filter was less efficient than the other filters currently in production. He maintained Columbia had been "stampeded" into implicitly endorsing the filter without adequate scientific testing, and denounced the commercial exploitation of the school's endorsement that occurred when interest in it was transferred to Columbia.
- Hill & Knowlton Full Text Press release. 1 page. 13, 1967. Bates No. HK00501097/10
- J.E. Bishop Canada Imperial Tobacco Is First Licensee Of Strickman Filter; Columbia Cedes Rights Wall Street Journal. Newspaper article. February 29, 1968. Brown & Williamson Bates No.690013210