Avoidance of Studies on Polonium 210 Retention in Smokers&#x02019 Lungs

Internal tobacco industry documents suggest that although the companies undertook efforts to determine levels of PO 210 in tobacco and tobacco smoke, only British American Tobacco and the German cigarette industry conducted limited studies of PO 210 retention in the lungs of smokers.84 In 1985, British American Tobacco used 1 smoker and 12 cigarettes to conclude that PO 210 retention (mean retention of 40%) was slightly lower than but similar to the lung retention of total particulate matter (tar and nicotine) from inhaled mainstream smoke.85 British American Tobacco concluded that even though it could better determine true PO 210 lung retention values, it planned to refrain from further research and would keep abreast of other research produced in this area.85

Internal Philip Morris documents suggest that as long as the company could avoid having knowledge of biologically significant levels of PO 210 in its products, it could ignore PO 210 as a possible cause of lung cancer. For example, a 1982 document from Osdene, former director of research and vice president of science and technology at Philip Morris, to former Philip Morris chief executive officer Hugh Cullman and Philip Morris&#x02019 s general counsel Holtzman suggested that as long as a biologically significant PO 210 dose delivered to smokers remained unknown, &#x0201c any suggestion of a cause and effect relationship between exposure to alpha particles from PO 210 and other sources and the occurrence of malignances in any tissues is spurious and unsubstantiated.&#x0201d 86

Despite the encouragement of Philip Morris&#x02019 s own consultant to assess PO 210 retention in smokers&#x02019 lungs,87 no publicly available internal documents contain evidence of human or animal research carried out at Philip Morris to evaluate PO 210 retention in the lung. Conceivably, such documents might have been destroyed or protected from disclosure by privilege claims. It is well known that Philip Morris&#x02019 s Osdene directed biological experiments on nicotine addiction and carcinogenesis induced from cigarette smoke in Philip Morris&#x02019 s offshore laboratory INBIFO (Institut Fur Biologische Forschung) in Cologne, Germany, to avoid discovery in US litigation.64 Philip Morris&#x02019 s consultant Alfred Wolf88,89 urged the company to conduct animal research to determine PO 210 retention in the lung and wrote,

Black market cigarettes may cloud future excessive tobacco taxes could create illicit trade in u.s., author warns – baltimore sun

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Congress recently began debating far reaching tobacco legislation that includes a hefty tax on cigarettes. But politicians would do well to heed the recent experience of other countries that have tried such measures in attempting to reduce tobacco consumption.

Take Canada. Under similar pressures from the anti smoking lobby, the Canadian government cranked up tobacco taxes in the early 1990s.

In the late 1980s, a carton of cigarettes cost about $25 in Canadian currency. By 1993, a legal carton of cigarettes cost between $40 and $60, while illegal cartons were going for between $20 and $30, according to an estimate by the office of Canada’s Solicitor General.

The result was predictable a black market.

High profits

After being exported to the United States, Canadian cigarettes were brought back over the border and sold at a high profit, with organized crime gangs vying aggressively for a share of the market. The Akwesasne Mohawk Indian reserve, at the crossroads of the U.S. border and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, became a key point of entry, with police scrambling in vain to curb well organized, armed smugglers.

For a while, Canadian smokers seemed free and easy about the illicit thrill of buying cigarettes from “a friend of a friend.” Small retailers endured slumping cigarette sales and holdups from bandits seeking to make off with cigarettes.

Soon, an estimated one quarter to one third of cigarettes smoked in Canada came from the black market. The loss of federal taxes to smuggling was estimated at about $1 billion Canadian, with provincial governments losing about the same amount.

In 1994, the Canadian government responded by knocking down combined federal and provincial tobacco taxes by as much as 50 percent. At the same time, it announced new smuggling enforcement initiatives. But sharp differences in taxation levels between Canadian provinces have remained. Interprovincial smuggling continues to be a significant problem. In 1996, Canada’s Auditor General estimated that approximately $630 million in tobacco revenue was being lost to smuggling.

Some might argue that a certain amount of social and financial pain is worth the creation of a smoke free generation. But do high prices keep kids from smoking?

In 1993, Canadians paid an average of $5.65 for a pack of cigarettes, up from $2.64 in 1984. During that period, teen smoking rates fell by 60 percent, with total smoking rates declining 38 percent.

In British Columbia, a pack of cigarettes costs $5.25 ($3.85 in U.S. dollars). Yet a significant number of youngsters continue to smoke. It might turn out that they will pay any price for what they want, whether it’s cigarettes or ridiculously overpriced brand name sneakers.

In fact, it is entirely possible that the combination of high priced legal cigarettes, a black market and strong arm enforcement against sales to youngsters might have an effect opposite of what is intended tempting some youngsters into illegal activity and thereby subjecting them to the influence of hard core criminals.