NEWSMAKER: MR. GOLDSTONE
January 29, 1998
Testifying before the House Commerce Committee, Steven Goldstone, the CEO of RJR Nabisco, acknowledged the health risk of tobacco products. Jim Lehrer talks with Mr. Goldstone about his testimony and the future of the tobacco settlement.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
January 16, 1998
Texas and Minnesota have suits pending against the tobacco companies.
December 31, 1997
California bans smoking in just about all in-door public places, including bars.
August 25, 1997
Florida settles with the tobacco industry for $11.3 billion deal.
Congressman Waxman and Connecticut Attorney General Blumenthal debate the tobacco settlement.
June 20, 1997
A panel discussion the tobacco settlement.
May 20, 1997:
Research strongly suggests that second-hand smoke is a possible cause of heart disease.
April 18, 1997:
Experts discuss the future of the tobacco industry.
March 20, 1997:
The Liggett Group admits that smoking cigarettes is addictive and can cause cancer.
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Food and Drug Administration
KWAME HOLMAN: In 1994, seven tobacco industry executives stood before the House Commerce Committee and swore nicotine is not addictive.
SPOKESMAN: Do you believe nicotine is not addictive?
SPOKESMAN: I believe nicotine is not addictive.
KWAME HOLMAN: That contention was widely refuted, as have been many other of the $50 billion a year industry's defenses of its products and practices. Individuals have sued tobacco companies for years. Recently, governments have joined the legal attack. Mississippi, Florida, and Texas recently settled for payments from tobacco companies totaling some $30 billion. This week, Minnesota's tobacco lawsuit became the first to reach the trial stage. Since June, a national tobacco settlement negotiated between the industry and state attorneys general has remained on the table, awaiting action by Congress and the President.
The tobacco settlement: $368 billion over 25 years.
That settlement would require cigarette makers to pay $368 billion over 25 years towards smoking-related health costs and for anti-smoking campaigns, allow the Food & Drug Administration to regulate nicotine as a drug but bar the FDA from outlawing nicotine for 12 years, restrict tobacco advertising and force the industry to take steps to reduce youth smoking.
In return, the tobacco companies would receive immunity from future class action lawsuits and from punitive damages for past practices. The industry's legal liability would be capped at $5 billion per year. Today the House Commerce Committee began reviewing the proposed settlement with a new panel on tobacco industry leadership, all of whom took their jobs since 1994. The question about the addictive nature of nicotine was asked again.
SPOKESPERSON: Is nicotine addictive?
STEVEN GOLDSTONE, RJR Nabisco: Yes, I think under the way people use the term today I agree, it is.
SPOKESMAN: I think under some definitions today that would be accurate.
SPOKESMAN: Under the definition that you are using today, I gather, it would be addictive.
SPOKESPERSON: Thank you.
JIM LEHRER: Now to one of those industry officials who testified today, Steven Goldstone, chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco. Mr. Goldstone, welcome. First, on the addiction question, when did RJR determine that smoking was addictive?
Mr. Goldstone: "But my own personal opinion...I think it is addictive, because it's a habit."
STEVEN GOLDSTONE, RJR Nabisco: It really is--it's different people have different opinions because it really is a definitional matter. But my own personal opinion, the way people use addiction, the term "addiction," I think it is addictive, because it's a habit. It's a habit-forming product. And, therefore, in my view, it's addictive.
JIM LEHRER: Is that, from your perspective, necessarily a bad thing, or a good thing?
STEVEN GOLDSTONE: I think people should be aware that it is habit forming, and, you know, under the proposed resolution there is going to be a warning that says nicotine--that cigarettes are addictive. And if you look at the basic principles that this is a product that does have known health risks and should only be for adults, if there is an issue about whether cigarettes are addictive, the public should be aware of it. And they have that in their minds before they make a choice to smoke cigarettes. And that's what the proposed resolution will include.
JIM LEHRER: But as a basic business proposition, if you're in the business of selling a product that is, in fact, addictive, that's a good thing, is it not?
STEVEN GOLDSTONE: Well, it's really what's a good thing is to have people be aware that this may be a product that once they start using, it may be a habit that's difficult for them to break. And I agree with that. I think that is something that should be a warning on the packs, and that is something that the proposed resolution will take care of.
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