Inside the Criminal Probe

The Criminal Case Against the Tobacco Industry by Lowell Bergman and Oriana Zill.

An overview as of May 1998 of the Department of Justice's criminal inquiry into the tobacco companies, summarizing the witnesses and documents which have become vital to the probe and latest details on the target letter received by Brown & Williamson Corporation indicating indictments can be expected in the coming months.

Smoking Howitzers

These were released as a result of the ongoing state Medicaid lawsuits. From these and many other documents, lawyers in the Medicaid suits have developed various theories to show the tobacco industry committed a fraud against the American public. The documents have contributed to the idea that the tobacco industry lawyers controlled scientific research in an attempt to hide data that was damaging to the industry. In other words, they covered-up evidence that smoking is addictive and causes diseases. They also used or "misused" the attorney/client privilege to try to keep this evidence from the public. (Click on each for excerpts with explanatory notes.)


This document shows that as early as 1970 cigarette companies had medical evidence that smoking causes lung cancer in animals.


This document written by Brown &amp Williamson's General Counsel is critically important because it indicates that tobacco industry executives knew about the dangers of smoking in the early 1960's but continued to deny them for over thirty years.


This 1981 Philip Morris document clearly shows that Philip Morris knew that teenagers used their product; that they studied this rather extensively; and that they were worried about decreases in youth smoking since it would affect their future customers.


These are notes from a 1981 meeting of the Committee of Counsel, a group of tobacco industry lawyers who met regularly to discuss legal issues of interest to the tobacco industry. According to a federal prosecutor, the group controlled industry scientific research. The notes clearly show the group discussed scientific projects ("Special Projects") which were designed to promote the idea that smoking does not cause disease.

Criminal Probe Timeline


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