frontlinesmoke in the eye

apology accepted

Text of full-page ad by Philip Morris which ran in numerous newspapers/magazines. It made ABC's limited apology regarding charges of `spiking' cigarettes with nicotine look like total victory for Philip Morris.

The ABC television network has issued the following correction and apology to Philip Morris concerning last year's DayOne broadcasts, which alleged that tobacco companies are "spiking" their cigarettes with significant amounts of nicotine from outside sources:

It is the policy of ABC News to make corrections where they are warranted.

On February 28 and March 7, 1994, the ABC program, DayOne, aired segments dealing with the tobacco industry. Philip Morris filed a defamation lawsuit alleging that the segments wrongly reported that, through the introduction of significant amounts of nicotine from outside sources, Philip Morris "artificially spikes" and "fortifies" its cigarettes with nicotine, and "carefully controls" and "manipulates" nicotine for the purpose of "addicting" smokers.

Philip Morris states that it does not add nicotine in any measurable amount from any outside source for any purpose in the course of its manufacturing process, and that its finished cigarettes contain less nicotine than is found in the natural tobacco from which they are made.

ABC does not take issue with those two statements. We now agree that we should not have reported that Philip Morris adds significant amounts of nicotine from outside sources. That was a mistake that was not deliberate on the part of ABC, but for which we accept responsibility and which requires correction. We apologize to our audience and Philip Morris.

ABC and Philip Morris continue to disagree about whether the principal focus of the reports was on the use of nicotine from outside sources. Philip Morris believes that this was the main thrust of the programs. ABC believes that the principal focus of the reports was whether cigarette companies use the reconstituted tobacco process to control the levels of nicotine in cigarettes in order to keep people smoking. Philip Morris categorically denies that it does so. ABC thinks the reports speak for themselves on this issue and is prepared to have the issue resolved elsewhere.

ABC and Philip Morris have agreed to discontinue the defamation action.

Philip Morris accepts ABC's apology, which was read on the ABC television network this week.

As for the group of people who eagerly embraced the "spiking" allegation to serve their ongoing crusade against the tobacco industry -- we stand ready to accept their apologies as well.

The tobacco industry is subject to relentless attacks. And our responses like "spiking" are often disregarded by the media and our critics. Here's all we ask: When charges are leveled against us, don't take them at face value. Instead, consider the information we provide, and then --just as importantly-- subject the charges themselves to the scrutiny and skepticism they deserve. Fairness and a sincere interest in the truth demand no less.

Philip Morris Companies, Inc.

home | talk with lowell bergman | interviews | trail of the b&w documents | webumentary | readings | join the discussion
synopsis | tapes & transcripts | links New Content Copyright ©1999 PBS Online and WGBH/FRONTLINE
Photo Copyright ©1999 Photodisc All Rights Reserved


../talk/ ../readings/ ../webumentary/ ../trail/ ../interviews/ ../