TOBACCO: Part 2
In 1890, tobacco baron James Duke achieves a "tobacco trust" by organizing the American Tobacco Company. By this move, Duke now controls approximately 85% of the cigarette output in the United States.
In 1900, criminals representing nicotine-run financial concerns turn to physical force in order to addict people for profit. "Black Patch" gangs roam areas in Tennessee and Western Kentucky, calling themselves "protective associations," as they "persuade" non-tobacco planting farmers to plant their poison instead.
Black Patch night riders engage in property damage that includes barn burning and crop destruction; even a few murders are considered to be all a part of this fearful violence.
In 1880, American James Bonsack develops the first practical machine for rolling cigarettes. It results in a revolution for the industry, which had previously forced women and children into deplorable working conditions (long before unions and child labor laws) while hand-rolling cigarettes.
Three years of testing later, the machine is officially released on the market, starting in Durham, North Carolina. But of course Bonsack is the son of a tobacco plantation owner in - you guessed it - Virginia.
In 1901, James Duke, having conquered the U.S. market, buys the tobacco firm of Ogden Ltd. of Liverpool, England. It is here that he now starts to build an international monopoly.
In 1904, the American Tobacco Company, the Consolidated Tobacco Company, and the Continental Tobacco Company merge into one huge concern. It is called the American Tobacco Company, and is based in New Jersey, starting with an authorized capital of $300 million.
In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the American Tobacco Company is in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Acts and breaks up the tobacco trust into 16 independent and (presumably), competing units.
However, the main result of the "trust busting" action was that four tobacco companies, instead of 16, emerge with the most powerful positions in the industry. After the ruling, the "Big Four," consisting of the American Tobacco Company, Liggett and Myers, Lorillard, and R.J. Reynolds, each now have assets ranging from $50 million to $95 million.
In 1912, Dr. Tidswell cites an early link between smoking and its effect upon the reproductive process, stating that "the most common cause of female sterility is the abuse of tobacco by men."
In 1915, a powerful tobacco lobby is formed, similar to other lobbies for life-threatening products, such as the beef lobby and the gun lobby. Rather than treat separate legislation affecting them by individual merit, the "large lobby" operation attacks in a blanket way any and all types of legislation that they may define as being even slightly "hostile" to their industry.
This arm of the tobacco business is called the Tobacco Merchants Association.
In 1958, the cigarette manufacturers organize the Tobacco Institute, Inc., a lobbying and public relations organization for the industry; it is an updated and even more militant version of the Tobacco Merchants Association.
In 1918, tobacco is further praised as a positive element by an influential public figure: General John "Black Jack" Pershing, Commander of the allied forces in France is widely quoted as saying "You ask me what we need to win this war - I answer 'tobacco as much as bullets.'" (Perhaps in Pershing's case a nickname of "Black Lung" would have been more appropriate.)
In 1939, in America, the first scientific study of the link between smoking and lung cancer is published. 55 years and many increasingly harsh Surgeon Generals' reports later, the tobacco industry giants will still be allowed to make the undocumented claim of "complete safety" in this area, with ultimately little or no interference by the U.S. government, which still numbers the tobacco lobby among its few key influences.
In 1964, Luther Terry, America's Surgeon General releases the first of many such Surgeon General reports that will appear over the years condemning cigarette smoking and its link to health problems including cancer and heart disease.
Terry states that "Cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action."
And what "remedial action" follows? A small warning label is put on the sides of cigarette packs that most people either don't read or heed, beginning in 1966.
In 1962, in England, the Report of the Royal College of Physicians of London concludes, as the did the 1939 American lung cancer report, that there is a definite link between tobacco and death.
The well-publicized findings of the Royal College state without any reservation that "cigarette smoking is dangerous to one's health." Many more damaging British reports in a similar tone follow over the next few years; however, as also becomes the case in America, little is changed except for the token gesture of cigarette pack warning labels.
In 1969, cigarette advertising on TV is discontinued in Canada, and the United States does likewise two years later, but such advertising is not banned in most other countries; since it is increasingly easier and cheaper to travel, millions of North Americans continue to see cigarettes touted on TV all over the world, so the limited "ad-ban" concept does little to decrease peoples' exposure to positively-influenced portrayals of smoking.
In 1976, on the 200th anniversary year of America's Declaration of Independence, after various ineffective anti-smoking warnings and campaigns, the nation is smoking an estimated 620 billion cigarettes. This annual figure shows an increase of 2.1 percent from 1975, and future levels continue to rise from there.
In 1994, the U.S. Government's Food and Drug Administration finally declares tobacco to be "an addictive substance." The August 2 announcement receives mixed reactions by the public:
Anti-smoking advocates see officially admitting the fact by this time as being too little too late, while the smoking side, if they don't choose to deny or ignore the statement (as they have done with many lesser statements in the past), feel cheated that they have been lied to about tobacco's effects all along, since the FDA never actually admitted it before.
Meanwhile, although now labelled as an official "addictive" substance, incredibly tobacco remains available for open sale on millions of store shelves in the U.S. and around the world.
To make matters worse, a standard situation is the entire court system standing idly by while thousands die of smoking each year.
The courts have always been very hesitant to demand that the tobacco industry admit what harmful substances are in their product, because cigarette makers claim it would be tantamount to exposing a company's "trade secrets."
Meanwhile the courts strangely have steadfastly refused over the years to seek any middle-ground on that crucial point.
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