Tobacco Industry Documents on ETS-The Next Front

  • Hurt, Richard D (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Minnesota tobacco trial never reached the jury, yet it forever changed the landscape of tobacco litigation and for the tobacco industry itself. This trial directly resulted in the release of more than 41 million pages (approximately 33 million in Minneapolis, Minnesota and 8 million in Guildford, England) of previously confidential industry documents, many of which were made public during and after the trial. The documents have recently had a major influence on juries in Oregon, California and Florida, resulting in an unprecedented wave of victories for plaintiffs in smoking-related litigation. Clearly, the release of the tobacco industry documents is the legacy of the Minnesota trial. Among the many misleading information campaigns executed by the tobacco industry is the industry's campaign related to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The documents show that health and public policy issues related to ETS are a serious threat to the industry's future viability. It acknowledges internally that if smoke-free indoor air policies proliferate, smokers will consume fewer cigarettes each day, and many will stop smoking altogether. Both scenarios have serious negative financial repercussions for the tobacco industry. As evidenced by our preliminary investigation, the documents reveal that the industry has undertaken an elaborate and aggressive campaign to thwart the dissemination of scientifically valid studies regarding the health effects of ETS. Most notably, the industry employed highly sophisticated public relations techniques to deliver it messages on ETS, with the ultimate goal of establishing ETS as a non-issue to the public. We believe that ETS will be the defining public health/tobacco control issue for the first decade of the 21st century. We propose to accomplish the following aims by reviewing previously secret internal tobacco industry documents relating to ETS at the Minnesota depository, the Guildford depository and documents available on Internet sites. The specific aims for this project are: 1) To identify the full scope of the tobacco industry's campaign to thwart dissemination of valid scientific information regarding ETS and influence public opinion on the health consequences associated with ETS, 2) To apply linguistic analysis to the public relations aspect of the industry's ETS disinformation campaign in order to understand the campaign's effect on public perception of the health consequences associated with ETS exposure, and 3) To develop an Internet-accessible document index, chronology and cast of characters relating to the industry's ETS campaign.
Effective start/end date8/1/015/31/10


  • National Institutes of Health: $418,359.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $569,573.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $450,928.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $529,441.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $474,410.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $571,581.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $306,464.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $422,639.00


  • Medicine(all)


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