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How to access tobacco industry documents

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As a provision of legal settlement agreements, documents introduced through discovery into litigation are to be made publicly available by the tobacco industry through physical depositories. These depositories are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson/American Tobacco, Lorillard, the Tobacco Institute, and the Council for Tobacco Research) and Guildford, UK (British American Tobacco). Specifically as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 states and the tobacco industry, the documents of the Minnesota Depository are to be duplicated online via searchable web sites maintained by each of the companies. The industry hosted websites are directly linked through both http://www.tobaccoarchives.com and http://www.tobaccoresolution.com.

Additionally, several resources are available that enhance document research substantially, making search and retrieval easier than on the typical industry site. Tobacco Documents Online is available via http://www.tobaccodocuments.org. In January, 2002, the University of California at San Francisco will release the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. This collection will be available at http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu.

Both of these sites offer enhanced searching of the industry collections, as well as novel secondary collections developed by tobacco control experts, many of which are fully abstracted. Additionally, both feature enhanced browsing of document collections, session and search tracking, informal “bookmarking” of documents, and downloadable/printable document images in a variety of formats. Also, Tobacco Documents Online hosts a number of email list serves that would be of interest to researchers. For more information, visit http://www.smokescreen.org.

There are many researchers at work presently, examining the tobacco documents. The National Cancer Institute, the American Legacy Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, among others, are funding this work. Contact those already at work to see what additional resources these projects are developing, and what potential for collaboration exists.

A Guide to Administering Tobacco Document Projects will soon be available from the (US) National Cancer Institute. Contact Dr Michele Bloch (blochm{at}mail.nih.gov) to obtain a copy or for information on the NCI Program Announcement, “Review and Analysis of Tobacco Industry Documents” (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-01-063.html).

For more information see the brief history and overview of the tobacco industry documents previously published: Malone RE, Balbach ED. Tobacco industry documents: treasure trove or quagmire?

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