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Play It Again is a section of the journal where we re-publish quotes, gaffes, and immortal lines from both friends and foes of tobacco control. Please send any contributions to this page to Simon Chapman, deputy editor, at the address on the inside front cover. Please enclose an original version or photocopy of the sourced item.

“I smoked cigarettes for many years, probably from the time I was about 12 years old. I remember up until the time I was doing Rocky, I had a cigarette when I was in the ring. That’s how bad the addiction was. Finally, I said, ‘This is only going to bring an early death.’ There also came a point when I thought that cigarettes looked somewhat silly on adults. Yet I have always been drawn to the idea of an oral fixation, and also feeling somewhat more relaxed with something smoking in my hand.

 “I was doing the movie F.I.S.T. and it seemed that the character should appropriately be smoking a cigar. So I started (smoking cigars), in 1977 . . .. After that point, I went back to cigarettes once or twice and then I quit totally. Cleaned out my lungs for three years and then went back to smoking cigars intelligently, for lack of a better term, from a connoisseur’s point of view. . . .

Sylvester Stallone, who quit smoking cigarettes because they “looked somewhat silly on adults”.

 “Quite often, early on, people were shocked if I was smoking a cigarette. I actually had people come up and blatantly chastise me on the street about smoking a cigarette. A cigar, however, was held in some kind of civil abeyance and people wouldn’t do that. Right away there was less of a stigma.”

Actor Sylvester Stallone, quoted in a cover story in “Cigar Aficionado”. Source: Mott G. Stallone II.Cigar Aficionado” 1998; Apr: 132–63. In 1983, Stallone agreed to use Brown and Williamson tobacco products “in no less than five feature films” for a fee of $500 000 (see Stallone’s letter documenting this agreement, at: < >).

 “This is like legalized drugs. This is the drug of the ’90s. Time stops.”

Actor Denzel Washington, commenting on his cigar. Source: Minkoff A. Denzel: the real deal. “Cigar Aficionado” 1998 Feb: 166–89.

Denzel Washington, holding what he calls “the drug of the ‘90s”.

 “If I don’t have a cigar on me, I don’t miss a cigar. I stopped smoking cigarettes over 15 years ago. That’s an addiction, a sick addiction. But the weeks can go by and if I don’t have a good cigar, I’m OK.”

Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, who enjoys cigars for the “state of mind, spiritual experience” they offer. Source: Bettridge J. Dancing free. “Cigar Aficionado” 1997;Dec: 256–71.

 “I’ve been smoking 55 years and my mother, who’s 92, has been puffing for 71. It’s easy for me to deceive myself that it’s all in the genes. I’ve never even tried to quit. I must admit, however, I have imagined looking in the mirror on the [hypothetical] day I got the bad news regarding the ‘big C’ and saying, ‘You weak, stupid sonofabitch. It serves you right.’”

Actor Peter Falk, described as “the legendary cigar smoking sleuth, Colombo”, in: Marx A. Talk with Falk. “Cigar Aficionado” 1997; Dec: 236–53.

 “Let me see if I understand that correctly. They’re saying that unless legislation is conformed to the liking of the companies, they will keep on targeting children?”

Vice President Al Gore, responding to the tobacco industry’s threats to challenge restrictions on cigarette advertising and marketing unless legislation includes broad liability protections. Source: Carr R. Tobacco industry pushing hard for liability protection. “Congressional Quarterly” 1998; Feb 14: 386.

Deja vu


WD: Doctor, do you believe there is any ill effect from exposure to nicotine as such?

RD: In what form do you mean? If somebody takes pure nicotine in a drop or two, it would be fatal.

WD: Well, if you drink enough water, you can die but—

RD: A drop of water would not hurt you a whole lot. A drop of nicotine would kill you.

From a deposition in the case of Engle vs RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company et al. The witness was “Tobacco Control” editor Ron Davis, and the questions were posed by William Dodds of the law firm Dechert, Price & Rhoads, which represents Philip Morris in the case. Source: Transcript of deposition for Engle vs RJ Reynolds et al, in the circuit court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Dade County, Florida (Case No. 94–08273 CA 20), witness: Ronald M Davis, vol. 2, 24 November 1997, page 269.


HW: None of the things which have been found in tobacco smoke are at concentrations which can be considered harmful.

PT: But the components themselves can be considered harmful, can they not?

HW: Anything can be considered harmful. Apple sauce is harmful if you get too much of it.

PT: I don’t think many people are dying from apple sauce.

HW: They’re not eating that much.

PT: People are smoking a lot of cigarettes.

HW: Well, let me say it this way. The people who eat apple sauce die. The people who eat sugar die. The people who smoke cigarettes die. Does the fact that the people who smoke cigarettes die demonstrate that smoking is the cause?

From the celebrated television documentary “Death in the West”, produced in 1976 by Thames Television of the United Kingdom. The interview excerpted above featured reporter Peter Taylor and Dr Helmut Wakeham, Vice President, Science & Technology, Philip Morris USA.

 “It’s like Richard Nixon taking credit for releasing the Watergate tapes. This is so transparent and cynical, I think it will backfire in Congress.”

Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III, regarding the tobacco industry’s placement of more than 30 million pages of internal company documents on the world wide web (< >). Sources: Schwartz J. Tobacco firms make ‘first installment’ in release of secret industry documents. “Washington Post” 1998; Feb 28: A3; Mishra R. Tobacco companies put documents on-line: they say they’re coming clean, but critics don’t buy it. “Detroit Free Press” 1998; Feb 28: 6A.

 “In ‘Titanic,’ smoking is sexy and social and sophisticated and genuine and rebellious, and in the end virtually everyone dies—which is the most perfect touch of all.”

Source: Gladwell M. The talk of the town. “The New Yorker” 1998; Mar 9: 31.

Martin Feldman, tobacco stock analyst for Salomon Smith Barney: “The equity markets have largely concluded that Congress and the (Clinton) administration will fail to seize the opportunity to legislate comprehensive tobacco legislation during 1998. That’s not me talking. That’s what I read from the valuations.”

US Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain:“I want to thank the markets for their confidence in me and this committee. (Laughter) Perhaps it is related to my stellar success with campaign-finance reform.”

Exchange during testimony at a hearing of the US Senate Commerce Committee on 19 March 1998. Source: Shapiro W. Tobacco debate should light a fire under Congress. “USA Today” 1998; Mar 20: 4A.

 “It generally is not as effective to aim at the Negro consumer, as such, as it is to aim at his decisive motivations . . .. Quality rates as a cherished attribute. Negroes buy the best Scotch as long as the money lasts, most marketers agree.” (1969)

 “The majority of blacks . . . do not respond well to sophisticated or subtle humor in advertising. They related much more to overt, clear-cut story lines.” (1981)

 “Blacks appear less concerned about health-related issues . . . (and they) tend to buy less things to improve themselves.” (1982)

US Congressman John Conyers’ criticism of RJ Reynolds’ “Amos-and-Andy-type stereotypes” of African Americans in company documents about its marketing strategies brings to mind ads for Bull Durham smoking tobacco from the late 19th century.

Excerpts from RJ Reynolds documents concerning the targeting of African Americans. The documents were among those released from multiple sources in January and February 1998 (by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, at Congressional hearings, and as part of the settlement in the Mangini “Joe Camel” litigation in San Francisco). Sources: Kellman L. Files: tobacco targeted Blacks. Associated Press 1998;Feb 5; Meier B. Documents detail how tobacco industry targeted Blacks. “New York Times” 1998; Feb 6; Berkowitz H. Tobacco targeted Blacks. “NY Newsday” 1998; Feb 6.

 “Not only do these dangerous Amos-and-Andy-type stereotypes demean African-Americans, but the specific targeting of our communities and our youth constitutes a dangerous and ongoing health risk.”

US Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, an African American, commenting on the RJ Reynolds documents concerning the targeting of Blacks in cigarette advertising and marketing. Source: Kellman L. Files: tobacco targeted Blacks. Associated Press 1998; Feb 5.

 “Before black members of Congress work up any more righteous indignation over the sins of Big Tobacco, an unpleasant fact has to be acknowledged: Many black organizations have helped tobacco companies gain credibility with black consumers.

 “There is hardly a black organization of any consequence that has not accepted the generous—if tainted—donations of tobacco companies. By taking those gifts, black groups have allowed companies such as RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris to cast themselves as saviors of important black causes, including college scholarships . . ..

 “(US Congressman John) Conyers and his colleagues have not acknowledged their dirty little secret: For years, donations from tobacco companies have helped to fund Congressional Black Caucus events.”

African American columnist Cynthia Tucker, in: Tucker C. Big Tobacco offered, black groups accepted. “Detroit Free Press” 1998; Feb 25: 9A.

 “We do recognize that some of the highlighted sections from selected documents may be unfortunate or even offensive, and we repeat what we said earlier that negative stereotypes, regardless of the point in history in which they were written, are inappropriate.”

RJ Reynolds, apologizing for the “negative stereotypes” of African Americans in company documents outlining its advertising and marketing strategies. Source: Berkowitz H. Tobacco targeted Blacks. “NY Newsday” 1998; Feb 6.

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