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Foreword by Patrick Reynolds

The Dirty Rotten Truth About Tobacco

Written and Illustrated by Pete Traynor

Foreword by Patrick Reynolds

THIS LANDMARK BOOK communicates to young people, in a colorful and compelling way, the dangers of cigarette smoking and tobacco addiction. It bares the truth about things children will never see in cigarette and tobacco ads, and sheds light on the people who make it all possible--the tobacco companies and the government.

I have a special interest in this issue because my grandfather, R.J. Reynolds, founded the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, now RJR Nabisco. They're the makers of Camel cigarettes and the creators of Joe Camel. I've been around tobacco all my life, I've watched family members die from tobacco use, and I was once addicted to cigarettes myself.

My grandfather chewed tobacco and died of cancer of the pancreas. But when he began selling tobacco in 1875, attitudes were a lot different than they are today. There was little knowledge about the danger of tobacco, and smoking or chewing it was not a health concern.

Today, we know how deadly tobacco is. We know that cigarette smoking is the most preventable cause of disease in history, and that more than one thousand Americans die every day from tobacco. We know that our children are all threatened by tobacco addiction, and that it may one day take the lives of the 26% who do become addicted. Today tobacco causes one out of every six deaths.

In the 1960s, as a teenager, I watched my family suffer and die from smoking-related diseases. My father, R.J. Reynolds, Jr., died from emphysema after years of smoking--ironically, the family brands Camel and Winston. Two of my father's sisters smoked and died of emphysema and cancer. And smoking contributed to my mother's death in 1985. My family has been decimated by cigarettes.

At seventeen, I even became a cigarette smoker myself, eventually getting up to smoking a pack of cigarettes daily. I smoked for seventeen years and finally managed to quit after countless attempts and failures. Tobacco is a very strong addiction, and it was extremely difficult for me to stop smoking.

My grandfather had no idea that tobacco would become a problem, or that we would need to protect our children from the practices of tobacco companies, but it has happened. As a matter of conscience, I took a stand against the industry from which my family earned its living. I divested the R.J. Reynolds stock I inherited, and have campaigned publicly ever since against the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry itself. In 1989, I founded Citizens for a Smokefree America to further the fight against smoking. We're based in Los Angeles.

The battle against cigarette smoking and tobacco use has by no means been won. The tobacco industry and its lobbyists are more aggressive than ever. Cigarettes made by only six companies--Philip Morris, RJR Nabisco, American Brands, British American Tobacco, Loews, and Liggett Group--will kill over 400,000 people this year, and the nicotine addiction will sap the health of over 50 million people this year--in the United States alone--while the tobacco industry's slick, articulate, and highly paid army of lobbyists, attorneys, and public relations people attempt to convince the public and lawmakers to believe that the facts aren't in yet.

The tobacco industry has fought, and continues to fight, every effort by public health forces to communicate the truth about the dangers of smoking and limit the distribution of cigarettes to children. The simple truth is that the tobacco companies must always find new customers, because the product they make kills the people they sell it to.

It certainly appears that the tobacco industry is trying to turn the world's children into a new generation of tobacco users. In the United States, the tobacco companies bombard the population with advertising images that are known to appeal to kids. The tobacco companies deny that the ads are intended to attract young people, but there is no denying that cigarettes ads do attract young people--and that the companies continue to run them.

According to studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, six-year-old children recognize Joe Camel as readily as they do Mickey Mouse. Thirty percent of three-year-olds correctly matched up a picture of Smooth Joe Camel with a picture of a cigarette, and 60% of six-year-olds correctly made the match. Prior to the Smooth Joe Camel campaign, Camel's market share among children was 1%. Since the ad campaign, it's climbed to 32.8%.

Young people also find the Marlboro man, the Kool Penguin, and the host of sports and entertainment personalities seen in ads or juxtaposed with tobacco logos to be attractive. Tobacco ads and images decorate race cars, racing boats, and sports stadiums, giving the impression that tobacco and athletics go hand-in-hand.

It's pretty frightening, but the fact is that tobacco ads reach kids and change their behavior. It is estimated that illegal sales to children of cigarettes and other tobacco products alone are now worth 1.26 billion dollars yearly. Approximately half of the tobacco industry's profits come from sales of cigarettes to kids or to people who became addicted to nicotine as children. Statistics, in fact, tell us that 90% of all smokers are addicted by age 19, and 60% start by age 14.

One important solution to this terrible problem is obvious. We must ban all tobacco advertising in any form. The massive amount of money the tobacco companies spend advertising each year in the United States is equivalent to 10 dollars for each man, woman, and child in the U.S. The only way to protect our children from the propaganda of the tobacco industry is to ban all advertising.

The tobacco industry claims that its right to advertise is protected under the Freedom of Speech Amendment, but I believe cigarette advertising is the biggest abuse of freedom of speech ever committed. Tobacco ads, which associate smoking with health, vitality, sports, youth, and friendship, are the greatest lie ever perpetrated on the American public.

Philip Morris recently spent tens of millions of dollars touring the Bill of Rights around the nation, and invited thousands of school children to view it. Most kids could not help seeing the Philip Morris logo, and perhaps associating it--and the company's products--with truth, justice, and freedom. The fact is that Philip Morris' ad campaign for the Bill of Rights successfully diverted the public's attention away from how badly the company is abusing the right to freedom of speech with their cigarette advertising.

Tobacco companies have aggressively been trying to get the poor uneducated people in the Third World hooked on smoking. Since 1968, worldwide smoking has actually increased by 73%.

In other countries where the laws protecting children are not as strong as they are in the United States, the promoters of tobacco go much farther than cool-looking ads. They actually give free cigarettes to young people. They scatter them all over video games in video arcades and hand them out at concerts and on the street. They even give free cigarettes to kids on recess at school.

Kids are encouraged to light up right on the spot. At rock concerts and discos, kids are given free Marlboro sunglasses for allowing their free Marlboro cigarettes to be lit. The tobacco promoters are not giving out samples for fun; they hope these kids will become customers. It has been said that if a young person smokes a few packs, chances are that he or she will be buying cigarettes for life. Some countries even require no health warning labels and permit higher tar levels in tobacco than United States law allows.

The atrocities committed against children in the Third World by the tobacco companies are the most heinous of all. The tobacco industry's toll of addiction, disease, suffering, and death is far greater than all the cocaine cartels and the Mafia combined. This plague must be stopped.

As to the industrialized world, every single country is ahead of the United States in one respect. The powerful tobacco lobby that so influences the U.S. Congress has succeeded in keeping American cigarette taxes the lowest of any industrialized nation, making it easier for the tobacco companies to sell their products here.

If American cigarette taxes were raised enough to cover the health costs of smoking, each pack of cigarettes would have to be taxed at least $2.17. It's estimated that smoking is presently costing the economy $52 billion per year--$30 billion in lst productivity, and $22 billion in medical costs. And non-smokers, who make up 64% of the population, are paying the great majority of these costs.

Congress must raise cigarette and tobacco taxes in the United States.

This important step will make cigarettes less accessible to children and ensure that smokers pay their own health care costs. We need to make our voices heard above the roar of the tobacco lobby that influences our lawmakers.

The battle will not be won until the day the last smoker puts out the last cigarette. We have a lot of work to do, and the immediate task is to see that all tobacco advertising is banned, that the export of U.S. cigarettes to foreign countries is limited, that cigarettes are no longer sold to children or in vending machines, and that smoking laws are enacted and tobacco is justly taxed. Get active in your community and state, and let your representatives know what you think.

Read this book and hear its message. Both children and adults will find valuable information about cigarettes and tobacco addiction. And it would be especially beneficial if children and adults can read it together and discuss the story and the subject.

If you haven't started smoking, don't start. You're doing the smart thing. And if you do smoke, get help and stop. It doesn't get any easier. Believe me, I know.

Patrick Reynolds,

The Foundation
For A Smokefree America

Los Angeles, California

Picture Coloration by Rebecca Grace Jones
Typography by Susan Ryan


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