THE PEOPLE VS. BIG TOBACCO by Carrick Mollenkamp


How the States Took on the Cigarette Giants
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 An eye-opening look at the news behind the news in America's landmark legal pursuit of Big Tobacco. This well-researched and well-crafted book details exactly how the tobacco industry, which generates about $200 billion a year in revenues and, not insignificantly, is one of the largest political donors, was brought to its knees. Last spring 40 state attorneys general made US history when they announced the first-ever settlement with the heretofore omnipotent tobacco industry. According to the June settlement, the industry will pay $368.5 billion toward smoking-related medical care over the next several years. The settlement also opens the door for Food and Drug Administration regulation of nicotine by 2009 and penalizes the industry if teen smoking doesn't decline. Perhaps most significantly, the settlement marks the first time tobacco executives have openly admitted what the American smoking public has known for years--that tobacco is addictive. Written by members of the original Bloomberg News reporting team that first broke the settlement story (Mollenkamp, Adam Levy, Joseph Menn, Jeffrey Rothfeder), the book weaves together several vital subplots that ultimately made tobacco executives realize that, to paraphrase a once-popular cigarette slogan, it was better to switch their strategies than fight. Confidential records leaks, whistle-blower defections, the reelection of a vocal anti-tobacco president, the hubris of tobacco executives, who outraged Americans by testifying before Congress that tobacco is not addictive--as related here, all these events and more conspired to make tobacco's downfall seem inevitable. The book includes a chronology as well as the official text of the June 20, 1997, settlement. Part thriller, part legal primer, and full of trenchant drama and personalities, this book should be mandatory reading for all congressional representatives pondering how they'll vote on the future of the tobacco industry in America. (16 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-57660-057-2
Page count: 368pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997


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