Monday, September 15, 2014

“Stand Up To Cancer” Not Standing Up to Cigarette Promoters; Special Guest Commentary by Dr. Alan Blum

Tuscaloosa, AL, September 4, 2014--Several of the sponsors of this Friday’s “Stand Up To Cancer” national fundraising telethon are doing more to promote cigarette companies than to prevent or cure cancer, according to an analysis of the organization behind the event by a physician and veteran anti-cancer advocate at The University of Alabama.

“This effort to solicit money for cancer research is compromised by the inclusion of corporations and foundations closely allied with the manufacturers of cigarettes, the nation’s leading avoidable cause of cancer,” said Alan Blum, MD, professor of Family Medicine and Director of The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society. “The National Cancer Institute attributes 40 percent of premature deaths from cancer to cigarette smoking,” noted Dr. Blum, “so a minimum standard for standing up to cancer ought to be not aiding and abetting the number one cause of cancer.”

SIEMENS, a multinational engineering and electronics corporation that has cultivated an image as a medical equipment and health-care company in advertisements in major magazines and newspapers (with headlines such as “More health care stories with happier endings”), is also a leading manufacturer of cigarette-making machinery and barcode tracking technology for improved efficiency of cigarette distribution. Among SIEMENS’s customers is Philip Morris USA, maker of the best-selling cigarette brand Marlboro. 

According to SIEMENS’s website, the company’s “Tobacco segment includes machines for the manufacturing and packaging of cigarettes at speeds of 4,000 to 20,000 cigarettes per minute,” and its “Simotion Motion Control System is now gaining a foothold in the cigarette manufacturing industry.” Thus, a single such SIEMENS machine could produce 1.2 million cigarettes (or 60,000 packs) during the Stand Up To Cancer telecast, Blum said. SIEMENS is listed as one of the event’s “Champions.”

The Safeway Foundation, a Hero level Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, is funded by Safeway, Inc, which was the third-largest supermarket chain in the United States until its acquisition in July by Albertsons. (The company is now the second-largest in the United States.) In contrast to Wegmans, Target, CVS and other retail chains that have ended the sale of tobacco products, Safeway continues to sell cigarettes in its more than 1,330 stores. The company’s slogan is “Ingredients for life. Creating better lives, vibrant neighborhoods, and a healthier planet.” A carton of Marlboro cigarettes sells for $70 at the company’s stores in Portland, Oregon.

Another Champion level Partner of Stand Up To Cancer is the Steve Tisch Foundation. A significant part of the Tisch family fortune was derived from the manufacture and sale of cigarettes. Between 1967 and 2008, the Tisch family-run Loews’ Corporation controlled the nation’s third leading cigarette manufacturer, Lorillard. The company, which is about to merge with the number two cigarette maker Reynolds-American, produces Newport, the nation’s top-selling menthol brand and the leading cigarette smoked by African-Americans, who experience a higher prevalence of lung cancer than the overall population, Blum said. In 1994 at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on cigarettes, Lorillard chief executive officer Andrew Tisch (first cousin of Steve Tisch) famously testified under oath that he did not believe either that nicotine is addictive or that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.

Four of the eight Publishing Partners of Stand Up To Cancer own mass circulation magazines that advertise cigarettes in almost every issue, long after most publications have turned down such advertisements as contrary to the health of their readers, Blum said.

The August 18, 2014, College Football Preview issue of TIME, Inc.’s Sports Illustrated includes an advertisement for Stand Up To Cancer, with this text: “When we all come together cancer doesn’t stand a chance.” Also in the issue are four color cigarette ads—three for Reynolds-American’s Camel brand (one of which reads “Passionate. Inspired. Original. Taste It All” and another that boasts “It starts with a spark, and the promise to fan the flames.”), and one for Newport promoting a “Wheel of pleasure” sweepstakes with “Hundreds of fantastic prizes waiting to be won,” including a 2015 Ford Mustang. A fifth ad is for Lorillard’s blu electronic cigarette. In its 60-year history, Sports Illustrated has rarely, if ever, published an article on the harmfulness of cigarette smoking or the athletes who have died from smoking, Blum said. A report last month in Gawker alleged that the media corporation rates its journalists for their friendliness to advertisers and included an internal TIME, Inc. document obtained by the Newspaper Guild with this ranking criterion for reporters: “Produces content that [is] beneficial to advertiser relationship." (http://gawker.com/time-inc-rates-writers-on-how-beneficial-they-are-to-1623253026.)

The current September issue of TIME features a prominent ad for Reynolds-American’s American Spirit “organic tobacco and organic menthol” cigarette brand that touts “100 percent Additive-Free Natural Tobacco” above this Food and Drug Administration-required sentence in smaller type: “Organic tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.” Entertainment Weekly and People are two of TIME, Inc.’s well known magazines that run cigarette ads. Information on the revenue TIME, Inc. receives from cigarette advertising is not publicly available.

In the latest September issues of WIRED and Vanity Fair, published by Stand Up To Cancer Publishing Partner Conde Nast, the same ad for the event appears, as well as a nearly identical Camel cigarette ad (“Inspired. Passionate. Original. Taste It All.”) Other Conde Nast magazines that accept cigarette ads include Vogue, Glamour and GQ.

Mass circulation magazines with cigarette ads published by Stand Up To Cancer Publishing Partner American Media, Inc. include Playboy and The National Enquirer. The popular women’s periodical Cosmopolitan, which accepts cigarette advertising, is published by Hearst Magazines, another Stand Up To Cancer Publishing Partner.

In its three previous telethons, Stand Up To Cancer has raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars for cancer research. Dr. Blum noted that 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, which confirmed the causal link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. “It is shameful,” Blum said, “that after decades of efforts to end the leading cause of cancer, the organizers of this cause would welcome the participation of manufacturers, promoters and sellers of cigarettes.”

ABOUT DR. BLUM: As editor of the Medical Journal of Australia and the New York State Journal of Medicine in the 1980s, Dr. Blum published the first analysis of tobacco industry sponsorship of sports and the arts around the world, as well as a report revealing U.S. tobacco industry subsidiaries and suppliers in all 50 states. In the 1990s, he and the 5,000-physician member health advocacy organization he founded, DOC (Doctors Ought to Care [1977-2002]), published the results of two investigations of tobacco industry influence. “Sick Bedfellows” listed 10 major pharmaceutical and health-related companies with longstanding business ties to cigarette manufacturers. “Healthcare Hypocrites” revealed that more than 20 board members of tobacco companies were simultaneously serving on the boards of health care institutions, medical schools, or health insurance companies. In conjunction with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, DOC helped get corporations such as Kodak, Kimberly-Clark and 3M to end their business relationships with the tobacco industry.

ABOUT THE CENTER: The Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society at The University of Alabama holds the most comprehensive collection on the tobacco industry and the antismoking movement. The Center’s most recent exhibition, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, “The Surgeon General vs. The Marlboro Man: Who Really Won?” was on view this year at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and the Texas Medical Center Library in Houston after debuting at the Gorgas Library of The University of Alabama. The Center’s latest film, “Blowing Smoke: The Lost Legacy of the Surgeon General’s Report” is available free online at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1j5VTNHmZZmcFJWLW1wbDF3Mms/

See also the following media coverage of this issue:

The Cancer Letter, Matthew Ong, September 12, 2014:
"Tobacco Interests Contribute a Portion of the $109 Million Raised by SU2C"

Knight Science Journalism Tracker, Paul Raeburn, September 12, 2014 "'Stand Up To Cancer' didn't stand up to tobacco"

al.com, Alan Blum, MD, September 9, 2014:
"'Stand Up To Cancer' Not Standing Up to Cigarette Promoters":

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Are you paying more than $5 per pack of cigarettes? I buy high quality cigarettes over at Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 60%.