Five Things Tobacco Companies Wish They Never Said

Here’s five thing about nicotine’s addictiveness and the industry’s underlying motives that tobacco companies probably wish they never said. Not like they’re a shock or anything, it’s just that they’re there, in print, in court documents. Blamo.

1. “Nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine–an addictive drug effective in the release of stress mechanisms.” (Brown & Williamson, 1963)

2. “In a sense, the tobacco industry may be thought of as being a specialized, highly ritualized, and stylized segment of the pharmaceutical industry. Tobacco products uniquely contain and deliver nicotine, a potent drug with a variety of physiological effects.” (RJ Reynolds, 1972)

3. “…BAT should learn to look at itself as a drug company rather than as a tobacco company.” (BAT, 1980)

4. “The cigarette should be conceived not as a product but as a package. The product is nicotine….Think of the cigarette pack as a storage container for a day’s supply of nicotine….Think of a cigarette as a dispenser for a dose unit of nicotine. Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle of nicotine….Smoke is beyond question the most optimised vehicle of nicotine and the cigarette the most optimised dispenser of smoke.” (Philip Morris, 1972)

5. “…[T]he primary motivation for smoking is to obtain the pharmacological effect of nicotine. In the past, we at R&D have said that we’re not in the cigarette business, we’re in the smoke business. It might be more pointed to observe that the cigarette is the vehicle of smoke, smoke is the vehicle of nicotine, and nicotine is the agent of a pleasurable body response.” (Philip Morris, 1969)


1. A. Yeaman, “Implications of Battelle Hippo I & II and the Griffith Filter,” 17 July 1963, Document Number 1802.05
2. C. Teague Jr., “RJR Confidential Research Planning Memorandum on the Nature of the Tobacco Business and the Crucial Role of Nicotine Therein,” 14 April 1972, Bates Number 500898378 -8386
3. BAT, “Brainstorming 11, What Three Radical Changes Might, Through the Agency of R&D, Take Place in This Industry by the End of the Century,” 11 April 1980, Minnesota Trial Exhibit 11361, Bates Number 109884190-91.
4. Dunn WL. Motives and incentives in cigarette smoking. Summary of CTR-sponsored conference in St. Martin. 1972 Philip Morris Research Center, Richmond, VA (Summary of January 1972 St. Martin Conference referred to in preface of Dunn WL, ed. Smoking Behavior: Motives and Incentives. Washington, DC: VH Winston & Sons; 1973.) Cited in US Food & Drug Administration, Regulation of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. 60 Fed. Reg. Page 41314, 41617 (August 11, 1995)
5. (Philip Morris Vice President for Research and Development, Why One Smokes, First Draft, 1969, Autumn {Minn. Trial Exhibit 3681})