Late Morning Session: David Kessler/Bernick Interview

September 23, 2004 1:31 pm by Gene Borio

B&W attorney David Bernick fiercely grilled ex-FDA Chief Kessler on nicotine, Ph levels, nicotine delivery and the Y-1 project, apparently aiming — and partially succeeding — in making DK look as if he really doesn’t know much about the science of nicotine and has a personal agenda. The implication: DK’s testimony is worthless.

Bernick made the case that the idea of enhancing nicotine delivery in order to decrease tar yields, and thus make a safer cigarette, came from the public health and scientific communities.

Bernick cited several different sources that had appeared in the literature in the US and UK which posited the idea that the nicotine and tar levels could be altered through development of a higher nicotine yielding leaf.

Bernick seemed to be suggesting that Addison Yeaman (”We are in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug”) may have been quoting, or at least picked up the idea from British publications of the early 60s.

When DK professed ignorance of what was going on in Britain at the time, Bernick said, (paraphrase), “So in considering FDA regulation, you looked at what the industry was saying, but not at what people outside the industry were saying.”

He referred to the 81 SG report, and the SG’s suggestion that nicotine could be genetically altered in tobacco itself, that it may be possible to manipulate the genetics to diminish some constituents.

Bernick’s points on Y-1:

The government itself developed the idea and original research work for a high-nicotine leaf.

A US Patent preceded the Portuguese patent

B&W was trying to use Y-1 to make a safer cigarette by altering tar/nicotine ratios (less tar). The Y-1 project failed because consumers didn’t like the taste (in one test). So the now-useless Y-1 was used as a “blending agent” in 5 no-count cigarette brands.

Bernick made the point that DK never spoke with B&W about Y-1, and never subsequently told Congress there was a US patent, or that B&W was trying to make a safer cigarette.

Bernick drew a chart of ph, from acidic environment (where nicotine is bound) to a “basic” environment where nicotine is free.

He asked DK to draw a curve indicating the ph of nicotine along that axis. DK refused.

“How much nicotine is available at a ph of 7?,” Bernick asked. And when DK said he was not an expert on this aspect, Bernick took off.


“Let’s see how much you knew.” You don’t really have any idea what all this means, do you? Do you understand what exatractable nicotine is? You mean all you’re here for is to tell us simply what you have read in the industry’s documents?”

At the beginning of the lunch break, Mr. Bernick came in to the Press Room –possibly in company with a reporter– to give a rather extraordinary interview; maybe 4 reporters were present

Some snippets of the interview:

I am not quarreling with Dr. K’s intelligence or credentials.

When it comes to tobacco, there’s no doubt that he looked at it in ‘91, took a pass. Nothing new was known in 94, and he developed an agenda, very personally driven. I used the words, “GOAD, CIRCLE THE WHITE HOUSE”

His book harkens back to retribution, at the end of the book he says the industry shouldn’t exist. The book is the best evidence of his personal agenda.

As a witness, he has NO PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE, he just read the documents the DOJ gave him. And he doesn’t really understand the documents he’s commenting on.

Why come across country to do this? His own personal agenda.

As for the cross-examination on ammonia:

I stopped asking him questions because he couldn’t really say anything. And I think the judge will see that.

Ammonia was originally used for better quality and consistency–it was developed by Philip Morris, to help add flavor to reconstituted tobacco. Ammonia creates, in the presence of sugars, certain aromatic features of smoke.

It’s use was developed long ago, and actually helps reduce deliveries.

After the success of Marlboro, other companies SPECULATED about ammonia and free nicotine. It turns out the nicotine delivery theory is utterly false. It’s NOT true it boosts absorption. Just the opposite.

Teague in 72 was looking into the success of Marlboro, thought it might be due to free nicotine.

Tobacco companies have designed for tar; nicotine follows tar levels.

2 Responses to “Late Morning Session: David Kessler/Bernick Interview”

  1. Dana Says:

    Is any chance that you website to publish in the near future the transcripts from the trial, especially the opening statements both from the government and tobacco industry?
    I really appreciate you effort in covering the tobacco trial.

  2. Jim Says:

    The safer cigarette that I know of would be the one that does not exist. It seems crazy to me. Here in Canada cigarettes are very highly taxed, so it seems the onice of change should fall on the government as much as the cigarette companies. As always the government wants their piece of the pie & then want to punish you for giving it to them.

Leave a Reply

The primary purpose of this site is to provide information in a timely manner. Postings should be informative. The usual rules apply: No libel, no profanity, no personal abuse, keep it on topic, and short.

If you are scheduled as a court witness, CHECK with your lawyer before posting anything here!