NEXT UP: LeBow, Semenik, Szymanczyk, Viscusi

April 4, 2005 7:52 am by Gene Borio

Updated Apr 4, 2005, 1:06 PM

Today’s guests will be:

1. Vector Group CEO BENNETT LeBOW, on Liggett’s various settlements

www.altria.com/download/p…

2. Montana State University Dean RICHARD J. SEMENIK, Ph.D., whose “expertise is in marketing and consumer behavior, which includes consumer decision making, advertising, and branding. Secondary areas would include marketing strategy, marketing management and marketing research. ”

www.altria.com/download/p…

www.altria.com/download/p…

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Everyone is eagerly awaiting the testimony of Harvard Law School economist, W. KIP VISCUSI, the risk-perception analyst who absolutely HAD to testify April 6. CEOs, presidents and major executives from the tobacco giants had to shift around in the schedule, but Dr. Viscusi, apparently, is the only domestic witness who mandated the one day he could appear because of his busy schedule.

www.altria.com/download/p…

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Also due this week, possibly Tuesday, is Philip Morris USA Chairman and CEO MICHAEL SZYMANCZYK. Defense has been planning to call Mr. Szymanczyk on Thursday, but this schedule would appear to leave a hole on Tuesday, unless Judge Kessler orders Mr. Szymanczyk’s appearance.

www.altria.com/download/p…

4 Responses to “NEXT UP: LeBow, Semenik, Szymanczyk, Viscusi”

  1. krueger Says:

    Viscusi’s conclusions never fail to please his tobacco sponsors. He concludes that people “know the risks” and thus the decision to smoke is a rational choice.

    This is a comfortable conclusion for Big Tobacco because it’s consistent with “blame the customer”.

    Other researchers, not funded by the tobacco industry, have come to different conclusions.

    Romer and Slovic found that smokers and even nonsmokers underestimate the risks:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15203808

    http://www.rwjf.org/portfolios/resources/grantsreport.jsp?filename=037045.htm&iaid=143

    http://www.tobacco.org/resources/rendezvous/romer.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11429301

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=10557547

    Murphy-Hoefer, Alder, and Higbee found that college students underestimate the risks:

    www.ntrjournal.org/murphy-hoefer.pdf

    Arnett found that 60% of young people and 48% of adults thought they could safely smoke for a few years and then quit:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=10972456

    Luce andMerrell found that students overestimated deaths from cocaine, heroin, and marijuana and underestimated deaths from alcohol:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=8907401

  2. tobacco observer Says:

    >>Viscusi’s conclusions never fail to please his tobacco sponsors. He concludes that people “know the risks” and thus the decision to smoke is a rational choice.

    In contrast to the converse position that either:

    1. All smokers are completely irrational, or

    2. If only every potential smoker had “more information” on the risks of smoking, no one would ever choose to smoke.

    Considering that neither one of the contrary assertions appears viable, it isn’t hard to see the appeal of Viscusi’s arguments.

    >>This is a comfortable conclusion for Big Tobacco because it’s consistent with “blame the customer”.

    “Blame the customer” is also consistent with the view that adults are responsible for their own actions and should be allowed to make their own choices in life. More specifically, that everyone knows smoking is harmful, but many people choose to start smoking anyway.

    Again, look at the contrary position. You’re saying that any act to smoke is, by definition, insanity. Or perhaps that anytime someone decides to light a cigarette, that’s someone ELSE’s fault?

    I haven’t seen a tobacco executive put a gun to anyones head and force them to buy cigarettes, light them on fire, smoke them, and repeat that process until they had trouble stopping!

    By this same logic, maybe its the Jim Beam Liquor companies fault that I am an alcoholic! They said their product was “smoother;” they forgot to tell me it causes cirrhosis! They had that knowledge, but they kept it secret from me. I saw their advertisement on a billboard, but I don’t remember reading a warning label describing their whisky as addictive. Maybe I need to blame Budweiser for hooking me as a child (even though I couldn’t legally purchase alcohol) since their advertising with dogs and talking frogs appeals to youth. I switched to Bud Light, but just started drinking more of them!

    >>Other researchers, not funded by the tobacco industry, have come to different conclusions.

    If so, perhaps the Justice Department should have paid for these people (presumeably funded by the anti-tobacco industry) to testify in this case as well!

  3. krueger Says:

    “In contrast to the converse position that either:
    1. All smokers are completely irrational, or
    2. If only every potential smoker had “more information” on the risks of smoking, no one would ever choose to smoke.”

    Nope. In contrast to the facts that:

    1. The product is addictive. Addiction is not about choice.

    2. Most customers get addicted to this product as children.

    3. The information the public gets about this product downplays its risks:

    http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.415/pub_detail.asp

    4. This uniquely hazardous product is held to a uniquely low standard of risk disclosure. If tobacco were held to the same standard as pharmaceuticals, the warning would be the size of a book.

    Given these facts, it’s not surprising that most customers underestimate the damage caused by this product:

    http://www.acsh.org/news/newsID.276/news_detail.asp

    The good news is, over time many do come to realize it.

    The bad news is, by then they’re addicted. Which is not an accident. It’s this industry’s business plan.

    “adults are responsible for their own actions”

    I agree. Tobacco executives are adults.

    No one made tobacco executives run hundreds of billions of dollars of pro-smoking campaigns. That was their choice. No one held a gun to their head. No one made them do it. No one made them promote the product in ways obviously appealing to 14 year olds. No one made them decide to engineer product as a drug delivery device. No one made them secretly push doubt about the health effects of the product. Those were all their choices. And no one made them lie about it. That too was their choice.

    I agree: adults are responsible for their actions. That includes actions that led to millions of people getting addicted, getting sick, dying before their time. Actions by adults who knew that was the completely predictable result of their actions.

  4. Pat Boddie Says:

    My husband started smoking years ago. He is addicted, just the same as someone is addicted to any drug, ie, crack, heroin, etc.
    The difference is this.. crack, heroin, etc. are recognized as dangerous and addictive substances.
    Big tobacco makes it’s big bucks on the sick and dying backs of their victims.
    Now a “deal” between big tobacco and big government makes it nearly impossilbe to hold tobacco responsible for placing a dangerous, deadly product on the open market.
    Vioxx actually injured less than 50 people. What a hup-lah about that, yet the 430,000 people who die this year, due to smoking, will go virtually unnoticed.

    http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/nicotine/nicotine.html

    My husband may be one of them as he has been diagnosed with end stage COPD with wasting syndrome. A pharmacist, 5′ 9″, normal weight, 133 pounds, now weighs 94 pounds. He is 61 years old. I am 61 years old, unable to work. Not only will I lose my life companion, my best friend, my love…I will most likely lose my home.
    My husband would never have smoked if cigarettes were not on the open market. He would not be dying now.
    Why is it that other dangerous products are removed from the market?
    But not the leading cause of death in the US. I can tell you why in one word.
    GREED!

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