Thursday, July 22, 2010


1976 letter from the FTC to American Brands General Counsel Cyril Hetsko informing him that the FTC would pursue litigation against American Brands for violating the 1969 FCLAA.

First, a little history: American Brands doesn't exist anymore; it eventually got rid of its tobacco holdings and is now known as Fortune Brands (behind products like Titleist and Jim Beam). American Brands' tobacco arm, American Tobacco Company, was acquired by British American Tobacco and made a part of BAT's Brown & Williamson brand, which eventually merged with R.J. Reynolds. Brown & Williamson was made infamous in 1999's “The Insider,” the fact-based movie about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand.

In 1965, Congress passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requiring health warnings on cigarette packs. The FCLAA was toughened in 1969. This letter illustrates how American Brands repeatedly ignored the FCLAA, an example of the industry's historical unwillingness to be truthful with the public about tobacco's health risks. I expect I'll regularly come across letters like this as I delve more into the document archives of Big Tobacco.

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