Science and Problem Solving Techniques
Nicotine: An American Way of Life?
Cast of Characters
Select one of
these to interview (assume all are still alive). You may change
the name and gender or use the following real names.
Rose Cipolione: Rose was a teen-ager in the 1940's when
she began smoking. In 1984 and 15,000 packs of cigarettes later,
she succumbed to lung cancer. Before she died, she sued three
cigarette manufacturers claiming intense advertising had drawn
her into a deadly nicotine habit. The Liggett group, which was
targeted in the suit, stated that Congress's 1965 decision to
require health warnings on cigarettes shielded them from liability.
Rose was a victim, a nicotine addict and a consumer dependent
on the government to protect her
David A. Kessler, M.D.: Dr. Kessler is the new FDA Chairman.
One of his jobs is to draft policies which regulate drug testing
and approval and affect drug company profits. Currently he is
recommending a policy to the White House which would restrict
access to tobacco for adolescents. He says: "The tobacco
industry survives by replenishing the ranks of dead and dying
smokers with newly addicted young people." Newt Gingrich
blasted the FDA plan as evidence the agency "has lost its
mind." Mr. Gingrich represents Georgia, a southern state.
Dr. Kessler is a key spokesperson for the medical community and
consumer health interests.
Tom Fitzgerald, a senior employee for Brown and Williamson:
Tom is part of the public relations department for a major tobacco
company which produces Kool, Viceroy and Raleigh cigarettes to
name a few. He is incensed at the release of some 4,000 pages
of internal, confidential documents. The papers were stolen from
files of the tobacco company, leaked to a UCSF medical school
professor and scanned unedited onto the Internet where access
was unrestricted. His views represent all the financial and corporate
interests, having given sworn testimony before congress on the
position of tobacco companies denying any wrong doing or nicotine
Mary Gonzales (ficticious name), a consumer protection
lawyer and attorney general for a southern state : Mary is currently
involved in a class action lawsuit against Brown and Williamson.
She alleges that tobacco companies have known for more than 40
years that nicotine is addictive and that chemists have routinely
manipulated the levels of nicotine in cigarettes so as to maintain
blood levels consistent with addiction. She claims tobacco companies
have long been aware of the health risks while publicly stating
there was no relationship between lung cancer and cigarette smoking.
She states that the sole motive for the behavior of the tobacco
giants is greed. Her views represent the consumer who is unable
to muster the necessary resources to file a lawsuit.
Ian Uydess, a senior scientist formerly employed by Philip
Morris: Ian was responsible for supplying corporate executives
with information about nicotine levels in tobacco leaves. He also
performed basic research in the areas of addiction and the effects
of nicotine on the human body. His affidavit is being used by
the FDA to support its policy recommending limiting access to
cigarettes. He is both an ex-employee and chemist.
Bennett LeBow, a corporate raider and a CEO for Liggett:
Bennett is interested in one thing only, money. He wants to settle
a large class action suit against Liggett (Eve and Chesterfield
cigarettes) brought about by several states seeking money to help
pay the costs of smoking related diseases in impoverished people.
Liggett is a minor player in the cigarette business. He wonders
why other tobacco companies have resisted settling for so long
because the cost of continuing to fight legal battles is greater
than the proposed settlement. Bennett is not concerned that he
is undermining the solid wall of denial projected by Philip Morris
or Brown and Williamson. These giants have been made vulnerable
by the action of Bennett LeBow. He represents a major financial
James Laird, a Kentucky tobacco farmer and smoker: James
is a tobacco farmer like his father and his father before him.
He inherited a thriving farm, mortgaged his home to update his
farm equipment and has no other source of income. He supports
a wife and two high school aged children and is concerned about
farm subsidies and the price of tobacco leaves on the open market.
While sympathetic to those who suffer from smoking related diseases,
when fewer people smoke and the stockmarket share price of tobacco
companies drops, he becomes concerned.