In 1994 the state of Minnesota filed suit against the tobacco industry.
This trial is now history, but its legacy will carry on into the 21st century
because of the revelations contained in the millions of pages of previously
secret internal tobacco industry documents made public in the trial. In this
article, we review representative documents relating to nicotine addiction,
low-tar, low-nicotine cigarettes, and cigarette design and nicotine manipulation
in cigarette manufacture. These documents reveal that for decades, the industry
knew and internally acknowledged that nicotine is an addictive drug and cigarettes
are the ultimate nicotine delivery device; that nicotine addiction can be
perpetuated and even enhanced through cigarette design alterations and manipulations;
and that "health-conscious" smokers could be captured by low-tar, low-nicotine
products, all the while ensuring the marketplace viability of their products.
Appreciation of tobacco industry strategies over the past decades is essential
to formulate an appropriate legislative and public policy response. We propose
key elements for such legislation and urge no legal or financial immunity
for the tobacco industry.