The newsletter of Airspace Action on Smoking and Health. Articles on Paul Martin's tobacco industry connections, obituary for Warren Zevon, tobacco industry involvement in smuggling, and the "Philip Morris Train of Death".

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UNREPENTANT TOBACCO EXECUTIVE ELECTED PRIME MINISTER


Courtesy of Brian Gibbs, Globe & Mail, Toronto

Much to the surprise and/or chagrin of most people on the wrong side of The Rockies, Paul "Tobacco" Martin was recently elected Prime Minister of Canada.

While Martin's job as a tobacco executive -- or a Pusher in Pinstripes (PIP), as we prefer to call him -- officially ended in 1988, unofficially, he continues to do more for the nicotine cartel than all other PIPs combined.

Former Airspace President Jerry Steinberg has, for just about two years, doggedly pursued PIP Martin, trying to get a simple Yes or No answer from him regarding his involvement -- past, present and/or future -- with the nicotine cartel. In typical cartel/snake-in-the-grass fashion, PIP Martin and his staff seem to be having a great deal of difficulty responding to Jerry's very basic and simple question. The email that Airspace received from Jerry reads:

I e-mailed Paul Martin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. on 26 AUG 02 with the following question:

Are you now, or have you ever been, associated with the tobacco industry?

No reply.

I e-mailed him again on 21 SEP 02, 24 NOV 02, 13 JAN 03 and 12 FEB 03 with the same question.

He has yet to reply to my query. Wonder why?

I then went to www.liberal.ca on 22 MAY 04 and posted the same question. Nothing yet.

I met his Special Assistant of Operations, Jonathan Moser, in the Hotel Vancouver on 1 JUN 04, and asked him whether Mr. Martin had been in any way affiliated with the tobacco industry. Mr. Moser indicated that he doubted it. I asked him to find out for sure for me.

I e-mailed him on 1 JUN 04 to remind him, and have yet to receive a reply. I phoned him a few days later and left a message on his voicemail. Still nothing.

I e-mailed MP Hedy Fry with the same questionon 2 JUN 04. Still waiting.

I just got off the phone (11:15 a.m., Sunday, June 27, 2004) with Mr. Moser (Paul Martin's Special Assistant of Operations), and he told me that he'll get back to me soon (as though 22 months isn't long enough to wait for an answer!).

While waiting for a reply, I did some research and discovered the following:

During the 1980s, Paul Martin was one of five members of the Executive Committee of Imasco, a British American Tobacco subsidiary, which owns 100% of Imperial Tobacco. Imperial currently boasts 70% of Canada's cigarette market, making it responsible for more than 100 Canadians slaughtered by cigarettes every day. Tobacco kills more Canadians every day than are killed by alcohol, traffic accidents, cocaine, crack, heroin, fires, AIDS, homicide and suicide combined!

After resigning from Imasco to run for Parliament in 1988, his work for Imasco didn't stop. One of Martin's first acts after becoming Finance Minister in 1993 was to slash federal tobacco taxes and to strong-arm provinces to do the same, which cut cigarette prices in half in Eastern Canada in February of 1994, and nearly doubled youth smoking rates in those provinces.

Rates in Western Canada, where prices were maintained, remained stable.

Martin claimed that the tax cut was necessary to reduce cigarette smuggling, although it's now known that RJR-Macdonald and Martin's Imperial Tobacco orchestrated most of that smuggling.

In 1998, Martin torpedoed a complete tobacco-sponsorship advertising ban just days before then-Federal Health Minister Allan Rock was to give a press conference announcing it. And Martin also killed bills by Senator Colin Kenny to emulate what California did to reduce its youth smoking rate to a third of Canada's.

Mr. Martin isn't such a financial genius, either -- at least not for Canadians. His Canada Steamship Lines has built and registered their ships offshore, in order to avoid paying Canadian workers and Canadian taxes. While he was Finance Minister, he boasted a surplus, but that surplus was built by increasing Employment Insurance premiums and reducing eligibility and benefits, by slashing the budget for Canada's military, and by reneging on financial obligations in healthcare and education, and off-loading them to provincial and municipal governments. He was also the same Finance Minister who signed all the cheques for the gun registry -- the cost of which skyrocketed from the estimated 2 million dollars, 500 times to one billion dollars -- without a question or even a blink about all the cost over-run.

If you know anyone who started smoking or continued smoking while Paul Martin was our Finance Minister, their premature death could very well be the result of his helping his friends in the tobacco industry.

President Ronald Reagan was known as "The Great Communicator," while Prime Minister Martin will probably go down as "The Great Evader".

What do you think your chances are of getting a response from Paul Martin to this question?

The bottom line is:

We don't like to make assumptions any more than anyone else does but, given PIP Martin's - and his staff's - reluctance to respond to and/or clarify this matter, we're left with no choice. That said, the facts are clear: Paul Martin was, until 1988, a tobacco executive. The decisions he made as Finance Minister clearly favoured his old pals at Imperial Tobacco. And even when he's not doing anything specifically for his old pals, by continuing to do nothing on the tobacco file, he is, inadvertently, doing them more favours. The only questions that remain are:

IF PAUL MARTIN IS AS CONCERNED ABOUT HEALTH CARE AS HE PRETENDS TO BE, WHY IS HE BLISSFULLY IGNORING ONE OF THE BIGGEST DRAIN OF TAXPAYERS' > DOLLARS ON THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM -- NOT TO MENTION THE LEADING CAUSE OF PREVENTABLE ADDICTION, DISEASE, DISABILITY AND PREMATURE DEATH -- TOBACCO?

and/or

IS OUR UNREPENTANT TOBACCO EXECUTIVE / PM PAUL MARTIN STILL ON THE CARTEL'S PAYROLL?

A Tribute: Warren Zevon 1947-2003

Most songwriters write love songs or commentary on contemporary culture. Warren Zevon wrote love songs, too; "Reconsider Me" is a particularly good one. However, Zevon also wrote songs about mercenaries ("Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner"), prizefighters with blood on their hands ("Boom Boom Mancini"), psychotic killers ("Excitable Boy"), and economics ("Mohammed's Radio"). His two best known works, "Werewolves of London" and "Poor Poor Pitiful Me", were humorous. The latter, turned into a monster hit record by Linda Ronstadt, added the concept of "gender" as a synonym for "sex" to the English language.

Zevon had demons. He battled with alcoholism for much of his adult life, but it was cigarettes that did him in. He died of lung cancer at the age of 56. He reportedly quit smoking about six years prior to his death, but it wasn't soon enough. Like other prominent musicians such as George Harrison, Mary Wells, and Tammy Wynette, the best medical treatment available couldn't save him. He did manage to live long enough to record one more CD, "The Wind". When a friend of mine died of a stroke recently, a song from this CD, "Keep Me in Your Heart", was played at his funeral. Yes, Warren, we will keep you in our hearts, but it would have been better if we had kept you on this planet for a lot longer.

Smuggling their own products for increased profit

On July 9 Philip Morris International agreed to pay the European Union $1.25 billion US over 12 years to settle charges of money laundering and smuggling. Similar charges are still pending against R.J. Reynolds. The companies knowingly sell cigarettes to international smugglers in part to increase market share, but mostly as an effort to pressure governments to reduce taxes. About one-quarter of internationally traded cigarettes enter the illegal market, with much of the proceeds funneled directly into terrorist groups all over the planet, including Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda.

On the same day, executives of JTI-Macdonald, Canada's third-largest tobacco company, made a brief court appearance on smuggling charges. The Canadian government filed the lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Aug. 13, 2003 for $1.5 billion in damages for fraud, deceit, fraudulent misrepresentation, document destruction, and civil conspiracy. Also charged were about a dozen related companies including JTI-Macdonald's parent company Japan Tobacco and its former parent company, R. J. Reynolds. But the case was put over until Nov. 4, 2004 for pre-trial discussions, with preliminary hearing dates set for next year. JTI-Macdonald (then called RJR-Macdonald) and Imperial Tobacco sold the cigarettes in the early 1990s to US smugglers who then smuggled them back into Canada, mostly via the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve straddling the St. Lawrence Seaway. Lost revenue in evaded cigarette tax is estimated to be over $3-billion, giving then-finance-minister Paul Martin an excuse to slash cigarette prices in half in Eastern Canada in 1994, which resulted in Quebec's youth smoking jumping to 34% from 19% in 1991 and the loss of over $10-billion in tax revenue. Until running for MP in 1988, Martin was a top director of Imasco, Imperial's parent company at the time.

Larry Miller, currently serving 17 years in a US prison for smuggling $1-billion of RJR-Macdonald's cigarettes back into Canada, has admitted he regularly met with RJR-Macdonald executives who told him how to move their smuggled product in Canada. The RCMP seized about 1,200 boxes of records in a 1998 raid of RJR-Macdonald's Montreal headquarters, and filed criminal smuggling charges in Ontario on Feb. 28, 2003 against JTI-Macdonald and eight of its top executives.

On Tuesday, August 10, 2004, the Quebec government assessed tobacco giant JTI-Macdonald Corp. almost $1.4 billion for lost taxes because of cigarette smuggling in the 1990s, and obtained a Superior Court order on Wednesday August 11, 2004 ordering immediate payment by JTI-Macdonald.


"The tobacco industry has perpetrated the largest consumer deception the world has ever seen. Death upon death has been the result, but the industry has never apologized to or compensated the family of any victim. Instead, the industry has denied responsibility and advertised its products in a way that attracts teenage recruits to replace dead customers.

- Ron Cunningham, Author, Smoke & Mirrors


PM's Train of Death

The tobacco industry has always responded to restrictions on tobacco advertising by finding a way to circumvent those restrictions. Naming tennis tournaments, fireworks displays, or jazz festivals after a brand of cigarettes is an example of the industry's ability to sidestep the restrictions and maintain indirect advertising. Very clever.

Holding a sweepstakes, however, is ingenious. It does not constitute "advertising" per se, but by having people enter a sweepstakes draw, the tobacco companies are able to accumulate a database of names and addresses that they can use as future advertising targets.

A report, which is based on internal memos of Philip Morris (available as a result of the 1998 settlement between the tobacco industry and 46 States) released by the American Lung Association of Colorado on June 30, 2003, unveils the following tale:

In 1996 and 1997, Philip Morris spent $50 million on the "Marlboro Unlimited Sweepstakes" promotion. Entry coupons were available at gas bars and smoke shops throughout the United States. Each of the 2,000 winners drawn was to receive a five-day trip on a custom-built luxury train owned by Philip Morris and built by a company now known as Colorado Railcar. This train was to have, among other things, five hot tubs, a 16-seat theatre, and a casino/night club. It was to travel through Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. There were, of course, no non-smoking sections. The windows were made of bulletproof glass in case anyone had a strenuous objection to having a cigarette ad-on-wheels rolling through their back yard, and the train was equipped with fire extinguishers. Appropriately enough, one of many internal Philip Morris memos about this project which was uncovered states:

"We need to address the possibility (probability) of smoking in bed. Can smoke detectors be installed?"

However, this project turned out to be too elaborate - even for one of the largest multinational corporations on this planet - to meet sweepstakes' deadlines. The project was cancelled and Philip Morris ordered the nearly complete train to be cut up and salvaged for scrap. Employees of Denver-based Rader Railcar, as it was then called, were not only laid off, but actually signed documents stating that they would not talk about this failed train project.

As for the contest winners, most were given $6,000 in cash in lieu of the luxury train ride that had been promised to them. Ironically, one of the Sweepstakes winners, Stan Dennis of Wylie, Texas, died of smoking-related illness before collecting his prize - either the train ride or the $6,000. Pam Dennis, Stan's widow, wrote the Marlboro cigarette manufacturer on Oct. 8, 1996: "Stan passed away very unexpectedly earlier this year. As you can see by the attached copy of the death certificate, smoking contributed to his death. It would really mean a lot to me if I could go on the trip. It would have been a dream 25th wedding anniversary vacation for Stan and me." Ms. Dennis had even made arrangements for a friend to accompany her on the prize trip in place of her dead husband.

Ms. Dennis never saw the $50 million train. Nor did the rest of the 2,000 Marlboro Sweepstakes "winners". Ms Dennis was told that the prize was "non-transferable".

Philip Morris now runs a "Party at the Ranch" contest, where winners vacation in Montana.

- Bob Broughton, New Westminster, BC

Giving it The Ol' College Try

For several years the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, which is the regulatory body controlling the practice of pharmacology in BC, has been lobbying government to require the removal of tobacco products from retail premises containing pharmacies.

The College's regulatory authority is currently limited by provincial legislation to "the area of a premises licensed under this [Pharmacists, Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling] Act where drugs or devices may be stored, dispensed or sold to the public". That defined area excludes where tobacco products are stocked and sold.

The College of Pharmacists has proposed the following Practice Policy for implementation:

"The College will work to convince the provincial government to make legislative change concerning the sale of tobacco products from pharmacies including the following bylaw:

A licensed pharmacy must not be located in an establishment where tobacco products are sold from:

(1)the pharmacy, or

(2)any part of the establishment where goods or services are sold or offered for sale to the public, or

(3)any part of the establishment where goods or services are sold or offered for sale to the public and where customers of the pharmacy can pass into the establishment directly or by the use of a corridor or area used exclusively to connect the pharmacy and the establishment."

Clearly pharmacists are seeking to be taken seriously as competent and knowledgeable health care professionals. The College's Code of Ethics outlines the values to which pharmacists are expected to adhere, which include "honesty, integrity and compassion", supporting "the patient's right to receive competent and ethical health care", and ensuring that "the practice environment contributes to safe and effective pharmacy care".

The B.C. Pharmacists Association (BCPhA), which is the professional body consisting, in large part, of the extensive chain stores such as Shoppers Drug Mart, is in favour of continuing to sell tobacco products from within their premises, and are looking to government for regulation. Given the ongoing dispute surrounding this issue the BCPhA felt it was appropriate to issue the following Position Statement, approved by the Board June 4, 2004:

  • The BCPhA does not support the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia's efforts to expand its jurisdiction beyond the boundaries of the pharmacy area.

  • The BCPhA supports and encourages the voluntary withdrawal of tobacco products from pharmacies in British Columbia.

  • The BCPhA supports and encourages pharmacist supported smoking cessation products and programs.

These two bodies are at obvious odds with one another - what is your stand?

For more details and an in-depth review of the issue, visit w ww.airspace.bc.ca - look for the letter of support sent to the College by Airspace's Sera Kirk.


The use of war to refer to the battles over tobacco is clearly appropriate. The tobacco industry, a foreign-controlled aggressor, knowingly kills tens of thousands of Canadian citizens each year. The industry knowingly addicts tens of thousands of children each year, thereby taking away their freedom, perhaps for a lifetime. To protect and expand its empire, the industry uses a finely tuned propaganda machine. Loss of life, loss of freedom, propaganda - these are the characteristics of war.

Rob Cunningham, Smoke & Mirrors


Help Breathe Life Into Airspace

You care about tobacco issues. You receive and read Breather's Digest and support tobacco regulation in theory. On those extremely rare occasions when someone asks your opinion, you state it. But have you ever wondered what you can do in an active sense? Consider this article a call to arms!

With our health care system in crisis and British Columbia facing another long summer of fire, we can no longer afford to be complacent or tolerant about tobacco, the primary cause of:

  • Preventable premature death and disease in both active and involuntary users;

  • Toxic litter;

  • Indoor air pollution; and

  • Fires, and resulting injuries, deaths, pollution, property damage and destruction resulting therefrom.

Even outdoors, tobacco smoke is a health hazard and an infringement on others' personal space. Have you ever suffered through, or been forced to leave a bus or entertainment lineup (or any venue - including someone's home) because the involuntary inhalation of smoke & toxins was too overbearing?

We tend to blame politicians for everything - often perhaps, deservedly; however, in all fairness, we cannot expect our politicians to read minds. The tobacco companies are speaking their minds loudly and consistently. In the absence of our voices, many of our representatives may not know that the industry's wishes are contrary to ours, and how strongly we feel about it. It is true that the first people to complain will be told there is nothing that can be done, no one else has complained, etc. If there were any among us who could afford it, there would no doubt have been lawsuits on some of these issues. If everyone who cares telephones and/or writes to their leaders, appropriate ministers/councilors, and representatives, those who wish to be re-elected will eventually have no choice but to listen. There is power in numbers. You may be surprised to find out how many politicians are simply not aware that this is an issue on which a significant number of people feel strongly.

At the Federal level, write to the Prime Minister, your MP, Minister for Health, and any other ministries relevant to the issue(s) you are addressing. To find out names and contact information, either telephone 1 800 755 7047 or go to this website: http://canada.gc.ca/dept s/major/depind_e.html

At the Provincial level, write to your MLA and any other ministries relevant to the issues you are addressing. To find out names and contact information, telephone 1 - 800 - 661- 8683 or go to this website: http://www.legis.gov.bc.ca /mla/3-1-1.htm.

Premier Gordon Campbell (telephone 250 387 1715; facsimile 250 387 0087; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.< /A>; address: P.O. Box 9041, Stn. Prov. Govt., Victoria British Columbia, V8W 9E1)

At the Municipal level, your local City Hall has names and contact information regarding your Mayorand Councilors.

Do Not Limit Your Voice To Politicians!

  • Let smokers know how you feel about litter. Ask them why they do not use their vehicle's ashtray, have not bought one, and/or do not carry one with them when they know they will be outdoors and that they smoke, instead of littering.

  • Especially during the fire season, report the license plate numbers, vehicle descriptions, time, date, and any other details you can remember of any smokers you see throwing their cigarettes out of car windows. This is actually a hazard year-round, as such irresponsibly discarded smoking materials can hit pedestrians, those riding in open vehicles, or even blow in through the open windows of other vehicles.
  • Let business owners know what you expect. British Columbian provincial smoking legislation is weak. If a venue is smoky in spite of compliance with the law, let the owner and/or manager know. The first people to complain will likely remain unrewarded; however, if a proprietor hears repeatedly that the venue stinks and is putting people off, or that patrons feel sorry for staff who have to work in the designated smoking rooms, the chances of eventual change increase. If you believe that the premises may be in violation of health regulations and the owner does not respond in a satisfactory manner to having this politely pointed out, a complaint to the Workers' Compensation Board (*) should bring results. *1-800-661-2112

  • If a landlord has advertised a property as no smoking, insist that this condition be included in your lease or rental agreement, so that you have legal protection should problems arise.

  • Find out what companies are affiliated with the tobacco industry and boycott them. Take a few minutes to let them know you are boycotting them and why.

  • Support and spend your money at businesses that refuse to deal tobacco or at least keep it out of sight. Especially let health care businesses, such as pharmacies, know how you feel about huge displays of tobacco products at their checkout counters.

The important thing is to let your feelings be known. We, the majority, have been polite and silent for too long. This is why, at a time when everyone but tobacco executives, militant smokers, and those financially dependent on either or both agrees that tobacco smoke pollution and ubiquitous toxic, flammable litter is a hazard and a drain on our resources and quality of life, we still do not have regulation of this product proportionate to the damage it causes.

Yes, you may be given a hard time. You may be called names. You may be told that you are the only one who is bothered by this.

At first - but if we all speak out, together and consistently, change for the better is inevitable. If we remain complacently silent, then we deserve no better than to be ignored and continue paying the ever-increasing costs of the consequences.


"In all fairness, we cannot expect our politicians to read minds... There is power in numbers."

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