Taking on Tobacco

Listen / Download

First there was the Surgeon General’s warning that smoking was dangerous; then there was what amounted to a ban on broadcast advertising of cigarettes; but you could say the government war on tobacco didn’t really begin until 1990, when David Kessler came to run the Food and Drug Administration for George Bush the Elder.
At the time, tobacco was essentially unregulated, no matter that cigarettes had killed millions of people. The first step, which Kessler knew wouldn’t be easy, was to classify cigarettes as a drug. He had help from industry whistleblowers with code-names like “Deep Cough” and “Veritas”, later the stuff of Hollywood “Insider” fame.

We barely remember that the Supreme Court eventually denied the FDA jurisdiction, because we all know now that the tobacco companies knew and manipulated the addictive power of their product. Join us for David Kessler’s wins and losses against Big Tobacco.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


David Kessler, author of “A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry.”