Lee Pollak

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Lee Pollak was Executive Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for Philip Morris International. Pollak was formerly of Conboy, Hewitt, O'Brien & Boardman.[1]

Lee Pollak wrote a 1990 speech which expressed what he believed was a "balanced corporate view on the various smoking issues."

In the draft speech, Pollak infers that cigarette smoking aids society's overall mental health by reducing stress:

As we observe the world today, we note that many of society's problems result from the state of our mental health or, putting it more simply, the mere difficulty of coping ... Although I do not mean to suggest that cigarette smoking is any panacea for these problems, does it really make sense to bear down relentlessly on those who choose to relieve the daily stress of life through smoking?

Pollok also claimed that public health issues around tobacco were "exaggerated," and proceeded to minimize the toll that tobacco takes on human life, working off an assumption that he himself was unsure of:

Nor does it help to exaggerate the public health issues involved. If today science were to develop a preventative or cure which would completely eliminate lung cancer, life expectancy would be increased by less than three months. [This fact -- as well as all others -- must be checked.]

He disputed the increased medical costs tobacco causes society, inferred that lung cancer is merely a disease of old age and that smokers cost society less by failing to collect social securing and by dyign earlier than non-smokers:

... And as one recognizes that lung cancer is a disease of older age and that non-smokers also collect social security and incur medical expenses, one recognizes the absurdity of the contention that smoking results in a financial cost to society.

Pollak's speech touches on the subjects of advertising bans, the absence of health warnings on packs destined for export, ingredients, public smoking and secondhand smoke. It ends with an unusual invitation for public health advocates to apply to work at Philip Morris, suggesting they could put their ingenuity to work selling Miracle Whip or Crystal Light:

We never cease to be amazed with the ability of the anti-tobacco activists to come up with something new...We could certainly use such ingenuity at Philip Morris and let me say here and now, we would be glad to receive the resumes of members of the anti-tobacco movement after they become bored with the cigarette and health controversy. Who knows? If they still have a problem with Merit or Parliament, perhaps we could give them a go with Crystal Light or Miracle Whip.[2][3]

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  1. PMI's Introduction to Privilege Log and Glossary of Names, Estate of Burl Butler v. PMI, et al, April 19, 1996
  2. Lee Pollak, Philip Morris Smoking Issues Memorandum. August 3, 1990. 1 page. Bates No. 2500050402
  3. Lee Pollak, Philip Morris No title Draft speech. Attachment to previous document. July, 1990. 14 pp. Philip Morris Bliley Collection. Bates No.2500050403/0416