Tobacco Documents - glossary and terms

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This is one of a number of explanatory documents to help researchers understand the archives of tobacco industry documents held at the San Francisco Library archive.


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

The tobacco industry documents are archived at the San Francisco University Library [1] They now hold 14 million documents which are indexed and made available on-line. These are important not just to help identify the tobacco industry scams, distortions, lobbying, and helpers, but also because they offer an insight into the activities of a much wider group of industries with similar poisoning and polluting problems.

It is important to realise that private consulting groups and companies, and the numerous institutes, associations, think-tanks, etc. set up to service the tobacco industry often also provided similar services to other industries with problems. This became a distinct industry sector, usually with global reach, which continues today.

The tobacco documents are often difficult to read, however, until the researcher gets to understand the jargon, and industry-specific terms. These are often personal memos, also, and these forms of correspondence often only use first names, or nicknames. The most interesting of these are the documents of Philip Morris Corporate Affairs, and so we have included the first-name and nickname list for this group on another page.

Glossary and Terms used in the tobacco industry

Tobacco industry documents often contain unique terms, acronyms and phrases unfamiliar to people who work outside the industry.

  • This page is an attempt to catalog those terms. See also commonly used Acronyms - Abbreviations section below the 'Glossary - Terms' entries (many are not tobacco organisations, but appear in the documents
  • Sections of the tobacco industry also made extensive use of personal name abbreviations. See these in Tobacco industry name abbreviations and nicknames

If you are able to extend these lists, please follow the pattern (Here add terms in alphabetical order and bold the first mention of each term). Glossaries of terms can be found by searching tobacco industry document databases using search terms like "glossary." Such glossaries are often contained within employee training and orientation manuals.

The bottom of this page contains links to tobacco industry glossaries on a variety of subjects, like sales, consumer testing, scientific analysis, etc., found within the documents.

Tobacco Glossary - Terms

  • Accommodation The promoted industry principle that ... "If you let me smoke ... I'll let you breathe the crud I exhale." This was the industry's knee-jerk reaction to passive smoking objections. Later they extended the idea to providing smoking and non-smoking tables or areas in restaurants, public spaces and aircraft. It was described by one commentator as "like having pissing and non-pissing sides in a swimming pool."
    This was a key part of the industry's Social Acceptability program.
  • Ad Hoc Committees A legal device to by-pass the creation of formal committees with identifiable members (who might later be subpoened).The tobacco industry had many of these ad hoc committees (they used the term widely), These mainly comprised in-house corporate lawyers who didn't want to meet in any formal organization that could be later construed as conspiracy.
  • Addiction According to the tobacco industry, this term did not apply to its products. They maintained that "Cigarettes may, like chocolate, be habituating but never addictive." That was a term they only used with heroin. Admission of addiction would contradict the claim that smokers were merely exercising their "choice" to smoke. The words "addictive" and "addiction" were prohibited in most companies from being used in letters, memos and reports within the industry; unless preceded by the terms "claimed" or "alleged".
  • Additives A general term in production science which means both deliberately added chemicals and contaminants like pesticides and herbicides. The deliberate additives include flavours, castings, humecants, adhesives, and plasticisers.
  • Alleged A euphemism for "not-yet-proved-to-our-satisfaction ... nor ever will be". This term was used to deflect the dangers of "addiction", etc. You'll find it used de rigueur, in the tobacco documents just in case someone leaked a document to the press.
  • Ames tests These are quick, simple and cheap laboratory tests for possible mutagenic activity, using bacteria. The US Professor Bruce Ames developed and promoted this technique as a quick way of distinguishing highly toxic materials which were likely to be harmful to human health. The argument was that if the bacteria mutated, then the substance was likely to be dangerous to humans. The problem was that Ames tests are unreliable for low-level cumulative types of carcinogens, etc. -- which is why it was so actively promoted.
  • Ammonia Technology - The use of ammonia in tobacco to freebase nicotine, mask and improve flavors. See also Freebase nicotine and Ammonia. The alkaline nature of the ammonia made the nicotine more potent. Also used was diammonium phosphate. These change the pH of the tobacco.
  • Antibacs See probacs. A term briefly used for those opposed to public smoking on either health or environmental grounds. It was promoted by the industry an alternative to the term 'Anti' but it didn't ever catch on.
  • Antis - short for "anti-smokers" or public health advocates
  • Assays (aka bio-assays) experimental methods used to determine potential harm. There are dozens of different ways: some using special cells, bacteria, plants, or animals exposed to a range of possible carcinogen/mutagens under controlled conditions. Assays taken during an experiment can test to see if the material is causing damage, and possibly provide an estimate of the level of damage.
  • Astroturfs (an Anti term) Fake-grassroots organisations (usually "think-tanks") used for political lobbying purposes. APCO, the PR company set up by Arnold & Porter for Philip Morris, specialised in creating organisations that were promoted as having arisen spontaneously by the actions of a small group of concerned citizens (or scientists). The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) is a good example. Other industries used these techniques also -- especially the drug companies with many different disease-specific astroturfs. Astroturfs can pretend to represent the interests of their citizen/scientist members while actually working to promote the specific propaganda agenda of the corporations. ["Who pays the piper, calls the tune"] ACSH and AECA are good examples of Astroturf operations.
  • Atlas Network A global network of libertarian, corporate-funded think-tanks who provide political and propaganda services to various funding industries. It's base was the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Virginia, USA, and also the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute in London. The founders were Sir Antony Fisher and Lord Harris of High Cross, with further funding in the US from Scaife, Coors, Koch and Krieble.
  • Bates Number Legal identity codes. These are supposed to be unique numbers which have been overprinted onto document pages for quick and unambiguous reference when used as court evidence. Most early researchers used these as key identifiers. Unfortunately the tobacco archive holds documents from a number of difference court cases - so the system breaks down - since each court used its own set. However you can search on the first Bates number by typing it into the search panel -- and you may get more than one document. The Legacy library later switched to "tid/" numbers with a more conventional URL, and later again it converted these to a special sequence of 4 alpha + 4 digital characters.
  • Big-Chill A political campaign tactic used to destroy opponents and worry members of Congress (Used very successfully by the National Rifle Association). During an election year the tobacco industry would pick a couple of vulnerable candidates who had taken a strong anti-tobacco stance and mount an extremely well-funded, well-staffed campaign against them (both in the primaries and in the Congressional elections). The objective was to hit them with 'overwhelming force.' and exhibit the power of these corporations in supporting of destroying candidates. The pay-off for this tactic was through lobbyists who circulated among moderate members of Congress to let them know that stepping out of line could lead to electoral defeats. This message would scare the hell out of Congressmen hoping to remain for more than one term.
  • Bio-assays - (aka 'assays') experimental methods used to determine harm. There are dozens of different ways cells, bacterial, plants, or animals exposed to a possible carcinogen during an experiment can be tested to see if the material is causing damage, and possibly provide an estimate of the level of damage.
    The tobacco industry was very keen to promote the Ames bacterial test as the regulatory standard test, since this was quick and easy and didn't point the finger at smoking. Other researchers used mouse-painting of tobacco tars. All assay techniques have their advantages and their limitations.
  • Biological activity - A term used as a euphemism for "cancerous or pre-cancerous changes were detected."
  • Blue-Dog Democrats - A caucus of Southern tobacco-state Democrat Congressmen who support the tobacco industry. They generally vote with the Republicans in support of the tobacco companies in questions like the right-to-advertise and promote cigarettes, and they help block the regulatory actions against passive smoking. They were not necessarily from the conservative arm of the Democratic Party, but they often received campaign funding, junkets and other support from the tobacco companies.
  • Bright tobacco - A type of cigarette tobacco grown from Florida to Virginia It is flue cured without direct contact of fumes, and is commonly used to give smoothness, mildness, and color to the blend.
  • Burley tobacco - A type of tobacco grown mainly in Kentucky and Tennessee, which is air cured and commonly used to give richness and body to the blend.
  • Cannibalization - when a spinoff product of one brand erodes the established market of the "parent" brand (e.g., the introduction of Marlboro Lights would cannibalize the Marlboro regular brand market).
  • Case-control studies - This is a legitimate type of retrospective epidemiology. Those who have been diagnosed with some disease condition are 'matched' (age, sex, background, etc) to control subjects who don't have the condition (They are perhaps in hospital for a broken leg, etc). Life histories are then taken from both -- then statistical methods are used to identify the obvious life-style or exposure differences, which, in many cases, can reasonably be identified as the likely 'cause'.
  • Cased Burley tobacco - Burley strip tobacco which has been sprayed with casing, a flavoring solution, after drying.
  • Casing - A solution of flavoring additives used for spraying onto tobacco or stems.
  • Channel ventilation cigarettes. See Barclay above.
  • Chill - A tactic used to stop magazines imposing their own cigarette advertising bans. From the mid-1950s to the '70s, some of the major American magazines refused to carry cigarette advertising for ethical reasons. There was a danger that this trend would spread. But the ethical editors discovered that, along with the cigarette advertising, other forms of advertising revenues also dried up. This tactic was possible because:
1. the tobacco companies had diversified into food, insurance, entertainment, media and other industries.
2. they had formed coalitions with other industry groups to provide mutual support, and sometimes mutual boycotting.
  • CLIP strategy - Conservative Leadership Initiative Program run by Philip Morris c 1990
  • Closed conferences. Scientific seminars and conferences which are entirely controlled by the companies. This happened in the tobacco industry to the point where only tame scientists were listed as conferences speakers and only trusted 'friendly' scientists were invited as participants. These closed seminars acted partly as tutorials and partly as network builders. They also provided feedback to the companies, and, by publishing and widely distributing the conference proceedings, they often gave the speakers a degree of scientific legitimacy they would not have otherwise enjoyed.
Later such one-sided conferences became too obvious and the tobacco industry then began to organise and manipulate scientific conferences in more balanced and sophisticated ways. To control the output of a conference, you don't need to control every speaker -- only those keynote speakers who will be reported in the media, and perhaps the 'expert' who sums up the 'conference consensus' and drafts the press-releases.
  • Coalitions - The ability to muster support and hide behind umbrella organisations. In the 1950s and '60s asbestos and tobacco were pariah industries. The food processing, chemical, energy and pharmaceutical industries kept them at arms length and tried to blame them for the rising rates of cancer and heart disease.
- (Early) In the tobacco jargon, 'coalition' generally refered to joint actions by a number of tobacco companies .
- (Later) agreements were struck between many poisoning & polluting industries not to blame each other, but rather to join forces to counter the growth of health and environmental activism -- and especially to attack product liability laws (tort-reform).
  • Commercial Free Speech - The right to advertise. Implicit in the dubious use of this term is that, since the US Constitution guaranteed its human citizens the right to speak out politicially, it must also guarantee poisoning and polluting companies the right to promote their harmful products. The tobacco industry had strong allies in this aspect among the publishing, newspaper, media and advertising industries. Their catch cry was: "If it can be sold, it can be advertised."
  • Committee of Counsel - A regular meeting of in-house tobacco company lawyers who made key research decisions. They effectively took control of the TIRC, CTR, CIAR and other research programs, grants, special projects funding, etc, since they had the required 'attorney-client privilege' which blocked attempts to have them give evidence in a court case. No research project was ever funded without their express approval.They also controlled Special Projects and brown paper-bag payments.
  • Confidence Level - The calculated probability that the risk figures derived from the data will be 'robust', and are not just arising from chance factors. A confidence of 0.95 or 95% is said to be at the 5% level - such a finding will only arise once-in-twenty times by chance. A higher level of confidence at 0.99 or 99% is at the 1% level and will only arise by chance once in a hundred similar experiments. This takes into account both the sheer numbers of subjects in the study, and the strength of the relationships found.
  • Confounders - Alternate explanations for some factors; possible interferers with a finding. In all forms of statistical research (epidemiology is the most obvious one) there will always be 'confounding' variables -- those that offer an alternate explanation. These are other agents in the environment that could contribute to and influence the outcome. In smoking and lung-cancer, for instance, radon gas, general air polution, etc. may also contribute to the local lung-cancer rate. The real professional skill of an epidemiologist is in devising studies that limit (or isolate) the effects of these confounders.
  • Consultants - A loose term with a wide range of meanings. It is not always apparent what arrangement consultants have with the companies - and the use of the term changed over time.
- Legitimate consultants were outside experts who supplied essential business/industrial services to the tobacco companies.
- More dubious advice-givers were hired to provide their expertise and services to the companies (PR, lobbyists, etc) and many of these were at the fringes of propriety.
- There were also lawyers and science-recruiters who often referred to the WhiteCoats and witnesses as 'consultants.' No one consulted them about anything useful; they were subterranean lackeys hired to parade their credentials while promoting propaganda.
  • Cotinine - The breakdown product of nicotine in the atmosphere. In aerosol, nicotine rapidly becomes cotinine, and so it is important to measure the cotinine, rather than the nicotine in room air if you wish to establish the effects of passive smoking.
  • Cut filler - The final blend of tobacco, flavored and cut, used to make cigarettes. At Philip Morris, it consists of Burley, Bright and imported tobaccos, stems, blended leaf, and expanded tobacco, at a moisture content of about 13%.
  • D-day (EPA) - This was the code name for the EPA's 1993 Risk Assessment Release. Tom Humber of Burson-Marsteller was in charge of organising pre-emptive actions and counter measures
  • D-day (IARC) - This was the day of the expected release of the IARC report (WHO's research arm) in late 1995. The tobacco industry had task forces working for over two years, meeting quarterly, to prepare for this major event. [which they managed exceptionally well, by convincing most commentators that black was white, and that a round hole was just a slight adaption of a square.]
  • Deliveries - Tobacco term for the load of nicotine and tars in a cigarette. This was determined by the techniques of manufacture. They had to balance between keeping their cigarettes "full flavoured" and addictive, and being able to promote them as 'safe' or 'safer' with the low tar claims.
  • Depose - The right to interview potential witnesses against you formally in front of lawyers and with a stenographer to record the statements. See Discovery below.
  • DIET -Dry Ice Expanded Tobacco.
  • Discovery - A pre-trial interview and document-exchange process that occurs before a legal dispute reaches the courts. This stage makes up about 80% of the time and costs of a typical lawsuit. Both parties to the dispute have the right to 'depose' (interview under oath) potential witnesses (who are accompanied by their own lawyer) and sometimes they can demand copies of certain documents. Lawyers working for the other side are generally immune from the discovery-processes under 'attorney-client privilege' rules, which is how lawyers came to control tobacco industry research (or lack thereof).
  • Document Retention Policy - The standard industry-wide codewords for "document destruction policy". Important areas of administration in all tobacco companies were expected to cull their files regularly and destroy incriminating documents. They had inter-company conferences of lawyers regularly, and they designated special teams of lawyer and trainers to teach subsidiaries and associates/consultants to systematically scrub their files.
  • Dryer - A unit which dries, that is, removes moisture from tobacco, or blended leaf by exposing the product to heated air. The dryer may be a long oven through which a belt moves, or a rotating cylinder through which heated air is passed.
  • Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) - the smoke suffered by non-smokers (eg. 'passive smoking') The tobacco industry subdivides ETS into two types: SS = Sidestream smoke which is low temperature smoke from cigarettes burning in an ashtray and SH - Second Hand smoke, exhaled by smokers.
  • Expanded Tobacco (ET) -Tobacco which has been increased in size in a process of cellular expansion followed (nowadays) by freeze drying.(See Dry Ice Expanded Tobacco, or DIET). Expanding increases tobacco volume by +/-100% but greatly reduces flavor. Analogous procedure to "puffed wheat" and "puffed rice." Expanded tobacco is used to reduce tobacco weight per cigarette and reduce FTC tar readings.[2] Previously propane, freon, carbon dioxide were all used to expand the tobacco.
  • Extramural - The FTR division of Philip Morris in Switzerland used this term to mean social-type activities: (networking with scientists and public officials, joumalists briefings, monitoring projects, attending symposia, assisting Corporate Affairs initiatives)
  • Federalist Society - a secretive organisation of lawyers who supported "unregulated free-enterprise" and worked for the major US corporations in lobbying and political corruption.
  • Flavourings - It's often not realised that cigarette, pipe and chewing tobaccos are often flavoured with exotic materials and chemicals. Cocoa is one flavour commonly used along with sugar and liquorice. These are generally volatile aromatics which are introduced at the last stage in production. Flvourings are usually 'GRAS - Generally Recognised As Safe', materials -- but the GRAS specification was for ingested material, not for burned and inhaled.
  • Filter plug - the cigarette filter
  • FUBYAS - Acronym stands for "First Usual Brand Younger Adult Smoker," a tobacco industry term for young people. Mostly used by RJR. Also See YAS, YAMS, YAFS and YAX.
  • GRAS - Generally recognised as safe ... but see qualification in 'flavourings' (above)
  • Grassroots - The organisation of citizens to unwittingly support an activity. This is the generation of a groundswell of public opinion. When PR people talk about 'grassroots' organisations, they are making a distinction between those established by lobbyists which appear to be 'elite organisations' (pseudo-academic 'think-tanks', 'legal institutes', 'policy institutes' etc.), and those that are designed as, or to appear to be, real membership organisation.
    APCO specialised in setting up this type of fake organisation for Philip Morris, and their TASSC is a good an example: It claimed to be a 'grassroots scientific organisation' but it was run by APCO staff with occasional assistance from an 'Advisory Board' of science-for-sale entrepreneurs and a few sold-out academics. However it had a real list of signed-up 'members' (they signed a statement in support of 'sound science'), and these names were then used to bolster support for the tobacco industry propaganda (without the so-called member's knowledge). The trick was to create the appearance of a problem; then generate simple slogans like 'junk-science' vs 'sound science'; then claim to be solving the problems with a grassroots association which was actually under corporate control.
  • Grasstops - A technique of contacting political power-brokers by bribing friends and relatives. The idea was simple; the chairmen of most Congressional committees are long-serving home-town boys who like to play golf with their old buddies. So the tobacco lobbyist would find some down-on-his-luck old-town golfing buddy and hire him as a secret agent to promote their position to the Congressman on the golf-course.
  • Guildford - This was a document storage site used by British-American Tobacco following the MSA. Since it was in the UK it was not able to be bought under the control of the US Master Settlement Agreement in the same way.
  • Habituation - The tobacco industry's term for addiction. The only way the industry could escape the regulation of addictive substances by a Federal agency (such as the FDA), was to deny the obvious. They claimed that tobacco smoke wasn't 'addictive', it was simply 'habituating' like chocolate -- and they spent an enormous amount of money recruiting scientists who would provide public witness to this effect ... and also in buying compliant politicians who would pretend to believe it.
  • Harvard Project - this usually refers to the $3 million. support being offered by the tobacco companies (outside the purview of the CTR) to Gary Huber and his group
  • Heidelberg - Probably refers to the Heidelberg Appeal which was an environmental scam funded by the tobacco industry on behalf of a wider group of industries. The tobacco industry had a couple of consultants and WhiteCoats involved when the Heidelberg Appeal was presented at the Rio Earth Summit. Supposedly, it was an spontaneous scientific attack on climate activism; in fact, it was the work of the SEPP group funded by the tobacco and asbestos industries.
  • Hirayama - A Japanese study into passive smoking which threw the tobacco industry into turmoil in 1981. The non-smoking wives of Japanese smokers was found to have higher lung-cancer rates than they should by chance. The Tobacco Institute hired statisticians to try to find faults in Hirayama's methodology, and when they couldn't ... but they found them anyway (mainly by claiming 'misclassification').
  • Hockett's Dictum - Essentially, this it is the spurious claim that "mice aren't men" -- and therefore animal experiments (no matter how rigorous and scientifically significant) don't prove anything. (Hockett worked for Philip Morris as a scientific discounter) It is a PR attempt to treat each finding in isolation from all others -- as if every study must either be the 'smoking gun', or be discarded. In fact research findings are like jig-saws with each element only providing one part of the picture. The relationships between mouse biology and human are well understood which is why millions of mice are used in laboratories every year.
  • Hunter Committee - the UK Government committee looking at smoking and health problems.
  • Indoor Air Quality(IAQ) - This is a general term applying to a range of indoor air pollutants: tobacco smoke is obviously the most significant, but there was also heating and cooking by-products, body-odours, dust, and problems in the 1980s from formaldehyde (insulation exudate) and various other plastics and miscellaneous pollutants.
  • Impact - The organoleptic sensation caused by nicotine. Impact is often described by consumers as throat catch, throat hit, throat grip, etc. Cigarette companies define impact as the sudden sharp but short-lived sensation (typically less than one second in duration) which is noticed immediately the smoke makes contact with the back of the throat. A physiological explanation of the impact sensation is that nicotine causes smooth muscle to contract, and the amount of contraction is proportional to the dose of nicotine applied to it. In general, the more nicotine, the stronger the contraction and the stronger the impact sensation.[1]
  • Imperial - Means either Imperial Tobacco or Imperial College London. Professor Roger Perry, for many years, ran a tobacco scientific scam out of the Imperial College of the University of London for the tobacco companies. The companies he worked for included Imperial Tobacco -- so it can get confusing.
  • In Vitro - Research looking at the survival and development of cells in culture. The main distinction is with In Vivo (live animal) research.
  • In Vivo - Laboratory experiments involving live animals. The distinction is being made between live-animal research, with (a) human population research (epidemiology), (b) individual human research (such as with EEGs), and (c) cell-culture research (in Vitro).
  • JD (Juris Doctorate) - A common low-level award issued by many US law schools for a year of part-time study. This qualification is extremely popular among those planning a career in lobbying ... to the point where you can almost use it as an identifier. The JD's real value to the holder is that it:
- can be gained part-time with a minimum of attendance at formal university courses.
- allows the recipient to call him/herself a lawyer,
- (most importantly) gives the lobbyist's client the confidence of knowing that any dealings come under the category of 'attorney-client privilege' and are therefore immune from possible discovery.
  • Kentucky - Kentucky Tobacco Research Institute. This was the tobacco-funded and controlled institute at the Kentuck University.
  • KDN - a RJ Reynolds term for de-nicotined (reduced nicotine) burley tobacco. A process to reduce the strong taste with some tobaccos.
  • Laundry - Three possible meanings -
1. Laundering funds means that some third-party is interposed between the giver and the receiver to confuse the trail and make it difficult to identify or prove.
2. In Philip Morris jargon, a $100 cash reimbursement claim for "laundry" by executives/lobbyists returning from a politician/journalist junket was a request for a refund of their bribery or brothel expenses.
3. Like a cigar, it might just mean laundry.
  • Legislative consultants. This means a lobbyist working the State Assembly or Senate.
  • Linearity - A statistical assumption often challenged by the tobacco industry. The idea is that potential damage to health is roughly proportional to the dose. The polluting industries all clung to the idea that a 'threshold' existed, below which there was no damage at all -- therefore, until direct causal connections were established between the low-dose exposures and death or disease (virtually impossible except statistically over many years), then their products should be considered as safe.
- A related idea used in the cellphone EMF disputes is that low doses, like inoculations, actually provide a protective effect.
- Countering this was an amplification hypothesis, which suggests that the low-doses of passive smoking effected non-smokers to a far greater degree than one could assume from the calculations of smoke-exposure -- because ETS makes non-smokers hypersensitive.
  • Lobbyist - The term can have a strict and narrow, or a wider meaning. Some US journalists only use the term for those registered as professional political influence providers, while others apply the term to anyone paid to influence politicians or the public, via the media.
  • LTE's - Letters-to-the-Editor. A favourite lobbying technique where dozens, or even thousands of well-written, sometimes humorous, letters would be generated and sent to a major newspaper or magazine on a topic. It was a useful technique both for getting some arguable point on the political agenda, and also a way of making it appear to be a subject with widespread concern. Certain lobby-shops specialised in generating these, along with a flood of letters-to-Congressmen.
  • Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) The Nov 1998 agreement struck between the four largest tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states to settle their Medicaid lawsuit for the recovery of health-care costs ($206 billion over 25 years). This included the release of their documents (now at San Francisco Uni Library), and the dissolution of the Tobacco Institute and other tobacco fronts.
  • Madison Network - The Madison Group of libertarian corporate-funded think-tanks. It appears to be entirely a US operation, although it clearly has links to the Atlas Network,
  • Mercosur -Treaty establishing a common market between the Argentine Republic, the Federal Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Paraguay and the Eastern Republic of Uruguay.
  • Meta-analysis - A technique of combining numerous small-but-similar studies using statistical techniques, to provide a combined estimate of risk. Meta-analysis is not an exact science because it rests on a number of different assumption. However it is useful to regulatory agencies seeking to make rules about exposure when their data consists only of many small studies (perhaps with marginally-significant results), when each is pointing in the same direction. Small studies are usually done by independent researchers, while larger studies usually depend on corporate funding.
      Meta-analysis techniques were attacked by the tobacco industry because they funded and controlled the large sponsored studies done through the TIRC, CTR, etc, while the regulators put more weight on independent research (usually done with sparse funding). Meta-analysis gave smaller studies a cumulative standing equal to a few larger ones.
  • Minnesota - This will usually refer to the court case run by the States Attorneys-General, or to the initial storage site for tobacco documents which were released to public scrutiny under the Master Settlement Agreement
  • Misclassification - This is an old chestnut - a claim used to attack virtually any epidemiological study. It rests on the argument that you can't always totally trust the original data collected by interviews, questionnaires, etc. because people don't always tell the truth. For instance (so the chestnut explains) sometimes people claim to be 'non-smokers', when they are secret smokers or perhaps 'ex-smokers'. It is possible to mount a reasonable misclassification claim against almost any epidemiological study that turns up results you don't like.
  • Monte-Carlo - the mathematical/chance basis for characterizing uncertainties used in 'risk assessment'. It is the statistical equivalent of a roulette wheel, or of tossing a coin a finite number of times. Since the results can never be proved to be/not to be biased or distorted, it is only as trustworthy as the people who employ it.
  • Mutagen - A substance which causes mutations - an agent, such as radiation or a chemical substance, that causes genetic mutation. The distinction is with those which causes cancers. (carcinogens)
  • Op-eds - irregular articles/columns in newspapers. This type of article has traditionally appeared in the section devoted to 'opinion' rather than news, and it was usually placed on the page opposite the major editorial (hence the name). Many of these articles are unsolicited, so a large corporation (able to pay top writers or get a celebrity name on the article's by-line), has a good chance of planting numerous articles every year on compliant newspapers. The only real requirement is that they mustn't look like they are plugging a message. Many PR agencies and lobbyshop specialise in this form of media manipulation.
  • P&P industries - Poisoning and Polluting industries. Tobacco was a pariah industry in the 1970 and 80s -- no other companies wanted to associate with it. The chemical and mining (dioxin and asbestos) industries generally blamed tobacco for the growing cancer and CHD rates, and they returned the favor. However their desire to force product-liability reform ('tort-reform') through legislatures, and the rise of environmentalism which attacked many industries, brought these industries together into a number of well-funded P&P coalitions.
  • P&S Dryer - A "Proctor and Schwartz" dryer. It reduces the moisture content of sprayed Burley before it is cased and blended with the Bright.
  • Parcelsus Defence - Everything is toxic in the body when taken to excess (even water). They extended this tautology to a ridiculous level by then insinuating (and sometimes claiming) that therefore smoking is not much worse that other substances -- you just need to keep the amount you absorb under control. This argument, of course, ignores nicotine addiction.
  • Particulates - The solid parts of tobacco smoke, as distinct from the gaseous vapors (vapor phase)
  • Peer-review journals - Scientific journals who's articles are checked by small expert committees. As with the demand for 'sound-science', the emphasis here is only on accepting those scientific studies which are 'published in peer-reviewed journals'. The problem with 'peer-review' is
1. who are the peers?
2. who pays the editor who decides on the peers?
3. who funds and controls the journal?
4. how, and to whom, is the journal circulated?
  We know that the tobacco industry controlled at least a half-dozen 'peer-reviewed' scientific journals, and it is highly likely that other similar consortiums or coalitions, in other industries, control even more.
  • Plug wrap - the paper that goes around the cigarette filter.
  • Probacs - the defenders of smoking. This term was briefly used by Newsweek to denote tobacco industry 'friends' and 'supporters' (without giving them any legal basis for a defamation suit). It's the equivalent of 'climate denier' and the term deserves to be revived. Anti-smoking activist were called "antibacs".
  • Product placement - This is the contracted use of a branded product in a TV program, film, radio play, etc. It has many aspects of value to the industry concerned:
- It is a form of brand-name promotion
- It unconsciously endorses the product's use by a celebrity.
- It is an extension of the Social Acceptability concept.
Companies paid very generously to have the lead characters in popular movies smoke brand-name cigarettes -- and this also promoted the idea that this was 'cool' normal behaviour among teenagers.
  • Publication bias - a form of scientific bias in the evidence for and against some possible harm. The claim is that many studies don't find their way into the corpus of accepted scientific literature because they fail to achieve the expected result; no scientist ever publishes his failure to find anything significant. There is some legitimacy to this claim. HOWEVER, a zero- or null-finding (no evidence of harm) is not the same as "evidence of safety" -- which is how the tobacco industry promoted small and manipulated studies which failed to find evidence of harm from ETS. Many studies are badly designed, insufficient in scope/size, or just badly designed and perhaps looking at the wrong factors. So when these turn up zero evidence of harm, the results are meaningless.
  • Puffed tobacco - Expanded tobacco, created using gaseous processes like those used to puff wheat or rice used in cereals. See Puffed tobacco.
  • QUIDS - Quid-pro-quo organisations who would work in coalition with the tobacco industry for small grants since their objectives were roughly aligned. For instance the Formaldehyde Institute also had an interest in manipulating the results of indoor air pollution studies because their products (temperature insulation) also produced dangerous vapours.
  • Reading the Literature - code for payments made to scientists on a regular basis but without any specific project. It was a euphemism for a basic retainer.
  • Recon - Reconstituted tobacco. Small scraps are rolled into a sheet and then shredded and added back into the tobacco
  • Reconstituted Tobacco Blend (RCB, or "recon")-A sheet made of tobacco by-products (e.g., stems and stalks) by use of natural tobacco gums or synthetic additive gums. Also known as reconstituted blend.
  • Relative-risk - The calculated likelihood of an individual getting a disease or condition when compared to the 'normal' population. Relative risk is usually expressed as a decimal fraction (RR=1.37 is 'one-third more likely'; RR=0.97 means 'slightly less likely'). However the figure tells you nothing about the reliability of the calculation (see confidence level). The tobacco industry tried for many years to get epidemiologists to accept a GEP-standard of RR equal to 1.5 or 2.0 as the minimum required in large-scale studies (that only the industry could afford to finance) before regulatory action was taken.
  • Ripper Shorts- Reusable tobacco removed from rejected cigarettes in the ripping operation. Contains many short pieces.
  • Ripping - The operation of removing the tobacco from large quantities of rejected cigarettes using processing equipment, such as a feeder, steam cylinder, ripping cylinder, shaker and air separator.
  • Risk Assessment/Analysis - The idea that risk could or should be assessed and/or analysed before any action is taken to regulate its use. It is difficult to object to this popular insurance-based idea because it appears, at first glance, to be entirely logical. However, it was developed by economists, rather than coming from the biomedical side of science -- and it was derived in highly politicised stages.
- simple 'cost-benefit' analysis of accidents (1970s). Did the industrial cost spent on mitigating workplace accidents justify the expenditure?
- a fully-fledged academic discipline a few decades later.
- the benefit of oversight by the new Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
- White House over-ride, operated through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Risk-science societies, risk-chairs, and risk-foundations/institutions were all heavily funded and promoted by large corporations in an attempt to control the regulatory/political agenda.
  These ideas elevated accountants and actuaries (with all their economic assumptions) to a position where they became the arbiters of agency rule-making, and this downgraded the role of the environmental and health scientists and provided certain industries with an avenue for endless rounds of legal objections (since financial projections are always disputable).
  • rod - the industry term for a single rolled cigarette with tobacco, as distinct from the filter-tip.
  • Roswell Park - An upper-New York State research institute and hospital which generally did good work on the tobacco-and-health problem. t was housed at Buffalo.
  • RVP/RD - The Tobacco Institute had about 10 Regions each with a Regional Vice President based in Washington, and under them were Regional Directors at the State level
  • Rye Brook/Ryebrook - This was the New York office of Philip Morris International. It was in a separate building from the domestic company in Park Avenue. It was mainly devoted to international subversion of legislation to ban cigarettes.
  • Scientific Advisory Boards - Supposedly independent scientists providing advise in their field of expertise. Virtually every regulatory or grant-making organisation has a system of SABs supposedly comprise of 'independent' experts who receive a small honorarium for reviewing the actions/decisions. Experience has shown that there are a number of problems with SABs:
- They were often easily loaded with 'scientific friends' of the industry which selected them.
- They tended to be comprised of superannuated experts and administrators rather than active researchers.
- Their members often saw themselves as representives of their own university with grant-making bodies, and this made them an easy targets for wealthy corporations wishing to exert influence.
- They often formed cabals with a tacit agreements to provide mutual support (or more likely, agreement to support their institutions).
- Even totally above-board SABs can easily be manipulated by the permanent staff who set the meeting agendas and prepare the material under consideration.
- A few dominant members usually set the direction and run all of the special panels or sub-committees where the real decisions are made.
  • Shorts - Short pieces of tobacco which fall from the ends of just processed cigarettes prior to being packaged. Designated as Class I by-products.
  • Sidestream - the smoke from a cigarette left burning in an ashtray, or not being drawn. It is a low-temperature burning and so a different form of smoke.
  • Slippery-slope - The claim that "If they ban tobacco advertising -- your business will be next. " This argument was widely and effectively used by the tobacco industry to create coalitions oppose all forms of marketing restrictions on health and environmental grounds. It was a "thin-edge-of-the-wedge" argument.
  • Social Acceptability - Teaching the non-smoking community to tolerate passive smoke. This became a key-term used in a plan known as the "Accommodation" project. It promoted 'fairness' and 'toleration' in both smokers and non-smokers. One outcome was the development of smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants and aircraft, which one non-smoker later said was "like having pissing and non-pissing sides of a swimming pool." The cigarette companies all used sporting stars to endorse their products which also had some social acceptability value.
  • Social Cost - The economic cost of smoking to the community. The concept that smoking costs the society millions of dollars each year in terms of:
- hospital, medical and funeral services for the smoker and passive-smokers (perhaps by way of health insurance premiums);
- SIDS, premature births, childhood diseases related to smoking (asthma)
- welfare and supporting services for dependents after premature smoking-related deaths;
- office heating and ventilation costs
- workplace and public venue architecture/building costs.
- fires in furniture, houses, forests, etc. caused by cigarettes;
- injuries and deaths related to fires + fire mitigation and prevention costs.
- street and venue cleaning costs for butts, etc.
The industry countered this 'Social Cost' argument by saying that the excise on cigarettes exceeded all of these cost, and that the premature death of smokers actually reduced the medical costs of caring for the aged.
  • SP#3 and SP#4 accounts - see below
  • Special Project #3 and #4 - These were secret accounts run by the lawyers to pay scientists. Jacob Medinger & Finnigan handled these accounts in the early years, and were then bought out and integrated into lawyers Shook Hardy & Bacon.
  • Spousal study - This usually refers to the important Hirayama Study which found higher rates of lung-cancer in the non-smoking wives of smokers. Studies of 'spouses' then became a threat to the tobacco industry because it was accepted as proof that passive smoking could be lethal over time.
  • Stem - The midrib of a tobacco leaf.
  • Stingers - RJ Reynold's name for initial Smokers Rights meetings.
  • Stockholm Network - A network of libertarian, corporate-funded think-tanks. It was mainly a European operation (old Soviet and Scandinavia) with links to the Atlas Network, but operated independently,
  • Sur-Gen - Surgeon-General's Advisory Board produced an anual report on the scientific concerns about smoking and health.
  • Third Party - Some research was only ever conducted by third-party researchers with no traceable links to the companies. Such arrangements ensured that no one could ever say that the companies knew about health problems. For the same reason, certain defence-statements made in courts and hearings on smoking and health were reserved for "third party" scientists who would maintain that they were "independent". This gave the statements a credibility which industry statements lacked.  
  • Threshold - The idea that humans can tolerate up to a certain level of poisons of pollutions without any harm. This idea was widely promoted as a counter to the idea of 'linearity' -- that any increase in toxicity is matched by a marginal increase in effect. See linearity.
  • Tort Reform - Shorthand for an emasculation of product-liability laws. The idea behind 'tort-reform' was to use urban myths and exaggerated stories to convince Americans that their law courts had gone mad and were taking an exaggerated position. This was relatively easy because the American politically-elected/judicial system virtually guaranteed insanity and dementia on the bench. The tort-reform lobbyists therefore generated, exaggerated and widely disseminated fake-news stories about crazy claims for damages, and excessive payouts to people injured in all sorts of exotic ways -- the crazier, the better.
      Tort reform lobbying was extraordinarily successful (the Internet was a favoured distribution medium) and it became part of their "junk-science" projects. The coalition of poisoning and polluting industries behind this effort had lobbyists paid to persuade politicians at state and federal level (all around the world) that they urgently needed to rewrite product-liability laws to stop 'run-away' punitive damages awards, and limit the possibility of joint-action claims otherwise the insurance industry would be destroyed. See ATRA.
  • Transit Trade - A tobacco industry terms for smuggling. This term was used for the transport of cigarettes from one country to another without the payment of duty. Smuggling increases sales volumes, and the threat of smuggling provides the companies with a weapon to use against politicians wishing to raise duties or excise taxes.
  • Turkish tobacco - One of three major types of cigarette tobacco, grown in the Mediterranean area (mainly Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, and Yugoslavia, air cured, commonly used to give extra aroma and richness to the blend.
  • Vapor-phase - Visible smoke consists of particle matter. But much of the chemical constituents in smoke emerge as a gas, before cooling and condensing into a liquid, solid or 'tar'. Some, such as nicotine, also break-down over minutes into different chemicals.
  • ventilation in cigarette design. See Barclay filters (above)
  • White-Froeb - A major independent ETS study that unexpectedly scared the industry. These two relatively unknown researchers from outside the normal health-research ranks found evidence of nicotine-derivative chemicals in the urine of non-smokers. This showed that passive smoking wasn't as innocuous as the industry-funded scientists had maintained. The publicity occurred in 1981 just as the full impact of the Hirayama 'spousal' study hit, so the companies tried everything they could to destroy the credibility of the researchers and the study.
  • WhiteCoats - Undercover 'Sleeper-Scientists'. These were academics, economists and scientists who signed up for regular paid work for the tobacco, pharmaceutical and chemical industries on the basis of payment-for-work-done. It was an incentive scheme: the scientists needed to develop their own projects.
      This was not the more-normal commissioned research work or payment made to witnesses to appear in court cases. Whitecoats were generally not given grants or consultancy payments, and they were expected to remain undercover. Their task was to keep watch over their own disciplines, take the initiative and generate activity within their own scientific area when the opportunity arose.
      A WhiteCoat who made a speech at a scientific conference, appeared on a medical advisory board, wrote a letter to the editor of a scientific magazine (etc.) would send details of his achievements to his 'controller' and expect to receive a payment varying from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars -- often paid into a Swiss or offshore bank account.
  • WSC - Acronym for "whole smoke condensate."
  • YAFS - Acronym referring to "Young Adult Female Smokers."
  • YAMS - Acronym for "Young Adult Male Smokers"
  • YAX - Acronym referring to both young adult male and female smokers combined, as one term.
  • Zephyr - British-American Tobacco's code for lung cancer.

Links to industry documents containing glossaries


  1. D.E. Creighton, T. Hirji, British American Tobacco The Significance of pH in Tobacco and Smoke Report. 3 pp. June 23, 1988. Philip Morris Bates No. 2077864092/4094