(Editor’s Note: In March 1994, ABC killed the “Turning Point” documentary that follows. ABC Executive Vice President Paul Friedman called “Tobacco Under Fire” a “boring” rehash. We disagree. Even two years later, the tape presents significant news breaks. The MoJo Wire invites you to decide yourself.)
A hidden-camera sequence in which an ABC reporter goes to a job interview with a man who runs a dozen Marlboro vans in the Brooklyn area. “You’re trying to con the young smokers to switch to Marlboro,” says the Marlboro representative.
Donnie Gedling, a Kentucky tobacco farmer and then a member of the Kentucky state legislature, displays shock upon being confronted with a packet of “Kentucky-14” seeds developed with taxpayer money. These seeds are being used to grow tobacco in Brazil, where burley sells for half the price of that grown in Kentucky.
Dr. C. Everett Koop, surgeon general under Ronald Reagan, discusses correspondence between Reagan and the CEO of R.J. Reynolds. The CEO wanted to know if Reagan was planning to come down hard on the tobacco industry during his term as president. Says Koop, “…[Reagan] wrote back–I could hardly believe it when I eventually read it: ‘My administration will be too busy with more important things.'”
The video documents the tobacco industry’s illegal advertising tactics in Taiwan. This clip shows children playing in a Taiwanese schoolyard; under the spectre of a giant illegal Marlboro billboard. “The heavily-advertised foreign brands are preferred by 85 percent of Taiwan’s teenage smokers,” the narrator says.