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1850s

Philip Morris, a London tobacconist, caters to English smokers who picked up smoking after trying French and Turkish cigarettes during the Crimean War.

1900s Buck Duke builds a trust

Buck Duke Pioneer botanist Luther Burbank captures the growing distress among scientists when he remarks that smoking is “nothing more or less than a slow, but sure, form of lingering suicide.”

American Tobacco Co. founder Buck Duke fields a small army of lawyers, lobbyists, and others who appeal to the pocketbooks of legislators being asked to crack downon cigarettes. Three members of the key Senate Finance Committee own tobacco stock, including its chairman, Nelson W. Aldrich of Rhode Island, who holds stockworth more than $1 million.

Four years later, when Congress passes the Pure Food and Drug Act, Sen. Aldrich and other federal lawmakers do Buck Duke’s bidding. Although no other ingested product is subject to heavier processing, more additives, or as many known or suspected toxins, tobacco is egregiously excluded from regulation. The industry will argue forever after that tobacco is neither a food nor a drug and thus properly exempted.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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