Broin Trial History and Testimony Excerpts

For decades smoking was allowed and even encouraged on airline flights. Unfortunately, during this time, Flight Attendants, who worked for hours in smoke-filled cabins, suffered long-lasting health effects from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

From the 1940s to the 1990s, tobacco smoke was common on airlines, in airline terminals, and in other public spaces.

In the late 1960s, Patricia Young, an American Airlines Flight Attendant, along with other Flight Attendant colleagues, began her multi-pronged fight to eliminate smoking from airline cabins. Later, Norma Broin, also an American Airlines Flight Attendant and non-smoker, joined the effort after she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

After being turned down by several attorneys, Ms. Broin and Ms. Young met with Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt, a husband-and-wife lawyer team from Miami, Florida, who agreed to accept the case, despite many lawyers telling them they were crazy to go against the tobacco industry.

1990s Broin Trial - Attorneys Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt

Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt

In 1991, Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt filed a class-action lawsuit against the major cigarette companies on behalf of non-smoking flight attendants injured by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in airline cabins. As a result, Stanley Rosenblatt took sworn testimony from several tobacco industry executives, heads of research, and previously industry-funded scientists regarding smoking and health and the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure. The testimony excerpts from tobacco company CEOs below provide a rare look into the trial and the industry stance on smoking and health.

Norma Broin and Patricia Young
Norma Broin and Patricia Young
The Tobacco Institute, an industry trade organization, worked to downplay the effect of secondhand tobacco exposure.

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On December 6, 1993, the New York Times published excerpts of the cigarette executive’s testimony in an article entitled Cigarettes, Health and Lawyers – Sparring ‘With Cigarette Executives Over Health,’ by Michael Janofsky.

Their testimony helped inspire the U.S. Congress to call on executives to testify at the renowned Waxman hearings on the Regulation of Tobacco Products House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, in April 1994.



Excerpts from the Testimony of Tobacco Executives – 1993

William Campbell CEO Philip Morris

William Campbell

Cheif Executive, Philip Morris USA

Q. Can you name a single scientist or medical doctor who has – who, today, will publicly say that he or she doesn’t believe that It’s been proven that cigarette smoking causes cancer? Somebody not employed by the tobacco industry, or never got money from the tobacco industry?

A. I can’t answer It.

Q. Okay, Dr. Novello says in an article, “Tobacco Is the only product that when used as. directed, results In death and disability… What is your answer to that? (Dr. Antonia Novello, a former United States Surgeon General, made a statement to the American Medical Association, reported In Its Journal)

A. I don’t know.

Q. You don’t know?

A. It has not been proven.

Q. She says: “We must expose the seduction of our children by the tobacco industry, and work proactively to counter Its messages and techniques. More than one million children start to smoke In the U.S. every year. That Is 3,000 per day. Ten percent of them start smoking by the fourth grade and nearly 2,000 of them by the 10th grade.” Do you have any information to counter those figures?

A. No, we do not.

Q. O.K., you don’t agree that environmental tobacco smoke causes lung cancer In healthy nonsmokers?

A. I do not agree with that.

Q. They are listed as carcinogens.

A. I don’t think that tobacco smoke is a carcinogen to nonsmokers.

Q. And you do not agree with the E.P.A. conclusion that passive smoke increases the risk of pneumonia and bronchitis in children.

A. I don’t have knowledge to support that.

Andrew Tisch CEO Lorillard

Andrew H. Tisch

Chairman and Chief Executive, Lorillard Tobacco Company

Q. Mr. Tisch as a parent of a 15-year-old son, the oldest of his three children.

Q. Does he smoke?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. If he did, to your knowledge, what would you do about it?

A. Seeing as he’s 15 years old, I would probably not be very happy. He’s not old enough to make that decision.

Q. Would you prohibit him from smoking?

A. Yes.

Q. Why?

A. Because smoking is an adult choice.

Q. What’s wrong with a 15-year-old smoking if smoking doesn’t cause adverse health consequences?

A. I’m not saying that it doesn’t. I said I’m not convinced of it.

Q. So just so I’m understanding, your position is that smoking may very well cause lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, but you’re not convinced that it does.

A. That’s correct.

Q: When will you consider your kids an adult to make the decision as to whether or not they can smoke, when they’re 18, or 21, or what?

A. Eighteen.

Q. And when your kids turn 18 and It became their practice to smoke a pack and a half a day and you were aware of it, what, if anything, would you say to them?

A. I think that’s a hypothetical question. I’m not sure what I would say to them at that point.

Q. You certainly don’t contend that smoking was good for anybody, do you?

A. I’ve never said it was good for someone.

Q. Would you prefer that your children not smoke at 18 than that they smoke, or are you entirely neutral on that subject?

A. I would prefer that they not smoke.

Bennett LeBow Owner Liggett & Meyers

Bennett S. LeBow

Chairman of the Brooke Group Ltd., owner of the Liggett Group

Q. You never read a Surgeon General’s report dealing with the issue of smoking and health, correct?

A. No, correct.

Q. If I mention to you a report that got a lot of attention, of the Environmental Protection Agency, relating to smoke and health, does that ring a bell to you?

A. I read something about It in the newspapers, yes.

Q. Do you remember even generally what you read?

A. There was some claim about secondhand smoke, you know, causing various diseases.

Q. All right.

A. That was the claim.

Q. You never read It?

A. Never read It.

Q. And I assume you don’t have any knowledge on the subject.

A. I have no knowledge.

Q. No knowledge?

A. No,

Q. And basically, no Interest in acquiring any knowledge?

A. That is correct.

Q. As I understand your position, generally, that kind of issue is somebody else’s battle, and you’re going to do your thing, as long as it is legal to do It.

A. That is correct.

Q. And make as much money as you can while you’re doing it?

A. I’m a businessman.