Category: Corporations

Texas Family Wins $2.95 Million Verdict from Aruba Petroleum for Damaging their Health

Drilling rig outside the Ruggiero's kitchen window. The Ruggieros were neighbors of the Parrs, who won the lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, for damaging their health (Photo by Tim Ruggiero)

Drilling rig outside the Ruggiero’s kitchen window. The Ruggieros were neighbors of the Parrs, who won the lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, for damaging their health (Photo by Tim Ruggiero)

A Texas ranching family won a $2.95 million award in a civil lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, Inc., after a jury found that the company’s drilling and fracking operations near their home caused the entire family to become desperately ill.

It is believed to be the first jury award in the country resulting from a claim of health damages from drilling and fracking operations. Most landowners who bring such suits are pushed to settle and submit to gag orders so drilling companies can keep the terms of the settlements out of the public realm.

Robert and Lisa Parr lived on a ranch about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas, and had 20 active wells being drilled and fracked within two miles of their home.

In November, 2008, Lisa, a stay-at-home mom, started feeling nauseated and getting extreme headaches. At first she thought she was getting the flu, but the symptoms did not abate. She soon developed muscle spasms, a strange rash all over her body and open sores that would not heal. The sores and rashes got so severe that she went to the emergency room, where doctors packed her body in ice to give her some relief.

Lisa’s daughter, then about six years old, started getting severe nosebleeds in her sleep and would wake up soaked with blood.

Her husband, Robert, began experiencing memory loss. Their house pets died, and their livestock gave birth to deformed offspring.

Stacy London: What Not to Promote

On July, 8, 2013, Stacy London, star of the TV show What Not To Wear, entered into a partnership with drug maker AbbVie, manufacturer of the anti-psoriasis drug, Humira. Humira is reportedly responsible for 70% of the drug maker’s profits. The promotional campaign is called  “Uncover Your Confidence with Stacy London.”

StacyLondon

Stacy London of the TLC TV show “What Not to Wear,” promotes a psoriasis self-help website in partnership with AbbVie, the manufacturer of Humira, a drug the company promotes to treat psoriasis. Humira has been demonstrated to have potentially deadly side effects. Warnings even say Humira can CAUSE psoriasis — the very condition is is prescribed to treat.

The campaign would be great except for the long list of dire adverse effects and side effects Humira has had on patients who have used it.

Humira works by suppressing your immune system, but a weakened immune system can leave your body’s defenses too weak to protect you from ordinary bacterial infections and a host of other rare deadly diseases. The adverse effects and side effects of Humira have been so bad that the FDA has required a black box warning on the drug telling users they can get “Serious infections and malignancy that may lead to hospitalization or death.” Infections and cancers linked to Humira include tuberculosis, lymphoma, skin cancer, leukemia,  Kaposi’s sarcoma (a tumor caused by a herpes virus). Adverse effects of Humira include liver failure, sarcoidosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome (progressive paralysis), stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and more.

London’s campaign misleads

The campaign featuring London leads people to believe that she recovered from psoriasis by using Humira, but she has written a book in which she states that her psoriasis cleared up after she had a tonsillectomy at age 17. She writes, “No only did the operation clear up my skin, but I haven had an outbreak of psoriasis since.”

The information about what actually cleared up London’s psoriasis is not contained on her “UncoverYourConfidence.com” website, sponsored by AbbVie.

Dr. David Healy, who wrote a book exposing the pharmaceutical industry called “Pharmageddon” (and who runs the website RxIsk.org, which crowd-sources data on drug side effects),  wrote an article in August, 2013,  “Stacy London, What Not to Take,” which asked London to help psoriasis sufferers by letting them know AbbVie has taken legal action against the European Medicines Agency to try and block access to data on Humira’s side effects (pdf).

Where are the Jobs? Where are the Trails? Brady Trucking Site Sits Untouched

BradySite

The Brady Trucking site by the Colorado River more than a year after citizens voted to re-zone the site. Proponents promised the re-zone would create high-paying jobs and a landscaped extension of the Colorado riverfront trail. 

 

“Vote for Jobs and Trails!”

That was how local pro-business interests promoted passage of Referred Measure A on the April, 2013 City ballot, which asked voters to uphold light industrial zoning by the Colorado River and the proposed Las Colonias Park site, so a private company, Brady Trucking, could expand its operations.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, it’s deep-pocketed lobbying arm, the Western Colorado Business Alliance and the West Slope Oil and Gas Association all championed the re-zoning measure.

Chamber President Diane Schwenke, CEO said, “This is an issue where the voters can support good jobs and development of trails.” Schwenke promised that if the measure passed, the new jobs Brady would provide would average $70,000 per year.

“What would we as a community be willing to give up to attract this kind of business and job opportunity? And yet here we have a private company that is willing and eager to provide the opportunity and actually enhance the riverfront’s recreational opportunities at the same time,” Schwenke crowed.

If the measure passed, voters were told, Brady Trucking would build a walking and biking trail within on a 50-foot wide easement along the river, as well as fencing and landscaping. Proponents boasted Brady’s expansion would attract even more businesses and jobs to the area.

Voters passed the measure.

One year later the site is completely untouched.

No jobs, no trails, no landscaping, no nothing.

Schwenke suckered us again.

So much for the promises of a Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Update – as of January 15, 2015, the site looks exactly the same.

 

Colorado GMO Labeling Law Heading for Signature-Gathering Phase

GMORightToKnowColorado Ballot Initiative #48, the “Colorado Right to Know Act,” would require food manufacturers to include the words “Produced with Genetic Engineering” on the packaging of any products that contain genetically-modified organisms. If foods containing these organisms and are not properly labeled, they will be considered “misbranded.”

Federal law currently does not require foods containing genetically-modified ingredients to be labeled, so consumers unaware whether their food contains these organisms and unable to make an informed choice about consuming them.

The measure survived a Colorado Supreme Court challenge by biotech, pesticide and conventional grocery interests, which disputed the title, the “Colorado Right to Know Act,” as unfair, inaccurate, confusing and misleading.

Proponents of the measure will not start collecting signatures to get the measure on the November, 2014 ballot. If it passes, the law will go into effect on July 1, 2016, and would not apply to food or drink for animals, chewing gum, alcoholic beverages, restaurant or food freshly-prepared for consumption or medically-prescribed foods.

Supporters will need 86,105 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

Help out, donate or keep up with the progress of the campaign for the Colorado Right to Know Act at RightToKnowColorado.org.

Untangling Colorado’s Web of Anti-Fracking Ballot Initiatives

NoFrackingColorado voters who try to figure out all the proposed statewide ballot initiatives to regulate drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) are in for a real challenge. So far, fully eleven ballot initiatives have been proposed on the subject, with many of them extremely similar to each other.

It’s tempting to think the oil and gas industry filed some of them to confuse voters and try to pass a watered-down measure, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So far all of the initiatives filed seem to have been brought by people who truly want more serious regulation of the energy industry, or who are trying to gain an advantage over Colorado’s legal and regulatory regimen, which favors corporate dominance over the desires of residents.

Here’s a rundown on what is known so far about Colorado’s slew of proposed anti-fracking ballot measures.

Colorado Ballot Initiative Puts Rights of People Over Corporate Rights

corporate_logo_flag_new-500x333Think businesses have too many rights over citizens? Then attend a free informational session Tuesday, April 29 in Grand Junction about the groundbreaking Ballot Initiative #75, the “Right to Local Self-Government,” also known as the “Colorado Community Rights Amendment.” Initiative #75 would amend Colorado’s constitution to make the rights of people superior to corporate rights. It is now moving to the petitioning stage, and if it passes, will give local communities “the power to enact local laws establishing, defining, altering, or eliminating the rights, powers, and duties of corporations and other business entities operating or seeking to operate in the community.” Initiative #75 would bar the state from forcing unwanted for-profit corporate projects onto unwilling communities. It would let communities have the final say in whether they want to allow pursuits like hazardous waste dumps, factory farms, fracking, GMO crops, etc., near houses, schools, playgrounds, etc. Communities would be able to make these decisions freely, without the threat of lawsuits by the state or by corporations or their lobbying groups..

What: Informational session on Ballot Initiative #75
When: Tuesday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Mesa County Public Library, Central branch (5th St. and Grand Ave.)
Who: By the ballot initiative’s main listed proponent, Cliff Willmeng, a registered nurse from Lafayette, CO.

Colorado Health Department Investigating Spike in Fetal Abnormalities in Heavily-Drilled Garfield County

Cross-posted from DeSmogBlog.com

Garfield County drilling rig (Photo: Garfield County government)

Garfield County drilling rig (Photo: Garfield County government)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has called in an epidemiologist to investigate a recent spike in fetal abnormalities in Garfield County on Colorado’s western slope. Stacey Gavrell, Director of Community Relations for Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said area prenatal care providers reported an increase in fetal abnormalities to the hospital, which then notified CDPHE. So far neither the hospital nor the state have released information about the numbers of cases reported, over what span of time, or the amount of the increase.

Gavrell said it is too early to speculate on the causes of the spike in abnormalities.

The report comes on the heels of the February, 2014 publication in Environmental Health Perspectives of a study that found an association between the density of natural gas wells within a ten mile radius of expectant mothers’ homes and the prevalence of fetal anomalies such as low birth weight and congenital heart defects in their infants.

The study examined a large cohort of babies over an extended period of time in rural Colorado, and specifically controlled for confounding factors that also emit air pollution, including traffic and other heavy industries. The abnormalities in infants in the study are associated with exposure to air pollutants like those emitted from natural gas wells, including volatile organic compounds and nitrogen dioxide.

map of current drilling activity in the Garfield County area shows the number and concentration of active wells along the busy I-70 corridor between Glenwood Springs and Rifle, one of the areas of interest in CDPHE’s investigation.

Colorado Legislators Seek to Punish Cities that Ban Fracking

Cross-posted from DeSmogBlog.com

Colorado Representative Frank McNulty announced  initiative effort to punish cities that ban fracking

Colorado Representative Frank McNulty announced initiative effort to punish cities that ban fracking

Two Colorado legislators announced they are introducing a ballot initiative aimed at punishing cities and towns that vote to ban fracking within their borders.

Rep. Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling, both Republicans, announced they will attempt to get an initiative on the ballot to block local jurisdictions from getting severance tax revenues or grants from Departments of Local Affairs as long as they have fracking bans or moratoria in place.

The state collects severance taxes on income derived from the extraction of non-renewable natural resources, like oil and gas, coal and metallic minerals. Severance taxes also help pay for programs administered by Departments of Local Affairs.

The legislators estimated it will cost about $150,000 to get the initiative on the November, 2014 ballot. According to the Colorado Secretary of State, they  would need to gather approximately 86,000 valid signatures.

The lawmakers did not say why they chose a ballot initiative instead of just introducing legislation to achieve this goal, but it could be because they know chances are slim it would pass in Colorado’s Democratically-controlled legislature.

New Business Coalition Forms in Colorado to Fight Anti-Fracking Movement

Cross-posted from DeSmogBlog.com
Vital for Colorado's full page "Energy Chaos" ad is aimed at derailing a potential ballot initiative to rein in corporate power over citizens

Vital for Colorado’s full page “Energy Chaos” ads, run in rural areas of the state, are aimed at derailing a potential ballot initiative to rein in corporate power over citizens

A new pro-fracking business coalition called “Vital for Colorado” (VfC) has sprung up to fight the growing grassroots anti-fracking movement in Colorado. VfC’s board chairman and registered agent is Peter T. Moore, a senior partner at the Denver law firm of Polsinelli, P.C., which serves the oil and gas industry. Calls and emails to Peter T. Moore and VfC seeking information on the group’s major funders and legal registration information went unanswered.

Most of VfC’s supporters (pdf) are chambers of commerce in more rural areas of the state, cattle and dairy farmers, trade groups like the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association, prominent construction and real estate companies, and oil and gas drilling companies like Encana and Suncor Energy, which is based in Calgary, Alberta, and not in Colorado.
So why has VfC gone to Colorado’s hinterlands to try to drum up support? Because VfC’s best chance to gain support appears to be away from the front range, where so far five front range cities have passed ordinances banning fracking within their limits, a fact that has apparently made a big impression on Colorado businesses.

 

In typical front group fashion, VfC’s website doesn’t list a phone number and only permits email contact through a web form, but the site does give a street address for the group: 4950 S. Yosemite St., F2 #236. Coincidentally this is the same address as the former office of the issue group “No on Measure 2A,” whose registered agent was also Peter T. Moore.

The Activism Behind CVS’s Cigarette Announcement

CVS touts its apparent new-found interest in people's health

CVS touts its apparent new-found interest in people’s health

CVS Drugstores announced this week that they are finally acting on information the rest of us have known for fifty years: they’re going to stop selling cigarettes because they are addictive and deadly. On February 5, 2014 CVS announced that it would end cigarette sales at its 7,600 stores nationwide by October 1. What CVS didn’t mention was the grassroots efforts behind this move, including the relentless driving force of a human being, Dr. Terence A. Gerace, who carried out an almost four year-long, single-focus, one-man campaign to push CVS to stop selling cigarettes. Dr. Gerace started his campaign in earnest on May 20, 2010. Over the years it has included a web site containing a log and description of every single one of the days he personally stood protesting in front of a busy CVS store in a prominent part of Washington, D.C., a “CVS Sells Poison” Facebook page, a “CVS Sells Poison” YouTube song and video, almost 170 days of personal protest in all kinds of weather at the Washington, D.C. store and some imaginative, hand-made iterations of what Terry though CVS ads could look like if the chain finally went cigarette-free. To his credit, though, Dr. Gerace has turned down offers of publicity for himself now that CVS has finally agreed to stop selling cigarettes, saying the focus should be on the change, and for that he deserves a gold medal.

Some communities understand that it is wrong for pharmacies, which market themselves as interested in peoples’ health, to sell cigarettes. A few enlightened U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Richmond, California, Boston and about 80 other cities in Massachusetts now have ordinances banning pharmacies from selling cigarettes. Canada prohibits pharmacies from selling cigarettes and so does the United Kingdom. In Europe, pharmacies do not sell cigarettes.

For decades the tobacco industry has protected the big national chain drug stores against lawsuits brought by people who were sickened by cigarettes bought at their stores through contracts that indemnify the stores against such legal action. After all, the pharmacies know they are selling a deadly product but keep doing it, to the cigarette makers’ great financial advantage. CVS had many such protective contracts with cigarette companies. To see the contracts tobacco companies held with any drug chain, just go to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library online and enter the search term “indemnify and hold harmless” along with the name of any major drug store chain you like to shop at, like Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. They’re all there, demonstrating that these stores know they are selling a deadly product and choose to do it anyway.

Now that CVS has decided to stop selling cigarettes, the only question left in people’s minds is no longer which national chain drug store will be the first to stop selling cigarettes. It’s which one will be the last.

Study Links Natural Gas Drilling to Congenital Heart Defects in Babies

"Drill, baby, drill?"

“Drill, baby, drill?”

A newly-published study specific to Colorado (pdf) links the rate of congenital heart defects in babies to how close they live to natural gas wells. The study, published January 28, 2014 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, examined a large cohort of babies over an extended period of time — 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 in rural Colorado. Researchers discovered an association between the density and proximity of methane (“natural gas”) wells within a ten mile radius of the mothers’ residences and the prevalence of heart defects, low birth weight and small-for-gestational age in newborns. Congenital heart defects are often associated with maternal exposure to toxins during gestation from sources like maternal smoking, alcohol abuse, exposure to solvents, benzene, toluene and petroleum-based solvents. Low birth weight and pre-term births are associated with exposure to air pollutants including volatile organic compounds, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, all of which are emitted during natural gas production. The authors restricted their study to people living in rural areas and towns in Colorado with populations under 50,000 to reduce the potential for exposure to other sources of pollution, like heavy traffic and pollution from other industries. The researchers compared results with births among mothers who live in control areas that do not have natural gas drilling nearby.

Source: Lisa M. Mckenzie, Ruixin Guo, Roxana Z. Witter, David A. Savitz, Lee S. Newman and John L. Adgate, Witter, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado, Environmental Health Perspectives, 28 January 2014

Philip Morris on the First Surgeon Generals Report in 1964

George Weissman was Chairman and CEO of Philip Morris 1964

George Weissman was Chairman and CEO of Philip Morris 1964

January, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health in 1964. The report was America’s first widely publicized, official recognition that cigarette smoking causes cancer and other serious diseases.

How did the tobacco industry react to that first report?

Barely three weeks after the Surgeon General issued the first Report on Smoking and Health to the public on January 11, 1964, George Weissman, President of the Philip Morris Tobacco Company (PM), sent this 3-page, confidential memo to Joseph Cullman III, PM’s Chair and Chief Executive Officer, on January 29, 1964. The memo reveals PM’s internal reaction to the report.

Weissman refers to the Surgeon General’s Report as a “propaganda blast” and launches into a list of ideas about how the industry can counteract it.  He suggests that the industry “take the initiative in securing a mild federal labeling act to thwart the efforts of the various states” to require health warning labels on cigarettes.

Weissman also suggests the industry work clandestinely to make fun of the Surgeon General’s health concerns, saying:

“While it should not be done in the industry’s name, someone ought to be contacting all the cartoonists, television gag writers, satirical reviews, etc., to apply the light touch to this question…”

ALEC Pushes Bills to Penalize Homeowners Who Install Solar Panels

ALEC-coal-members-300x225The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate bill mill that pushes “Stand Your Ground” laws like the Florida law that led to the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, is now working to gut state laws that require electric companies use more energy from renewable sources. ALEC is also pushing laws to discourage people from putting solar panels on their own homes.  “Renewable Portfolio Standards” (RPS) are laws that require power companies to derive a specific portion of their power from solar, wind or other renewable sources by a certain future date. So far 30 states have enacted RPS laws. In 2012, though, ALEC started pushing “model legislation” calling for the out-and-out repeal of RPS laws. Confidential ALEC strategy documents obtained by the UK Guardian newspaper reveal that ALEC calls such legislation the “Electricity Freedom Act.” So far, ALEC has engineered the introduction of such measures in about 15 states.

Insurers Take Advantage of CO Flood Victims’ Ignorance of Key Court Case

Aftermath of September flooding in Boulder, CO, after neighborhood creeks overflowed their engineered drainages during an unprecedented rain event.

Aftermath of September flooding in Boulder, CO, after neighborhood creeks overflowed their engineered drainages during an unprecedented rain event.

Last September, a slow-moving rain storm dumped almost an entire year’s worth of rain on Colorado’s front range in just a two days. The storm washed out roads and swept away entire buildings. The damage was unprecedented in the state. Thousands of Coloradans lost virtually everything they owned in the ensuing floods.

In the wake of that disaster, thousands of Colorado homeowners are getting hit with denial letters from their insurance companies, which are turning down claims left and right saying they don’t cover damage caused by “surface water.”

That shouldn’t be happening, says Boulder attorney George Berg, a partner at the law firm Berg, Hill Greenleaf and Ruscitti in Boulder, Colorado, which specializes in insurance law. Berg has been giving free talks to front range homeowners as a public service, to tell policyholders that insurers are taking advantage of their ignorance about a 1990 Colorado Supreme Court ruling that practically guarantees most flood victims coverage under their policies, and makes insurers liable for treble damages plus attorneys fees if they don’t pay.

The case is Heller vs. Fire Insurance Exchange, a Division of Farmers Insurance Group. It resulted in a state Supreme Court ruling that greatly favors policyholders who make claims of water damage to their property.

Grand Junction Chamber’s Support for Dirty Energy Quietly Fails

Duck that landed in a toxic mining runoff lake at a Canadian tar sands mining site. (Photo: Natural Resources Defense Council)

Duck that landed in a toxic mining runoff lake at a Canadian tar sands mining site. (Photo: Natural Resources Defense Council)

On its website, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce touts green business practices. It sports photos of green leaves and solar panels on its Facebook page and offers up articles like the “Top 10 Green Practices for Landscapers” and “Top 10 Green Practices for Auto Repair.” The chamber urges businesses to take steps to reduce air pollution, protect people’s health and conserve water. Sounds pretty good, right? Like they really care about the environment, huh? So does this mean the Chamber is pro-environment?

Not by a long shot.

The Grand Junction chamber tries to put on a green face but it is one of the biggest political boosters in the state when it comes to promoting development of oil shale and tar sands — two of the most environmentally destructive and economically impractical mining practices in the world today.

G.J. Chamber Ignores the Single Biggest Business Issue Around: the Government Shutdown

MIAlogoThe Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce took the time to endorse school board candidates in a what is supposed to be a nonpartisan race, but hasn’t publicly advocated against the single biggest issue hurting businesses large and small in western Colorado right now: the government shutdown. The Colorado National Monument is closed, negatively impacting tourism and hospitality businesses. Major events scheduled to be held on BLM land have been canceled. The shutdown is hurting the local real estate industry, federal employees are furloughed, disabled veterans are preparing to lose their benefits, women on the WIC program are facing a loss of funding to feed their infants and news story after local news story has been covering the pain the shutdown is causing local businesses. But where is the Chamber on this issue? Have they contacted their House Representative to demand an end to the shutdown? They haven’t said. Have they issued a position statement on it? Not that anyone has heard. Their October newsletter doesn’t even mention the shutdown. No press releases, no news alerts, no advocacy to stop it. Why is the Chamber MIA on the government shutdown? Could it be another indicator that the Chamber is, in fact, a partisan political group rather than a pro-business group?

FDA Drags Feet on Regulating Menthol in Cigarettes

MentholJoe

In the 1980s, R.J. Reynolds used one version of “Joe Camel” to market menthol cigarettes to African Americans (left), and another version (inset, right) to market to caucasian populations.

It’s own Tobacco Products Advisory Scientific Committee (TPASC) concluded in 2011 that menthol cigarettes increase hazards to human health, but even now — fully two and a half years later — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still dragging its feet in acting on the information. Yielding to pressure from tobacco companies, on September 4, FDA (pdf) delayed deciding what to do about menthol for yet another two months, asking for more public comment. A scientific study commissioned by FDA and published in March of 2011 (pdf) found that cigarette companies add menthol at trace or “subliminal” levels to all cigarettes to manipulate the sensory perception of smoke. FDA’s scientific advisory committee studied the relationships between menthol cigarettes and public health, and concluded that menthol cannot be considered simply a flavoring additive in cigarettes because it has distinct pharmacological actions. It reduces the harshness of smoke and irritation from nicotine — both characteristics that make it easier for kids to start smoking. Menthol also may make it harder for some people to quit, and the evidence suggested use of menthol cigarettes can lower responsiveness to medications. TPSAC concluded that there are no public health benefits of menthol compared to non-menthol cigarettes. TPSAC also found use of menthol cigarettes is highest among minorities, teenagers and low-income populations, and particularly heavy among African-Americans. Cigarette companies have long disproportionately marketed menthol cigarettes to African Americans. A Stanford University School of Medicine study found cigarette companies market mentholated cigarettes in a predatory manner designed to lure African Americans into becoming smokers. They advertise menthol cigarettes more heavily in areas with higher African American populations, and lower the price of menthol cigarettes in stores located near high schools with large African American student populations.

Worms and Bugs in Cigarettes

Cigarette beetles measure only 2-3 mm and thrive in the warm, humid conditions in which cigarettes are stored.

Cigarette beetles measure only 2-3 mm and thrive in the warm, humid conditions in which cigarettes are stored.

As an agricultural product, tobacco is fairly unclean and can be full of surprises. You can wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them, but you can’t wash off your cigarettes before you smoke them. Smokers have blissfully little information about the weird things that can find their way into cigarettes, at least until some of them come crawling out.

If you want to do something fun, go to the the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and search on the words “worms complaints” and “bugs complaints.” The search on “worms complaints” alone returns over 1,300 documents. The results of these searches are always interesting. For example, one customer wrote to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) complaining that “These cigarettes are full of worms.”  An RJR internal memo says worms and bugs in cigarettes was the #3 complaint to RJR in 1983. In another, rather calm handwritten letter, a smoker tells RJR that he “noticed a parade of bugs” streaming out of his newly-purchased pack of Doral full-flavored cigarettes. The customer wrote,

“…as the pack lay on my table, I suddenly noticed a parade of bugs exiting the pack. They resembled an ant with pincer claws…What was up with that?”

An alarmed smoker wrote to RJR in 1996 to say she found find live bugs crawling out of her cigarette filters. She wrote,

“I am very concerned and devistated [sic] over the fact that I smoked these bugs. I am also afraid and sickened that these bugs are crawling out of the filters and I may have ingested them.”

The customer then told RJR that she fumigated her home after finding bugs crawling out of her cigarette pack, and expressed her displeasure at the cavalier manner in which she believes the company handled her complaint. The customer was actually upset to find that R.J. Reynolds was so unconcerned about her health:

“I am very concerned if there are any dangers from smoking or injesting [sic] these bugs… I am very upset on how this issue was handled through your so called supervisors. They showed no concern when I explained that these bugs could be in my house and in my body. You would think that they would put a rush on this situation but I was told it would take 2 weeks to receive the mailer [to return the cigarettes to the factory] and 5 weeks to examine the cigarettes. There were no concerns that this could be a health risk to me and my family.”

These are among the many letters that appear in the tobacco industry’s document files from smokers complaining that they found worms, bugs and bug larvae in their cigarettes and expressing concern about ingesting them.