A 1972 memo by a Philip Morris scientist said focus groups sessions suggested Kool cigarettes were considered the best “after marijuana” smoke to maintain a ”high.”
The memo was uncovered as part of Mississippi’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry to recoup health care costs of the state’s smokers, said Ronald Motley, a Charleston, S.C. lawyer assisting the state.
Motley said the document had just been received by attorneys for plaintiffs in the case.
Philip Morris Cos Inc did not have an immediate comment.
The May 24, 1972, memo was written on Philip Morris U.S.A. interoffice stationery by Al Udow, who Motley said was a scientist at the company.
“A widely held theory holds that most people smoke for the narcotic effect (relaxing, sedative) that comes from the nicotine. The ‘taste comes from the ‘tar’ (particulate matter) delivery,” the memo said.
“Although more people talk about ‘taste,’ it is likely that greater numbers smoke for the narcotic value that comes from the nicotine,” said the memo, made public Tuesday.
The major tobacco companies maintain that nicotine is not addictive and deny allegations in a growing number of lawsuits that they manipulate the level of nicotine to keep smokers hooked.
Udow stated in the memo that king-size Kool had the highest nicotine “delivery” of all king-sized cigarettes available at the time.
He said this may explain Kool’s success and it suggested a ”route for us to follow to capture some of Kool’s business.”
“This ties in with the information we have from focus group sessions and other sources that suggest that Kool is considered to be good for ‘after marijuana’ to maintain the ‘high’ or for mixing with marijuana, or ‘instead,” he wrote.
Udow said that if one of the key’s to Kool’s success was high nicotine delivery or the high ratio of nicotine to tar, ”we should pursue this thought in developing a menthol entry.”
He said that while the company might not want to develop a product with high nicotine, it could work on a product with nicotine as high as Kool’s but with lower tar, resulting in a high ratio.
“The lessened taste resulting from the lowered tar can be masked by high menthol or other flavors. Many menthol smokers say they are not looking for high tobacco taste anyway.”
Attorneys general from 16 states have sued the tobacco industry in an effort to recoup Medicaid costs. The California cities of San Francisco and San Jose and counties including Los Angeles have also sued the industry.
Last week New York City became the first East Coast city to sue the industry over health costs and alleged that the industry conceals that it manipulates and controls the level of nicotine to “sustain users’ addiction to tobacco.”