The Crime Prevention Group
8401 18 Mile Road #29
Sterling Heights MI 48313-3042
(810) 739-8343

Leroy J. Pletten, Ph.D.
Medicine and Law History
Substance Abuse Issues
Counselor and Lecturer

Testimony at the 4/20/98 Public Hearing
Before the House Committee on Transportation
In Support of Senate Bill 341
To Ban Roadside Tobacco Advertising

I. Why a Crime Prevention Group Is interested. Tobacco leads to crime, 90% of criminals are smokers.

A. Cigarettes' toxic chemicals impair impulse and ethical controls. Cigarettes are the delivery agent for nicotine, the gateway (starter) drug on which children are first hooked (average age 12). Alcohol follows, average age 12.6; then marijuana, average age 14. Sources: the Department of Health education and Welfare book, Research on Smoking Behavior, Research Monograph 17, page vi; Fleming, et al., "The Role of Cigarettes in The Initiation And Progression Of Early Substance Use," 14 Addictive Behaviors 261-272 (1989); and the Department of Health and Human Services book, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General (1994). Page 10 supports law enforcement, saying, "Illegal sales of tobacco products are common."

B. Once the foregoing process occurs, tobacco's role in crime results. This role has been cited many times by law enforcement officials, judges, and doctors since the Auburn Report (1854), e.g., by Jackson, 1854; Hodgkin, 1857; Ellis, 1901; Lindsay, 1914; Torrance, 1916; Brum, 1924; Danis, 1925; Healy and Bonner, 1926; Crane, Dawson, Pollock, and Shaw, 1931; Wood, 1944, etc. "Nowhere is the practice of smoking more imbedded than in the nation's prisons and jails, where the proportion of smokers to non-smokers is many times higher than that of society in general." Doughty v Board, 731 F Supp 423, 424 (D Col, 1989). As smoking causes abulia, acalculia, and anosognosia, impairing impulse and ethical controls, most crime is committed by smokers. "Nationwide, the [ratio] of smokers [to non-smokers] in prisons is 90 percent." McKinney v Anderson, 924 F2d 1500, 1507 n 21 (CA 9, 1991).

C. Due to advertising and selective locationing, minorities are targeted into the drug sequence. So it is mostly black smokers in prison. We need to stop this discriminatory process.

II. Rebutting the Myth That Tobacco Companies Don't Want Children to Smoke. Tobacco company intent/action when unrestrained is shown by this example of smoking--30% of 6 year old boys; 50% of "boys between 9 and 10"; 88% of boys over 11. Source: Dixon, On Tobacco, 17 Canadian Med Ass'n J 1531 (Dec 1927).

III. Rebutting the Myth That Cigarettes Are Legal. No, cigarettes are not legal in Michigan.

A. It is illegal to provide people the means--e.g., a deleterious substance--to injure or kill themselves. People v Carmichael, 5 Mich 10; 71 Am Dec 769 (1858); People v Kevorkian, 447 Mich 436, 494-6; 527 NW2d 714, 738-8 (1994). It is illegal even if death is slow, takes years. People v Stevenson, 416 Mich 383; 331 NW2d 143, 145-6 (1982).

B. Cigarette emissions violate federal law, i.e., 29 CFR 1910.1000. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare book, Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, PHS Pub 1103, Table 4, p 60 (1964), lists examples of deleterious emissions violating the federal rule:

Cigarette EmissionChemical QuantityDOL 29 CFR 1910.1000 Bans Average Quantities Above
acetaldehyde3,200 ppm200 ppm
acrolein150 ppm0.5 ppm(Due to acalculia, impairment of mathematical
ammonia300 ppm150 ppmcomprehension and reactivity, and due to abulia,
carbon monoxide42,000 ppm100 ppmimpairment of willpower, and self-defense, impulse
formaldehyde30 ppm5 ppmand ethical controls--lay word is "addiction"-- and
hydrogen cyanide1,600 ppm10 ppmdue to anosognosia, lack of comprehension of
hydrogen sulfide40 ppm20 ppmtheir impairments, smokers can not understand
methyl chloride1,200 ppm100 ppmthe danger that these numbers depict, in effect,
nitrogen dioxide250 ppm5 ppmgoing far above the chemicals' "speed limit".)

C. Michigan law MCL 750.27, MSA 28.216, bans deleterious and adulterated cigarettes. All cigarettes are inherently deleterious. The warning label admits it. Grusendorf v City of Oklahoma City, 816 F2d 539, 543 (CA 10, 1987). The Department of Health and Human Services book, Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress: a Report of the Surgeon General, Publication CDC 89-8411, Table 7, pages 86-87 (1989), lists examples of deleterious ingredients including:

acetaldehyde (1.4+ mg)arsenic (500+ ng)benzo(a)pyrene (.1+ ng)
cadmium (1,300+ ng)crotonaldehyde (.2+ g)chromium (1,000+ ng)
ethylcarbamate 310+ ng)formaldehyde (1.6+ g)hydrazine (14+ ng)
nickel (2,000+ ng)lead (8+ g)radioactive polonium (.2+ Pci).

Tennessee in 1897 saw the danger, and banned cigarettes. The 1897 Tennessee cigarette ban was challenged, and upheld in court, Austin v State, 101 Tenn 563; 566-7; 48 SW 305, 306; 70 Am St Rep 703 (1898) aff'd 179 US 343 (1900). Michigan saw this, and passed its cigarette ban soon thereafter, in 1909. Many people still alive then remembered that Confederates--the source of tobacco--had fought for the right to torture and kill. That right, which underlay slavery, had been repeatedly upheld in Southern courts, e.g., Commonwealth v Turner, 26 Va 678 (1827); State v Mann, 13 NC 263 (1829); Neal v Farmer, 9 Ga 555 (1851); and Commonwealth v Souther, 48 Va 673 (1851). So in 1909, there was still suspicion that they wanted revenge, and would poison Northerners. There was evidence.

IV. The Rat Poison Issue. Cigarettes have long been adulterated with coumarin, rat poison, from trilisa odoratissima plants.
"[I]t is largely used as an adulterant of smoking tobacco . . . [for its intoxicating, addicting effect]. Hence . . . cigarette-smoking . . . is assuming the proportions of a great national evil." Laurence Johnson, M.D., A Manual of the Medical Botany of North America (NY: William Wood & Co, 1884), pp 170-1. The 1897 Tennessee law upheld in Austin v State, supra, was thereafter passed.

"[It] has been used commercially for many years--mainly in cigarettes . . . harvest of [it] is expanding . . . The composition of one flavoring extract that includes [it] was patented in 1961. . . . About two million pounds of cured plants are harvested annually. . . . Because [it] is a perennial and the roots are not harvested, maintaining populations is not a problem. A decrease in plant populations has not been noted." Source: Krochmal, Trilisa odoratissima , 23 Econ Bot 185-6 (1969).

"Leaves of [the plant] . . . are used in the tobacco industry, particularly in cigarette mixtures. . . . It appears that the . . . constituent most desired by the tobacco industry is coumarin." Source: Haskins, et al., Coumarin in Trilisa odoratissima, 26 Econ Bot 44-8 (1972).

"Leaves used to flavor pipe and cigar tobacco and cigarettes . . . and as a moth repellant . . . may cause hemorrhage and liver damage." Source: James A. Duke, Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985), p 491.

And in one [of] the cigarette litigation cases, Mike Moore, Atty Gen ex rel St of Mississippi v Am Tobacco Co, et al, No 94-1429, Jeffrey Wigand, Ph.D., an ex-tobacco company scientist, admitted coumarin (rat poison) in tobacco. Tobacco company attorney Thomas Bezanson objected, not as untrue, but "on trade secret grounds." The deposition is in Philip Hilts' book, Smoke Screen: The Truth Behind The Tobacco Industry Cover-Up (NY: Addison-Wesley Pub Co, 1996), pp 161-163.

V. References on Deleteriousness of Specific Cigarette Ingredients.

a. Gosselin, Smith, Hodge, and Braddock, Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, 5th ed (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1984). Page II-4 lists toxicity levels of 1-6 (1, "practically non-toxic"; 4, "very toxic"; 6, "super-toxic"). Nicotine, item 772, pages II-237 and III-311-4 is rated a 6; coumarin, page II-257, item 861, is a 4.

b. Robert Dreisbach and William Robertson, Handbook of Poisoning: Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, 12th ed (Norwalk, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1983 and 1987). Pages 35 and 259-263 cover carbon monoxide poisoning; pages 130-2, tobacco and nicotine; pages 385-7, anticoagulants, e.g., coumarin and warfarin.

c. Sondra Goodman, Director, Household Hazardous Waste Project, HHWP's Guide to Hazardous Products Around the Home, 2d ed (Springfield, MO: Southwest Mo St Univ Press, 1989). Page 99 covers poisoning by carbon monoxide, of which cigarettes emit 42,000 ppm, exceeding the 29 CFR 1910.1000 average safe limit of 35 ppm).

d. Jay Arena and Richard Drew, Poisoning, 5th ed (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Pub, 1986). Pages 216-217 cover nicotine; pp 308-312, carbon monoxide; p 999, which lists coumarin, says, ominously, "see Warfarin," p 1007).

VI. The High Cigarette Death Rate: Due to cigarettes' deleteriousness, "Over 37 million people (one of every six Americans alive today) will die from cigarette smoking years before they otherwise would," see U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare book, Research on Smoking Behavior, Research Monograph 17, DHEW Publication ADM 78-581, page v (Dec 1977). Such deaths are "natural and probable consequences," a term defined in Black's Law Dictionary, 6th ed (St. Paul: West Pub Co, 1990), page 1026. Deaths from cigarettes' deleteriousness occur so frequently as to be expected to happen again and again, hence meet the definition.

VII. Michigan Leadership. Our law follows the nineteenth century concept of criminalizing fraudulent sales, snake-oil sales, etc., not the buying. The concept was that criminalizing buying and use makes too many criminals, promotes disrespect for law, and punishes the victim of the fraudulent sale. This is especially true with children, below the age of maturity and consent to even make contract decisions. We criminalize leaving one's refrigerator outside with the lock on (MCL 750.493d, MCL 28.761(4)), not the unsuspecting children who fall prey to it. By banning the gateway drug, not a post-gateway drug such as alcohol, MCL 750.27, MSA 28.216, avoids the error of Prohibition, and puts personal responsibility on those with most knowledge of the contraband substance (manufacturers and sellers), not on unwary consumers, often children. Michigan's well-reasoned law is an example for the nation.

VIII. Conclusion. Support SB 341, without any weakening or extraneous amendments.

Copyright © 1998 Leroy J. Pletten

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