SMOKE IN THEIR EYES: Lessons in Movement Leadership from the Tobacco Wars
Former chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce for over a decade, Pertschuk (Giant Killers) was also chairman of the Federal Trade Commission from 1977 to 1984. A longtime tobacco control advocate, he provides in this meticulously researched study an insider's view of the antitobacco movement and how it lost a recent opportunity to enact unprecedented tobacco control legislation. Faced with lawsuits by state attorneys general around the country, in 1997 the tobacco industry offered concessions and settled on a deal that Mississippi attorney general Mike Moore trumpeted as "the most historic public health agreement in history." By 1998, Sen. John McCain headed a committee that voted 19–1 in favor of the resulting tobacco control bill, which President Clinton also supported. Yet the McCain bill died. Why? As Pertschuk sees it, the "guile and boundless resources" of the tobacco industry are only half the story."After Big Tobacco lobbying and its "indentured politicians" undermined McCain's bill, the "killing blows" came from the tobacco control movement's own leadership, Pertschuk concludes, offering an astute analysis of the internal conflicts that led to failure. Personalities and politics are strongly etched and Pertschuk's own anger and anguish bubble to the surface in this detailed, disturbing history of a lost opportunity. (Nov. 30)
Forecast:Tobacco regulation is no longer front-page news, but this is an interesting complement to David Kessler's A Question of Intent, though the focus on the movement's internal politics may limit its appeal. Still, readers of "Washington insider" books, students of social movements and others who have followed the tobacco wars closely will be drawn to it.
Release date: 11/01/2001