University of California, San Francisco.
Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.
LTDL History
Brown & Williamson Documents Leaked  

The UCSF Library launched The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library in 2002 but the genesis of the project began 8 years earlier when a few thousand pages of highly confidential, internal documents from the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation were copied and leaked by an anonymous whistleblower to various academics, media outlets and Congress. One of these document sets was sent to UCSF professor Dr. Stanton Glantz in May, 1994. The documents consisted primarily of scientific studies on the addictive nature of nicotine and other health effects of tobacco smoke.

Dr. Glantz realized what a treasure trove of information these documents held and, wanting other researchers and the public to have access, gave the documents to the UCSF Library's Archives and Special Collections. Brown & Williamson sought to permanently remove the material from the Library with a lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court but in May 1995, the Court ruled in favor of the public's "right to know."

Brown & Williamson appealed that decision but the California Supreme Court rejected their appeal thereby allowing UCSF to release the documents. The documents were released June 1995, first in the Archives reading room, then on a DVD, and eventually became available on the UCSF Library website within the Tobacco Control Archives section.

US Tobacco Industry Sued by 46 States    

In 1994, the Attorneys General of four States - Mississippi, Minnesota, Florida, and Texas - separately filed lawsuits against the tobacco industry in an effort to secure reimbursement for health care expenditures arising from tobacco-related illnesses. During the course of this litigation, 42 other states joined in similar legal actions. In 1998, a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was signed by the Attorneys General of 46 states and the nation's five major tobacco companies: Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, and the American Tobacco Company, and their two industry associations – the Tobacco Institute and the Center for Tobacco Research.

The MSA effectively settled the outstanding lawsuits by requiring yearly payments by the tobacco companies to the States and placing restrictions on the advertising and marketing of tobacco products. As part of this Master Settlement Agreement, the US tobacco companies were ordered to publish their internal documents produced for the case to both a physical depository in Minnesota and on their own document websites.

The multi-national tobacco company, British American Tobacco (BAT), was not required to create a document website but they were instructed to deposit internal documents into a physical depository in Guildford, England, where the public could go to view the materials. In 2002, the Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute gave the UCSF Library a grant to obtain copies of all documents in the Guildford Depository and create a publically available digital library. The documents in the resulting resource, the British American Tobacco Document Archive, were added to LTDL in 2008. More information about this effort can be found here.

LTDL is Created    

The MSA provisions created and currently fund the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-tobacco advocacy group, which in turn funded the creation of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library as well as its ongoing maintenance and collection activities. Initially, the documents and their metadata (information about the document) were provided by the individual US tobacco companies to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) which provided oversight and enforcement of this operation. NAAG, in turn, gave the approximately 4 million pages of industry documents to the UCSF Library to seed the LTDL in 2002. Since that time, UCSF has collected index records and document images directly from industry documents websites through the use of spidering software and has added collections of documents from other sources.

Tobacco Companies Convicted Under the RICO Act    

In 2006, US District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in a civil lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice (US vs. Philip Morris, et al.) that the nation's top tobacco companies violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), misleading the public for years about the health hazards of smoking. Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds filed an appeal but Judge Kessler's ruling was upheld.

As a result of this case and its appeals, the companies are now obliged to make publically available any documents produced for litigation on smoking and health until 2021. The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library will continue to acquire these documents directly from the industry websites, as well as other avenues, and make them available to the public in a permanent and stable environment.

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