In 1998 RJ Reynolds filed an appeal against a ruling by the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources that the Department, after years of doing so, would no longer classify the waste tobacco RJR uses to manufacture its cigarette products as ‘solid waste’ in order to take advantage of tax breaks for ‘disposing of solid waste in environmentally sound fashion”.
RJ Reynolds argument was that since it was taking this waste and manufacturing it into cigarettes it was disposing of it in a way that qualified it for tax breaks
The case number is no. COA01-74 in the North Carolina Court of Appeals filed: 19 February 2002. For the full text of COA01-74
Aside from the preposterous idea that RJ Reynolds was disposing of millions of pounds of waste by making it into cigarettes and selling it to smokers and therefore deserved a tax break for being good environmental stewards, the summary of this lawsuit reveals information about how RJ Reynolds manufactures its cigarette products that ought to give any cigarette smoker pause to realize what suckers they are being made into by this literally insane corporate giant.
Here are a few excerpts from the proceedings. Anyone suspecting that these examples have been “cherry picked” is welcome to review the entire document and judge for themselves.
“In manufacturing tobacco products, Reynolds buys tobacco leaves at auction. The tobacco is sent to a stemmery, where the stems (hard, woody part of the leaf) are separated from the lamina portion of the leaf (material in between the stems). The separation process also generates small scraps of tobacco (scraps) and very fine scraps of tobacco (dust). The usable tobacco lamina material is sent to the manufacturing operation where it is blended and processed into cigarettes.”
“The stems, scraps and dust are packed into containers and sent to a storage facility until they are either processed into reconstituted sheet tobacco, through a process known as the G-7 process, or are discarded. The reconstituted sheet tobacco is shredded and blended with the processed lamina strips and made into filler for cigarettes. The reconstituted tobacco filler is part of most brands of cigarettes made by Reynolds, and enables cigarettes to be made with lower tar and nicotine content which has been demanded by smoking consumers.”
“Reynolds uses approximately seventy million pounds of tobacco stems, scrap and dust each year in making reconstituted sheet tobacco. Reynolds also disposes of between five and seven million pounds of tobacco waste materials in landfills each year. This material is of a lower quality than the stems, scrap and dust used in the G-7 process; much of it is generated by the manufacturing process, rather than the stemmery, though some tobacco waste generated by the stemmery is also disposed of.”
“In order to keep up with its production requirements for reconstituted tobacco, Reynolds imports tobacco stems purchased overseas. Reynolds sells reconstituted tobacco to other manufacturers of tobacco products, and manufactures reconstituted sheet tobacco for other tobacco manufacturers, using stems, scraps and dust supplied by them. One of Reynolds’ witnesses testified that even if there were no tax incentives for recycling and resource recovery of or from solid waste, Reynolds would still operate the G-7 process because of its cost-effectiveness.”
While its bad enough that this cynical giant corporation wants tax breaks for selling waste to its customers, what isn’t revealed here is that the waste is toxic. That single sentence “In order to keep up with its production requirements for reconstituted tobacco, Reynolds imports tobacco stems purchased overseas” holds the clue.
When you look at where RJ Reynolds buys its tons of waste overseas you find that it is coming from countries that have absolutely no regulations on pesticide and other toxic chemicals used routinely on tobacco crops. This means that the waste that RJ Reynolds is putting in “most brands of cigarettes” contains residue of agricultural chemicals so dangerous to human health that are totally banned for use on any crop in the US. These chemicals, and not authentic tobacco, are what is killing smokers worldwide.
These chemicals are known carcinogens, they are known to destroy nervous systems, and they are known to produce deformed babies, among their other irrefutable effects on people.
Furthermore, carefully-done research studies show that many of these pesticides are far more dangerous to children, young women, Hispanics and African-Americans that they are to white males.
RJ Reynolds and other similarly ethically-challenged manufacturers could choose to make their cigarettes from pure tobacco leaf grown in the US if they chose to do so.
The reason the industry chooses to make its products with toxic waste instead of leaf Tobacco is because it is so damned profitable to do so, and because nobody cares.