The leader of America's largest cigarette maker, shown documents that indicate his companies' own scientists agree smoking is harmful, said he has doubts tobacco causes disease.
Geoffrey Bible, chairman and chief executive of Philip Morris Cos. Inc., said his obligation to public health is equaled by his duty to make money for the company.Bible was called as a hostile witness Monday in Minnesota's $1.77 billion lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Testimony resumed Tuesday. A 28-year employee of Philip Morris, Bible acknowledged that he knows of no reputable scientific organization that doesn't say smoking causes disease. He repeatedly said he did not know the answer himself.
When plaintiffs attorney Michael Ciresi confronted Bible with documents from Philip Morris and other companies indicating their scientists accepted the assertion that smoking was harmful, Bible said he had never seen them before.
In some cases, he said he would be interested to learn more.
"In your mind, scientific doubt still exists?" Ciresi asked.
"In my mind, yes," Bible replied.
The state and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota are suing 11 tobacco companies or organizations for reimbursement of expenses for treating smoking-related illnesses. They also seek punitive damages, alleging the industry concealed what it knew as it conspired to mislead consumers about the dangers of smoking.