Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dual Duty: Execs on Tobacco, Health Boards Raise Ire

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dual Duty: Execs on Tobacco, Health Boards Raise Ire

Article excerpt

In 1953 a researcher at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center painted mice with tars from tobacco smoke. The mice developed cancerous tumors, and the war between the medical establishment and the cigarette industry was on.

Four decades later, Sloan-Kettering's name is synonymous with cancer research. That's why a number of people, including at least one top Sloan-Kettering insider, are disturbed to see John Reed sitting on the hospital's board of directors.

After all, Citicorp Chief Executive Reed is also on the board of Philip Morris Cos. and has a $1 million stake in the world's largest cigarette company.

"I have no problem with these two roles," said Reed, a Sloan-Kettering director since 1976 and at Philip Morris since 1975. Reed is a non-smoker, Citicorp spokesman Jack Morris added, but "he has no objection to anyone else smoking."

***** Hypocritical?

Reed may see nothing wrong with his dual directorship, but one high-ranking Sloan-Kettering executive, who asked that his name not be used, is disturbed by it. The executive says he finds Reed's presence on the board offensive and hypocritical.

That's the way most of the public would describe it also, said consultant Barbara Toffler, whose Boston-based Resources for Responsible Management advises major companies on ethics matters: "The person on the street is going to see the conflict of interest for John Reed."

Reed's not only the only executive working simultaneously for cigarettes and health. Sidney Kirschner, chief executive of the non-profit Northside Hospital in Atlanta, is a director of American Brands Inc., which recently sold its U.S. tobacco business but still has the largest operation in the United Kingdom, Gallaher Tobacco.

Former UAL Corp. chief Stephen Wolf is a director of both Philip Morris and Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago.

And Nabisco Holdings Corp. Chief Executive John Greeniaus, who's on the board of Nabisco parent RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp., the No. 2 tobacco company, is a director of Morristown (N.J.) Memorial Hospital.

"For a director of a hospital to aid and abet the interests of a tobacco company is like a detective working for the mob," said Alan Blum, a Houston physician and founder of Doctors Ought to Care, an anti-tobacco group.

Criticism of the dual roles comes amid stepped-up scrutiny of others with ties to tobacco companies, including suppliers. Some suppliers, worried about their potential liability for damages stemming from tobacco, have taken steps to distance themselves from the industry.

Kimberly-Clark Corp., for example, this year said it will spin off a division that makes cigarette paper. Harley-Davidson Inc. is suing Lorillard parent Loews Corp. to stop Lorillard from marketing a Harley-Davidson cigarette. …

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