Letter | Examples of animal cruelty abound in corporate research

08/03/2014 12:00 AM

08/01/2014 6:13 PM

Unfortunately, it is too common a thing these days to hear how insensitive big corporations can be, whether rifling thru employee retirement funds or polluting our waterways. However, once in a while, something really stands out.

In the words of Heather Moore, of Impact Press, “Joe Camel isn’t the only animal who smokes.” Even though it has been known for decades that smoking causes a wide array of diseases in the human body, tobacco companies have continued to conduct useless and cruel experiments on animals.

After talks with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Lorilland, the nation’s third largest tobacco company and the manufacturer of Newport cigarettes, announced it will finally ban animal testing. The company had conducted experiments such as locking mice into containers where they were forced to breathe cigarette smoke for hours at a time. Afterward, the hapless creatures were killed and dissected to study the effects.

This is not an isolated practice. R.J. Reynolds. the company behind Camel and Pall Mall, began a research facility in Winston-Salem, N.C. in the 1960s dubbed the “mouse house.” Researchers there hooked mice and rabbits to “smoking machines,” which forced the animals to breathe cigarette smoke. By the 1970s, the scientists discovered a link between smoking and emphysema. Fearing the information would go public, the corporation fired the researchers, killed the animals, and “accidentally” destroyed the documents. There is an account of this by one of the former employees on YouTube.

Other specific examples of animal testing: 1) Beagles given tracheotomies so that they could be forced to breathe smoke through tubes (I saw an old black and white photo of four beagles being subjected to this procedure online), 2) At Phillip Morris, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, researchers subjected 1,000 rats to two years of breathing either diesel engine exhaust or secondhand cigarette smoke for six hours a day, seven days a week, just to compare the effects of the exposure on their lungs.

What may be even worse, PETA investigators discovered that until recently, the National Cancer Institute —which is supposedly against tobacco use —was selling mice to tobacco companies for use in tests to develop new products.

Maybe you think, so what, they’re only mice. But other animals are targeted as well, including dogs, rabbits, pigs, primates, hamsters, guinea pigs and cats. Many of these types of animals are pets in our homes. Can you imagine your own Puff or Spot being treated in such a hideous manner?

For years, tobacco companies were untruthful about the negative effects they knew cigarettes posed to our health. Now we discover that they have also hidden the fact they are forcing untold numbers of animals to smoke, and succumb to cancer and other diseases, just to conduct irrelevant studies.

Apparently, the tobacco industry cares more about making a buck than it does about anyone’s health, whether you have two legs or four. Maybe we should reopen the investigations of years past to ensure that R.J. Reynolds, and their kin, do not continue to force senseless suffering upon the innocent.

The writer lives in Conway.

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