Former respiratory therapist Anne Landman left the treatment side to fight on the prevention side.
Anne Landman is passionate about her work.
Anne Landman is a real drag. To the tobacco industry, that is.
Every day, the 47-year-old former RRT sits at her desk in the converted carport of her Glade Park, Colo, home, searching through an endless number of documents on the Internet for information exposing the tobacco industrys dirty secrets.
In 1998, under the Master Settlement Agreement, 46 states settled class action lawsuits with the countrys four largest tobacco companies aimed at recovering costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses. The agreement required tobacco companies to post their formerly secret, internal corporate documents on the Internet.
Landmans interest in those documents initially stemmed from sheer curiosity while she worked as a regional program coordinator for the American Lung Association of Colorado (ALAC).
What I found just shocked me, she says. I started looking at it first out of curiosity, but then my goal became to move this information into the public realm.
Landman and friend enjoy a stroll in the mountains of colorado.
Landman, who eventually became ALACs tobacco document research specialist, began sharing the information with some friends, who then encouraged her to spread the information to the public. In 1999, she found the means to do so via an e-mail talk list called Doc-Alert on Smokefree.net, which cites more than 1,300 subscribers to the list (www.smokefree.net/doc-alert). Her daily mailings about the tobacco industry are also forwarded each day to an international list called Globalink, which has thousands of recipients around the world.
Through her research, she has uncovered and distributed information on such topics as the tobacco industrys chemical manipulation of cigarettes to increase their addictive qualities; promotion tactics, especially those targeting smoking among young people; and lobbying efforts to keep their clout with the government. Those efforts have included campaigns against businesses that implemented smoke-free policies and the creation of front groups, such as the National Smokers Alliance and The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition created by Philip Morris, to help lobby for and promote the tobacco industry.
You cant tell whos on what side with these groups, Landman says. The tobacco industry has worked hard to blur the lines between themselves and public health. Theres been a real effort to put a more credible face on themselves. Philip Morris has led the way.
The Master Settlement Agreement did force tobacco companies to rethink some of their tactics, but Landman says much of what they do now boils down to a public relations spin to clean up their image.
Everythings designed to benefit their bottom line, she says. There is a behavioral change, but the underlying motive is still profit.
Landman left the ALAC last March after seven and a half years and started Landman Tobacco Document Research & Consulting. She now works as a freelancer for various organizations, public health agencies, lawyers, and others.
Landman sees her work as a logical evolution from her days as a respiratory therapist in that it allows her to be on the prevention side instead of the treatment side.
In June 2004, she cowrote a report for the ALAC titled Tobacco Industry Involvement in Colorado, which focused on behind-the-scenes efforts by the tobacco industry to influence the public and thwart public health efforts to control tobacco use in that state. The report was financed through a $58,000 grant from the Master Settlement Agreement-funded Colorado University Tobacco Research Program.
The reports coauthor, Pete Bialick, president of the nonprofit Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution of Colorado, which promotes smoke-free policies in the state, says Landman is passionate about her work.
The industry document research is really valuable to other people working on the issue, the media, and trial lawyers to expose what the industry has been doing in the past, based on their own documents, Bialick says.
Landmans exposure of the tobacco industry documents has helped gain the passage of numerous antismoking ordinances, and she has worked as an expert witness in two lawsuits against the industry. She also gives lectures to various organizations, schools, physicians groups, and respiratory therapists across the country.
Landmanwho lives with her husband, Steve, in a remote area where she receives only a handful of TV channels and had to get a satellite connection to even access the Internetsays her countless hours in front of her computer screen can lead to boredom. That boredom can then lead to some odd creativity in her searches.
On one such occasion, she entered the search word scum and stumbled upon information on RJ Reynolds Tobacco Companys Project Sub Culture Urban Marketingbetter known as Project SCUMwhich targeted sales of cigarettes to the homeless, gays, and foreigners in the San Francisco area.
The more you read, the more you learn; and the more you learn, the more keywords you discover to do your search, she says, adding that she has discovered such industry lingo as antis for public health advocates.
Her own name has even started turning up in her searches of the tobacco companies documents and memos.
When Landman worked for the ALAC, her former supervisor, Lea Ann Purvis, occasionally received phone calls and letters from the marketing offices of various tobacco companies chastising Landmans efforts and telling Purvis to hold a tighter rein on her.
I told them that I considered it to be the best compliment we could receive for her work, Purvis recalls. She gives them fits. She became one of the best underground moles for sniffing out tobacco deception.
Anne is a pit bull when it comes to pursuing documents. She finds it to be a personal challenge to track down the best information, Purvis says. She has not lost that idealism that the world can be a better place.
Danielle Cohen is a staff writer for RT.