The "Deep Cough" Outtakes
By Alicia C. Shepard
Alicia C. Shepard is a former AJR senior writer and NPR ombudsman.
Deep Cough, whose voice and profile are disguised on air, is a former R.J. Reynolds manager who was instrumental in helping "Day One" show how tobacco companies allegedly manipulate levels of nicotine. Deep Cough said on air that tobacco companies precisely control how much nicotine is added back in the reconstitution process – that companies can make extracts with 1 percent, 5 percent or 50 percent nicotine.
On TV, when asked why tobacco companies would use a nicotine-rich syrup, Deep Cough replied, "They put nicotine in the form of tobacco extract into a product to keep the consumer happy."
In an interview with producer Walt Bogdanich on January 27, 1994, the mysterious source said that the nicotine content for reconstituted tobacco could be varied and that tobacco companies were fearful of regulation because "they're taking an extract, which is nicotine, and then reapplying it," according to outtakes.
Bogdanich asked: "You mean to say, they're boosting the nicotine level in cigarettes artificially?"
But Deep Cough balked. "Now, see, I wouldn't say boosting," Deep Cough replied. "They're just trying to bring up the level of nicotine to a consistent level from year in and year out."
Later, Bogdanich asked, "Is RJR boosting the nicotine level in filler paper as a way to keep people smoking?" Deep Cough: "No, I don't think they're doing that to keep people smoking. I think they're doing that to increase the profit."
Bogdanich: "Let me ask the question again: Is RJR boosting the nicotine level in the filler paper as a way to keep people smoking?"
Deep Cough: "No. They're doing it to make a profit."
Later, Bogdanich: "Are they putting nicotine in cigarettes to help keep smokers addicted?"
Deep Cough: "No, they're putting it in there because they want to..they want to keep them at the same level they've been smoking."
Deep Cough's repeated denials that his or her employer was boosting the nicotine content to addict smokers did not appear in "Smoke Screen." l###