Steven F. Goldstone is the Chief Executive Officer of RJ Reynolds, the second largest cigarette maker in the United States. Goldstone joined RJ Reynolds in 1995 after having been a corporate attorney in New York for 25 years.
Q. You’ve been quoted in newspapers as saying that under your stewardship, you intend to make Reynolds uh–to instill a new sense of corporate culture in Reynolds. Do you recall making that statement?
A. Actually [talk over each other].
Q. Well, is it true?
A. Uh, Mr. Miley, I think that managers today at Reynolds understand that, that company has to accept responsibility uh and conduct itself in a responsible manner and to that extent, I’m satisfied that they are doing that today.
Q. Mr. Cosco, do you agree that in the past Reynolds managers, not under your helm, have made mistakes that have impacted adversely on public health?
A. I can’t say that, Mr. Miley. The only thing I–and I know you were going to go through a lot of this, but in fairness to me, really, I’ve been in this company a year and a half. I know there are lawsuits surrounding the conduct of this company.
I talked to my lawyers about it a lot. I understanding there are ranging debates in these cases, including this one you have in Florida, but I, I don’t have judgments to make. I’m not interested in the past. That’s something for you and the judges and the juries to figure out. For me, it’s going forward in the future and how we conduct ourselves in the future.
Q. Well, if you’re going to conduct yourself differently in the future than obviously you’re going to make some changes, correct?
A. What is said to you is that we’re going to conduct ourselves responsibly. I’d like to think our company conducted itself responsibly in all circumstances in the past, but that is what the subject of this litigation in Florida’s all about.
Q. As the calls came [unintelligible]?
A. Well, it’s a, it’s a complicated question for me, uh, and I hope you’ll give me a second.
Q. You take all the time you want, sir.
A. Answer that one for you, because um, for myself, and this is just my own personal opinion. I have been in this world for 51 years. I’m not a scientist, but I, I do believe that uh today that uh cigarette smoking play plays a role in causing lung cancer. Um and uh I’m in the job I’m in and I believe that uh, uh the State of Florida, the government of the State of Florida, I think most people on your side of the table, I believe the President of the United States and I believe everyone in Congress and I believe most Americans believe that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. And all of those people, Florida, the Governor, the President, the Congress, has decided against Prohibition. They’ve decided that American adults, with free information and with good information, ought to be able to make their own choice.
Politically, I personally believe in that. I believe in that very much. I think it’s one of the most important principles that we have in this country, but uh, if Mr. Schindler uh–if it became a revelation for him and he decided he shouldn’t uh participate in the business anymore, I could understand completely. But I, I, for me, today, sitting here, if a scientist could connect the scientific gaps, fill in the scientific gaps, that would not be a revelation to me uh that uh cigarette smoking somehow was found to cause cancer. Um, that’s not a shock to me. I don’t think it’s a shock to almost any American today. So, that’s where I am on that.
I will tell you this. Um, I was watching on CNN this morning and saw some–one of the universities, uh, one of the scientists thought that they had discovered what it was, the mechanism [unintelligible] cause from smoking to lung cancer. And Lord knows, I hope they do and if they do, um, these tobacco companies damn well better work like lunatics to figure out how to improve their products. I could be, it would great for all Americans to understand cancer more and I think it would be great for all Americans to understand cancer more and I think it would be important for this industry to do that.
And the other thing, Mr. Motley on that, is this time, this industry will work hand in hand with the government and will work uh cooperatively on terms of medical research, but um denying basis uh truths, medical truths, is not what the industry will do, at least not what R.J. Reynolds tobacco company will do.
Q. I take it, sir, then you do accept that cigarette smoking is a cause of disease in humans?”
Goldstone: “I will tell you because I’m not a scientist, and I respect the views of our scientist in our company who very compellingly explained to me why there are gaps in scientific knowledge. But I’ve only been in this company a couple of years. I was a smoker myself at one time, and I have always believed– rightly or wrongly, I have always believed that smoking plays a role in causing lung cancer. What that role is, I have no idea, but I do believe that.”
Motley: “So your answer to my question is yes?”
Goldstone: “Yes, sir.”