Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Thomas Jackson White Jr., March 14, 1986. Interview C-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Lobbying for the tobacco industry

White discusses his position as a lobbyist for "the most ... unjustly maligned industry in North Carolina": the tobacco industry. He emphasizes the industry's essential role in building the state's infrastructure, and attacks those who criticize the industry or note the health dangers of smoking.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Thomas Jackson White Jr., March 14, 1986. Interview C-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Shall we turn from the museum to talk a little bit about your work over the last several years as a lobbyist? You have a reputation for not only having been very effective in the General Assembly but since then to have been one of the most effective lobbyists in the state.
Well, some people have been very generous to me in making remarks of that kind. I probably have been given more credit than I am due. But I hope my clients don't think that. [Laughter] I represent the most maligned and unjustly maligned industry in North Carolina: the tobacco industry. Were it not for the tobacco industry we wouldn't have Duke Hospital; we might not have the kind of hospital we have at the University of North Carolina. There are many libraries and many other valuable institutions and establishments that we now have and enjoy which are of great benefit to our people and to the state made possible by the tobacco industry and its generosity, and this has helped make North Carolina a great state for business and for educational and other great purposes. You can trace a great deal of the fiscal soundness of our state to the value of the tobacco industry as one of our greatest industries. The history of tobacco is very interesting in itself. And of course, as you remember from your grade school history, tobacco was used as money at times, and tobacco played a good part in keeping the British from defeating the colonists. These organizations like the Cancer Society, the Lung Association or whatever it is called, and dozens and dozens of organizations that call themselves anything from Protect Babies from Cigarettes to no telling what are out to get money for their purposes. These organizations send people out who go around levying on people that have some money, or those whom they think have some money, begging for "help". They collect money from anybody that'll give them any money, and I suspect it would be very enlightening to see what becomes of that money they collect, under the guise of "protecting from cancer." There is a whole lot of fraudulent talk against tobacco, unsupported by scientific facts or even reason and common sense. Some of the statements being published today are apparently designed to frighten women. Eminent scientists report on some of these and many of these rash statements are not based upon complete and accurate tests. I haven't seen one yet that was not "flawed" in one or more respects.