1994 – Tobacco Company CEOs Testify Before Congress

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In 1994, United States Congressman Harry Waxman held a famous series of Congressional hearings. The presidents and CEOs of the seven largest American tobacco companies were subpoenaed to testify before Waxman’s committee. On April 14, 1994, after more than six hours of sharp questioning by members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, the seven CEOs steadfastly refused to budge under stringent questioning that they knew cigarettes were addictive. Each stated under oath that they did not believe nicotine was addictive.

Within months, a perjury investigation was initiated by the Department of Justice. Ultimately, the Department of Justice claimed it did not have enough evidence to prosecute for perjury because the CEOs testified under oath that they believed nicotine did not addict people. Because they had used the word “believe,” they could not be prosecuted for perjury

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