Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky.) is a stout defender of the tobacco industry against the Federal Trade Commission's attempts to regulate it for the public welfare. He is pushing legislation that would prohibit the FTC from going after commercial advertising that is merely "unfair" instead of outright deceptive. The move was suggested by Ernest Pepples, an executive of Brown and Williamson, the Kentucky cigarette maker.
Prior to this, the FTC, in its annual report, had released the results of a confidential survey prepared for the Tobacco Institute. The survey candidly concluded: "Favorable attitudes toward the tobacco industry are at their lowest ebb. . . Nearly six out of ten (survey respondents) believe that smoking is hazardous to the non-smoker's health. . . This we see as the most dangerous development to the viability of the tobacco industry that has yet occurred."
The FTC report provoked an irate letter from the tobacco industry's champion in the Senate. "This occurrence indicates a blatant disregard for the confidentiality of any documents that have been subpoenaed by the FTC and marked confidential by the industry," Ford wrote FTC Chairman Michael Pertschuk. "You have raised my ire with what appears to be a reckless disregard for the rights of an industry."
Ford then dutifully added a provision to his bill, also suggested by Brown and Williamson, that "is intended to protect information which, although it may not rise to the definition of trade secrets, is of importance to the conduct of business."