Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Tobacco CEO Quits Cancer Center Board

For a rare look inside the often closed and shadowy world of hospital boards, see the Boston Globe report about the rise and fall of Dana-Farber Cancer Center Trustee Bennett S. LeBow.
LeBow was appointed on January 25, with an official announcement that labeled him as an investor in the "computer industry" who "eventually expanded into other areas." On February 23, the hospital's newsletter described him as a businessman and philanthropist.
In fact, in 1986, LeBow acquired the Liggett Group, Inc., the maker of L&M, Lark, and Chesterfield brand cigarettes. Now his firm, the Vector Group, includes Liggett and Vector Tobacco as subsidiaries. It had 2.4% of the market for cigarettes in 2003.
In 1996, LeBow settled lawsuits filed by state attorneys general, avoiding huge payments by declaring that tobacco is a cancer risk.
On March 7, after the Boston Globe asked about his appointment, LeBow resigned from the Dana Farber Board of Trustees.
Matthew Myers, the President of Tobacco Free Kids, commented, "It's an appointment that on its face is inconsistent with the mission of the organization."

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