Vice News Interview: Are opioids the new Big Tobacco?

A number of Attorneys General began investigating the marketing practices of the opioid industry using a tobacco model. Now the judge could do several things. He’s got to figure out a way to sort through these law suits and to settle them in a way that money goes to public health and doesn’t just waste it the way they did much of the tobacco dollars. We should use it to address the huge issue at the moment which is the inability of addicts, 2.2 million addicts, to get appropriate care.

Cassandra Giraldo, Here’s why Big Pharma won’t pay for opioid deaths like Big Tobacco pays for cancer, Vice News, Apr 23, 2018.

For the full interview, "Are opioids the new Big Tobacco?," see the April 16, 2018 episode of Vice News Tonight, available on HBO.

BuzzFeed: We Took On Big Tobacco. It's Time To Take On Big Opioid.

We need to start discussing the contours of an opioid settlement today, and to demand that public health principles be front and center. Without that discussion, and the priorities that emerge from it, we are destined to repeat past mistakes that must not be repeated.
— James Tierney

James E. Tierney, "It's Time To Take On Big Opioid Like We Did With Big Tobacco," BuzzFeed News, January 10, 2018.

Related Reading

Opioids As The New Big Tobacco

‘[I]f you’re going to get money, don’t make the mistake in tobacco and let it be used by whatever the legislature wants. They’ll use it to pave roads.’

James Tierney interviewed on recent lawsuits by state attorneys general against opioid manufacturers that are reminiscent of lawsuits brought by states in the 1990s against the tobacco industry.

Ailsa Chang, "Opioids As The New Big Tobacco," Morning Edition: Planet Money, NPR, June 30, 2017.

Ohio Opioid Suit Echoes Tobacco Cases

‘Opioids aren’t tobacco,’ said James Tierney, a former Maine attorney general who was a consultant to the states suing the tobacco industry and helped coordinate their legal and press strategy[...]Opioids, when used medically to relieve pain, can have significant health benefits. ‘Opioids aren’t an inherently evil product,’ said Mr. Tierney. ‘Tobacco companies could never come in and say tobacco products are good for you. There are legitimate purposes for opioids.’

Fighting Smoke With Fire

In the ongoing tobacco wars, Tierney, these days a consultant hired by state attorneys general, is part strategist, traffic cop, lawyer and spin doctor. His 10 years of experience as attorney general in Maine during the 1980s and his knack for a sound bite have gotten him quoted more often in the national press than many incumbent AGs. He’s a new breed of activist and outsider who, with a little help from digital technology, can influence Washington policy debates from far beyond the Beltway — and become something of an insider in the process.

The Tobacco Wars: Strategist of Smoking Assault Calls Shots from Maine Farm

Control Central for the 35 attorneys general and 200 private lawyers pressing the vast legal assault on Big Tobacco is, incredibly, the perfect rural stillness of a weathered old farmhouse near tiny Lisbon Falls, Maine.

Up the stairs, in a small bedroom that affords a view of his neighbor’s pasture and occasionally yields up the wafting fragrance of his own ancient apple trees, James E. Tierney is a one-man information clearinghouse in the wave of lawsuits that is expected to redefine the role of cigarettes in U.S. commerce and society.

This rangy, 50-year-old man wearing blue jeans, a green plaid shirt and dusty old hiking shoes - a regular Mainer, you might say - is the spin doctor, coordinator and a key strategist for the attorneys general who are suing to make tobacco companies repay Medicaid money spent to treat smoking-related diseases.