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Release of Tobacco Documents Turns Out to Be a Tangled Web

This is how Friday’s document release worked:

Each of the four major tobacco companies provided separate indexes to the material. The instructions on how to download the material from Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. ran 21 pages.

But computer technicians and librarians at The Times and other news organizations, as well as staff members of the Minnesota attorney general’s office, had considerable difficulty downloading the material, which was posted at the www.tobaccoresolution.com Web site.

Because of difficulties the companies had, the site, which was supposed to come up at 8 a.m. PST, actually was loaded two hours later. By 11 a.m., the site was very busy and repeated attempts were necessary to access any of the tobacco companies’ archives. The Philip Morris site was not available all day and the Lorillard site only briefly.

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An index that had been ballyhooed by industry public relations officials was not printable nor viewable as a single document. While each company provided detailed and lengthy instructions for searching the index, it was necessary to have some information to start with, such as a name or a date or an identification number of some kind.


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