The Truth Tobacco Industry Documents archive (formerly known as the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library) was created in 2002 by the UCSF Library. The archive was built to house and provide permanent access to tobacco industry internal corporate documents produced during litigation between US States and the seven major tobacco industry organizations and other sources. These internal documents give a view into the workings of one of the largest and most influential industries in the United States.

See Litigation Documents for more information on these lawsuits including links to legal documents.

The Truth Tobacco Industry Documents collection was established with funding from the American Legacy Foundation (now Truth Initiative).

Brown & Williamson Documents Leaked

The genesis of the project began in 1994 when a few thousand pages of confidential, internal documents from the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation were copied and leaked by an anonymous whistleblower. One of these document sets, containing scientific studies on nicotine’s addictive nature and other health effects of tobacco smoke, was sent to UCSF professor Dr. Stanton Glantz.

Dr. Glantz gave the documents to the UCSF Library so others could review them. Brown & Williamson tried to remove the material from the Library with a lawsuit, but the Court ruled in favor of the public's "right to know." Brown & Williamson appealed that decision but the California Supreme Court rejected their appeal which allowed UCSF to provide access to the documents. The documents were released, first in the Archives reading room, then on a DVD, and eventually became available on the UCSF Library website.

The Minnesota Case Against the Tobacco Companies

In 1994, the Attorneys General of four States -- Mississippi, Minnesota, Florida, and Texas -- separately filed lawsuits against the tobacco industry for reimbursement of health care expenditures arising from tobacco-related illnesses. During the course of this litigation, the rest of the States joined in similar legal actions. In 1998, the state of Minnesota settled with the five major US tobacco companies: Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, and the American Tobacco Company; the British American Tobacco company; and the two tobacco industry associations – the Tobacco Institute and the Center for Tobacco Research. One of the provisions of the Minnesota settlement was the creation of two depositories into which the companies had to place the millions of documents produced in the case. British American Tobacco's depository in Guildford, England, and the US companies' Minneapolis, Minnesota depository were created and required to remain open to the public for ten years. See Litigation Documents for more information on this lawsuit including links to legal documents.

The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)

In 1998, 46 attorneys general signed the MSA with the major tobacco companies in the US. Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Texas had settled prior to the MSA and are not signatories to the MSA. The MSA settled the remaining lawsuits by requiring yearly payments by the tobacco companies to the States and placing restrictions on advertising, marketing, and promotion of cigarettes, including prohibiting the use of cartoons and other youth-targeting methods, advertising on billboards or in public transportation, and merchandise branding. As part of the MSA, the companies were ordered to publish their internal documents produced for the cases on their own document websites as well as place them in the Minnesota depository. The multi-national tobacco company, British American Tobacco, was not a party to the MSA and therefore was not required to create a document website but under the Minnesota settlement, has to maintain the Guildford depository, set to close in 2015. See Litigation Documents for more information on this lawsuit including links to legal documents.

British American Tobacco (BAT) Documents

British American Tobacco Company, BAT (U.K. & Export) Limited, and B.A.T. Industries P.L.C., collectively known as BAT, were among the seven tobacco manufacturers that Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III, Minnesota Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota sued in 1994 to recover smoking-related medical costs. The Minnesota settlement forced BAT to put its documents in a depository located near Guildford, England, just outside of London. However, the settlement was vague on the precise terms of public access for the documents at the depository. As a result, unlike the U.S. tobacco companies, the responsibility for making the documents public was left entirely open to BAT's interpretation and BAT was allowed to directly manage and operate the depository.

In addition, the Master Settlement Agreement did not require BAT to post its documents on the Internet, leaving the Guildford Depository as the only point of access. Difficulties in searching, accessing, and copying the BAT documents were rampant, and tobacco control advocates around the world began posting small collections of the materials they had been able to obtain on the web, to enable others to use them. However, these small sets were widely scattered, not indexed in a consistent manner, and represented only a small proportion of the total Guildford Depository collection (around 5%), thus limiting the usefulness of this effort.

Recognizing the value of a centralized, consistently indexed archive, in late 1999 Celia White of the UCSF Library, working with Dr. Glantz, began to contact groups around the world who had procured documents from the Guildford Depository with the idea of creating an integrated and professionally indexed collection at the UCSF Library. The resultant database, previously known as BATCo, included Guildford Depository documents provided by Health Canada, the British Columbia Ministry of Health, and the American Heart Association. This collaboration grew to include key partners at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who obtained a £1 million grant from the Wellcome Trust, and leaders from The Mayo Clinic. $1 million in funding was also provided by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) with further support from Cancer Research UK. This collective team, known as the Guildford Archiving Project (GAP), succeeded in collecting, digitizing, and preserving over 1.6 million BAT documents, which are now freely available through the UCSF Library. For more details about this complex project please see the British American Tobacco Records collection page.


The initial funding to digitize the tobacco documents came from the California Tobacco-Related Diseases Research Program, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Later, the MSA provisions created and currently fund Truth Initiative (formerly known as the American Legacy Foundation), an organization dedicated to speaking, seeking and spreading the truth about tobacco through education, tobacco control research and policy studies, and community activism and engagement. Truth Initiative in turn funded the creation and maintenance of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, now known as the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library. Initially, 40 million pages of documents were provided by the tobacco companies to the National Association of Attorneys General which, in turn, gave them to the UCSF Library to seed the first version of the archive. Since that time, UCSF has collected documents directly from the industry document websites and has added collections of documents from other sources.

In 2002, the Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute gave the UCSF Library a grant to obtain copies of all British American Tobacco documents in the Guildford Depository and create a publicly available digital library. Working in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who were funded by the Wellcome Trust for this project, the documents in the resulting resource, the British American Tobacco Document Archive, were added in 2008. More information about this effort can be found here.

The UCSF Academic Senate also provided funding to upgrade the servers.

The Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Case

In 2006, US District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in a civil lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice (US vs. Philip Morris, et al.) that the nation's top tobacco companies violated the RICO Act, misleading the public for years about the health hazards of smoking. As a result of this case, the companies are now obliged to make publicly available any documents produced for litigation on smoking and health until 2021. The Truth Tobacco Industry Documents archive will continue to acquire documents directly from the industry websites, as well as other avenues, and make them available to the public in a permanent and stable environment. See Litigation Documents for more information on this lawsuit including links to legal documents.