Web Site Provides a Clearinghouse for Tobacco Data

A World Wide Web site unveiled Thursday will enable users to conduct searches of more than 27 million tobacco industry documents from one centralized source. Donna Shalala, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, made the announcement in conjunction with the Great American Smokeout.

The Web site, www.cdc.gov/tobacco, enables users to search documents made public by state lawsuits, congressional subpoenas, and last November's master settlement agreement between the states and tobacco companies. It is housed at HHS's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is CDC's largest fully searchable database of electronic documents. It also is the only place where the entire index of documents housed at the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository is merged and available online in a searchable format.

"These important documents tell in the industry's own words the extent to which vital public health information has been systematically concealed from the public," President Clinton said in a press release.

The site was created in response to an executive memorandum from Clinton that requested HHS coordinate a public health review of tobacco industry documents and develop a plan to make the documents more accessible to researchers and the public.

CDC director Jeffrey Koplan said the agency has plans to expand the site by adding documents as they become available and will also continue to enhance the quality of the documents now online. Document searching and viewing tools also will be improved based on user feedback, he said.

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