Each week the Free Press profiles a Grand Junction Community member for its “Meet Your Neighbors” series. Look for a new “Neighbor” each Monday in the Free Press.

tobacco cigarettes

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A river brought Anne Landman to Grand Junction.

A job allowed her to stay.

And a murder is why she left her hometown of Los Angeles.

Landman came to the Grand Valley in 1982 for a river trip through Whitewater Canyon — it was a gift to herself after graduating from a respiratory therapist course. While in town she toured St. Mary’s Hospital, who she said offered her a job on the spot.

“I didn’t know anybody, but I packed up everything and came on out,” Landman said.

Landman said she loved growing up in Los Angeles and had friends and family there. But ever since the 1976 murder of her best friend’s parents, she had wanted to leave.

“It’s taken me 25 years to recover,” Landman said. “I couldn’t stay in L.A. after that.”

Landman worked 12 years as a respiratory therapist before deciding she wanted to do something different.

She took a job monitoring air quality and noise at the former Climax uranium mill tailings site for the U.S. Department of Energy after earning an associate’s degree in environmental restoration and waste management technology from Mesa State College.

Radioactive mill tailings were widely used in building materials in Grand Junction during the 1950s and 1960s before it was widely known the sand-like tailings were radioactive. Subsequent federal and state clean-up programs removed tailings from commercial buildings and people’s homes, and stored them at the mill site near the Colorado River before they were hauled for permanent disposal at the Cheney disposal cell 19 miles southeast of Grand Junction.

She completed a bachelor’s degree in communications from Mesa State after the DOE job ended, and with her degree and a respiratory background, Landman began working in 1996 for the American Lung Association.

That job heightened Landman’s awareness of tobacco-caused diseases and she began noticing cigarette displays in stores — how they always seemed to be out of the line of sight of clerks, placed around the corner near the door and below counter level.

“I started asking clerks: ‘Do you lose merchandise off these displays?’” Landman said.

She said store clerks used words like “tons” and “gobs” to describe the amount of merchandise that was lost. However, they weren’t allowed to move the tobacco products display, or they’d lose huge placement fees paid by the tobacco companies.

Clerks in stores all over Grand Junction — many near schools — told Landman that tobacco representatives came and monitored the placements.

A manager of one Stop N Save convenience store near a school in Clifton told Landman she was losing 300 packs a month. Store clerks told Landman it was mostly kids stealing the cigarettes.

“Even kids told us” they were stealing them, Landman said.

Businesses were receiving $10,000 per year, per store, in placement fees alone for tobacco.

Store managers “found they made more money if they kept them out front and let them be stolen,” Landman said.

Exposing tobacco marketing to children
In 1998, tobacco companies settled with the offices of attorney generals in 46 states a lawsuit to recoup tobacco-related Medicaid health care costs. The Masters Settlement Agreement required the tobacco industry to pay $246 billion over the next 25 years.

Companies were also required to reveal all their secret documents. Millions of pages of internal documents were scanned and placed on the Internet for public access.

In her spare time at home in Glade Park where she had a dial-up connection to the Internet, Landman began downloading tobacco industry documents.

“I was looking for something in the documents to substantiate what I found on the ground,” Landman said.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was like a murder mystery novel with no ending. Confidential memos talked about strategies for undermining public health authorities.”

Landman gathered the information and began putting it on an Internet list serve (similar to an e-mail newsletter). She summarized documents and included excerpts. She began writing and publishing articles in medical and academic journals.

“After a year or two, 3,500 people signed up (for the Internet discussion ) from 35 countries,” Landman said.

She began traveling on behalf of the American Lung Association, giving talks around the country at public health conferences, and tobacco control conferences. She gave Powerpoint presentations about the tobacco displays and placement fees.

Attorneys asked Landman to testify in lawsuits against the tobacco industry.

One of her Grand Junction colleagues contacted CBS news in New York, who sent a four-person crew to Grand Junction to report on the tobacco displays and the placement fees for its “Eye on America” segment that was broadcast nationally April 12, 1999. Television stations around the country checked tobacco products displays in their own towns, and localized the issue to create their own segments.

The television coverage brought national attention to the practice of placement fees for tobacco displays targeting children. By the late 1990s self-service bans were passed requiring customers to purchase tobacco products through a clerk.

No longer were young people purposely allowed easy access to cigarettes.

Exposing other corporate wrongdoing
Landman left the American Lung Association in 2004, after being awarded a 15-month fellowship at the University of California at San Francisco to work at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. There she worked with researchers from all over the world.

At the end of the 15 months Landman’s boss at the university referred her to a job at the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wis.

“Their mission is to expose government and corporate spin and propaganda,” Landman said.

Landman investigates “front” groups. She researches who is behind various advertising or political campaigns and who funds them.

“We often find they’re put together by lobby firms to have the appearance to be a grassroots (effort),” Landman said. “People are totally snowed by this stuff.”

Her research is published at the Center’s PRWatch.org and sourcewatch.org.

A recent article titled “Attack of the Living Front Groups: PR Watch Offers Help to Unmask Corporate Tricksters,” can be found at http://www.prwatch.org/node/8531

Landman’s three-year, grant-funded position with Center for Media and Democracy ends in September.

Landman and her husband, Steve, a family and marriage counselor in Grand Junction, have lived in a Glade Park energy-efficient, adobe-covered tire home since 1994. They don’t have a furnace, and use a pellet stove for back-up heat only. Their total heating bill for the winter ranges between $50 and $75. They collect and filter rain water.

Landman said she may go to work for the man who built their home. John Andrews is a builder, who is in the process of developing a zero-energy consumption building system.

Controversial figure
Landman is a familiar name with local media.

In March 2008, Troy Milam — a former neighbor she never knew — stole a peace flag she had mounted outside her home. While out walking her dog, Landman saw Milam grab the flag and throw it in his pickup truck.

She ran over to stand in front of his truck and demanded he return her flag. She said he threatened to run over her. He finally gave her the flag, but the case ended up in court. Milam did not contest the charges of theft under $500.

Milam was sentenced last month by Mesa County Court Judge Bruce Raaum to 30 days of in-house detention with an ankle monitor, and $684.50 in fines and court costs.

The flag depicts a dove flying in the middle of the earth. The words “World Peace” are printed on the flag.

“This is a flag he said offended so many people in Glade Park that he had to take it down,” Landman said.

Landman made the news in 2008 by advocating for separation of church and state in regards to public officials praying to Jesus at city council and county commissioner meetings.

In 2007, Landman formed the group “Western Colorado Atheists and Free Thinkers,” for the purpose of getting together once a month on a Sunday with others of like-mind.

“People are afraid to let it be known they are atheist,” Landman said. They fear persecution, of losing their jobs, their kids getting kicked out of Cub Scouts, she said.

A member of the group who works for the county is uncomfortable with the Christian prayers before county and city meetings and asked the group to intervene, Landman said.

More than a dozen people wrote letters asking city officials to institute a moment of silence instead, Landman said.

During a moment of silence people could think or pray how they want, take a deep breath, center themselves, Landman said.

“We don’t mind an invocation. Invocations are nice,” Landman said. “All we ask is they do something inclusive, that offends no one.

“That’s how you respect your populace.”

source: http://www.gjfreepress.com

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