Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "tobacco" ...

  • Smoked Out

    A CBC Edmonton investigation revealed the process for selecting a legal consortium to represent the province of Alberta in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the tobacco industry had been manipulated. The lawsuit, the largest in the government’s history, is worth potentially billions of dollars to the province’s coffers and hundreds of millions of dollars in contingency fees for the legal consortium. The manipulation allowed now-former premier Alison Redford the opportunity to choose a consortium to which she had close personal and political ties.
  • Tobacco Debt: How Cash From Big Tobacco Went From Boon to Burden

    A landmark 1998 settlement with Big Tobacco awarded states billions of dollars a year to offset the health-care costs of smoking. But what seemed like a boon quickly became a debt trap for many state and local governments when they used it to promise investors billions in the future in exchange for cash advances.
  • Are Any Plastics Safe?: Inside the Big Tobacco-style campaign to bury the disturbing truth about the products you use everyday

    An investigation questioning the safety of BPA-free plastics used in many common household products that also details the Big Tobacco-style campaign to cover up the facts. Nearly two decades after scientists discovered that BPA, a common plastic additive that mimics the hormone estrogen, is linked to serious health problems, Mother Jones reporter Mariah Blake investigates new evidence that suggests even plastics labeled "BPA-free" may expose us to similar effects. Despite these findings, US regulators continue to ignore the evidence and potentially dangerous plastics are still everywhere-from your baby's bottle to your toothbrush. Blake takes an inside look at the tactics used to keep plastics in our homes despite potential worrisome health effects
  • 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Moral Integrity

    935 Lies explores the many ways truth is manipulated by governments and corporations. Through examples ranging from the countless lies administrations of both parties have used to justify needless wars to the successful, decades-long corporate suppression of the truth about tobacco and other dangerous products, the author shows how the value of truth is diminished by delay. He explains the political, social, and business changes that have increasingly weakened the ability of journalists to play their traditional truth-telling role. And he describes the new trends, such as the new nonprofit journalism ecosystem that give reason to be hopeful about the future of truth. (excerpted from the book jacket).
  • ATF Gun Tracing

    CBS News obtained exclusive access to the National Tracing Center operated by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Martinsburg, West Virginia In our piece, we took the public behind the scenes of this massive facility in the heart of rural West Virginia to show how a gun is traced, guns used in crimes such as the Newtown Ct. mass shootings, Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, and that of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Arizona.
  • “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm”

    More than 75 years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law. A groundbreaking achievement in the fight against child labor, the FLSA banned children from mines and factories, while also granting the Secretary of Labor the authority to protect youth from working in any other hazardous occupations. This series on child labor in agriculture uncovers how loopholes in the law continue to put child farm workers as young as 12 at risk for grave illness, injury, and death. It shows how the agriculture lobby fought back in 2012, blocking new rules that would have closed these loopholes — and that children have died as a result. “Leaves of Poison” focuses on the use of children as young as 12 to harvest tobacco in Southern tobacco fields. Tobacco is a notoriously hazardous crop, exposing field workers to acute nicotine poisoning, with symptoms that can include dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and heart rate fluctuations requiring hospitalization. The plants are also sprayed with high doses of pesticides, which pose special dangers to adolescents whose nervous systems are still developing. These dangers have led countries such as Russia and Khazakstan to ban minors from tobacco work, and the United States has donated millions to eradicate child tobacco labor overseas. But a proposed rule by the Department of Labor banning children from the harvest (and other particularly “hazardous” tasks) was withdrawn by Obama administration officials in response to concerted lobbying by the American Farm Bureau. “Dying on the Farm” was an ambitious effort to track how many child laborers have died since those rules were scuttled in April 2012, which would have barred them from performing particularly “hazardous” tasks, such as harvesting tobacco, working in manure pits and grain silos, or using heavy power machinery. The investigation shows that child farmworkers “fall through the cracks” when it comes to government tallies of work-related injuries and deaths. Nevertheless, using FOI requests to Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Workers’ Compensation offices, surveying local press clippings, and speaking with medical practitioners who work directly with farmworkers we found that at least four young farm workers-for-hire have been killed and 39 injured while doing these hazardous tasks since the rules were withdrawn. Both “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm” movingly tell the personal stories of young workers at a risk.
  • Backfire

    The investigation revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) employed rogue tactics in undercover storefront strings in Milwaukee and across the country, including using those with mental disabilities to promote the operations – and then turning around and charging them with gun and drug crimes. The investigation found ATF agents set up operations near schools and churches, allowing them to arrest people on more serious charges; let felons armed with guns leave the fake storefronts; paid such high prices that people bought guns from stores and then quickly sold them to agents; bought stolen goods, spurring burglaries in the area; arrested and charged the wrong people; and drew in juveniles by allowing them to play video games, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol; failed to employ sufficient security, allowing sting storefronts to be burglarized; carelessly handled sensitive documents containing undercover officer’s names and vehicle information; and left behind damaged rental properties, failing to pay landlords for repairs. In Milwaukee, an ATF agent’s guns were stolen, including an automatic machine gun, which has not been recovered. The sting operations were part of an ATF initiative meant to go after “the worst of the worst” and target areas beset by violent crime. But in the Milwaukee operation and elsewhere, the defendants largely had nonviolent criminal backgrounds. Even a federal prosecutor criticized the ATF for the kinds of people targeted.
  • Backfire

    The investigation revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) employed rogue tactics in undercover storefront strings in Milwaukee and across the country, including using those with mental disabilities to promote the operations – and then turning around and charging them with gun and drug crimes. The investigation found ATF agents set up operations near schools and churches, allowing them to arrest people on more serious charges; let felons armed with guns leave the fake storefronts; paid such high prices that people bought guns from stores and then quickly sold them to agents; bought stolen goods, spurring burglaries in the area; arrested and charged the wrong people; and drew in juveniles by allowing them to play video games, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol; failed to employ sufficient security, allowing sting storefronts to be burglarized; carelessly handled sensitive documents containing undercover officer’s names and vehicle information; and left behind damaged rental properties, failing to pay landlords for repairs. In Milwaukee, an ATF agent’s guns were stolen, including an automatic machine gun, which has not been recovered. The sting operations were part of an ATF initiative meant to go after “the worst of the worst” and target areas beset by violent crime. But in the Milwaukee operation and elsewhere, the defendants largely had nonviolent criminal backgrounds. Even a federal prosecutor criticized the ATF for the kinds of people targeted.
  • Hampton's Cigarette Sting

    A tip that a high ranking officer at the Hampton Police Division had been placed on administrative leave for alleged misconduct piqued our curiosity. Eventually, it led to the revelation that several officers had been involved in a secret cigarette operation with a stated mission to crack down on the black-market tobacco trade. We discovered that millions of dollars had flowed through the undercover firm’s secret account, including tens of thousands of dollars for travel, and hundreds of thousands of dollars for new fully-loaded vehicles. Not only were the financial controls over the operation extremely lax, but not a single arrest resulted from the 19-month sting. Moreover, the City Council wasn’t told about the more than $720,000 in the company’s account until told about it by the Daily Press. Eventually — after the city first seemed to assert that was no problem with the operation — there were consequences. The police chief was soon placed on administrative leave, and a few weeks later he resigned from office. The city manager issued a statement confirming that financial protocols had not been followed. She ordered an outside audit and requested a state Attorney General’s opinion as to whether the cops had the authority to run these sorts of “churning” operations. Had the Daily Press not pressed for details over the course of months of investigating reporting, the entire operation might have forever remained a secret.
  • Playing With Fire

    For decades, manufacturers have packed the foam cushions inside sofas, loveseats and upholstered chairs in homes across America with toxic flame retardants. Companies did this even though research shows the chemicals – linked to cancer, developmental problems and impaired fertility – don’t slow fires and are migrating into the bodies of adults and children. That began to change in 2012 when the Chicago Tribune’s investigative series “Playing With Fire” exposed how the chemical and tobacco industries waged a deceptive, decades-long campaign to promote the use of flame retardant furniture and downplay the hazards. As a result of the series, historic reforms are underway, and flame retardants became one of the top public health issues of the year. The series sparked two U.S. Senate hearings and the Environmental Protection Agency began a broad investigation. Most importantly, California announced it would scrap the rule responsible for flame retardants’ presence in homes throughout the nation.