News Release: Michigan College Libertarians Investigate President Coleman

Michigan College Libertarians Investigate President Coleman
Bill Hall

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Michigan College Libertarians Investigate President Coleman
Clark Ruper
Mary Sue Coleman

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman

Building on the momentum from last week’s Burn the Ban event on the University of Michigan’s campus, the U of M College Libertarians have discovered interesting information regarding the relationship between school president Mary Sue Coleman and the Johnson & Johnson Corporation.  In a press release published yesterday the group discovered that President Coleman sits on the Board of Directors of Johnson & Johnson, a corporation that would financially benefit from a proposed campus-wide smoking ban.

Coleman serves on Johnson & Johnson’s Board of Directors. According to public SEC Filings, Coleman was compensated a total of $229,978 for her role in 2009.[1]

Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries produce a host of expensive nicotine replacement products including NicoDerm, NicoDerm CQ, Nicorette, Nicotrol, and Chantix.[2] According to Coleman, the Smoke-Free Initiative would be enforced by referring students, faculty, and staff who violate the policy to “behavioral sessions” and offering them free or subsidized “selected over-the-counter smoking cessation products” manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries.[3]

Under this policy, the University would subsidize products made by Johnson & Johnson – the very company that generously compensates Coleman for sitting on its Board of Directors. With the Smoke-Free Initiative, through which the University would purchase an increased amount of nicotine replacement products, it is likely that Johnson & Johnson would stand to benefit financially.

“J&J benefits from public policies that reduce smoking because it produces two leading products to help people quit, NicoDerm patches and Nicorette gum,” noted The Wall Street Journal in 2009.

You can read the full article and press release here:

The U of M College Libertarians have called for President Coleman to eliminate the conflict of interests by either Burn the Ban logostepping down from the J&J board or revising the proposed smoking ban.  “Smoking is bad for you, and smokers should quit. However, if Mary Sue Coleman wants to completely ban a legal product from campus and boost expensive cessation alternatives, she should eliminate any appearance of a conflict of interest with Johnson & Johnson,” said UMCL President Jonathan Slemrod.

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