Knock Knock. Who's there?
It's the tobacco industry!

June 2002

Last month we asked whether or not the tobacco industry and/or its agents had ever made contact with you or your organization and if so, for what reason and how did you respond?

The wide range of responses were some of the most diverse and fascinating ever! They include: third party investigations of tobacco control organizations (Canada, Mauritius); donations of computers to a Peace Corp Volunteer's project (Ukraine); an invitation to review data on when health risks of tobacco first became known (USA-FL); a request for a meeting to discuss the FCTC (Palau); a request for trial-related documents (USA-WA); and several examples -- e.g. cigarettes being sent to a WHO Liaison Officer -- related to endorsement of "youth smoking prevention" programs (Mauritius, Moldova, Ukraine), as well as one related to an "independent evaluation" of a youth smoking prevention program (USA - CA).

Below please find: 1) Some general guidelines re: what to do if the tobacco industry contacts you, followed by sources for more detailed guidelines. 2) A list of responses to last month's question, followed by a recent news report re: how one research institution responded to a tobacco industry offer of funding.



Tobacco Tentacles into the Worldwide Tobacco Control Community

We hope that the examples below will broaden your understanding of the many ways/reasons the tobacco industry makes contact with tobacco control organizations. In particular, we encourage you to take note of how certain individuals, organizations, and government agencies have successfully responded to various situations. May the examples help your organization plan how to handle similar such circumstances, should they arise in the future.

BENIN - Bernard Dossou Dossa, Que Choisir Que Choisir
A little over a year ago, one of the players for my neighborhood's soccer team proposed to the local soccer association board, of which I am a member, to solicit the sponsorship of Marlboro in Cotonou. All of the board, except myself, agreed. I justified my opposition with the distaste that I have for the promotion of tobacco around young people. I was not backed by others, but I did not resign from the board because I
believe that I shall manage one day to convince other members of the football association [to change their minds].

CAMEROON - Alphonse Issi, Mouvement National des Consommaturs
We have never been contacted in this way by the tobacco industry. We have been advised, however, to be on the alert for this, as the industry monitoring body of the francophone Africa tobacco control organization of which we are a founding member is keen on monitoring this very sort of activity.

CANADA - Jack Boomer, Clean Air Coalition of British Columbia
The Clean Air Coalition of BC was approached by someone asking for the status of local bylaw implementation in our province. When we asked what they wanted the information for, the requester informed us that she worked for the tobacco industry, although did not explicitly state the purpose of her request. We said we would look into it and then called her back, requesting she send an electronic message to us with that same request. She did not respond. On another occasion, one of our regional health authorities was contacted by Pierre Lemieux for information on the amount of funds spent on tobacco control in the health authority. We were sent the information and immediately sent the word out across BC and Canada that this gentleman was making this type of request.

CANADA - Heidi Rathjen, Coalition Québécoise pour le Contrôle du Tabac
From the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control:

Pierre Lemieux is an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec à Hull. He is the co-director of the Economics and Liberty Research Group ( Pierre Lemieux maintains a website entitled "Subversive Liberty" (, and he gives a lot of importance to smoking rights. He is also listed on the Forces International website. Forces International is an organization that purports to fight "against junk science and misinformation on tobacco"
    As a researcher at the Université du Québec à Hull, Pierre Lemieux received a $3, 884 research grant in 2001 from Atlas Economic Research Foundation (Virginia, USA)(; one of the listed organization's donors is Philip Morris Management Corporation
    In 1998, the Quebec Government had tabled a bill regarding several aspects of tobacco control. The Loi sur le tabac, as all other legislation, had to pass through a parliamentary committee to be studied. The Quebec Government had commissioned an economic "Impact Study" of the proposed legislation. The impact study's conclusions were that the legislation would have a positive economic impact. Mr. Lemieux (along with two other economists), sponsored by the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturer's Council, attempted to undermine this impact study by criticizing its methodology.
For more information, contact Maurice Gingues, Executive Director, Canadian Council for Tobacco Control: (613) 567-2730 x 329, or

For a copy of an editorial by Luc Martial (National Post, 31 May 2002) which focuses on "anti-tobacco extremists" funding sources, and the Coalition Québécoise pour le Contrôle du Tabac's excellent letter of response, contact Heidi Rathjen.

CONGO, DEM REP OF - Antum Micheline, Bons Temeliers
Our NGO has not yet had contact with the tobacco industry. However, Tabacco Congo launched a big action here in Kinshasa: the company, in collaboration with Doctors Without Borders, financed 16 tons of materials and medicines for anemic children in Kinshasa. It financed some NGOs to rehabilitate the village markets. It also partnered with an academic body to renovate the University of Kinshasa library. Here is how Tobacco Congo is promoting the sale of tobacco in our country.

MAURITIUS - Veronique Le Clezio, ViSa
In 1999, after the amendment to our "Public Health Act" to prohibit all forms of advertising and sponsorship by the tobacco industry, a small "public relations" delegation for BAT-Mauritius approached an anti-tobacco organization to propose a "collaboration" regarding smoking prevention in the schools. We demanded that BAT provide a letter of intention in order to "trap" them. They ran off.
      Afterwards, during a newspaper interview, BAT announced its intention to launch youth smoking prevention programs in the schools. We took the initiative to denounce their strategy. We sent a letter to all government ministers and the President of the Republic of Mauritius, to all the primary and secondary schools in the country, and to all the parents associations to warn them that it was their role to protect their children and to block the road to BAT, that the wolf was seeking to break into the sheep pastures...And so we succeeded to defeat BAT's "youth education" project.
     Always through the press, BAT-Mauritius calls on our anti-tobacco association to dialogue. ViSa does not dialogue with the tobacco industry. Advertising and polling companies, such as "Price Waterhouse" has already called us up to try and obtain details about our organization, our ideas and our purposes, for studies sponsored by BAT. ViSa refuses all communication of this sort. ViSa does not wish to establish any link, direct or indirect, with its adversaries, and has a policy to denounce and fight tobacco manufacturers and their lethal product.

MOLDOVA - Irina Zatushevski, Moldova State University
On May 30, 2001, on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, BAT-Moldova announced it was launching a longterm "youth smoking prevention" campaign [most likely to position the company favorably, leading up to privatization of "Tutun CTC," the country's biggest national cigarette producer]. After the announcement, BAT focused on establishing contact with various potentially useful ministries and agencies. A representative of BAT addressed the Minister of Health with the request of a meeting to discuss the project and possible collaboration. Upon receipt of a negative response, BAT sent a sent of promotional materials
about the company's activities in Moldova to the Minister. The same set, along with two packets of cigarettes, were sent by courier to the WHO Liasison Officer and, as it became known later, to other ministries and agencies. For more info on how health advocates in Moldova successfully challenged BAT's public relations campaign, contact Irina Zatushevski.

PALAU - Valerie Whipps, Coalition for a Tobacco Free Palau
In 2001, Philip Morris attempted to influence Palau's position on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Luckily the government had already been sufficiently briefed about the need for a strong FCTC and the tobacco industry's nefarious tactics, and promptly turned down Philip Morris when the company requested a meeting!

UGANDA - Izama Angelo, Monitor FM
We have not been approached by the Tobacco Industry or its agents, as far as I know. However I did get a request once from Junior Chamber International (who I hear may have been funded by the Tobacco Industy) to advise them on how to taylor a youth prevention program and answer some of the questions of concern in this area. A group also came around to ask how to set up an organisation to do tobacco control in the
secondary schools, but I think that it is possible that both groups really just want to find a way to make some money from BAT or the other side with little commitment on the issues.

UGANDA - Phillip Karugaba, The Environmental Action Network
This is an extract from an email from Clive Bates (ASH-UK) which has some good information on how to respond to industry invitations to dialogue. It maybe of use to those receiving such invitations:

On the 'dialogue' point - it can be tricky. We see it more as
'appeasement' - something that normalises relations with an
abnormal industry, with no possible benefits for health.
Where BAT gets their way, people die. Where we get ours, BAT
loses money - so what is there to discuss?
Our arguments on dialogue with BAT are summarised in my
letters to 'Durham Ethics' who are acting as BAT's corporate
social responsibility managers in the UK (these are from the
church of all places).:
...also see the BMJ report on this

UKRAINE - Oleg Samchishin, Ukrainian Consumer Association
In September 2000 Ukrainian Consumer Association, the state body for consumer protection in Ukraine, and Philip Morris subscribed to a Memorandum re: youth smoking prevention. At that moment, the single scope was to take part in a government program "Stop smoking for youth" in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. As a result, UCA and Consumer Institution [led research, which was not liked by Philip Morris]. Thereupon our participation in the program was finished. We have never had a direct agreement with Philip Morris and I hope never will, because it is a "monkey" business.

UKRAINE - Kelley Gove, Kharkiv National University
I am living in Kharkiv, and Phillip Morris is located here. The North American CEO also lives here, and hangs out quite a bit at a bar which several of the other Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) frequent. I have not met him (yet!). However, he did give a donation of four or five computers to a PCV working at a business institute. It was also proposed that another PCV do case studies at the factory this summer; however, that PCV has since left the country and I am not sure if someone else will be following up. Also, there was a time during which it was thought that one of the big PCV-led camps might be funded by Phillip Morris. It is really frustrating to think that what is a huge problem here, and what has been obsessing me and some other PCVs lately, seems to go against what other PCVs are doing. I think people just get desparate to find funding sources, and a lot of PCVs smoke.

USA - CA - Steve Sussman, University of Southern California
I received a note to participate as a member of the advisory board from Interactive, Inc., which is a very reputable evaluation firm out of New York. I attended two meetings as a member of their research advisory board. This company was funded by PM and B & W to evaluate Life Skills Training. I went in with other credible researchers to help evaluate the dissemination of LST. Dissemination evaluation is grossly under-funded. I also went in curious about, and desiring to have an assessment done of forbidden fruit concepts etc. Interactive did seem to be straight forward. The independence of evaluation was written into its contract
with its sponsors. However, after talking to Anna White of Essential Action and Steve Hamann, an anti-tobacco advocate from Thailand, I realized that any type of involvement could facilitate ulterior motives on the part of TI. First of all, it could support a "forbidden fruit" model in which tobacco use is not okay for teens but can be a responsible choice for adults. Second, this type of involvement tends to injure our credibility as tobacco use prevention researchers. The research, education, and service communities increasingly frown upon any such ties. Finally, this brand of funding creates an atmosphere of suspicion regarding the quality of the programs that are evaluated, or that there may be ulterior motives behind doing this type of work. Thus, I left the advisory board, removed connections to the evaluation, and am returning the honorarium I received.

USA - FL - Arthur Pitchenik, University of Miami School of Medicine
A number of years ago, when our Video "They're Rich , You're Dead" first appeared on local TV and was being shown in Miami schools and distributed elsewhere, a lawyer representing the tobacco companies (I don't remember which ones) called me and asked if I would review existing data on when health risks from tobacco use were first known. He told me that this would be my scientific assessment of the facts. The per hour fee for this was very generous. He was unclear as to how he got my name. I told him that this information that I was being asked to provide could be manipulated very easily even if it was just including and omitting bits of information. I told him also that, irregardless, I don't want to be on a tobacco company's payroll or associate myself in any way with them. This would make our anti-smoking Program much less credible. I asked him if he smoked and when he said yes advised him of his risk in very explicit terms. He seemed honestly frightened.

USA - FL - Florida Department of Health
Earlier this year, Philip Morris sent a letter to the Florida Department of Health requesting that they stop airing their latest batch of "Truth" ads which expose the outrageous misdeeds of Big Tobacco around the world. The Florida Department of Health smartly ignored Philip Morris. For more information see:

USA - MD - Mark Breaux, Smoke Free Maryland
Three years ago when I was with the American Lung Association of Maryland (I no longer work for them) I was called by the national director of 4H about working on a Philip Morris funded program with them. The reason I accepted the call was because 4H is located in Montgomery County, MD and the ALAM 800 number automatically goes to the nearest office, in this case, Laurel, MD. Of course we politely declined to be involved in the project.

USA - WA - Chris Covert-Bowlds, COMMIT for Tobacco Free Whatcom County
They asked me, through a document retrieval service, for any public documents about the COMMIT trial in the late 80's-early 90's. I told them I didn't have any.

USA - WI - Pam Guthman, Chippewa Valley Tobacco Free Coalition
A Summer Lunch Program in our state accepted private donated funding from Miller Brewing. Until recently, when it was sold to a South African brewing company, Miller was a subsidiary of Philip Morris. [Note: PM still owns significant percentage of Miller stock]

And some recent good news:

Source: Agence France Presse, June 13, 2002
The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which each year awards the Nobel Prize for Medicine, said Thursday it plans to cut all links with the tobacco industry so as not to be associated with the damage smoking causes to public health.
     "It is incredibly important that we who are supposed to work to improve people's health are in no way associated with the tobacco industry," the rector of the Karolinska Institute, Hans Wigzell, told the daily Upsala Nya Tidning.
     "Its attempts at scientific cover-ups about the dangers of smoking tobacco have in many ways been downright repugnant," he said.
     As a result, researchers will no longer be able to receive research grants or undertake projects commissioned by tobacco companies.
    The Karolinska board decided to cut ties after Wigzell was contacted by a lobbyist from the US tobacco group Philip Morris. He was offered research grants in exchange for mentioning a planned Philip Morris fund in future scientific articles that would be financed by the fund.

Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control

P.O. Box 19405 ~ Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176