Knock. Who's there?
It's the tobacco industry!
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?
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).
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
KNOCK. WHO'S THERE?
IT'S THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY!
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.
- 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].
- 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.
- 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.
- Heidi Rathjen, Coalition Québécoise pour le Contrôle
From the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control:
Lemieux is an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec
à Hull. He is the co-director of the Economics and Liberty Research
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
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)(http://www.atlasusa.org/);
one of the listed organization's donors is Philip Morris Management
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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:
'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
- 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"
- 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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]
recent good news:
RESEARCH INSTITUTE CUTS TIES WITH TOBACCO INDUSTRY
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
"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
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control
P.O. Box 19405 ~ Washington,
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176