Tobacco Education Center

Local Tobacco Industry Tactics - Internal Documents (1992)

An internal document formulates the tobacco industry's strategy for countering the success of health advocates to obtain smoke-free policies at the local level, the expansion of ASSIST, and other anti-smoking groups. The entire 13-page document is well-worth reading because it shows how Big Tobacco employs these strategies in more and more localities and will probably continue to employ it in a much more coordinated way. Big tobacco's efforts are intense, organized, and it is often tough to prove that the industry is behind it. According to Mother Jones, industry allies are told to deny industry involvement. This is necessary because once the industry is exposed, the plan will most likely fail. This document could be helpful in further exposing the tobacco industry's efforts to hide front groups.

Memorandum November 30, 1992 Bates #202396875 (Philip Morris site)

To: Samual D. Chicote

From: Kurt L. Malmgram

RE: Expanded Local Program

Key passages:

Malgram writes: ""Clearly there is a well-orchestrated effort among the anti-smoking leadership to strike where it perceives the tobacco industry to be the most vulnerable: the local level.""

Using strategies formulated in California and Massachusetts the memo indicates that the industry began to formulate a strategy to use surrogates to oppose local restrictions and hide industry involvement.

Malgram writes:

""To slow the local hemorrhaging in California, The Institute and member company representatives, through umbrella organizations began to coordinate resources and stem the success of the anti-tobacco leaders. Under this team approach, most of the key components necessary to wage a campaign to address local concerns in California are in place. Primary among the crucial elements are following:

  • Sophisticated monitoring of local ordinance introductions;

  • Ability to respond quickly with locally-based advocates;

  • Local consultants who can go door-to-door to educate restaurateurs, business leaders, minority group leaders, representatives from organized labor, and other potential allies;

  • The ability to rightfully project a local concern about a given anti-tobacco ordinance, making it more difficult for anti-tobacco leaders to say, ""The only people who oppose this ordinance are the out-of-state tobacco companies""; and

  • Reasonably coordinated and effective means to trigger direct mail campaigns, phone bank operations and other contacts.

    For Massachusetts Malgram writes:

    ""Earlier this year the industry established a formal, solid working relationship with the New England Convenience Store Association to develop a better coordination of their existing resources. Through weekly conference calls, all elements of the industry are afforded an opportunity to have input into legislative strategies and tactics. Together the Massachusetts team has streamlined and coordinated the entire process.""

    ""For monitoring purposes, we fund our allies in the convenience store group to regularly report on ordinance introductions and assist in campaigns to stop unreasonable measures. That reporting is complemented by other reporting mechanisms and channels such as member company sales representatives and other allied groups. Promotion of The Institute's 'It's the law' program and other industry programs play a helpful role as well.""

    ""As a result the industry is prepared to deliver direct mail, run phone bank operators and otherwise attack local proposals with our business allies in a generally coordinated and productive fashion.""

    Goals and tactics:

    A: Develop effective monitoring systems to ensure that the industry learns of the introduction of unfair local anti-tobacco proposals in a timely fashion. (This section has additional notes and specific suggestions).

    B: Employ effective local advocates as necessary in the targeted states and regions of the country.

    1.Identifying and deploying the local person who can ""make the sale"" before local government entities on our arguments for reasonable approaches accounts for an extremely large portion of the reason the industry achieves its goals. This is the single most important non-managerial element of the program. In many cases the advocate will be part of a given local umbrella group or a person close to a member of our local team.

    2.In other cases, local legislative advocates may have to be retained on a contract basis. In these cases, local representatives must have a thorough knowledge of local legislative procedures, be willing and able to travel extensively, and be able to work closely with a range of consultants.

    3. In some instances, The Institute's and the companies' current local legislative representatives are capable of being a part of the proposed operation.

    4.As noted, local advocates will be identified and deployed in several ways. Where possible -- and we believe in most cases -- local persons will lead the program. In others, we will either prepare annual contracts or engage local advocates on a single project basis.

    C: Implement mechanisms necessary to provide solid foundation for coalition development and deployment. (This section has additional notes on using local allies and front groups, sponsoring local economic analyses, polls, and organizing letter writing campaigns).

    D: Deployment of necessary support activities in a timely and effective manner. (This section has additional notes on database and phone bank operations).

    E: Expand T.I. Public Affairs Divisions programs to meet anticipated additional demands likely to emerge as a result of this plan. (This section includes expanded use of local media, expanding ETS expert witness program, expanding and reviewing the list of youth-related allies).

    The document talks about establishing Regional Managers in Boston, Seattle, Washington, Denver, and Sacramento. Attachments showing job descriptions, maps of territory, and the recommended budget are mentioned as Attachments A,B,C, but are not available on the website.