Tobacco Education Center

RJR's Efforts to Create a Nationwide Grassroots Network & Mobilize Smokers (2000)

The partisan project is RJ Reynolds effort to create a nationwide grassroots network, mobilize smokers, get smokers registered to vote, support and enhance smokers' rights, and enhance smokers' attitudes toward smoking.

The are 160 documents related to this massive project that went from 7 states in 1987 to all 50 in 1990 enrolling 5.2 million "partisans." The budget over that period of time went from $6.9 million to $37 million. A graph I saw indicates that during that period they also went from contacting 41% of all smokers to contacting 100% of all smokers in 1990. If that were the case, $37 million would seem pretty cheap for reaching 50 million smokers.

Numerous documents on targeted partisan efforts in California, Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Enter "Partisan" in the top field in a basic search.

I jotted down some notes while on the net and downloaded a few of these for later reading and can attach them as a pdf file if you would like to see them and don't have the time to go on the Internet.

Pete Bialick
GASP of Colorado

The partisan project started in Colorado in 1986 with the creation of "Choice," a newsletter created by RJR and sent to 60,000 smokers recruited mostly through coupon deals and surveys in newsletters and newspaper ads.

Amongst the revelations:

  • RJR printed pro-smoking messages inside cigarette cartons.
  • RJR used newsletters and direct mail to fight tobacco taxes.
  • A 1986 (8/11) Colorado survey which 2,000 smokers responded to found:

    • 263 voted
    • 64% were female
    • Average age was 52 and 44% were over 55%.
    • A majority were "lacking in income and education."
    • A majority are conservative (46%) and 22% belong to the NRA.
    • 92% are white, 72% are married.
    • 44% were not employed.
    • 86% smoke.

  • One part of the survey says 25% use alcohol, another (demographics) says 75%.

"Upscale people are not attractive targets. The higher the income, the more education, the more negative to smoking issue people seem to be. These people should be screened out of communication programs as early as possible, whenever possible. If they are moved to any kind of action, chances are it will not help the RJR interest."

Read the document "Partisan Project, Q& A (505467261)" and "Partisan Project, Prelimary Analysis of the Colorado Survey (Bates 506642895)."

A 1987 document on Oregon reveals the enormity of RJR's database. The company reports that there were 450,000 smokers in Oregon and that 400,000 were in the RJR database. Of those 1/3 were registered voters and 49,500 were "partisans" and took actions on behalf of smokers' rights. The project was expanded primarily to oppose and defeat a clean indoor air campaign on the 1998 ballot. This included sending 252,000 voter registration packets to non-partisan smokers. 22% are expected to respond and return RJR survey indicating response to tax and smoking questions. Affirmative respondents are added to partisan database and sent the "Smokers' Rights Action Guide (SRAG) and the "Personal Directory of Govt. Officials" (PDGO). They get special election communications follow ups as well. 5% will want to attend a smokers' rights meeting or give a phone number. Partisans receive "Choice" and Regulatory Watch."

This document also goes into detail about how they plan to develop and maintain the smokers' rights movement in Oregon with meetings, training, follow up, etc.

"Recognize that a small number of 'leaders' can have a major impact if they are committed, focused, and rewarded. Supply guidance and training to the most interested smoker activists on how to effectively organize and speak out."

Read "Partisan Project Oregon Initiative (506606266)."

Also read the "Partisan Manual 9, 1990" or "Partisan Expansion" {Bates 506630168 deals with $37 million figure}