Anne Landman's Collection
Roper Study Proposal to Tobacco Institute
Length: 2 pages
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The Roper organization was a market research and polling organization that was retained by the Tobacco Institute for many years. The Roper organization proposed ideas for studies that would help take the focus of smoking as a source of disease.
In this Philip Morris memo Thomas Osdene (Philip Morris (PM) director of Science and Technology) reviews yet another proposal from Roper. This time, Roper proposed the "Theory of Excesses," which assumed that some people were doomed to excessive behavior, and that as a result of their inherent nature, these people did things to extremes, including cigarette smoking.
In this memo, Thomas Osdene of Philip Morris critiques the "Theory of Excesses," and says that while the "thesis is probabably valid," that such a study should not be done for a number of reasons which primarily revolved around marketing and liability considerations.
One reason not to do the study was that such a study would not deter anti-smoking forces. Another reason was that a study blaming smokers for their illnesses would "alienate certain segments of the smoking population and in today's climate we need to keep all the dedicated smokers we can." Another reason was that could cause trouble for their beer business "which has its own battles to fight." Yet another reason was that
"An admission by the industry that excessive cigarette smoking is bad for you is tantamount to an admission of guilt with regard to the lung cancer problem. This could open the door the legal suits in which the industry would have no defense."
The last reason Osdene gave not to do the study was that such a study would convey to people that they have little control over their lives, and that "A tobacco industry sponsored study which suggests that [the people]are doomed to excessive behavior...does not constitute good faith on the part of the industry towards its customers."
This document was used as a trial exhibit in Minnesota and more recently in Boeken.
To: Dr. R.B. Seligman
From: T.S. Osdene Date: February 16, 1978
Subject: Roper Study Proposal to the Tobacco Institute
The Roper Study proposal to the Tobacco Institute sounds good and I believe the thesis is probably valid. However, there are several implications inherent in such a study which lead me to conclude that the study should not be done.
Reasons why the Roper Study should not be done:
1. The "theory of excesses" would not deter the anti-smoking forced from their current strategy and tactics. On the contrary, it is noly a short step to the question, "Why excessivity?" A logical interpretation by the anti-smoking forced would be, "Cigarete smoke contains compounds which are habit forming and perhaps even addictive." Since the emotional attack by the anti-smoking forces is single-minded, I don't think they would hesitste to ignore the remainder of life-style excesses and they would continue to concentrate their efforts on the anti-smoking campaign.
2. Their is a clear danger that the presentation of such a study could alienate certain segments of the smoking population and in today's climate we need to keep all the dedicated smokers we can. Furthermore, the "theory of excesses" could easily spill over into the beer industry which could further erode another segment of our business which has its own battles to fight.
3. An admission by the industry that excessive cigarette smoking is bad for you is tantamount to an admission of guilt with regard to the lung cancer problem. This could open the door to legal suits in whcih the industry would have no defense.
4. It is highly unlikely that the industry could approach Califano and HEW with any study which would deter in the least bit their campaign against smoking.
5. The American people are already being regulated in every aspect of their lives. A tobacco industry sponsored study which suggests that they (the people) are doomed to excessive behavior will not be well received. The interpretation would be made that cigarette smoking and excessive behavior becomes just another aspect of their lives over which they have no control As an extension of this concept, in a society under a great deal of stress there are techniques for coping with that stress which the individual employs. To suggest that his coping techniques are not of his own choosing and are predetermined certainly does not constitute good faith on the part of the industry toward its customers.
- Tobacco Institute
- Osdene, T.S.
- Seligman, R.B.