Anne Landman's Collection
Length: 16 pages
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This memo from Thomas Humber of the giant PR firm Burson-Marstellar (B-M) to Ellen Merlo of Philip Morris (PM) signals the start of PM's war against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after EPA pronounced secondhand smoke a group A carcinogen.
Humber emphasizes to Merlo the need to discredit the EPA, portray the agency publicly as corrupt, encourage other businesses to jump in and oppose EPA, and to portray EPA as an agency under siege. Humber tells Merlo PM needs to sue EPA ("Sue the bastards!") as a way to "delay or cloud" other legal actions against the company, help the industry regain credibility and encourage other industries and companies to fight EPA.
Ironically, Humber says Philip Morris needs to keep major employers from voluntarily stampeding towards smoke-free workplace policies and at the same time position itself as a defender of democratic principles and protector of "rights for all."
Humber tells Merlo that
The memo also reveals the awesome power of major public relations firms to shape the American political landscape. Humber boasts how, through front groups like "Citizens for a Sound Economy" and the "Institute for Regulatory Policy," B-M arranged a symposium where the vice-president of the U.S. was a keynote speaker, then assured that the media surrounding the event was dominated by the corporate message of "overregulation."
Humber also discusses partnering with ventilation businesses, since they, too could profit from PM's stance that ventilation will solve the problems caused by secondhand smoke.
Thomas Humber of Burson-Marstellar, who authored this memo, eventually became the CEO of the National Smokers Alliance, another front group created by B-M for Philip Morris.
"The purpose of this memo is to ouline...recommendations for dealing with the ongoing battle over ETS...
--Protect the franchise
--Hold the line against an escalation of smoking bans, whether instituted unilaterally by employers or by government action.
--Discredit the EPA report on ETS specifically and the EPA generally.
--Establish the strongest possible input into OSHA deliberations.
--Blunt the thrust of employer and manufacturer liability suits.
--Establish good [indoor air quality] overall, accommodation and responsible smoking as the solutions.
Sue the bastards!
Although already rejected more than once, there is simply no other action that will accomplish as much across all fronts as effectively. In it is defined the substance and the symbolism of our principal message: We are right! We shall fight!
It establishes focus and direction; it will innoculate all audiences for follow-up activity and it could, at the very least, delay or cloud precipitous actions against us. With appropriate communications overlays, it could regain some percentage of industry credibility and it could stimulate others, who have heretofore been too timid to fight back against the EPA, so summon up their own courage for their own battles...
There are those who will maintain that the best--perhaps the only--media strategy is to have no more coverage whatsoever. Theoretically they are correct, but...there will continue to be considerable coverage generated at the national level and...growing coverage at the local levels. Against those certainties, the objective must be to respond, to influence and to maintain balance through a combination of company, industry and third-party spokespeople...
The pro-active strategy should....
--Demonstrate the scientific weaknnesses of the EPA conclusions in consequential terms...
--...Point to EPA excesses and mistakes unrelated to tobacco.
--Demonstrate EPA "corruption" ...
--Stimulate non-tobacco industry, anti-regulation groups and others to provide their own perspectives in order to portray EPA as an agency correctly under siege.
--Provide comfort and articulation to smokers.
--Provide a counterbalance against an employer stampede for smoking bans.
--Indicate the company's and industry's resolve on behalf of smokers and employers who wish to preserve the "rights of all."
--...Point to separate sections, ventilation and accommodation as the only rational solutions of a democratic society.
...The key to all media will be a combination fo message and messengers -- meticulously prepared, consistent and credible...
Coalition Development and Mobilization/Third Party Activity Institute for Regulatory Policy
Started specifically to address the panoply of problems in the risk assessment and regulatory process...IRP is an existing mechanism that curently is in the best position to mobilize a wide variety of business groups, corporations, local governments and other parties concerned about or victimized by EPA excesses.
Burson-Marstellar has worked with IRP...since its inception...and has several clients who are among IRP's key supporters... In September, 1992, B-M mounted an intensive grass-roots effort on behalf of IRP [to petition] President Bush asking him to add risk assessment to the moratorium on regulatory activity...
Citizens for a Sensible Environment (Citizens for a Sound Economy)
This group is well-known to Philip Morris, and, like IRP, already has a track record of activity and is well-positioned to undertake a number of coalition-building activities. Burson-Marstellar has provided support to several previous activities, most notably in August 1992, with regard to a CSE-sponsored conference in Columbus, Ohio featuring Vice President Quayle. Working with the office of the VP...CSE and IRP, B-M was involved in both concept and execution of a strategy that made sure that media coverage of the...message regarding over-regulation superseded the political noise surrounding the VP's appearance.
...HVAC/IAQ Business and Groups
We have also previously outlined a potential approach to those businesses and groups whose economic interests would be furthered by the adoption of policies and regulations centered on total IAQ solutions rather than source control...
- Philip Morris
- Humber, T
- Merlo, E