Anne Landman's Collection
Length: 13 pages
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This 1996 presentation prepared for Philip Morris (PM) proposes PM implement a "youth program" to insulate the company from attacks by public health advocates, boost the company's record low credibility and "blunt the FDA effort to regulate tobacco." The creator of the idea, Smith Worldwide, was run by Guy L. Smith, IV, who worked for Philip Morris for many years. The proposal states,
"The credibility of the tobacco industry and the executives who run it has reached an all-time low...Traditional industry allies are abandoning the ship. The industry is becoming more and more isolated..."
To help this situation, Smith proposed PM initiate a youth anti-smoking program through credible conduits. Smith proposed that PM "establish and fund, through major social organizations (e.g. the nation's private hospitals, large black churches...community health and civic organizations)...anti-smoking programs for children..."
He proposed that PM have no input into the content of the program or selection of the organizations to conduct the programs. This would enable PM to "challenge the anti-smoking forces to 'audit' the anti-smoking classes and report to the news media what they find."
Smith explains how the youth program would force positive publicity for the tobacco industry while curtailing criticism from public health advocates:
"Operation Apodixis will provide the company with a highly believable program, largely above reproach...Operation Apodixis will force grudging compliments from editorial writers and columnists and sullen acquiescence from the anti-smoking forces...Each time an Operation Apodixis program opens in a new community, a new opportunity will present itself for publicity and promotion for the industry...[There] will be little that the anti-smoking forces can say except possibly mumbling something about 'it's not enough.' "
The strategic rationale for the program includes "Keeping the anti-smoking forces off balance" and "Blunt[ing] the FDA effort to regulate tobacco by demonstrating that the industry can be self-regulatory. And that is a powerful, credible argument to members of Congress and state legislatures."
Thus, the idea was to inhibit public health progress against tobacco while at the same time making the company appear responsible and self-regulating.
It appears that Operation Apodixis was carried out, and that the strategy proved so effective that PM expanded on it greatly following its initial implementation. In 1999 PM funded the National 4H Club to implement a youth program exactly like Operation Apodixis. The program is called "Health Rocks." On par with the Apodixis plan, the "Health Rocks" web site states that "All aspects of the program, including its curriculum, implementation and evaluation, are independent from the initiative’s funder, Philip Morris U.S.A." In addition, PM touts "Health Rocks," and many other PM-funded youth programs on its web site: http://www.philipmorrisusa.com/policies_practices/ysp/grant_programs/nonschool_hour_program.asp
In the time since Operation Apodixis was introduced, many state 4-H clubs have opposed using the PM-funded program. The California 4H club stated, "...Health Rocks! has been developed by the National 4-H Council with funding from Philip Morris USA as part of that corporation's recent youth smoking prevention initiative...[T]obacco prevention advocates and other public health professionals...view the initiative as a politically motivated strategy that benefits the corporation in several ways and gives the appearance of corporate responsibility, while being ultimately detrimental to the public health goal of reducing youth tobacco use." (From California 4H web site at http://fourhcyd.ucdavis.edu/communications/eb121202.html)
An article explaining how tobacco industry youth smoking prevention programs help the tobacco industry and hurt public health was published in the June 2002 issue of the Journals of the American Public Health Association. A PDF version of the article can be downloaded at http://www.medialiteracy.net/pdfs/LandmanYSP.pdf
*Apodixis: Absolute Demonstration. (from the Greek apodeixis) Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged.
The credibility of the tobacco industry and the executives who run it has reached an all-time low. Believability factors for virtually all of the industry's messages are met with high levels of skepticism at best and downright hostility at worst. Media hostility has reached proportions few would have expected just a few years ago.
Traditionally, the explanation for the decline in industry credibility was linked to the legal strategy of holding the line on the primary issue. Recent revelations by former industry scientists charging the cover-up of research that did not reflect favorably on tobacco have badly damaged what remaining credibility existed.
All major anti-smoking organizations, newly emboldened by the FDA's effort to gain regulatory control over tobacco, are combining their efforts to perpetuate and expand the widely held belief that the tobacco companies actively promote cigarettes to children.
Anti-smoking forces are reported to have a multi- million dollar sum available to advance the FDA control effort. Many communication experts expect this public relations effort to center on the tobacco industry's alleged marketing to youth.
The atmosphere today remains as charged as ever.
Traditional industry allies are abandoning the ship. The industry is becoming more and more isolated.
Beyond Lip Service
In order to get its message through the extraordinary levels of skepticism and cynicism to key, critical audiences, the industry must basically put its money where its mouth is.
Paying lip service to messages about not wanting children to smoke is no longer believable.
Basically, no one believes the company and industry statements that they do not want children to smoke.
While current company efforts to demonstrate its opposition to youth smoking and the marketing of cigarettes to children are genuine and no doubt effective, they have two large shortcomings:
--they annoy much of the retail trade;
--they are subject to anti-smoking forces' criticisms because the program is essentially like training the fox to guard the henhouse.
The company must move beyond the arena of lip service.
It must move beyond platitudes about not wanting children to smoke.
The company must act in a way that firmly demonstrates to its vocal and virulent critics that it does not want children to smoke.
The company will establish and fund, through major social organizations (e.g. the nation's private hospitals, large black churches, urban ministerial associations, community health and civic organizations), thorough and complete anti-smoking programs for children of junior high and high school age.
Participants will be selected by the sponsoring social organization.
The company will have NO INPUT into the content of the anti-smoking program.
The company will have NO INPUT into the selection of persons or organizations that the recipient organizations select to conduct the anti-smoking programs.
The company will challenge prominent anti- smoking organizations and the media to "audit" the anti-smoking programs.
Basically, the company will fund, and then celebrate, an unrestricted anti-smoking program designed for junior high and high school students.
The company will select an appropriate social organization for execution of the anti-smoking program.
The program will be announced with appropriate media and publicity fanfare, as well as a full advertising program that basically says, "We're Putting Our Money Where Our Mouths Are."
Since there will be no strings attached to the programs...
no ifs... no caveats... no hidden elements...
and since the announcements to the news media will challenge the anti-smoking forces to "audit" the anti-smoking classes and report to the news media what they find, the ability to criticize the industry for not really meaning its message of not wanting children to smoke will be sharply curtailed.
Strategic Communications. Objective
Operation Apodixis will provide the company with a highly believable program, largely above reproach, to which it can point when it speaks to a variety of key audiences, e.g. legislators, regulators, the media.
It will be the rare media interview that the program cannot be invoked as a demonstration of the company's absolute seriousness about curtailing youth smoking.
Operation Apodixis will force grudging compliments from editorial writers and columnists and sullen acquiescence from the anti-smoking forces.
Each time an Operation Apodixis program opens in a new community, a new opportunity will present itself for publicity and promotion for the industry. Each time there will be little that the anti-smoking forces can say except possibly mumbling something about "it's not enough."
Operation Apodixis will...be targeted to key, critical audiences that can impact the industry (e.g. legislators, regulators, the media, the education community)
- Philip Morris
- Smith Worldwide, Inc.
- Presumed corporate recipient, Philip Morris