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Anne Landman's Collection

Some Reflections on Our Present Discontent - or Why We Are Losing the Public Affairs War on Tobacco?

Date: 1990 (est.)
Length: 5 pages
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Abstract

This "private the confidential" Philip Morris (PM) discussion paper (estimated date 1990) appears to be the musings of a PM executive about why the tobacco industry was losing ground to public health authorities, and what could be done about it. The paper was found in the files of Owen C. Smith, an associate general counsel at PM. The tone of the piece is grim. The watershed event that precipitated the piece was apparently when a prestigious journal, "The Economist," (previously noted as being an ally of the tobacco industry) printed a scathing article about the tobacco industry. The article said, "The drug which Raleigh introduced to Europe [tobacco] now kills about 3M [million] people a year around the world, and the number is rising fast." The article spoke of a ban on tobacco advertising, saying "the temptation to support such bans is immense--not least because of the obvious self-interest and fraudulent arguments of the tobacco and alcohol lobbies...The heart urges a ban on their lying killers."

The writer of this PM thought-piece concludes that "we are losing far too many battles far too quickly" and that PM must act quickly to avoid a "tightly constrained and perilous end game." He concludes "...must, fundamentally, face the fact that the health issue drives every other issue" and that PM's failure to respond to the health issue thus far "simply confirms our 'guilt' in the eyes of both the public and the politicians."

But just when it sounds like the author might have an epiphany about how the company has acted and consider changing directions, he leaps back into the same combative and antagonistic line of thinking that has characterized so many other Philip Morris documents:

"The way out of our increasingly bleak dilemma is clear and realizable... [We must] Squarely face up to the health issues and demonstrate the genuine doubts, conflicts, ambiguities and contradictions that characterize the evidence against smoking. This means using effectively, preferably through third parties, the many experts, scholars and commentators who over the years have criticized our opponents," and "Stress the absurd (and often inhumane) priorities involved with anti-smoking campaigns in the third world by international organizations.

The paper also reveals that the importance of advertising and sponsorship to the tobacco industry lies in the industry's continued ability to use them to maintain clout in the political arena:

"If one takes the pessimistic view of present trends, the tobacco industry could lose all its political clout within two years. Overstated? Not really. If you take away all advertising and sponsorship, you lose most, if not all, of your media and political allies. If you take away those freedoms, there is hardly any barrier to a punitive tax regime, part of it going to fund our complete anathematization through the funding of ever more extreme anti-campaigns courtesy of 'social levy' foundations, of which there is a growing fashion."

The paper suggests implementing strategies using coalitions, third parties, celebrities like Michael Caine and Tom Selleck, to help PM "get on top of the deteriorating situation."

Fields

Notes

I'm going to guess that based on the style of writing and type styles, the author of the piece is Dr. Thomas J. Borelli, manager of corporate scientific affairs for Philip Morris in 1990. THIS IS A GUESS.

Quotes

Over the last couple of weeks a number of events have occurred which should prompt some reflections on where we are an where we seem to be going, as a company and as an industry, in light of the current tobacco wars.

We can, with resolve and an appropriate strategy, roll back the tide, at least to the extent that we can maintain our present breathing space, but whether that is possible turns very much on decisive action now...

At its most basic, it seems fairly clear that we are losing far too many battles too quickly. These setbacks and defeats, whether or not we appreciate it at the time, are cumulative. There are now genuine grounds to fear that a point will be reached, and it is much more likely to be earlier than later, when we will experience a qualitative change in our circumstances and prospects.

A major crunch is near when we will be facing, not so much a continuation of the episodic guerilla warfare we have had to endure over the last 25 years, but rather we will find ourselves in a tightly constrained and perilous "end game." When that point is reached, and it could be just around the corner, all our efforts will be hugely discounted and almost inevitably negative.

...A vivid and forceful illustration of this worrying phenomenon was presented in some articles in the Sept. 15-21 issue of the prestigious journal, the Economist. The leader, titled "Advertising under siege," is worth cool reflections. The second sentence reads in part - "The drug which Raleigh introduced to Europe now kills about 3M people a year around the world, and the number is rising fast." It then goes on...to say, that the "temptation to support [advertising bans] is immense - not the least because of the obvious self-interest and fraudulent arguments of the tobacco and alcohol lobbies...The heart urges a ban on their lying killers" (this presumably is a reference to us!).

...In the recent past the Economist has castigated the whole concept of foundations created by "social costs" levies... as "an exercise in bad government."...It has also attacked the pseudo-science engaged in by the political health lobby. In other words, it was a distinctly strong ally on business issues.

But clearly is has been won over by the statistical claims and one-eyed moralism of the anti-tobacco lobby. Why is this so and what does it say about the counter campaign of the industry? The answer to both efforts is fairly clear. We have dissipated our efforts, failed to use third parties effectively and lacked real follow through...

The pressure against us is growing at a frightening speed. We are now in a new ball game. It's quite possible that unless we change our whole approach very quickly...we will find that within 12 months would could well lose our advertising and sponsorship, and a good deal of our marketing freedoms in most of our major markets. We could also face a worldwide spread of almost punitive tax regimes...

Defeat, like fear, is contagious. Once people sense surrender is in the air, the collapse of the whole operation can come with enormous rapidity...We must, fundamental, face the fact that the health issue drives every other issue. Not to even respond to the health issue, which is increasingly the case, simply confirms our "guilt" in the eyes of both the public and the politicians...It suggests intellectual and even moral bankruptcy.

What is to be done?

The way out of our increasingly bleak dilemma is clear and realizable. We must robustly face up to the nature and scale of the challenge. While being prudent, we can no longer afford to hide behind the lawyer's instinctive caution as an all purpose excuse for putting up a half- hearted response.

What follows is a suggested plan of action for winning this war:

1. Squarely face up to the health issue and demonstrate the genuine doubts, conflicts, ambiguities and contradictions that characterize the evidence against smoking. This means using effectively, through third parties, the many experts, scholars and commentators who over the years have criticized our opponents.

2. Go on the offensive through imaginative advocacy advertising campaigns, using leading figures around the world who will put the best arguments on a range of issues...

3. Arrange, through reputable third parties, a series of top seminars which will mobilize leading experts on such issues as "creative epidemiology," politicized health campaigns, the link between advertising freedoms and democracy, the "hidden agenda" of many of the anti-smoking and anti-business activists, etc.

4. Fortify and widen the range of coalitions to oppose both advertising and sponsorship bans.

5. Stress the absurd (and often inhumane) priorities involved with anti-smoking campaigns in the third world by international organizations.

6. Set up, through a reputable third party (we already know which one is willing and able) a scientific assessment bureau which would establish a bank of experts to respond promptly and responsibly to attacks on our industry...

None of the above suggestions is too difficult, many in fact have been tried and were successful, but were allowed to die through lack of leadership and follow through...

If one takes the pessimistic view of present trends, the tobacco industry could lose all its political clout within two years. Overstated? Not really. If you take away all advertising and sponsorship, you lose most, if not all, of your media and political allies. If you take away those freedoms there is hardly any barrier to a punitive tax regime, part of it going to fund our complete anathematization through the funding of ever more extreme anti-campaigns courtesy of "social levy" foundations, of which there is a growing fashion.

We could well be in this position within two years, or even less, if the pace of present restrictions worldwide continues. It doesn't take much imagination to see what this would mean for our share price, not to mention our reputation. Compared to the billions we could lose, our present commitment to recovering both commercial, political and, not least, moral ground is, to put it baldly, pitiful. The time to get on top of this deteriorating situation is now.

Company
Philip Morris
Author
Presumed corporate author, Philip Morris. Found in the files Owen C. Smith, Associate General Counsel for PM
Recipient
Presumed corporate author, Philip Morris
Region
United States
Named Organization
Asia Wall Street Journal
Economist
Financial Times
Intternational Herald Tribune
Le Monde
New York Times
PMI, Philip Morris International
Wall Street Journal
Litigation
Stmn/Produced
Named Person
Amis, K.
Buchanan, J.
Buckley, William F.
Burgess, A.
Caine, Michael - movie actor
Finch, P.
Revel, J.F.
Selleck, Tom - television actor
Waugh, A.
Witonski, Peter (Consultant to Tob. Institute, Philip Morris)
Peter Witonski was a consultant to Philip Morris International (PMI)
Type
REPT, REPORT, OTHER
Subject
industry strategy

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Page 1: qcf42e00
Discussion Paper NOT TO BE COPIED PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL Some Reflections on Our Present Discontent - or Why We are Losing the Public Affairs War on Tobacco? General Observations: Over the last couple of weeks a number of events have occurred which should prompt some reflections on where we are and where we seem to be going, as a company and as an industry, in the light of the current tobacco wars. We can, with resolve and an appropriate strategy, roll back the tide, at least to the extent that we can maintain our present breathing space, but whether that is possible turns very much on decisive action now. We have to be much more focused, much more determined and much more positive than we have been to date. At its most basic, it seems fairly clear that we are losing far too many battles far too quickly. These setbacks and defeats, whether or not we appreciate it at the time, are cumulative. There are now genuine grounds to fear that a point will be reached, and it is much more likely to be earlier than later, when we will experience a qualitative change in our circumstances and prospects. A major crunch is near when we will be facing, not so much a continuation of the episodic guerrilla warfare we have had to endure over the last 25 years, but rather we will find ourselves in a tightly constrained and perilous "end game". When that point is reached, and it could be just around the corner, all our efforts will be hugely discounted and the result almost inevitably negative. These bleak observations are not thrown up lightly. The indications are clearly there for those with eyes to see. Unfortunately, we have become so hardened to abuse and hostility that we have, it seems, failed to notice the . 11 difference between the continuing tremors and the start of mighty earthquake. A vivid and forceful illustration of this worrying phenomenon was presented in some articles in the September 15-21 issue of the prestigious journal, the Economist (copies attached). The leader, titled "Advertising under siege", is worth cool reflection. The second sentence reads in part - "The drug which Raleigh introduced to Europe now kills about 3M people a year around the world, and the number is rising fast." It then goes on apropos of the current wave of imposed or threatened advertising bans, to say, that the "temptation to support such bans is immense - not least because of the obvious self-interest and fraudulent arguments of the tobacco and alcohol lobbies...The heart urges a ban on their lying killers" (this presumably is a reference to us!).
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• Now, while the editorial finally goes on to make a case for advertising freedoms, it is put forward with such sweeping qualifications and with such venomous contempt for the tobacco industry as to be effectively useless as ammunition for our position. Two observations about this editorial are worth noting: 1. It was widely read in the industry as a "good news" and positive piece (this reaction, came from far and wide). 2. It was published in the one international magazine which has over the years championed many of our _ positions. It also happens to be probably the most highly regarded business magazine in the world. In the recent past the Economist has castigated the whole concept of foundations created by "social costs" levies (as in Victoria, South Australia and now California) as "an exercise in bad government". It has also attacked the pseudo-science engaged in by the politicized health lobby. In other words, it was a distinctly strong ally on business issues. r-this so and what does it say about the counter campaign of But clearly it has been won over by the statistical claims and one-eyed moralism of the anti-tobacco lobby. Why is the industry? The answer to both questions is fairly clear. We have dissipated our efforts, failed to use third parties effectively and lacked real follow through. Part of this failure, indeed one suspects a good part of it, lies with the incompatibility of the cumbersome and often times illogical bureaucratic structure of our wider corporate affairs effort and the flexible, responsive and canny characteristics of.the opposition. The pressure against us is growing at a frightening speed. We are now in a new ball game. It's quite possible that unless we change our whole approach very quickly, and start using our resources in a much more intelligent fashion, we will find that within 12 months we could well lose our advertising and sponsorship, and a good deal of our marketing, freedoms in most of our major markets. We could also face a worldwide spread of almost punitive tax regimes on tobacco, starting in places like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and California. Defeat, like fear, is contagious. Once people sense surrender is in the air, the collapse of the whole operation can come with enormous rapidity. The collapse of South Vietnam is a graphic case in point. We could be looking at such a scenario in a year or two years' time if we don't seriously take the measure of our present plight. 26890A 2 N) cn 0 ~ 0 ch v ~ N) cN
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We must, fundamentally, face the fact that the health issue drives every other issue. Not to even respond to the health issue, which is increasingly the case, simply confirms our "guilt" in the eyes of both the public and the politicians. Like the man who doesn't respond to an outrageous libel, the public, and indeed the law, tend to read such acquiescence as intimating guilt and the absence of a legitimate response. It suggests intellectual and even moral bankruptcy. What is to be Done? The way out of our increasingly bleak dilemma is clear and realizable. We must robustly face up to the nature and scale of the challenge. While being prudent, we can no longer afford to hide behind the lawyer's instinctive caution as an all purpose excuse for putting up a half-hearted response. What follows is a suggested plan of action for winning this war: 1. Squarely face up to the health issue and demonstrate the genuine doubts, conflicts, ambiguities and contradictions that characterize the evidence against smoking. This means using effectively, preferably through third parties, the many experts, scholars and commentators who over the years have criticized our opponents. . Go on the offensive through imaginative advocacy advertising campaigns, using leading figures around the world who will put the best arguments on a range of issues. PMI have taken on a key consultant to do a preliminary project evaluation. 3. Arrange, through reputable third parties, a series of top seminars which will mobilize leading.experts on such issues as "creative epidemiology", politicized health campaigns, the link between advertising freedoms and human rights and democracy, the "hidden agenda" of many of the anti-smoking and anti-business activitists, etc. 4. Fortify and widen the range of coalitions to oppose both advertising and sponsorship bans. 5. Stress the absurd (and often inhumane) priorities involved with anti-smoking campaigns in the third world by international organizations. 6. Set up, through a reputable third party (we already know one which is willing and able), a scientific assessment bureau which would establish a bank of experts to respond promptly and responsibly to attacks on our industry and other targeted industries, and effectively get those responses out to the media. 26890A 3
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0 • 7. Establish a small, but very selective, "brains trust" within PM companies to discuss and generate new ideas, new strategies and new programs on the corporate affairs front. Not least, such an enterprise would go some way to overcoming what strikes many as the often times stifling bureaucratic inertia in our industry which seems to go hand in hand with rapid growth and huge size. None of the above suggestions is too difficult, many in fact have been tried and were successful, but were allowed to die through lack of leadership and follow through. We need more commitment, more imagination, more focus, more intellectual and personal exchange and less bureaucracy and less tunnel vision. which there is a growing fashion. If one takes the pessimistic view of present trends, the tobacco industry could lose almost all its political clout within two years. Overstated? Not really. If you take away advertising and sponsorship, you lose most, if not all, of your media and political allies. If you take away those freedoms there is hardly any barrier to a punitive tax regime, part of it going to fund our complete anathematization through the funding of ever more extreme anti-campaigns courtesy of "social levy" foundations, of e could well be in this position within two years, or even reputation. •less, if the pace of present restrictions worldwide continues. It doesn't take much imagination to see what this would mean for our share price, not to mention our Compared to the billions we could lose, our present commitment to recovering both commercial, political and, not least, moral ground is, to put it baldly, pitiful. The time to get on top of this deteriorating situation is now. Enc.: 1. The Economist articles referred to 2. Two articles by Professor Peter Finch, a leading academic statistician, which points the way to how we can effectively counter the key epidemiological claims against us. After all, it is such claims which constitute the essential and most damaging weapon of our opponents. ~ ~ C> 0 ~ 0 oz ~ v ~ 26890A 4
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S • Proposal for a targeted advocacy advertising campaign, The idea: Given that our industry is under persistent and increasingly hostile criticism, it seems sensible to try to take some of the wind out of the sails of our opposition by tapping those leading public figures who have, at one time or another, supported positions that assist our case. The rough model for this idea is the series of ads that Mobil have run over the last 10 years or so. The subjects of the various ads would include support for courtesy and civility on the Smoking issue generally (& ETS in particular); concern over phenomenon of "creative epidemiology" in public health campaigns; irritation with the unpleasantries of the 'Nanny State'; disquiet over the influence of politicized pressure groups on our democratic systems; support for advertising freedoms and concern over what restrictions will mean for those journals which might fold for lack of advertising and what this, in turn, might mean for pluralism, democracy and human rights. The Execution: The likely journals to be used would be those whose target audience includes decision makers, politicians, top business figures, etc. Papers such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times (London), The New York Times, The Times (London), Le Monde (Paris), The International Herald Tribune (Paris), Asia Wall Street Journal (Hong Kong), etc. Likely contributors would include such figures as Jean-Francois Revel, Auberon Waugh, Professor James Buchanan, William F. Buckley, the novelists Kingley Amis and Anthony Burgess, stars such as Tom Selleck and Michael Caine,,etc. If we go ahead with the idea, the contacts, and coordination of copy and issues, would be handled by Peter Witonski, presently a consultant to PMI. At the moment he is preparing a preliminary assessment of the projects -~ feasibility. 29190C wo

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