The Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) was the trade group of the United Kingdom tobacco companies (Gallaher, British American Tobacco, Imperial, and Rothmans). It was the British equivalent of the Tobacco Institute in the United States. These minutes of a 1979 meeting of a subcommittee of the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) describe plans to set up the smokers' rights group FOREST ("Freedom Organisation for the Right To Enjoy Smoking Tobacco").
In the meeting, members of the tobacco industry rehearsed how they would answer press inquiries about FOREST after its launch, saying "T.A.C. should reply that while they were aware of its existence, [the industry] had no connection with the new organization...]. " The General Manager of Public Affairs at Gallaher Tobacco stated that "his company should reply that Forest was an independent organisation, that it seemed a good idea for it to support smokers and that the company provided financial support and nothing more."
FOREST was supposed to appear to the public to be independent from the industry, but it derived its funding almost completely from tobacco companies and their allies.
This type of "smokers rights" front group activity by the British tobacco industry preceded similar activity by U.S. tobacco companies, such as R.J. Reynolds' "Partisan Project" (c. 1987) and Philip Morris' National Smokers' Alliance (c. 1993).
Thanks to an anonymous tipster for bringing to attention a string of documents describing the British tobacco industry's relationship to FOREST.
Mr. Knowles said that a recent conversation with Geoffrey Evans indicated that 'Forest' would now not be launched before mid-June. It as felt that, in view of some of the reservations expressed about this organisation by PR agencies, the delay would not be to our disadvantage.
Mr. Sanguinetti thought TAC should query the use of the name "Forest" in view of the unfortunate connotations that could be attached -- forest fires, backwoodsmen, etc. After discussion it was agreed that the Chairman should write to Sir Christopher Foxley Norris to let him know of our misgivings and propose a more straightforward title such as "Freedom to Smoke."
Members discussed how TAC and the Companies should respond to press enquiries following the organisation's launch. The Chairman said he thought TAC should reply that while they were aware of its existance Glen House had no connection with the new organisation and that enquiries should be directed to member companies. Mr. Mulholland proposed that his company should reply that Forest was an independent organisation, that it seemed a good idea for it to support smokers and that the company had provided financial support and nothing more.
- Named Organization
- 4th World Conference on Smoking + Health
- ASH, Action on Smoking & Health
- Campbell-Johnson Limited (British PR firm, worked for BAT)
- Executive Committee
- FOREST (European smokers' rights group)
Started in 1979 with 12,000 British pounds of tobacco and allied industry funding, this group was used by the tobacco industry to make pro-tobacco views appear to emanate from an entirely "independent" group. Smokers' rights groups (SRGs) were usually operated through public relations companies, to help maintain the appearance of distance from the tobacco industry. FOREST coordinated on issues with the British tobacco industry, and attended meetings of the industry group ICOSI. FOREST gave the tobacco industry the clandestine ability to introduce pro-tobacco opinions and defenses to society without fear of backlash against their products, or the burdens caused by legal liability for manufacturing the product. The industry organized SRGs internationally to create the appearance of a worldwide grassroots uprising by smokers against smoking restrictions worldwide.
- Gallaher Research Dept
- Glasgow Transport Executive
- Glen House (Meeting place/location of Tobacco Advisory Council, UK)
- Good Relations (British PR firm retained by UK Tobacco companies)
- International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI)
Was formed to address and reverse the global decline in social acceptability of smoking occurring in the 1970s Consisted of the major tobacco manufacturers worldwide, was created to deal with the global decline in social acceptability of smoking. ICOSI was created
- Imperial Tobacco Ltd.
- Opposition Shadow Ministers
- Research Comm
- Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) (International industry advisory council)
Tobacco Advisory Council
- Transport Users Comm
- Named Person
- Butler, A.
- Evans, Geoffrey (Administrator in charge of accounts for smokers' rights grou)
In charge of accounts, subscriptions and office management.
- Foxley-Norris, Sir Christopher (First director of UK SRG Forest)
Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris was the first chairman of the UK smokers rights group FOREST.
- Grice, Hugh B. (Director, Tobacco Advisory Council (UK))
The Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) was the UK equivalent of the Tobacco Institute
- Howe, G.
- Hudson, P.
- Jenkin, P.
- King, Trevor C H (Assistant Secretary General, Infotab)
General Manager, Public Affairs Dept., Imperial Tobacco Ltd. U.K., c. 1986
- Knowles, Colin G. ("CG") (Public Affairs Mgr., Imperial Tobacco (UK) 1978)
- Leach, Michael J. (BAT (UK & Export) Ltd)
Public Affairs Manager, BAT (UK & Export) Ltd, UK (United Kingdom)Attended the INFOTAB/NMA Workshop, Brussels, 13-16, 1986.
- Lee, Peter N. (TAC Biostatistician)
Frequently funded by the tobacco industry to criticize and discount published and epidemiological studies that linked between tobacco smoking and health damage.
- Mulholland, Martin E.H. (Gen. Mgr. Public Affairs, Gallaher Ltd. (England) c '80)
Served on original governing board of ICOSI, the International Committee on Smoking Isssues, formed by the seven major world tobacco companies in the late 1970s to fight governments on smoking and health issues.
- Redstone, C.C.
- Rees, P.
- Roach, B.D.
- Rowland, W.D.
- Sanguinetti, Peter J. (Political Affairs Executive, Imperial Tobacco, London)
- Sheridan, F.
- Simpson, D.
- Steele, PM (Director, Philip Morris Ltd., London UK c. 1977-81)
- Wilson, J.
- Young, G.
- Moore, G.W.
- St. Aubyn, A.W.M. "Tony" (Assistant Director, PR Subcommittee, TAC)
- REPT, REPORT, OTHER
- MINU, MINUTES
- smokers' rights group
- Front groups
- industry activity
- industry front group
- industry influence
- industry response
- industry strategy
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Minutes of the 11th Meeting of the Public Relations
Sub-Committee of T.A.C. held at Glen House, Stag Place,
Londos~, .S.W.1. .oi~ .Ti}e~yt . $tt~ .May . ~.279
Present: Six James Wilson Chairman
Mr. C. G. Knowles
Mr. M. J. Leach
Mr. G. IT. Moore
Mr. M. E. H. Mulholland
Mr. P. J. Sanguinettf
Mr. A. W. M. St."Aubyn
Apologies were received from Mr. B. D. Roach, Mr. P. M. Steele,
Mr. C. C. Redstone and Mr. H. B. Grice.
2. Minutes of the previous'meeting .
The minutes, circulated as TA 272 (revised), were approved and
signed by the Chairman.
3.. Matters arising from-tha'Minutes
(a) P. N. Lee's paper on"doctors''mortality
It was reported that this paper had been submitted to the B.M.J.
but that it was unlikely_to.be published before the end of the year.
(b) Hunter Report
The Chairman reported that he had had a meeting with Lord Hunter
and D.H.S.S. officials as a preliminary to the meeting with the Executive
Committee on lst June arid that he had circulated a note setting out the
details of what Lord Hunter was planning and T.A.C.'s reading of the
situation. He had spoken since to all members of the E.C. and also
circulated a draft outline of the 3rd Report which he thought P.R.S.C.
members would want to see. The Chairman added that copies of the
minority report, with the Director's note on the
of this had also been sent to companies. .
D.H.S.S. Officials' views
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It w4s agreed that it would be essential for companies to have
a very full discussion-before the meeting with Lord Hunter. (The Executive
Committee have arranged to me®t at 11.30 a.in. on lst June £or.this purl5ose).
Mr. Knowles said that a recent conversation with Geoffrey Evans
indicated that 'Forest' would now not be launched before mid-June. It
was felt that, in view of some of the reservations expressed about this
organisation by P.R. Agencies, the delay would not be to our disadvantage.
Mr. Sanguinetti thought that T.A.C. should query the use of the name
'Forest' in view of the unfortunate connotations that could be attached -
forest fires, backwoodsmen etc. After discussion it was agreed that the
Chairman should write to Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris to let him know of
our misgivings and propose a more straight forward title such as 'Freedom
Members discussed how T.A.C.'and the Companies should respond to
press enquiries following the organisation's launch. The Chairman said he
thought that T.A.C. should reply that while they were aware of its existence
Glen House had no connection with tTienew organisation and that enquiries
should be directed to membercompanies.'Mr_ Mulholland proposed.that his company should reply
that Fofest wasaa indep6ndent organisation, that it
. . . . .
seemed a good:idea for it to support smokers and that the company had
-provided financial support and nothing more.
- (d) Metra Report
The Chairman said that he fully appreciated the I.C.O.S.I. reasons
for not wishing to see the report given wide publicity, particularly outside
the D..IC. He thanked Mr. Mulholland and Mr. Knowles for the great deal of
work they had put in to ensure its limited use in Britain.
Mr. Mulholland said that D.H.S.S. had raised a number of technical
questions about the report which had been answered. They had also asked for
further analysis of the data to compare total consumption with the numbers
who smoke and with per capita consumption. Mr. Knowles added that Imperial
were not inclined to try to provide answers to these questions on the grounds
that repeated re-runs of the data would undoubtedly produce a result
unfavourable to the industry eventually: it was the'I.T.L,-view that the
report should stand on its own as a discrete piece of research. N
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In dibaussion it was agreed that, while the Chairman should write
a congratulatory letter to Dr. Vaughan on his appointment as Minister of
State, Health, there was no need to mention Metra at this stage.
2. Review-of the Political Situation
Members-noted and discussed the Ministerial appointments relevant
to the industry's affairs.-'
Department of Health
It was thought that, with Patrick Jenkin likely to take a neutral
view on smoking and Dr. Vaughan's pragmatic approach, the industry
could be faced with a very reasonable team with whom to negotiate.
The Chairman said he would be writing to Dr. Vaughan to establish'
contact; he had misgivings abcaut Sir George Young as an Under
Secretary for Health.
Indu t4X Department
The Chairman proposed that T.A..C. should find out from Peter
Hudson how the departmental responsibilities would be divided
between the Ministers of State and then write to Mr. Adam Butler
to establish a contact.
The Chairman said that the amended Budget representations would.
shortly be sent to Sir Geoffrey Howe but he thought that.T.A.C. might
well do best.to deal principally with Mr. Peter Rees, who.was already
well briefed, on detailed tobacco taxation matters. Some members
thought that while there was a good chance that the Government would
abolish the tar surcharge,,it might be bestif we were to tackle
this issue later in connection with harmonisation. .
Members agreed that when the Opposition Shadow Ministers were
nominated T.A.C. should establish and maintain contact with the key people.
5. Public Relations Organisation
'(a) P.R. Agency Presentations
Copies of the Chairman's letters (TA 607/8/9 & 610) to the four agencies
were tabled. Sir James said that he thought that Campbell Johnson Ltd., had
surpassed expectations in their presentation:Good Relations had indicated
a new dimension to the P.R. approach which could have advantages but might
involve risks. He suggested that Good Relations should be asked to vake a
special presention to the Executive Commi.ttee, who would have to determine
whether or not they wished to embark on this rather different road.
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No members were in favour of Good Relations'proposal that T.A.C.'s
P.R. Director should be provided from their staff since this could lead
to divided loyalties.
Mr. Knowles said that if the P.R.O. element was removed from Good's
budget estimate and some of the more ambitious proposals were pruned,
it ought to be possible to reduce the basic budget to a more practical
level of around £100,000 p.a. It would then remain to be seen whether
Goods were prepared to work on a lesser scale than the total project they
had proposed. Members thought that T.A.C. should discuss the ways in
which the programme could be slimmed down before it was re-presented to
Mr. Mulholland* felt that the presentation had demonstrated the
agency's style and personality without putting forward any definite
proposals. He thought that the choice of Goods or Campbell Johnson would
determine the approach used by T.A.C.'s P.R.O. The key questions seemed
to be, would Goods be sufficiently flexible, and able to throttle back
and listen to caution and could Campbell Johnson progress from their
historical advisory role and provide the capacity to tackle a consumEer
oriented programme. ~
. Members also considered that the possibility of retaining Campbell
Johnson Ltd., as policy advisors to the Research Committee should be examined.
Campbell Johnson might also be retained to provide the press information
service and assistance with building up a Glen House information service.
(b) Staff Recruitment
The Chairman reported that so far four candidates had been interviewed
for the job of Public Affairs Director. Only one of these had seemed suitable,
and he was not availab le till after the European election. Executive Appointments
Ltd. had since been contacting a further set of candidates for interview in June.
6. Report by the Working'Party-on'PUblicity .
Mr. Leach introduced this Report, TA 606, saying that it set out
what the working party considered to be the primary issues as the basis
for a speaking script, together with the secondary issues, i.e. those
that were most likely to arise as a result of presenting the primary
issues to an audience. The paper.then went on to outline in broad terms
the manner in which it was proposed to deal with the key and secondary
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issues in a presentation. It concluded with the proposals that, for
the next step, the working party should:- .
(a) begin preparing the outline script as a basis for an audio
(b) enlist the help of industry experts in the preparation of
briefs for secondary issues as a vital part of the total
(c) preparea testing and evaluation programme which might
progress from industry management audiences through a
series of 'tobacco family' audiences to the public.
Here it was envisageicl ttiat professional consultancy help
would be required.
In commenting on this paper Mr. Mulholland proposed that the W.P.-should
add, as important secondary issues, the cost of anti-smoking measures,
particularly in the enforcement area, and the significance of smoking as
an annoyance in relation to other factors in life.
Mr. Moore added that the W.P. had taken the view that so far as
possible the programme should concentrate on the positive aspects of
smoking and the industry, keeping responses to the negatives to the
secondary issues. He also thought that the time-scale of progress from
moving from the,first so called 'friendly' audiences to the more hostile
type of confrontation would probably be quite rapid.
In a discussion on sources of speakers, members of the Working Party
said they thought these might come from Chairman T.A.C., retired senior
tobacco industry people, Public Relations Staffs of the companies and from
the tobacco trade; the speaker being chosen according to the audience.
It was agreed, on the Chairman's suggestion, that the Working Party
should go ahead with the next steps as set out in the paper. N
7. T.A.C. Information Seryice-in'Glen-House - ''
The Sub-Committee considered paper TA 596. v
Members had doubts about the need or desirability to collect detailed
brand share information but it was agreed that Glen House ought to have
up to date data on the market structure for main product groups, cigarettes,
cigars and tobaccos.
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It was agreed that Glen House should press on with assembling the
basic commercial data into a new filing and retrieval system and, as
technical assistance became available from the P.R. Agency, with_the
additional information on smoking and health and on parliamentary topics.
8. Social Acceptability
. Mr. Sanguinetti said that paper TA 424 represented Imperial's
summary of research work recently carried out for all companies and
set the scene of the industry''s vulnerabilities and strengths.
Members thought that these results emphasised most strongly the
need for a positive publicity campaign particularly in the area of
passive smoking and of social acceptability. Concern was expressed
at the apparent low level of credibility of the industry's statements
on smoking and health but Mr. Knowles said other recent research had
shown there could be considerable variability in this result.
Mr. Mulholland thought that this paper pointed to the need for
continuing research and monitoring of both the general and.specific
areas of social acceptability.
9. Stockholm Conference'='June'1979
The meeting noted the arrangements being made to monitor the 4th
World Conference on Smoking.and Health by the I.C.O.S.I. Task Force
(TA 581). Members felt that there was no requirement for.further
sci.entific representation from the U.K. nor wasthere a need to arrange
for a newspaper or trade journal representative to attend-and have
access to the press room. _
It was reported that I.C.O.S.I. background papers on the Conference
had been delayed in preparation but it was hoped they would be available
by the end of May.
10. loth International-Conference'on'Health'Education
Members were asked to consider what action T.A.C. might wish to take
regarding this event. Mr. Mulholland proposed that the I.C.O.S.I. Task N
Force which was currently dealing with Stockholm should be asked to O
consider this conference too. ~j
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11. Proposed SmokiM'Restrictions
(a) London Transport-Executive
The Chairman expressed qualified satisfaction at the outome of the
meeting with Mr. Hooper, Marketing Director, L.T.E., though the whole
Situation, and espeMally. the attitude of the'Transport Users Committee,
would need careful watching for-further'developments.
Mr. Knowles said that later conversations and correspondence between
I.T-.L. and Mr. Hooperindicated that, if field testing of further
restrictions on buseswas carried out, it would be on all routes rather
than on selected-ones as we had supposed. He quoted from Mr. Hooper's
letter of 24th April to Mr. T.C.H. King of Imperial:- -
°I think you should know, as I have already told Sir James
Wilson, that London Transport do not intend to take any
moralistic view regarding smoking on public transport,
neither do they seek in any way to damage the tobacco
Should we decide to test public reaction to smoking or
otherwise on what-we regard as 'their transport' then
obviously we would want to do this in the most meaningful
way. By this I think we mean a field test, rather than
research. In this event we could consider the Tobacco
Advisory Council and ourselves undertaking a joint
monitoring of such a test."
Members had before them the Director's note (TA 601) of a conversation
with Messrs. Southam and Tipple of the R.C.T.A.
It was agreed that the Chairman should write to the Director General
of the Glasgow Transport Executive in similar terms as the earlier letter
to the Chairman of L.T.E.
Mr. Mulholland offered to discuss the setting up of a consumer survey
in Glasgow with Gallaher Market Research Department with a view to putting
a proposal to the sub-committee.
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12. H.B.C. Passive'Smoking'References
Members expressed the view that the paper (TA 530) prepared by
Dr. W. D. Rowland would not be a sufficiently formal rejoinder on this
issue and that T.A.C. should be thinking of a paper on passive smoking
in its widest terms and for a much wider audience. In this context it
.'was noted that I.C.O.S.I. would shortly be releasing a major paper which
Could fulfill such a purpose.
13. Director of A:S.H. '-'Mr: 'D: 'Sitopson .
, .. . .
Mr. ICnowles suggested that T.A.C. should consider whether a meeting
shouldbe arranged with Mr. Simpson following his appointment as Director
A.S.H. Members took the view that; while it was important t;a get an insight
of Mr. Simpson, direct contact with him might be unwi'se. It was therefore
proposed and agreed that Campbell Johnson Ltd., should be asked to approach
him and report their findings.
14. McKennell Paper; 'TA ' 393_
it aras reported that this paper had been submitted for publication
but that it was unlikely to appear before the end of the year. Members
agreed that, following publication, it could be advantageous to seek
wider publicity for those aspects of the paper that are favourable to the
15. Mr. F. Sheridan (TA 529)
It was agreed that T.A.C. should meet Mr. Sheridan to attempt to
discover his attitude to smoking,and the line that his proposed book
miqht take,before giving a commitment to help him with the project.
16. Other Business
No items were raised.
17. Date of next,meeting
The next meeting was arranged for'Wednesday; 13th June at 2.30 p.m.