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Smokers Rights Groups

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Smokers Rights Groups are groups that historically have been created and funded secretly behind the scenes by the major tobacco companies to protest clean indoor air laws, higher tobacco taxes and to advocate for tobacco-friendly policies. Smokers Rights Groups (SRGs) were created clandestinely in the U.S. by the major tobacco companies Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, usually through public relations firms, to produce the appearance of "grass roots opposition" to laws restricting smoking in public places. The U.S. smokers rights group set up by Philip Morris was the National Smokers Alliance. European groups had names like HEN-RY, Smokepeace and FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco).[1][2]

A progress report from an R.J. Reynolds (RJR) field coordinator for the company's "Partisan Movement", reveals the company's project to develop a massive "grassroots" lobbying network by tapping into and recruiting smokers, employees who worked for the industry and its allies (retailers, growers, advertisers etc.). The document shows that RJR actively organized smokers rights groups in states throughout the southwestern United States.

The field coordinator reported some successes, but the document also describes the difficulty the company had in organizing smokers:

"Mike Skelly... said he is growing very frustrated with his group because all they want to do is gripe but do nothing about it..."

"Becky McKoon finally gave up on her group. She resigned as the President because she couldn't deal with a bunch of old people who just wanted to sit around and get drunk..."

"We only have 5 people in the [Flagstaff] area that could help out...Maybe I can persuade one of these guys to take an active role in getting a group more organized..."

"Billy Allison is growing leary of his group. It seems like they have 20 attenders at every monthly meeting but nobody wants to do anything. All they do is bitch..."

Successes: one group held a "Smokers Rights Ball" that raised $100, another group held a "Great American Smoke-In," and two other groups were successful at getting smoking rooms reinstated on the ground floors of local hospitals (one was a Veteran's hospital) and were forging ahead to get them reinstated on all floors.[3]

Related documents

Sourcewatch resources

References

  1. The National Smokers Alliance Exposed: A Report On The Activities Of Philip Morris' #1 Front Group Americans for Nonsmokers' rights. 1999. Updated November 2004
  2. A Smokers Alliance Philip Morris. Jul 1, 1993. Presentation. Bates No.2025771934/1995
  3. R.J. Reynolds R.J. REYNOLDS PARTISAN MOVEMENT WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT. Report. 5 pp. November 28, 1990 Bates No. 507693559/3563


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