Parents for Priorities
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Parents for Priorities is a front group that the Philip Morris tobacco company proposed creating in a 1993 document titled "New Proposal: Parents for Priorities," with the goal of distracting attention away from tobacco issues and fighting public health efforts to control tobacco. The purpose of PM's "parental group," according to the document, would be to "redirect the priorities of elected officials" and "force elected officials and anti-smoking organizations to focus on important public/community issues such as crime and education" (and not tobacco).
"New Proposal: Parents for Priorities," explained,
For example, when [New York City activist] Joe Cherner offered a million dollars to the city of New York for anti-smoking advertisements, the parental group could challenge him to redirect these funds for more important community issues such as buying guns off the streets...
The proposal said the parental group could be supported financially via "existing 501(c)(3) organizations," a technique which would effectively hide Philip Morris' involvement in the group's formation and activities.
The paper also proposed that the conservative television network (National Empowerment Television or NET) do PM's bidding by proposing that NET "[dedicate] a news crew and programming to the health care issue as well as other challenges to the industry."
It recommended NET produce a pro-tobacco-industry news magazine show along the lines of CBS' 60 Minutes:
NET could produce their own version of a 60 Minutes show demonstrating the industry's side of controversial issues such as FDA/nicotine and the EPA's risk assessment of ETS.
Funding for this lofty endeavor was discussed as well:
Since NET is a TV network, we could fund these activities via product advertisements from the food and beer business.
This document indicates how Philip Morris creates and applies front groups to influence public opinion, how PM strategically applies its advertising dollars to influence television programming, and how it uses its food and drink subsidiaries to hide the fact that a cigarette company is generating this influence.
It appears PM did not continue on to organize this particular group, although it bears similarities to another industry front group from th 1980s, the Family C.O.U.R.S.E. Consortium; add
Company: Philip Morris
Document Date: Jan 1993 (est.)
Length: 9 pages
Bates No. PM 2046662829/2837
Related industry documents
- Parents for Priorities Draft Proposal (November, 1994), lays out in more detail the rationale and specifics of the plan.
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