Tobacco Action Network

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

The Tobacco Action Network (TAN) was a tobacco industry-wide program established circa 1978 to encourage people working for the tobacco industry, and allied industries and individuals, to protest public health information and policies designed to reduce smoking. Targets included the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare as well as the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association.

A definition of TAN given by a 1978 Philip Morris employee manual[1] states,

TAN is an umbrella organization formed by the member companies of the

Tobacco Institute (TI). Its purpose is to bring together and coordinate all

segments of the tobacco family--growers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and vendors--as well as our allies. Together we'll defend our industry against the attacks by antismoking forces.

TAN organization

Taken from a TAN manual: A National Director responds directly to the President of the Tobacco Institute. He is assisted by an Executive Director. The National Director works closely with the Steering Committee to coordinate national efforts. Representatives from member companies make up the Steering Committee. Most states have a paid, full-time Field Director who responds to the National Director. The state Field Director will work with his or her state's Industry Steering Committee headed by a State Chairman and a State Vice Chairman. These two positions will be filled by leading members of the state's tobacco family. The State Industry Steering Committee will consist of the tobacco family and tobacco industry allies such as restaurant associations, police and other law enforcement groups. All activities are coordinated by the State Field Director who meets with local industry representatives on a regular basis.[2]

Action by TAN network members was cultivated using fear and slippery slope arguments. For example, an undated TAN mailer states,

Anti-tobacco groups have been spurred on by recent legislative successes and through major propaganda campaigns playing to a misinformed public. If these efforts are unchecked, the end result will be the blind denial of public and private individual rights and the destruction of one of our nation's oldest industries.[3]


TAN served a national surveillance function for the industry by soliticing members to report back to the Tobacco Institute about any local tobacco control activity they may become aware of, such as a city council considering a smoking restriction. Members were also asked to contact lawmakers to "offset adversary pressures," serve as public spokespeople and solicit cooperation from other groups, such as Chambers of Commerce, police and civic groups, for tobacco industry positions.[4]

Sourcewatch resources

External resources

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