Demonstrations against the tobacco industry

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Who undertook action: Coalition against Uptown Cigarette

Type: Ad hoc African American community advocacy organizations and health organizations

Size: 35 leadership organization

Years: 1989-1990

Scope: National with focus on Philadelphia (test market)

Targeted companies: R.J. Reynolds

Focus of action: To prevent new Uptown cigarette (targeted to African Americans) from reaching market

Concurrent events: Growing awareness of predatory marketing practices and tobacco threat within African American community

Industry behavior change sought: Cancel production of cigarette

Smokers/smoking a focus? Yes

Main strategy: Media advocacy; community mobilization

Supporting strategies: Enlisting powerful opinion shapers such as HHS Secy. Dr. Louis Sullivan

Well-funded? largely grass roots

Breadth of campaign: Press conference, rallies, editorials

Evidence of effectiveness: R.J. Reynolds stopped campaign and never marketed Uptown

Industry response: Industry accused opponents of racism, argued that opponents were implying blacks not capable of making decisions for themselves. (Industry used similar argument in fighting opposition to Virginia Slims -- that opponents were implying women not capable of making decisions for themselves.)

Resolution: R.J. Reynolds stopped campaign and never marketed Uptown

Industry gains/losses: Cigarette withdrawn; RJR's tactics exposed by community

Community gains/losses: The success of the Coalition Against Uptown Cigarette was the impetus for the formation of the National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI) in 1991.

Good for tobacco control? Yes, helped educate community about industry tactics

Observations: A well-organized community response can have a major impact on corporate activities.

Links: SCARC Action Alert January 19, 1990

Who undertook action: Tobacco control advocates and groups such as Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco (STAT), Doctors Ought to Care (DOC), Smoking Control Advocacy Resource Center (SCARC)

Type: Network of grassroots and mainstream health groups

Size: dozens of groups

Years: 1990-1991

Scope: Nationwide U.S.

Targeted companies: PM

Focus of action: To expose Philip Morris's deception in associating the Bill of Rights with addictive cigarettes; to hold PM responsible for tobacco disease and death

Concurrent events: ACT-UP boycott of PM

Industry behavior change sought: Stop marketing deadly product

Smokers / smoking a focus? Yes, hazards of smoking highlighted

Main strategy: Demonstrations against PM's $60M "Bill of Rights" tour to dozens of U.S. cities

Supporting strategies: Street theater including Nicotina, tobacco parody of Statue of Liberty, press conferences, dissuading community groups from partnering w/tour, tobacco expose film "Death in the West" sometimes shown where tour appears

Well-funded? Mostly grass roots, some organizational support

Breadth of campaign: Demonstrations held in many cities where tour appeared, thwarting PM's PR efforts

Evidence of effectiveness: PM shortened planned tour by several months; reduced publicity about venues, Boy Scouts withdrew support

Industry response: Industry attempted to frame demonstrations as an example of the freedom it was celebrating but did not get PR victory it sought

Resolution: Tour ended early; advocates received a great deal of press

Industry gains/losses: Industry vulnerable to bad press, thwarted in attempt to be seen as legitimate

Community gains/losses: Used opportunity to expand dialogue about harms of tobacco and deception of industry

Good for tobacco control? Yes, used backdrop of Bill of Rights to expose myth of free choice to smoke, emphasizing addiction

Observations: Excellent use of public event to marginalize industry with effort shared by different groups in different places.

Links: SCARC Action Alert February 22, 1991