France: Proposed Action Plan to Amend the Tobacco Sponsorship Ban

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

France: Proposed Action Plan to Amend the Tobacco Sponsorship Ban

This June, 1992 report shows how Philip Morris worked to amend a 1991 French tobacco control law called the "Loi Evin."

A law enacted in France in 1991 (commonly referred to as the "Loi Evin") restricted some forms of tobacco advertising and sponsorship. In 1993 French legislators considered tightening the Loi Evin to prohibit virtually all forms of tobacco advertising, with only very limited exceptions. The French also proposed removing an exception that had permitted tobacco companies to continue to sponsor sporting events in France, even after the Loi Evin had initially been enacted.

This proposal concerned Philip Morris. The company feared that if they allowed this measure to pass in France, the same type of restrictions would quickly spread to other European countries.

Not surprisingly, PM fought the measure. This report describes how Philip Morris France (PM) planned to manipulate the French government to preserve tobacco company sponsorship of sporting events.

Not unexpectedly, PM's strategy was multi-pronged: The company planned to use the deteriorating state of France's inner-cities (called "suburbs") to its advantage by offering the government what was, in essence, a bribe. PM planned to offer to build sporting facilities and purchase equipment for the poorer sections of French cities in exchange for the government inserting an exception into the new law that would continue to allow tobacco company sponsorship of sporting events:

"[PM will] offer sponsorship activities by tobacco companies [to the French government] as one solution for the severe urban problems."

Another tactic was to threaten French legislators by upsetting their "political equilibrium." PM says,

"[Should Government officials move to restrict tobacco sponsorship of events] mobilization can take place and cause problems to the political equilibrium."

PM also proposed "using the problems of the inner-cities as a political cover" for politicians to insert an amendment favoring tobacco companies into a bill about the law.

Research by Philip Morris Corporate Affairs department showed that manipulating French legislation through an Omnibus Bill was the way to go. PM preferred working through an Omnibus bill because they are introduced very late in the French legislative session, are usually rushed through parliament and laden with many different subjects, making discussion of individual measure in the bill very difficult. Omnibus bills thus avoid scrutiny by consumer groups and health authorities. In a section entitled "How to amend the Loi Evin," PM says,

The easiest way to amend the Loi Evin to allow the sponsorship of motor vehicle competitions by the tobacco industry is to obtain the inclusion of an article dealing with this question in an Omnibus Bill. ..Omnibus bills have two advantages:

  • They are generally a long list of very different articles amending very different laws, and are therefore difficult to discuss.
  • They are generally voted during the last two days of parliamentary sessions, and are therefore not scrutinized by the press and public interest groups.

PM further says,

[Omnibus bills] provide the Government with an opportunity to adjust laws voted previously without having to re-open a political debate. They provide an opportunity to placate special-interest groups without having to do it openly, or even to reverse the Government's previous position at the cost of minimal political exposure..."

The Plan also indicates PM cultivated strong allies within the French government, and implies that the company could control these public servants to their advantage, saying "It necessary to mobilize MP's and Senators" to propose such an amendment.

This report shows how PM worked to alter the French Loi Evin in ways that made the company's involvement difficult to detect.

Org. Author PM FRANCE
Date 19920603
Bates 2501360173/0197
Master Bates 2501360172/0197
Collection Philip Morris
Pages 25

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