Some Thoughts on Countermeasures

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

This 4 page document from the British American Tobacco collection lists industry countermeasures to fight and reverse public health gains made against smoking around the world. The document focuses on the various channels through which the industry can clandestinely promote smoking. Ideas include hiring cartoonists to draw cartoons that ridicule efforts to reduce smoking and that "highlight absurd and extremist attacks on the industry and its products." The document shows BAT plotting a comprehensive countermeasure program that would utilize such avenues as pop concerts, "special interest articles," letters to the editor (which "can express more extreme views as reactions to any extreme attack than the industry could afford to do") fashion magazines, and films (both big screen and television) to boost smoking behavior:

[From Page 2]:

"Whether in the cinema or on television it is useful to have scenes showing use of our products..."

[From Page 3]:

"12. Critical mass of information. It is important to realise that piece meal [countermeasure] programmes are unlikely to achieve very much . . A critical mass is necessary in order to get opinion moving. This will have to be judged for each country or company. A whole range of activities may be involved for instance:

  • the use of pop concerts
  • the use of cinema posters showing people using our products
  • the use of pictures in fashion magazines showing people using our products
  • the promotion of suitable films in the cinema
  • the promotion of suitable films for television, etc, etc.

Two films for example have been shown with considerable success in other countries. Gringo Amigo has been seen by 1 .8 million people and the Gold that Grows by about half a million people. These are genuine interest films and are shown because the producers or distributors feel that there is real story that is worth showing to the public. The average cost per viewer taking into account all expenses has been something like six or seven pence, this is obviously a very effective form of promoting indirectly the benefits which our industry can bring. Again audiences and countries need to be chosen with care and films that work in one country do not necessarily do so in another. Nevertheless the likelihood is that a good film will be useable in several countries."[1]

SourceWatch resources

External resources


  1. RLOE, British American Tobacco Some Thoughts On Countermeasures Report. August 19, 1980. Bates No. 09869108/9111