Tobacco Documents - Industry Projects

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This is one of a number of explanatory documents to help researchers understand the archives of tobacco industry documents held at the San Francisco Library archive.


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

The tobacco industry documents are archived at the San Francisco University Library [1] They now hold 14 million documents which are indexed and made available on-line. These are important not just to help identify the tobacco industry scams, distortions, lobbying, and helpers, but also because they offer an insight into the activities of a much wider group of industries with similar poisoning and polluting problems.

It is important to realise that private consulting groups and companies, and the numerous institutes, associations, think-tanks, etc. set up to service the tobacco industry often also provided similar services to other industries with problems. This became a distinct industry sector, usually with global reach, which continues today.

Industry Projects - Code names

Basta campaign - A Philip Morris 'Accommodation' campaign (a smokers and non-smokers courtesy campaign) which was run right across Europe c 1987 - 1990. As part of Basta, a courteous-smoking advertisement campaign with a return coupon was run in the international press.

Berkshire (Operation) Codename for the preliminary discussions as to whether the major eleven tobacco companies would create an international lobbying association. It began in 1971, but became a formal meeting at the Shockerwick convention venue (near Bath in UK) in 1977. This established ICOSI, which eventually became INFOTAB. The project was initiated by Tony Garrett, Chairman of Imperial Tobacco Limited, who phoned Hugh Cullman (PM) from London. He had "explored the idea with BAT, RJ Reynolds, Reemtsma, Rothmans International and now with Philip Morris International, whether we might be prepared to meet discreetly to develop a defensive smoking and health strategy for major markets such as the UK, Germany, Canada, U.S. and possibly others."

Bill of Rights Project In November 1989 PM launched a national advertising campaign to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. The commemoration included educational programs, publications, and a nationwide tour of original materials. The main theme they promoted was 'freedom of speech' which (they said) extended to corporations -- and therefore the right to advertise cigarettes. Internal documents show their intention was "To posture tobacco industry issues of advertising, smoking restrictions, hiring bans, sales bans, and other discriminatory devices of the antitobacco groups as elitist discrimination, bigotry, and an erosion of our basic freedoms of speech, property, assembly, etc. "

Bing Project (not researched yet)

Boca Raton Action Plan This is the major Philip Morris International (Nov 1988) plan initiated by Geoff Bible to take control of the global tobacco industry counter-measures. PM had become disillused with current defensive tactics, and wanted more aggressive counter measures against critics and legislative/regulatory activites. It was devised by a large meeting to top PM executives at a resort in Boca Raton (Including global Corporate Affairs & disinformation staff; Science & Technology, Worldwide Regulatory Affairs). This was a free-wheeling, conference held over many days which devised a complex plan with many aspects. The eventual program ran for about a year with bi-monthly status reports from Jan 31 1989 to Sept 30 1989 and a final summary on Oct 30 1989.
"The Plan was remarkable in its scope, encompassing 26 wide-ranging and ambitious goals, to which Philip Morris dedicated its top executives, scientists, attorneys and consultants. It was organized internationally, coordinating all of the company’s regional offices and using both tobacco industry organizations and front groups to accomplish an impressive list of achievements."

Brother Sam (Operation) The tobacco industry became peripherally embroiled in this CIA operation in 1964 .President Lyndon B Johnson gave the go-ahead for the overthrow of João Goulart, and Colonel Vernon Walters arranged for General Castello Branco to lead the coup. A US naval-carrier task force was ordered to station itself off the Brazilian coast. Goulart was forced into exile. [It is not clear what role the tobacco industry had in this]

Cigarette Controversy Action Plan (1968) One of the early Tobacco Institute plans to counter anti-smoking sentiments (fully budgeted). The planning document list (1) public polling on attitudes to smoking; (2) test programs for industry propaganda; (3) a massive advertising campaign; (4) position paper for journalistic forums; (5) paid supplements in the New York Times (reprints distributed); (6) monthly mailings to a target list of of 475,000 doctors, communicators and educators; (7) speeches and briefings by medical speakers. They wanted to generate (8) four books a year; (9) organise 'Smoker's Leagues'; (10) produce three short films; and (11) run an international smoking and health convention.

Data Project [aka Dial-A-Tar] Frank Gannon was working on it in Lausanne in May 1983

Downunder This was run initially as an ETS brian-storming session in 1987 under the auspices of PMI's Vice Chairman, Bill Murray, with Frank Resnik and Hamish Maxwell closely involved. Guy Smith and John A Kochevar (Corporate Affairs at Philip Morris) were the organisers. The other tobacco companies were later brought into the efforts. The plan led to the development of a number of major strategies: the Accommodation program (courtesy to smokers); the formation of 'coalitions' of industry groups; Truth Squads to influence the media; the creation and funding of the Labor Management Committee (both for union involvement, and other related organisation); the generous funding of fake indoor air-testing companies (HBI-ACVA) and extended their influence over the NEMI, ASHRAE, AFL-CIO. etc.
The outcome was: modified ventilation legislation, Smoker's Rights legislation.); the CIAR operations, Scientific Witness Teams; Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG) (and later WhiteCoats organisations); aggressive legal defense of smokers rights; PR on Workplace restrictions (Corporate assistance to fight smoking bans); ETS and IAQ briefings (legislators, journalists); Smoker's Rights groups; Cash-for-Comment Economists Network to attack public cost arguments.

Firestorm Plan A strategic project of "proactive briefings" (of Congressmen, Senators, aides and allies) run by Roy Marden (who normally handled grants and bribes) at Philip Morris in 1999. They were pushing a number of messages: (a) the company was becoming more open and accessible; (b) it has a long history of community involvement and charitable giving; (c) it is working to reduce youth smoking; (d) it is working on measures to allow smokers and non-smokers to coexist in public places (e) it has a significant economic impact and provides jobs and taxes. They also target/enlisted the NAACP, National Urban League, Cato/Heritage/Heartland/Manhattan Institutes, (libertarian lobbyist friends) and Chambers of Commerce.

Gambit Regulation program Run in the 1981-82 period by Dorothy Cowan (and Amy Millman) at Philip Morris. {needs research} It appears to have been only in the USA and Australia.

Greenfield Projects The town of Greenfield, Iowa, had engaged in a "cold-turkey" (give up smoking) program in August 1969 period during the location filming of a Dick van Dyke/Bob Newhart movie called "Cold Turkey'. The tobacco industry realised that quitting will be portrayed in the movie as difficult and having unpleasant consequences (unconsciously reinforcing their addiction); and that the anti-smokers would certainly be portrayed as 'kooks and carnival con-men'. Only 129 quit. So Philip Morris capitalised on the movie; in 1970 it contributed $10,000 to a study by paying the local Girl Scouts to enlist 1435 participants to answer questionnaires about their difficulties: how they compensated (chewed gum, eating salted peanuts, candy, etc) and success rates (very small). PM gathered valuable data on addiction levels of different brands of cigarettes, compensation behaviours, loss of energy, depression, changes in weight, nervous mannerisms, etc -- and some useful case studies (successful quitters could be used to argue that cigarettes weren't addictive). They also correlated quitting problems with socio-economic status sex, age, and personality type -- all very useful information for a tobacco company. [Don't confuse this with Dr Stan Greenfield and his company SAI International who were paid to criticise the EPA.]

Herbert Project This appears to be a Brown & Williamson project looking at small tobacco companies around the world - perhaps seeking to sell them some plant, process or patents. [2]

High Tops program The results of a Jan 1992 Philip Morris Corporate Affairs brain-storming session. They wanted to "learn more about our adversaries, who they are, and how they are funded. In addition, we will consider implementing the "HighTops" program, where tobacco-area Members would be used to deflect the anti's initiatives. This was under the executive in charge of contributions and bribery, Roy Marden. High Tops appears to be a code for the CEOs of companies which supply goods or services to the tobacco industry. The idea was to recruit them to write letters to their Senators in opposition to the Tobacco Products Education and Health Protection Act, and some later legislation saying that their business would suffer and jobs would be lost.

K-Street Project (The Washington home of lobbyists and PR Operators) In 2005 - "According to those familiar with the Conservative Network, it was an attempt to purge the Federal government, including Federal regulatory agencies, as well as lobbying firms, law firms, and media of liberals and replace them with right-wing functionaries. This has resulted in the infiltration of the Federal government by individuals associated with white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations. " They were tied to the International Freedom Foundation led by Jack Abramoff and funded by South Africa's apartheid government. (also) Americans for Tax Reform, initiated a plan to force lobbyists to hire only Republicans and raise money only for Republican candidates on the assumption that, by monopolizing political contributions from business, Republicans could preserve the congressional majority.

Mayfly Project A 1980s "long-range communication plan," whose overall objective was defined as: "To influence, modify or change public opinion to create a more favourable climate, however directly or indirectly." This was a project of the SAWP group of ICOSI/INFOTAB. They tried to design a universal communications package that could be used by all countries. It began as a full communications program, but developed into a "methodology package" involving script/slide show. It was trial-run in Australia.

Muzzle - Operation run in the UK (1983) by recruiting a group of backbench MPs who were to persuade the Government to cease funding the anti-smoking group, ASH, or, at least make its funding conditional on its not attacking Ministers in the way it had savaged Neil McFarlane, Minister of Sport, for his pussy-footing over tobacco sponsorship."