Tobacco Industry Case Studies

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This stub is a work-in-progress by the journalists's group. We are indexing the millions of documents stored at the San Francisco Uni's Legacy Tobacco Archive [1] With some entries you'll need to go to this site and type into the Search panel a (multi-digit) Bates number. You can search on names for other documents also.     Send any corrections or additions to


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

Case Studies in Tobacco Industry Tactics

Case studies are intended for use in education and general media training courses. They differ from the conventional entry in SourceWatch because they group together, not only documents dealing with the same organisation, project, or person, but those relating to long-term composite activities designed by the tobacco industry to produce some outcome.


Major scientist/experts who became established over many years through elaborately constructed biographies and often equipped with non-existent qualification. They were organised, feted, well-funded, and provided with pseudo credentials to increase their value to the tobacco industry ... often in association with other industries also having poisoning and polluting problems. The tobacco industry, for instance, found it could use the cynicism expounded by the Energy Industries about the reality of climate change and global warming to attack the quality of scientific research in general; this led to its junk-science operations.

But even the junk-science operations didn't exist in isolation. They were integrated into Risk Management operations, and in particular into the attempts to design a recognised standard for epidemiology that would have made it difficult, or indeed almost impossible, for epidemiological research to be used by legislators as a reason to ban or limit public smoking and the problems of second-hand (passive) smoking.

George L Carlo - Multi-industry science-for-sale operator.

Carl C Seltzer - The role of Harvard and the Peacock Museum.


The tobacco industry also specialised in finding and promoting certain descriptive terms and phrases which would be taken up by general journalists, and then amplified and distributed through newspapers and other media. Some of these terms have become so integrated into the language that we don't normally recognise the design and deliberate promotion of them as part of the common lexicon. If you know that a term has been constructed to advocate or promote a particular idea or ideology, then you are prone to ignore it. But if it is slipped into the language and amplified though regular use by lobbyists, who double as newspaper columnists or media celebrities, it quickly becomes part of people's daily speech, and over time it helps change their way of thinking.

These identifiable tobacco-industry language constructs show how these terms were popularised.

The New Puritanism - Linking public anti-smoking efforts to Prohibition.

The Nanny State - The Libertarian ideal of less regulation and totally free markets.

Politically Correct (PC) - A general attack on the health and environmental activists.

Junk Science - The tactic of discrediting health and environmental research

Conjoined Tactics

These are case studies which expose the way in which the tobacco industry promoted various tactics as part of overall defensive strategies. Each tactic might be designed as part of a different tobacco industry project, but these programs combined over many years into overall on-going strategies.

Personal Choice to Smoke

This was the complex battle to mount a defence against addiction.

Health Costs to the Economy

Puritans and Prohibitions

Projects developing the idea that anti-smokers were busybodies and killjoys

Junk-science/Sound science operations

Projects developed to dismiss science not supporting the industry positions on the absence of proven health dangers.

  • ESEF
  • Libertad

Workers and Unions

Race and Discrimination

  • Urban Institute

Agriculture and Tobacco production