Tobacco industry sociological programs to influence public beliefs about smoking
Dr. Stanton Glantz
University of California San Francisco, CA UNITED STATES
University of California San Francisco, [email protected]
Daniel K Cortese
University of California, San Francisco, [email protected]
The multinational tobacco companies responded to arguments about the social costs of smoking and hazards of secondhand smoke by quietly implementing the Social Costs/Social Values project (1979–1989), which relied upon the knowledge and authoritative power of social scientists to construct an alternate cultural repertoire of smoking. Social scientists created and disseminated non-health based, pro-tobacco arguments without fully acknowledging their relationship with the industry. After the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that nicotine was addictive in 1988, the industry responded by forming “Associates for Research in the Science of Enjoyment” (c.1988–1999), whose members toured the world promoting the health benefits of the use of legal substances, including tobacco, for stress relief and relaxation, without acknowledging the industry’s role. In this paper we draw on previously secret tobacco industry documents, now available on the internet to show how both of these programs utilized academic sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers and economists, and allowed the industry to develop and widely disseminate friendly research through credible channels. Strategies included creating favorable surveys and opinions, infusing them into the lay press and media through press releases, articles and conferences, publishing, promoting and disseminating books, commissioning and placing favorable book reviews, providing media training for book authors and organizing media tours. These programs allowed the tobacco industry to affect public and academic discourse on the social acceptability of smoking.
Until the 1970s, public health arguments about tobacco focused on smokers. By the late 1970s two potent arguments emerged focused on how smoking affects others (Roper Organization, 1978): Smoking imposes financial “social costs” (Kristein, 1983; Luce & Schweitzer, 1977; Weis, 1981) because of smokers’ medical care, absenteeism, facilities maintenance, and fire risks and secondhand smoke endangers nonsmokers. Cigarette makers recognized that these arguments were stimulating efforts to regulate smoking and contributing to the decline in social acceptability of smoking worldwide (International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI), 1977; No author, 1989 (est.); R.J. Reynolds, 1978). The industry considered these arguments particularly threatening because they engaged previously unconcerned nonsmokers in the anti-tobacco movement, and established a new role for government (No author, 1981).
Academic and scientific institutions are cultural sources of knowledge that create structures of reality (Berger & Luckmann, 1966) and perceptions of objectivity (Latour, 1988; Swidler, 1986). Therefore, knowledge is a social construction, strongly interconnected with power (Bourdieu, 1977; Foucault, 1980; Swidler & Arditi, 1994). As Swidler and Arditi suggest, “the authoritativeness of knowledge is grounded in patterns of social authority” (Swidler & Arditi, 1994, p. 311). Power must be legitimized through legal, charismatic, coercive, or hegemonic methods (Gramsci, 1971; Weber, 1997 ). The basic social organization of academia institutionalizes prestige and solidifies authority (Swidler & Arditi, 1994). Academics can utilize their prestige to transform cultural and political institutions through the public dissemination of their knowledge (Lamont, 1987; Swidler & Arditi, 1994).
Academic and scientific institutions of the late-twentieth century are professionalized and require substantial resources (Swidler & Arditi, 1994; Latour, 1988), making them vulnerable to corporate influence (Evans & Packham, 2003; Nussbaum, 2007). The tobacco industry used its resources to influence intellectual elites’ knowledge construction to slow the declining social acceptability of smoking, including developing a network of biomedical scientists secretly managed by industry lawyers to develop an alternative body of scientific and popular literature supporting its contention that secondhand smoke was not dangerous (Barnes & Bero, 1996, 2001; Barnoya & Glantz, 2005; Barnoya & Glantz, 2002; Dyer, 1998; Muggli, Forster, Hurt, & Repace, 2001). Just as the industry developed networks of nominally independent biomedical scientists, it developed networks of social scientists to produce a competing body of literature in an attempt to influence the construction of knowledge regarding smoking and transform the culture to see smoking as a social benefit, rather than the dominant ideology that smoking is a health hazard.
We used well-established snowball techniques (Malone & Balbach, 2000) to investigate previously secret tobacco industry documents that are now available on the Internet as a result of US litigation against the tobacco industry (legacy.library.ucsf.edu, www.tobaccodocuments.org,bat.library.ucsf.edu). Initial search terms included “social,” “social costs,” “social & project.” Additional searches were done on organizing and funding bodies, and participating individuals as they were identified, often in combination with the search terms “letter,” “budget” and “report.” We also investigated newspaper articles, books, videos, journal articles and the web sites of foundations, institutes and universities where the academics were listed.
We attempted to complement our study by interviewing academics named in the industry documents in accord with a protocol approved by the local Committee on Human Research. We located five academics that were still alive, active in their field, and for whom contact information was available; none agreed to interviews.
In 1977, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) started the first project to address social acceptability and social cost issues, Studies on the Social Aspects of Smoking, SOSAS (R.J. Reynolds, 1979b). RJR concluded that spreading information linking smoking, and particularly passive smoking, with disease was reducing the social acceptability of smoking, cigarette consumption and industry profits. RJR also identified increased public and governmental focus on smoking’s social costs as a threat (Berman, 1979). The three main objectives for SOSAS were: (1) identifying key issues that could move public opinion on the social acceptability and social costs of smoking, (2) testing possible countermeasures that could alter public opinion in favor of the industry (No author, 1977; R.J. Reynolds, 1979a) and (3) exploring the feasibility of creating an intensive, long-term, industry-wide effort to improve public opinion and tolerance of smoking (No author, 1977).
RJR worried that acting alone to oppose declining social acceptability and cigarette consumption could “backfire drastically” because it would increase the chances that opponents would “galvanize their efforts and direction toward the company,” its brands and stock (Sustana, 1978). RJR, as a transnational company, realized that the social issues were global and addressing them would require an industry-wide effort. RJR took the SOSAS studies to the Tobacco Institute (TI, the tobacco industry’s US lobbying organization) to stimulate a long-term, industry-wide program (Tucker, 1979).
Efforts to address these problems were occurring internationally. In June 1977, RJR, British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris (PM), Imperial, Rothmans, Reentsma and Gallaher tobacco companies (the seven tobacco companies that did business in multiple countries) CEOs met in Bath, England “to determine whether the industry, in the face of increasing pressures from anti-smoking bodies around the world, could … determine a united approach to possible future action” on social acceptability problem (ICOSI, 1978b) in what became “Operation Berkshire” (Francey & Chapman, 2000; ICOSI, 1978a; No author, 1979a, 1979b, 1980a; Sebrie, Barnoya, Perez-Stable, & Glantz, 2005). They formed the International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI, later renamed the International Tobacco Information Center, INFOTAB, then the Tobacco Documentation Center) to coordinate a unified global response. RJR provided the SOSAS studies to ICOSI, leading to the first coordinated social science project carried out jointly by the major transnational tobacco companies: the “Social Costs/Social Values” project (ICOSI, 1979a; No author, 1979a).
The Social Costs/Social Values Project
ICOSI created a subcommittee, the Social Acceptability Working Party (SAWP), to develop measures to combat the social cost and passive smoking issues. SAWP’s initial chairman was RJR’s VP of Public Affairs, who also served on the TI Communications Committee. George Berman, a former PM employee who started a consulting firm, helped organize and direct SAWP (Senkus, 1979). In 1979 Berman, along with the industry law firm Jacob, Medinger, RJR VP and Assistant to Chairman of the Board, and Brown and Williamson’s Senior VP and General Counsel developed ICOSI’s global strategy (Pepples, 1979a). ICOSI members adopted the plan in 1979 (No author, 1979a, 1979b, 1980a; Pepples, 1979b) to secretly recruit and fund a group of prominent academic sociologists, philosophers, economists, anthropologists and political scientists to develop arguments promoting the benefits of smoking, refute arguments about the social costs of smoking, and emphasize the negative effects the companies believed smoking bans had on society.
SAWP members had already identified and approached social science academics (Berman, 1979 (est.)) who were sympathetic to industry positions and agreed to participate (Pepples, 1979a): Richard Wagner (professor of Economics at George Mason University), Robert Tollison (former economic consultant to the US Treasury Department and professor of economics at Texas A&M and later George Mason University), Robert Nozick (professor of philosophy at Harvard University), Sherwin Feinhandler (sociologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School specializing in cultural anthropology of tobacco, alcohol and drug research), Peter Berger (professor of Sociology at Rutgers and later at Boston College), Aaron Wildavsky (Chairman of Political Science Department and Dean of the Graduate School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley), Edward Harris (a political scientist at South Connecticut State University), and Martin Gruber (finance expert at New York University). These people helped extend SAWP’s reach into academia to recruit more consultants (No author, 1980b, 1980a) for the new “Social Costs/Social Values” (SC/SV) program.
A February 1980 SAWP progress report on the SC/SV project states that the academics would be commissioned to conduct “cross-cultural research” to “emphasize the social importance of smoking” (No author, 1980b), find ways to reverse the research describing the social costs of smoking, and “support the view that smoking is ‘normal’ behavior, a view that many social scientists would defend if given the information to do so” (No author, 1980b). Other activities included participating in academic conferences nominally sponsored by third (non-tobacco) parties and organized in ways that would minimize evidence of industry backing (1979b; Marcotullio, 1979). According to a 1979 RJR memo about ICOSI’s conference planning activities, the tobacco companies would identify potential speakers and audience members, but the invitations would come from a third party. A conference ICOSI planned for 1980 would be timed to “neutralize the [World Health Organization] on the issue of public smoking and health” and “get as much press coverage as possible that could be read by opinion leaders” (Marcotullio, 1979). Another SC/SV project activity was to have the academics “generate [pro-industry] papers… which can then be used as references in direct confrontation with the [social costs] issue” (No author, 1980b).
The industry planned to “infuse these studies into professional journals and then into the popular press” to influence greater society (No author, 1980b). Consultants would frame their pro-industry arguments to avoid medical subject matter, where the industry was less able to defend itself. To reduce public backlash, the industry sought “an affirmative philosophical platform…in support of the social value of cigarette smoking. This value will be referred to as social functions rather than benefits. The emphasis will be on groups and not on individuals. The analysis will deliberately avoid pharmacological [medical] claims…” (Pepples, 1979a).
Payments to the academics were routed through the Jacob, Medinger law firm through Special Account No. 4 (Jacob, 1979). The tobacco industry created “special accounts” in 1969 to allow them to fund medical researchers covertly; the recipients rarely disclosed their involvement with the industry for this work, which was designed to support the industry position in science-related legal and political contexts (Glantz, Slade, Bero, Hanauer, & Barnes, 1996, p. 26).
A first step of the SC/SV project in 1979 was to have the consultants produce a manual of arguments that employees of tobacco companies, tobacco manufacturer associations and pro-tobacco groups could use to refute social costs arguments (No author, 1980b, 1980a). For example, it questioned the appropriateness of applying cost-benefit analysis to smoking and pointed out how other factors, like the start of fishing and hunting seasons, influence absenteeism from work (No author, 1980b, 1980a). In May, 1981 SAWP organized a conference on the application of cost-benefit analysis to consumer policy, hosted by the Wharton Applied Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania (1981). ICOSI budgeted $50,000 for the conference, $10,000 of which was to attract non-tobacco sponsors to help defray the cost of the conference and give the appearance of drawing interest from other industries (Berman, 1980). Tobacco industry consultants spoke at the conference, and the proceedings were published and distributed to university libraries, ICOSI’s member tobacco companies and tobacco manufacturing associations.
ICOSI was reorganized in 1981 and SAWP abolished, but its work continued (No author, 1983).
Social Costs/Social Values Book Projects
In 1983 Rich Marcotullio of RJR (new head of INFOTAB’s SC/SV project) sought to extend SC/SV with a book describing smoking’s benefits and the antismoking movement’s negative influence. Since the book would command little credibility and be more easily attacked and if openly produced by the tobacco industry, the industry used its social science consultants. Economist Robert Tollison, “enthusiastically accepted the position of editor” (No author, 1983) after ICOSI’s first choice, the editor of the Harvard Business Review, declined. A 1983 letter from the secretary general of INFOTAB to the TI said the book was intended to “bring together contributions by experts” to “marshal … economic, freedom of choice and other arguments to rebut allegations and proposed restrictions which rely upon assertions concerning the claimed social [economic] costs of smoking” (Simpson, 1983). He predicted the book would “have considerable utility for the industry in the United States,” and proposed INFOTAB and the TI jointly fund the project, which they did (Simpson, 1983).
Originally titled Free to Smoke, the finished book was called Smoking and Society: Towards a More Balanced Perspective and was published in 1985 by Lexington Books (Tollison, 1986). The book was nominally a compilation of scholarly articles about smoking intended “to restore the balance to the smoking and health debate” (No author, 1985). In the introduction, and in promotional materials for the book, Tollison stated “There is a serious and useful scholarly case to be made that the conventional wisdom about smoking behavior is either wrong, unproven, built upon faulty analysis or pushed well beyond the point of common sense” (No author, 1985). The book also asserted that (1) Smoking produces certain benefits in a social setting that are historically conditioned and ill-understood; (2) A degree of self-interest animates the various interest groups spawned by the anti-smoking movement; (3) Taxation of tobacco products is one of the most regressive and unfair means of raising revenues by the government; (4) If all activities regarded as annoying were regulated, there would be a proliferation of regulations and society would be worse off (No author, 1985; Tollison, 1986). Of the fourteen authors providing chapters for the book, eleven had tobacco industry ties that were not disclosed in the “Descriptions of Contributors” section of the book ( Table 1 ). The preface stated only, “This book is the outgrowth of a workshop on smoking and society held in New York City in the summer of 1984 … We acknowledge the assistance and support of representatives of a number of tobacco companies in our efforts.” This description did not indicate that the concept, funding and promotion for the book came from a global coalition of tobacco companies (Cory, 1986b).
Authors’ ties to the tobacco industry (Smoking and Society)
|Name of Author||Tie to industry|
|Aviado, Domingo||Employed by the industry; CTR grant recipient (Hayes, 1986; Hoyt, 1975)|
|Berger, Peter L.||Attended PM executive meetings (Wakeham, 1980); consultant on SC/SV Project (Berger, 1979)|
|Boddewyn, J.J.||Witness for tobacco industry in hearings (INFOTAB Secretariat, 1984); testified on behalf of Smokeless Tobacco Council (Wrobleski, 1985); Worked cooperatively with INFOTAB (1983a)|
|Eysenck, Hans J.||Personal interaction with RJR (Hayes, 1986); CTR Special Projects grant (Hoyt, 1981); PM-funded researcher (Lincoln, 1988 (est.))|
|Feinhandler, Sherwin||Consultant to PM starting 1976 (Wakeham, 1976)|
|Gray, H. Peter||Personal interaction with RJR (Hayes, 1986)|
|Littlechild, Steven||Projects for INFOTAB (No author, 1983)|
|Savarese, James M.||Coordinated surveys, polls & economic data analysis for Tobacco Institute (No author, 1985 (est.); Tobacco Institute, 1982)|
|Shugart, William F. II||Tobacco Institute PR/anti-tax consultant; preparation of testimony on smoking restriction bills (Tobacco Institute, 1985)|
|Spielberger, Charles||Gave presentations at RJR (Gilbert, 1980; Hayes, 1986); Was paid out of Special Acct. No. 4 (No author, 1978 (est.))|
|Tollison, Robert||Tobacco Institute consultant (INFOTAB, 1983b; No author, 1983; Tobacco Institute, 1984)|
A preliminary promotion plan for Smoking and Society prepared by PM Management Corporation (Cory, 1986a) kept tobacco companies out of sight: “Most of the PR [for the book] should come from the publisher (the most credible third party).” PM proposed especially promoting psychologist Hans Eysenck’s claim in the book that “Genetic factors, not smoking, may make smokers susceptible to smoking related diseases — a concrete alternative to the tired defense that the smoking-health link ‘isn’t proven’” (Cory, 1986a). PM also suggested emphasizing anthropologist Sherwin Feinhandler’s claim that “Smoking plays positive social roles in the normal give-and-take of getting along with others” (Cory, 1986a) because Feinhandler provided “something positive to say about smoking that doesn’t raise the health issue” (Cory, 1986a). The book would be promoted as “a resource for journalists, scholars and policy people — a mother lode of the most respectable information on the ‘other sides’ of smoking issues” to librarians and “professors who might touch on this issue in courses in political science, economics, anthropology, philosophy and other fields represented by the book’s contributors,” with free copies provided to journalists and social scientists stressing the “positive social roles of smoking [and] anti-smokers’ welfare-statism” (Cory, 1986a). Press releases sent to economists would stress the novel argument of “anti-smokers’ transfer of wealth to themselves” (Cory, 1986a).
In 1988 Tollison and his George Mason University colleague, economist Richard Wagner, published Smoking and the State: Social Costs, Rent Seeking and Public Policy (Tollison & Wagner, 1988) concluding that clean indoor air laws impose significant economic costs upon society and that government efforts to regulate public smoking were coercive, arbitrary intrusions into private life. The preface stated that there was a “continuing controversy within the scientific community about the effect of smoking on the health of smokers and nonsmokers,” even though the US Surgeon General had by then issued 19 reports linking smoking with disease (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2005). A single line in the preface says the book was produced under a grant from the TI.
The TI was more aggressive in its behind-the-scenes promotion of Smoking and the State than with Smoking and Society. The Institute provided media training for Tollison and Wagner (Hochberger, 1988), funded and organized national media tours for them, hired the Ogilvy & Mather public relations company to commission favorable book reviews from seventeen of the Institute’s consulting economists (Hochberger, 1988), and arranged to have the reviews placed in newspapers (Chilcote, 1988; Savarese, 1988). Ogilvy & Mather also drafted articles referencing Smoking and the State, and sought “endorse[ment] by third-party economists” in smaller-circulation newspapers (Hochberger, 1988). The TI president reported that “promotional activities surrounding the book have resulted in a large number of favorable news stories and book reviews” (Chilcote, 1989).
In 1988 PM paid Tollison (Whist, 1988) to edit another book, Clearing the Air: Perspectives on Environmental Tobacco Smoke (Tollison, 1988), that contested the link between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS, what the tobacco industry calls secondhand smoke) and illness. Like Smoking and Society, Clearing the Air was a compilation of articles, some from the same authors as Smoking and Society (Peter Berger and James Buchanan), as well as other authors who had tobacco industry ties, including Gray Robertson (Drope, Bialous, & Glantz, 2004), and Burt Neuborne (Shook Hardy & Bacon, 1991). Clearing the Air plainly says that it articulates the views of the tobacco industry, stating in the preface that the industry’s views “are shouted down by antitobacco hotheads who have long since (if they ever had) any desire to debate the issues” (Tollison, 1988).
PM had Clearing the Air translated into French, German Spanish and Japanese, and used it to fight secondhand smoke issues (Philip Morris, 1987). A 1988 PM marketing plan indicates PM planned to use the book “as a vehicle to initiate media coverage of the ETS issue from our perspective,” and to help “identify and mobilize third party people to … generate media coverage” (Philip Morris, 1988).
In 1989 PM produced a Finnish edition of Clearing the Air. The executive Vice President of PM’s European Economic Community division reported that Finnish Parliamentarian Jorn Donner agreed to author the introduction to the book. He also noted that an added benefit of publishing the book in Finland was that “copies of locally published books are automatically placed in every library in the country” (Thoma, 1988,:15). PM cited Clearing the Air in a 1992 brochure aimed at the public called Environmental Tobacco Smoke: A Perspective Based Upon the Science that questioned the validity of the scientific basis for smoking restrictions (Philip Morris Asia Inc., 1992). Tollison used publication of Clearing the Air to help establish his credibility before a US Senate Environmental Subcommittee hearing in 1994 about a bill that proposed ending smoking in federal, state and local government buildings (1994). Testifying on several different occasions, Tollison (1994a) criticized the US Environmental Protection Agency’s cost-benefit analysis of smoking restrictions (Indoor Air Division & Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, 1994) and testified in opposition to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed rule-making on indoor air quality (Tollison, 1994b). PM also cited Tollison’s work, along with that of the company’s other consultants, in an internal corporate manual to help employees publicly refute health arguments made against tobacco (Philip Morris, 1989).
Associates for Research in the Science of Enjoyment (ARISE)
In direct response to the US Surgeon General’s 1988 (National Center For Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1988) report concluding nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, in 1988 Rothmans Tobacco (of the UK) and PM clandestinely assembled group called Associates for Research in Substances of Enjoyment (ARISE), an international group of sociologists, psychologists, ethicists and scientists to separate nicotine from other addictive drugs in the public’s mind (ARISE, 1993 (est.); Pritchard, 1991). According to a press release prepared by PM Media Relations but issued by ARISE, ARISE presented itself as an esteemed group of “apolitical” experts who commented “independently” on the topic of how substance use enhances quality of life (Daragan, 1993). According to a 1993 PM report, ARISE conducted studies on “various aspects of puritanical trends infringing on consumers use of and access to … everyday pleasures” (No author, 1993 (est.)) and a 1994 activity report described its objectives as helping tobacco companies “position tobacco as one of the products associated with pleasure” and “expand the ‘politically corrupt science’ concept” (ARISE, 1994 (est.)).
The spokesperson and lead organizer of ARISE was David Warburton, Director of the Human Pharmacology Group at the University of Reading in the UK. Warburton was selected for his industry-friendly views on nicotine and addiction and his longstanding relationship with UK tobacco companies. Rothmans Tobacco had long supported Warburton’s research, which consistently reinforced the claims that nicotine enhances performance and is not addictive (Boyse, 1987; Warburton, 1989; Wesnes & Warburton, 1983). Other ARISE associates included Digby Anderson (Social Affairs Unit in London), Christie Davies (sociologist from the University of Reading), Sherwin Feinhandler, (anthropologist from Harvard University who was also involved in the industry’s original SC/SV project), John Luik (philosopher who previously worked as a professor of ethics at Brock University, Canada), Frank van Dun (Professor of Philosophy of Law from the Universities of Ghent, Belgium and Linmburg, Maastricht, Netherlands), and a number of other psychologists from the UK, Switzerland, US, and Australia (ARISE, 1996b). Rothmans and PM funded ARISE from its inception in 1988 until its broader public debut in Europe in 1991, when BAT, Gallaher, and RJR joined. (ARISE’s expenses were $773,750 for fiscal year 1994–95 (Hay, 1994). Industry money initially flowed to ARISE through the University of Reading in the UK, then through a full-time ARISE secretariat that PM, RJR, Rothmans, BAT and Gallaher established the UK in 1994. The public relations firm Fishburn Hedges coordinated additional PR firms around Europe that managed ARISE affairs after July 1994 (ARISE, 1996a) ( Table 2 ).
Public Relations firms handling ARISE activities (ARISE, 1994b, 1996a)
|Fishburn Hedges||United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa|
|Marie Rouet, VFC||France|
|Andre Clodong, Ine Marien & Partners||Belgium|
|Dahl & Co.||Sweden|
|Farner Public Relations||Switzerland|
|Bergsoe Public Relations||Denmark|
|Graham White Associates||Australia|
The public relations firms helped insulate ARISE from being connected to the tobacco industry. A 1993 memo from PM Corporate Services in Brussels reported that press kits from an ARISE workshop in Brussels had been sent to 200 European food/gastronomy/lifestyle publications, lifestyle writers and the business press, and stated, “As the … credibility of ARISE is of critical importance, we recommend strongly that [ARISE] press kits be sent only by the ARISE PR agency in Brussels” [Underlining in original] (Murray, 1993). ARISE associates also worked to influence legislatures. A flier describing the ARISE workshop titled “Pleasure and the Quality of Life” held in Brussels in 1993 states, “ARISE associates … are in no sense a lobby group. However, associates are called on to advise [public and elected officials] on legislative reports and have the expertise to … make constructive statements on legislative proposals” (Philip Morris, 1993).
In February 1994 Rothmans Public Affairs Department persuaded Warburton to drop the word “substance” from the group’s name and change it to “Associates for Research in the Science of Enjoyment” (Smithson, 1994), nominally because “the new version of the name emphasizes the importance of the science that lies behind the research” (ARISE, 1994c).
Through ARISE, the sponsoring tobacco companies generated news articles around the world that ridiculed and derided public health goals around smoking and reassured people about the relative safety and benefits of smoking. A media progress report on ARISE activities covering September 1993 to March 1994 contains 292 pages of press clippings, transcripts, articles, tapes and other media coverage ARISE generated in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States (ARISE, 1994a). A 1996 presentation prepared by the ARISE secretariat for the tobacco companies reported that from 1994 to 1995 ARISE generated 646 press articles, 178 radio reports and 72 TV broadcasts in 17 countries, reporting that the coverage contained “minimal criticism of ARISE” (ARISE, 1996a).
At the 1989 ARISE conference in Florence, Italy ARISE members attacked the U.S. Surgeon General’s conclusion that nicotine is similar to heroin or cocaine, and emphasized that nicotine enhances performance. This conference led to the book Addiction Controversies (Warburton, 1990), published in 1990 by Harwood Academic Publishers in Switzerland, that criticized established views on substance use. The structure of Addiction Controversies was similar to Smoking and Society: a compilation of articles on legal and illegal drugs and addiction, written in an academic tone and aimed at a scholarly audience. At the 1991 ARISE conference in Venice, Italy ARISE associates aligned tobacco with innocuous, pleasure-causing items like food and drink and advanced the idea that “smoking is a controlled pleasure – it does not take control” (ARISE, 1993). Another book with the same structure resulted from these proceedings, Pleasure: The Politics and the Reality (Warburton, 1994) published in March 1994 by John Wiley and Sons. The book emphasized the social functions of pleasurable substances and strove to differentiate cocaine and heroin from nicotine and caffeine. The book was funded at least in part by BAT, which sent 1,200 towards publishing costs to Warburton (1993). The ARISE conference held in Brussels, Belgium in 1993 explored how “the science of pleasure leads to positive health and feeling good” (ARISE, 1993). ARISE representatives spoke against “forcing a uniform healthy society” (ARISE, 1993). This conference yielded yet another book, Pleasure and the Quality of Life (Warburton, 1996), published in 1996 by John Wiley and Sons (Warburton, 1996), that described the positive contribution of pleasure — including smoking — to everyday life and railed against “health scares.” Warburton edited all three books.
A chapter in Pleasure and the Quality of Life frames public health efforts to reduce smoking as “the New Puritanism.” (Warburton, 1996, pp. 229–230) This framing tracks closely with a 1993 PM Corporate Affairs plan (1993) about how the company would fight smoking restrictions in Europe during 1994–1999. PM’s plan included using ARISE to help cast public health efforts as “extremist,” “indicative of intolerance” and “health fascism” (1993).
In 1995 ARISE held a workshop in Amsterdam called Living is More Than Surviving (Kay, 1995). Key ideas expressed at this workshop were (1) substances of enjoyment help relieve workplace stress, (2) people need to learn to enjoy substances of pleasure, since some are not initially pleasurable, (3) much of the enjoyment of alcohol and tobacco are due to traditions and social aspects associated with the products, and (4) abstinence from substances of enjoyment does not keep one from dying. While covering the 1995 conference, the London Observer reported that the group was being partly funded by the tobacco industry and noted that ARISE’s promotional materials did not disclose that fact. Professor Ian Hindmarch of Surrey University, an ARISE associate and speaker at the Amsterdam conference, told the Observer that any connection between ARISE, the tobacco industry and the symposium was “coincidental” (McKie, 1995). Hindmarch declared that his employer, the Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit at Surrey University, had paid all the costs of the symposium (McKie, 1995). A Rothmans memo, however, shows that PM, RJR, Rothmans, BAT and Gallaher had jointly budgeted US $117,000 to finance the conference (Hay, 1994). An undated Rothmans internal presentation also indicates that Rothmans had funded Hindmarch and Warburton at “arm’s length” as part of its program to “execute, fund and publish scientific studies on the positive aspects of smoking” to “provide sound scientific evidence in response to ‘anti’ claims of absolutely no redeeming value for tobacco products,” “educate the public on the role of nicotine in tobacco use” and to “counter anti-smoking attacks that smokers smoke simply because they are addicted” (Rothmans International, No date).
After its conference in Kyoto, Japan in 1999 (Philip Morris Kabushiki Kaisha, 1999), ARISE seems to have disappeared. We were unable determine why the group was disbanded after it had served the industry so well, or whether it has been reconstituted in another form. An inquiry on this issue, sent via email to Warburton on November 25, 2005, went unanswered. Warburton refused an interview for this study.
This study reveals that, beyond previously-discovered industry projects aimed at altering the biomedical scientific landscape about tobacco (Hanauer, Slade, Barnes, Bero, & Glantz, 1995; Muggli, Forster, Hurt et al., 2001), weakening and defeating secondhand smoke policies globally (Assunta, Fields, Knight, & Chapman, 2004; Barnoya & Glantz, 2005; Barnoya & Glantz, 2002), recruiting journalists to generate news articles supporting industry positions (Muggli, Hurt, & Becker, 2004), and influencing the amount of smoking in movies (Mekemson & Glantz, 2002), by the late 1970s the transnational tobacco companies had embarked on a highly coordinated program using the knowledge and power of social scientists to construct an alternate cultural repertoire (Swidler, 1986) of smoking to slow the decline in social acceptability of smoking worldwide. The books the industry commissioned were strategically designed and timed to counteract important public health pronouncements about tobacco, such as data describing the cost of smoking to employers and governments (Kristein, 1983; Luce & Schweitzer, 1977; Weis, 1981) and the 1988 Surgeon General’s report characterizing nicotine as addictive (National Center For Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1988). The number of book projects demonstrates the extent to which the industry has relied, and may still rely, upon book sponsorship to get its viewpoints to the public. These findings provide empirical support for social construction theories of culture (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Swidler & Arditi, 1994) and the linkages between knowledge and power (Bourdieu, 1977; Foucault, 1980).
The industry first started employing book sponsorship as a strategy long ago, in 1959, with the production of Tobacco and Americans (Heimann, 1960). That book’s success at portraying tobacco in a positive light proved the value of the strategy to the industry; a 1961 follow-up memo from the industry public relations firm Hill & Knowlton about the success of Tobacco and Americans includes 30 pages of positive reviews about the book, none of which focused on health issues, that appeared in newspapers throughout the US (Hill & Knowlton, 1961). Book sponsorship is a means the industry can use to disseminate pro-tobacco viewpoints into the academic and popular literature to covertly transform cultural repertoires while circumventing institutionalized structures of knowledge construction, such as the peer review process. This experience strongly indicates that scholars, publishers and the media need to require clear disclosure of sponsorship and other financial arrangements when books are published that include detailed disclosure of the involvement of the sponsor in the preparation (not just the financing) of books.
Pollay (1986) and Anderson and Dunn (2006) note the cumulative impact upon society of a “chorus” of advertisers all prodding people to buy, indulge and consume, concluding that abundant amounts of advertising from competing firms for similar products tend to benefit not just individual brands, but entire product categories. Through its social science initiatives, the tobacco industry worked to create a “chorus of voices” that assured messages defending and promoting smoking would emanate from every possible quarter: newspapers, radio, television, books, and magazines. By using social scientists from an array of disciplines and across many countries, and by spreading their messages to the public through a wide variety of media over extended periods of time, the industry effectively created a “chorus” of seemingly authoritative voices from respected institutions around the world spreading damaging arguments designed to benefit the tobacco companies and disadvantage public health.
Scholars and the public should assume the tobacco industry is still implementing the strategies described in this report, and that its sophistication is continuously evolving for finding ways to obscure its associations with credible third parties. The fact that an academic who promotes industry points of view is highly accomplished or well published does not assure his or her independence from the tobacco industry, nor does the lack of overt financial connections with the industry. In all public pronouncements about tobacco made by “experts,” full disclosure of the contacts with tobacco companies or their surrogates (including law firms, public relations firms, subsidiary companies or smokers’ rights groups) should be mandatory. Disclosure statements for research articles involving tobacco or smoking should state not only the funding sources for the work, but should fully disclose the involvement of any tobacco company employees in the preparation of the work (Tong, England, & Glantz, 2005). The industry’s ability to maintain an arm’s length relationship with social scientists is crucial, not only to its ability to access credible academics, but also to preserve the academics’ reputations, since dealing with tobacco companies can diminish an academic’s credibility and authoritative legitimacy. The public should be skeptical of commentaries that use arguments exposed in this report as having been commissioned and highly promoted by the industry. Common pro-tobacco arguments that divert the focus away from health, like civil rights, Puritanism, economic doom, class warfare, prohibition, excessive government intrusion, tyranny and creeping totalitarianism can indicate the presence of industry influence.
Author Comments: This work was funded by National Cancer Institute Grant CA-87472. The funding agency played no role in this research or the preparation of the manuscript.
Publisher’s Disclaimer: This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final citable form. Please note that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.
Dr. Stanton Glantz, University of California San Francisco, CA UNITED STATES.Tobacco industry sociological programs to influence public beliefs about smoking Dr. Stanton Glantz University of California San Francisco, CA UNITED STATES Anne Landman University of
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