Tobacco industry playbook

Last updated
Gift offered by tobacco industry lobbyists to Dutch politician Kartika Liotard in September 2013 Tabakslobby.jpg
Gift offered by tobacco industry lobbyists to Dutch politician Kartika Liotard in September 2013

The tobacco industry playbook, tobacco strategy or simply disinformation playbook [1] describes a strategy devised by the tobacco industry in the 1950s to protect revenues in the face of mounting evidence of links between tobacco smoke and serious illnesses, primarily cancer. [2] Much of the playbook is known from industry documents made public by whistleblowers or as a result of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. These documents are now curated by the UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents project and are a primary source for much commentary on both the tobacco playbook and its similarities to the tactics used by other industries, notably the fossil fuel industry. It is possible that the playbook may even have originated with the oil industry. [3] [4]

Contents

A 1969 R. J. Reynolds internal memorandum noted, "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public." [5]

In Merchants of Doubt , Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway documented the way that tobacco companies had campaigned over several decades to cast doubt on the scientific evidence of harm caused by their products, and noted the same techniques being used by other industries whose harmful products were targets of regulatory and environmental efforts. [6] This is often linked to climate change denialism promoted by the fossil fuel industry: [7] [8] the same tactics were employed by fossil fuel groups such as the American Petroleum Institute to cast doubt on climate science from the 1990s [9] and some of the same PR firms and individuals engaged to claim that tobacco smoking was safe, were later recruited to attack climate science. [10]

History

The strategy was initiated at a crisis meeting between US tobacco executives and John Hill, of public relations company Hill & Knowlton, at the New York Plaza Hotel, in 1953, following the Reader's Digest's précis of an article from the Christian Herald titled "Cancer by the Carton", highlighting the emergent findings of epidemiologists including Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill. [11] It led to the 1954 publication of A Frank Statement , an advertisement designed to cast doubt on the science showing serious health effects from smoking.

Tactics included: [12]

Documents such as Bad Science: A Resource Book were used to promulgate talking points intended to cast doubt on scientific independence and political interference. [13] [10]

Influence

The playbook has been adopted by the fossil fuel industry, in its efforts to stave off global action on climate change, [1] [10] and by those seeking to undermine the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more generally. [14] The manufacture and promotion of uncertainty, especially, has been identified as inspired directly by the tobacco industry. [6] [15]

Recognising that it had little or no credibility with the public, and concerned about mounting pressure to act on environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), the tobacco industry actively recruited fellow enemies of the EPA, setting up the "Advancement of Sound Science Coalition" (TASSC), a fake grassroots group. [14] Its first director was Steve Milloy, previously of APCO, the consultancy firm employed by Philip Morris to set up TASSC. Milloy subsequently set up junkscience.com, a website which equates environmentalists with Nazis and now promotes climate change denial. [16] Many of the consultants who worked for the tobacco industry, have also worked for fossil fuel companies against action on climate change. TASSC hired Frederick Seitz and Fred Singer, both now prominent in climate change denial. [16] Greg Zimmerman found a 2015 presentation titled "Survival Is Victory: Lessons From the Tobacco Wars" by Richard Reavey of Cloud Peak Energy (and formerly of Philip Morris) in which Reavey explicitly acknowledged the parallels and urged fellow coal executives to accept the facts of climate change and work with regulators on solutions that would preserve the industry. [17] [18] Both Fred Singer and Frederick Seitz are prominent figures in climate change denial who previously worked for the tobacco industry. [19] [16]

Environmentalist George Monbiot identifies many groups that were funded by tobacco firms and subsequently by Exxon and other fossil fuel companies, and now actively take part in climate change denial, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, the Reason Foundation, the Independent Institute, and George Mason University's Law and Economics Centre. [16]

Opponents of vaping also identify elements of the tobacco playbook in the e-cigarette industry's response to health concerns. [20] [21] Tobacco companies took stakes in soft drinks companies and used the same tactics around colours and flavours that they had used to target young potential smokers. [22] [23] The soft drinks industry's attempts to avoid sugary beverage taxes or other government action to reduce obesity draws upon elements of the tobacco playbook, [24] including use of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs as a PR strategy. [25] Research contracts issued as part of CSR programmes allow soft drinks manufacturers to bury inconvenient results. [26]

A 2019 article in the Emory Law Journal made parallels to attempts by the National Football League to downplay the issue of CTE in football, [27] with the New York Times noting a number of tobacco figures involved in the NFL's defence. [28]

The World Health Organization has subsequently published a tobacco control playbook. [29]

The public relations strategies of Big Tech companies have often been compared with the tobacco industry playbook. [30] [31] [ further explanation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Global Climate Coalition</span> Lobbyist group against reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) (1989–2001) was an international lobbyist group of businesses that opposed action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and publicly challenged the science behind global warming. The GCC was the largest industry group active in climate policy and the most prominent industry advocate in international climate negotiations. The GCC was involved in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, and played a role in blocking ratification by the United States. The coalition knew it could not deny the scientific consensus, but sought to sow doubt over the scientific consensus on climate change and create manufactured controversy. The GCC dissolved in 2001 after membership declined in the face of improved understanding of the role of greenhouse gases in climate change and of public criticism.

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Tempe, Arizona. It is seen as a front group for the fossil fuel industry, and as promoting climate change denial. The Center produces a weekly online science newsletter called CO2Science.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George C. Marshall Institute</span> Former American nonprofit conservative think tank

The George C. Marshall Institute (GMI) was a nonprofit conservative think tank in the United States. It was established in 1984 with a focus on science and public policy issues and had an initial focus in defense policy. Starting in the late 1980s, the institute advocated for views in line with environmental skepticism, most notably climate change denial. The think tank received extensive financial support from the fossil fuel industry.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the largest U.S. trade association for the oil and natural gas industry. It claims to represent nearly 600 corporations involved in production, refinement, distribution, and many other aspects of the petroleum industry. Much of its work has been dedicated to the advancement of climate change denial and blocking of climate legislation to defend the interests of its constituent organizations.


Steven J. Milloy is a lawyer, lobbyist, author and former Fox News commentator. His close financial and organizational ties to tobacco and oil companies have been the subject of criticism, as Milloy has consistently disputed the scientific consensus on climate change and the health risks of second-hand smoke.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics of climate change</span> Interaction of societies and governments with modern climate change

The politics of climate change results from different perspectives on how to respond to climate change. Global warming is driven largely by the emissions of greenhouse gases due to human economic activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels, certain industries like cement and steel production, and land use for agriculture and forestry. Since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels have provided the main source of energy for economic and technological development. The centrality of fossil fuels and other carbon-intensive industries has resulted in much resistance to climate friendly policy, despite widespread scientific consensus that such policy is necessary.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heartland Institute</span> Conservative and libertarian American think tank

The Heartland Institute is an American conservative and libertarian public policy think tank known for its rejection of both the scientific consensus on climate change and the negative health impacts of smoking.

The Advancement of Sound Science Center (TASSC), formerly The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, was an industry-funded lobby group and crisis management vehicle, and was created in 1993 by Phillip Morris and APCO in response to a 1992 United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report which identified secondhand smoke as a "confirmed" human carcinogen. TASSC's stated objectives were to: (1) discredit the EPA report; (2) fight anti-smoking legislation; and (3) pro-actively pass legislation favourable to the tobacco industry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Naomi Oreskes</span> American historian, scientist, academic

Naomi Oreskes is an American historian of science. She became Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University in 2013, after 15 years as Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She has worked on studies of geophysics, environmental issues such as global warming, and the history of science. In 2010, Oreskes co-authored Merchants of Doubt, which identified some parallels between the climate change debate and earlier public controversies, notably the tobacco industry's campaign to obscure the link between smoking and serious disease.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) was incorporated as The National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc., in 1993. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of African American communities. Additionally, the organization indicates that it represents the views of its members regarding economic and political policy issues; domestically and internationally. It is organized as a 501(c) corporation and has at least 190 chapters within the United States. The NBCC also has international chapters in the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana and Jamaica. As with all Chambers of Commerce, affiliate branches are committed to carrying out the goals of the main Chamber within their areas.

Climate change conspiracy theories assert that the scientific consensus on global warming is based on conspiracies to produce manipulated data or suppress dissent. It is one of a number of tactics used in climate change denial to attempt to manufacture political and public controversy disputing this consensus. Conspiracy theorists typically allege that, through worldwide acts of professional and criminal misconduct, the science behind global warming and climate change has been invented or distorted for ideological or financial reasons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fossil fuels lobby</span> Lobbying supporting the fossil fuels industry

The fossil fuels lobby includes paid representatives of corporations involved in the fossil fuel industry, as well as related industries like chemicals, plastics, aviation and other transportation. Because of their wealth and the importance of energy, transport and chemical industries to local, national and international economies, these lobbies have the capacity and money to attempt to have outsized influence governmental policy. In particular, the lobbies have been known to obstruct policy related to environmental protection, environmental health and climate action.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climate change denial</span> Denial of the scientific consensus on climate change

Climate change denial, or global warming denial, is denial, dismissal, or doubt that contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change, including the extent to which it is caused by humans, its effects on nature and human society, or the potential of adaptation to global warming by human actions. Many who deny, dismiss, or hold doubt about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming self-label as "climate change skeptics", which several scientists have noted is an inaccurate description. Climate change denial can also be implicit when individuals or social groups accept the science but fail to come to terms with it or to translate their acceptance into action. Several social science studies have analyzed these positions as forms of denial or denialism, pseudoscience, or propaganda.

<i>Merchants of Doubt</i> 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is a 2010 non-fiction book by American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the global warming controversy and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, DDT, and the hole in the ozone layer. Oreskes and Conway write that in each case "keeping the controversy alive" by spreading doubt and confusion after a scientific consensus had been reached was the basic strategy of those opposing action. In particular, they show that Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and a few other contrarian scientists joined forces with conservative think tanks and private corporations to challenge the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues.

Arthur Neslen is a British-born journalist and author. Nelsen has especially covered Middle East issues, fossil lobbies' influence on European institutions and climate change. He served as journalist for Haaretz, Jane's Information Group, The Observer, The Guardian, and as a correspondent for the websites of The Economist and al-Jazeera. NGOs credited policy changes at the European commission, international financial institutions and wildlife regulatory agencies in part to Neslen’s work.

<i>Climate Change Denial</i> 2011 book by Haydn Washington and John Cook

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand is a 2011 non-fiction book about climate-change denial, coauthored by Haydn Washington and John Cook, with a foreword by Naomi Oreskes. Washington had a background in environmental science prior to authoring the work; Cook, educated in physics, founded (2007) the website Skeptical Science, which compiles peer-reviewed evidence of global warming. The book was first published in hardcover and paperback formats in 2011 by Earthscan, a division of Routledge.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ExxonMobil climate change denial</span> Overview of climate-related ExxonMobil controversies

Since the 1970s, ExxonMobil engaged in climate research. It later began lobbying, advertising, and grant making, some of which were conducted with the purpose of delaying widespread acceptance and action on global warming.

Disinformation attacks are the intentional dissemination of false information, with an end goal of misleading, confusing, or manipulating an audience. Disinformation attacks may be executed by political, economic or individual actors to influence state or non-state entities and domestic or foreign populations. These attacks are commonly employed to reshape attitudes and beliefs, drive a particular agenda, or elicit certain actions out of a target audience. Tactics include the presentation of incorrect or misleading information, the creation of uncertainty, and the undermining of both correct information and the credibility of information sources.

<i>The Petroleum Papers</i> 2022 non-fiction book by Geoff Dembicki

The Petroleum Papers is a 2022 non-fiction book by journalist Geoff Dembicki on climate change and the fossil fuel industry.

<i>The Power of Big Oil</i> Television documentary series

The Power of Big Oil is a three-part 2022 documentary miniseries produced by WGBH for the investigative documentary television program Frontline, which airs in the United States on PBS. It is an examination of what the public, businesses, governments, and scientists have known for decades on climate change, as well as the numerous opportunities that were lost to help mitigate the issue.

References

  1. 1 2 "The Disinformation Playbook". Union of Concerned Scientists . Archived from the original on 2020-04-21. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  2. Rowell, Andrew; Evans-Reeves, Karen. "It was Big Tobacco, not Trump, that wrote the post-truth rule book". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  3. Hulac, Benjamin (July 20, 2016). "Tobacco and Oil Industries Used Same Researchers to Sway Public". ClimateWire via Scientific American.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. "New Documents Reveal Denial Playbook Originated with Big Oil, Not Big Tobacco" (Press release). Center for International Environmental Law. June 20, 2016. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  5. The cigarette papers . Berkeley: University of California Press. 1996. pp.  190. ISBN   978-0-520-92099-6. OCLC   42855812.
  6. 1 2 Oreskes, Naomi. (2010). Merchants of Doubt (1st U.S. ed.). New York: Bloomsbury Press. ISBN   978-1-59691-610-4. OCLC   461631066.
  7. Supran, Geoffrey; Oreskes, Naomi (2017-08-01). "Assessing ExxonMobil's climate change communications (1977–2014)". Environmental Research Letters. 12 (8): 084019. Bibcode:2017ERL....12h4019S. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa815f . ISSN   1748-9326.
  8. Nuccitelli, Dana (2017-08-23). "Harvard scientists took Exxon's challenge; found it using the tobacco playbook". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2020-09-25. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  9. Pooley, Eric (14 February 2017). "Climate Change Denial Is the Original Fake News". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  10. 1 2 3 Readfearn, Graham (2015-03-05). "Doubt over climate science is a product with an industry behind it". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2019-05-29. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  11. Stobbe, Mike (5 January 2014). "Historic smoking report marks 50th anniversary". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2017-09-02. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  12. Brownell, Kelly D; Warner, Kenneth E (March 2009). "The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar Is Big Food?". The Milbank Quarterly. 87 (1): 259–294. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0009.2009.00555.x. ISSN   0887-378X. PMC   2879177 . PMID   19298423.
  13. "Bad Science: a Resource Book". Tobacco Industry Documents Library. Archived from the original on 2020-03-26. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  14. 1 2 Johns, David Merritt; Levy, Karen. "How Trump's war on science is borrowing from the tobacco industry playbook". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2020-03-12. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  15. Corner, Adam (2014-01-31). "The communication of uncertainty is hindering climate change action". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2020-05-24. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Monbiot, George (2006-09-19). "Climate change and Big Tobacco". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  17. Schwartz, John (2016-08-16). "Feeling Cornered, Coal Industry Borrows From Tobacco Playbook, Activists Say". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  18. Hulac, Benjamin (August 25, 2016). "Coal Executive Says His Industry Must Confront Climate Change". ClimateWire. Archived from the original on October 7, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2020.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. "Climate denier Fred Singer complains about Merchants of Doubt". Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. Archived from the original on 2019-10-29. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  20. "How the Vaping Industry Is Using a Defensive Tactic Pioneered Decades Ago by Big Tobacco" . Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  21. Bloomberg, Michael R.; Myers, Matt (2019-09-10). "Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes to Protect Our Children". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  22. Desk, Medibulletin (2019-03-15). "Big tobacco bringing same market strategy into sugary drinks". Archived from the original on 2021-10-27. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  23. "Soft Drink Companies Copy Tobacco Playbook to Lure Young Users". Archived from the original on 2020-03-25. Retrieved 2020-04-23.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. Nestle, Marion (2015-08-11). "Coca-Cola says its drinks don't cause obesity. Science says otherwise". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2020-02-22. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  25. Dorfman, Lori; Cheyne, Andrew; Friedman, Lissy C.; Wadud, Asiya; Gottlieb, Mark (2012-06-19). "Soda and Tobacco Industry Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns: How Do They Compare?". PLOS Medicine. 9 (6): e1001241. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001241. ISSN   1549-1676. PMC   3378589 . PMID   22723745.
  26. "Contracts give Coca-Cola power to 'quash' health research, study suggests". 2019-05-08. Archived from the original on 2020-08-05. Retrieved 2020-04-23.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. Paolini, Mikayla (2019). "NFL Takes a Page from the Big Tobacco Playbook: Assumption of Risk in the CTE Crisis". Emory Law Journal. 68 (3): 607–642.
  28. Schwarz, Alan; Bogdanich, Walt; Williams, Jacqueline (2016-03-24). "N.F.L.'s Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Tobacco Industry". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  29. "Tobacco Control Playbook". World Health Organization . 2020-04-09. Archived from the original on 2020-02-05. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  30. Macpherson, Lisa (2021-10-29). "Is This Really Big Tech's 'Big Tobacco' Moment? Only Congress Can Make It So" . Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  31. Abdalla, Mohamed; Abdalla, Moustafa (2021). "The Grey Hoodie Project: Big Tobacco, Big Tech, and the Threat on Academic Integrity". Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society. pp. 287–297. arXiv: 2009.13676 . doi:10.1145/3461702.3462563. ISBN   9781450384735. S2CID   221995749.