Although the attacks do not mention tobacco, the industry is a major
beneficiary. By arguing that the FDA has neglected its basic mission,
the critics have made a case against the agency embarking on new
initiatives, such as tobacco control…
Some of the FDA attackers — including the Washington Legal
Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Competitive
Enterprise Institute — have received financial support from tobacco
interests. And that has prompted industry foes to question if the
companies are just lucky bystanders or have played a behind-the-scenes
Officials of Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, the two biggest tobacco
companies, declined to discuss corporate donations to such groups…
Tobacco companies “have increased their support of CEI but not to
fund any specific campaign, said spokesman Jason Taylor. “We make it
quite clear that support of CEI is support of the whole organization and
… our principles.”
However, now that the tobacco companies’ documents are publicly available we can
find out what was really going on.
Levin’s inquiries while he was working on his story generated quite a
few concerned emails within Philip Morris. Executives were worried
about what Levin might find out and wanted to make sure that no-one
told him anything. For example:
Of course Marsha should not respond to Levin. We never had any leaks
with Decision Quest. … This is disturbing and may mean that we are
using too many outside consultants.
What was Philip Morris trying to hide?
Well, in December 1994, a Philip Morris executive came up with a plan
to deal with the FDA:
Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about how the tobacco
industry should deal with the threat of FDA regulation of
nicotine. Even with the favorable outcome of the November elections, I
doubt if it will be politically feasible to get Congress to direct the
FDA not to regulate tobacco.
A better strategy is to launch a broad-based attack on the FDA. …
A public relations and advertising campaign should be mounted to
publicize FDA’s failings, and to generate public and congressional
sentiment for reform. …
From the moment the plan is launched, FDA will have its hands full
defending its record and its existing turf. FDA’s efforts to claim new
jurisdiction, including jurisdiction over tobacco would be
curtailed. The tobacco industry could take a low — even
invisible — profile if it so desires…
Citizens for a Sound
was Philip Morris’ major partner in the campaign. They presented a proposal to
Philip Morris that included TV and radio ads, production of an
“academic” study on the FDA’s regulatory burden, and even astroturf
CSE would encourage our 250,000 grassroots members to … sign and
mail a pre-printed letter to the editor that has been personalized
with their local newspapers’ names and addresses.
The proposed budget was over a million dollars for phases I and II and
an additional $2,827,925 for
phase III. Philip Morris paid CSE a mere one million dollars, so
it looks like only phases I and II were implemented.
More details on the behind-the-scenes efforts of the tobacco companies
are in this
Mother Jones article.