Over the past few years, millions of formlerly secret internal documents from the tobacco industry have been made public and helped public health advocates learn how Big Tobacco deceived lawmakers and the public about smoking’s health risks.

Wading through all these documents is time-consuming, so the Center for Media and Democracy has launched a TobaccoWiki that will allow people interested in the subject to share their findings online. (A Wiki is basically a tool for online collaboration; see Wikipedia’s explanation to learn more about it.) Here’s their explanation of the project:

The tobacco industry has served as a model to other industries in the use of public relations and propaganda techniques to obstruct regulation of their products. From commissioning favorable “scientific” research to implementing “kids don’t smoke” and “corporate social responsibility” programs, other industries are following the lead of tobacco companies in attempts to influence public perceptions of their behavior.

Learning about tobacco industry behavior gives insight into the behavior of other industries and global corporations. To that end,TobaccoWiki seeks to increase public understanding of tobacco industry strategies to

  • deceive the public about the health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure;
  • delay regulation of cigarettes and influence regulation and standards in their favor in the U.S. and abroad;
  • market their products more heavily in the third world, where there is less regulation;
  • market to young people;
  • form front groups, coalitions and fake “grassroots” front groups to do the industry’s bidding;
  • leverage human emotional and psychological needs to make cigarette advertising more effective;
  • target less-educated, low income and minority ethnic groups;
  • alter the American judicial system to hinder and block lawsuits;
  • intimidate legislators, regulators and public health scientists;
  • draft and pass laws in their favor;
  • preempt local efforts to limit indoor smoking;
  • engineer cigarettes for addiction

…and much, much more.

All interested people are welcome to assist in this project to mine tobacco industry documents: journalists, students, public health workers and tobacco control advocates, researchers, tobacco victims, and just plain curious folks–we ask all of you to join in this collaborative project to improve access to information contained in the tobacco industry’s documents. TobaccoWiki is intended to facilitate public understanding and lessons learned from the millions of pages of previously-secret internal tobacco industry documents that are now posted on the Web.

Go here to get started or learn more.

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