Countermeasures Development Program
In this speech, Richard Corner (public affairs executive for Philip Morris Europe's Lausanne, Switzerland office) explains the global tobacco industry's "Countermeasures Development Program." Corner defines "countermeasures" as "the words we use to describe our responses to the attacks made on us."
The "attacks" to which Corner refers are a more widespread public understanding of the dangers of smoking, a subsequent rising tide of public opinion against smoking, and the natural fallout of this shift in opinion: the proliferation of smoking restrictions. Corner repeatedly stresses the industry's need to sway public opinion back towards the reinforcement of smoking behavior, saying,"We must assist the smoker. Our customer is out there in the real world...He's not certain what is socially acceptable. We must reassure him and assist him..."and "[W]e must begin now with countermeasures directed towards the general public: We must also have countermeasures going directly to the antis, we can no longer ignore them."
Corner describes the industry's need to discredit public health authorities, saying "We must INFLUENCE THE PUBLIC DIRECTLY. WE MUST DISCREDIT THE ANTIS" [public health advocates] and "We must ... go out and directly influence public opinion" because "the antis are talking directly to the public." Corner adds that the industry "has had to start directly attacking the antis with countermeasures ... [because] the public is beginning to accept education and restrictions."
Corner describes the industry as being in a "STATE OF WAR," its "countermeasures" as "weapons," and "scientific fact" as "ammunition" for those weapons, saying "we must produce a continual supply of this AMMUNITION."
Corner's speech shows that the tobacco industry recognized public health authorities had been successful in reducing tobacco use, perceived that success as a threat and then worked to counteract it. It also shows the industry working to reinforce smoking behavior as society had begun discouraging it. The speech also demonstrates the disingenuousness of the industry's "common knowledge" defense, revealing that the industry actively worked to combat the natural results of the spread of "common knowledge" about its products.
Quotes from the text of the document
[Starting from Page 2, Bates No. TIMN0156509]:
During the course of this Conference, someone made the remark that the most emotive work in the English language is the Big "C" for Cancer. That may be true. But during this conference the most often quoted word in the English Language has been the Big "C" for Countermeasures ...
Countermeasures are the words we use to describe our responses to the attacks made on us. ...
What are the kinds of countermeasures that have been undertaken? ... Perhaps there are five basic varieties that the industry as Associations have taken.
First of all, there is the lobbying of people who make laws. The most basic kind of countermeasures, the most traditional and the one that is most widespread.
We also lobby the bureaucrats, those who are entrusted with translating laws into regulations.
We have seen countermeasures that are designed to mobilize the Tobacco Family, and the word "Family" here is used with the widest connotations.
We have seen some excellent examples of countermeasures designed to win referendums.
We must also speak directly to public opinion. Before we are able to talk to lawmakers, to talk to regulators, to talk to ourselves, but now we must go out and directly influence public opinion.
And here is the slide that Dennis [Durden, VP of RJR] produced illustrating the confused world that is today, in which the antis are talking directly to the public: The public is questioning the industry, and we must begin now with countermeasures directed towards the general public: We must also have countermeasures going directly to the antis, we can no longer ignore them: And meanwhile with restrictions coming up from government, we continue lobbying countermeasures with government: And between government and the antis, it is hard to tell the antis from certain branches of government. That's the reason why the industry has had to start attacking the antis directly with countermeasures. And finally, there is another nuance that the public is beginning to accept education and restrictions. So this is today's world--and this is why we need more and vigorous countermeasures and why we need innovation.
When we consider new countermeasures, what kind of things do we need to do? We need to strengthen the family, we need to have a strong base and if we cannot stand up and speak for ourselves, nobody is going to do it for us.
We must assist the smoker. Our customer is out there in the real world...He's not certain what is socially acceptable. We must reassure him and assist him...
We must INFLUENCE THE PUBLIC DIRECTLY. WE MUST DISCREDIT THE ANTIS. We should take the fight we have and the challenges we are facing as an industry and LINK THEM TO MAJOR PUBLIC CONCERNS: for example, freedom of the individual in the face of increasing government interference in his life.
In these slides showing the priorities in Social Acceptability as seen by the Working Party, we come to the NEED FOR NEW COUNTERMEASURES ...
[From Page 11, Bates No. TIMN0156518]:
But in developing countermeasures, I believe we mustn't forget that A STATE OF WAR DOES EXIST, and although the Churchillian aphorism "In defeat defiance," might seem to some a little too strong for us, then perhaps we can borrow from Mohammed Ali, so that we "Dance like a butterfly--sting like a bee."
Countermeasures are weapons, or combinations of weapons. Because weapon systems are usually custom-designed to meet the needs and to match the capabilities of their users, WHO is going to use it? What's its job going to be?
...Our AMMUNITION is FACTS. Good, solid facts. Scientific evidence. Opinion supported by scientific arguments. Substantiated views. Findings from objectively carried out research. Information and evidence gathered from throughout the industry and pulled together in position papers on the vital subjects. We must produce a continual supply of this AMMUNITION.
...Weapons, ammunition, guiding our aim, Targets. That's if you like, our countermeasures development arsenal.
There is a saying in the USA just now: "Where there's smoke--there's Califano." Maybe, we will be able to say in the not too distant future: "Where there's a fight, when there's a problem, there's ICOSI with the Associations."
That is not all gloom and despondency. I think I can illustrate by telling you how "something funny happened me on the way back from the last SAWP meeting in London." On the plane to Geneva, the passenger next to me was smoking heavily. We got chatting and it turned out he was the Bangladesh representative to the World Health Organization. I declared my interests and we talked about the World Health Organization, and he said, "You know, in the organization we all have our special interests, our domains--and as you can see...mine is not Smoking and Health.'" The moral being...they aren't all baddies.
[From Page 13, Bates No. TIMN0156520]
Since the tactics were changed from the direct attack on the smoker to the campaign to make the smoker and smoking socially unacceptable, we have been witnessing what seems to me to be the ENCIRCLEMENT OF THE SMOKERS. The enemy has been going 'round and behind of him infiltrating his family, his friends and his colleagues at work. And restricting the possibilities he has of using our products.
We must stop this encroachment. We must help the smoker to break out. And to do this, we look forward to collaborating in the closest possible way with the Associations to develop the most effective countermeasures--the most efficient weapons. And we do want to work with ALL the Associations.
- Richard Corner, Philip Morris Countermeasures Development Program Confidential speech/presentation. May 20, 1979. Bates No. TIMN0156508/6520