This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The Hospitality Industry has long served as a third party ally to the tobacco industry, having been particularly cultivated by Philip Morris to help the cigarette industry slow or stop the progression of smokefree laws. A 13-page, 1995 Philip Morris (PM) internal presentation describes the hospitality industry as "our greatest potential ally" and tells how and why PM recruited the hospitality industry to "carry the flag" on its issues.
A tobacco company cannot credibly advocate preserving smoking in public places, since such a move would be seen as self-serving. Thus PM needed a credible ally to help it preserve the social acceptability of smoking in public places. The company cultivated the hospitality industry as its major ally for this cause. PM recognized that the hospitality industry is not a natural ally, since hospitality venues don't usually sell tobacco products. PM also knew that its own issues were not a priority for the hospitality industry. Despite these barriers, PM devised an intricate plan to "become a player inside the [hospitality] industry, promote common ground and vested interests, make strategic investment toward relationship building, [engage in] sponsorships, programs, [and] develop strong visibility, credibility, and recognition" in the hospitality industry.
By PM's own admission, the hospitality industry already faced an "overwhelming amount of business and regulatory issues." Still, PM pushed ahead in imposing its needs upon it.
The presentation says that PM's Accommodation Program (implemented in hospitality venues) provided PM with a "vehicle for us to get our foot in the door with the hospitality industry...Enables us to...develop allies...[and] Serves as a communications platform for PM on the issue of smoking in public places."
Through the hospitality industry, PM worked to fulfill legislative objectives that supported the cigarette business:
"PM's Legislative Objective:...Defeat all severely restrictive legislation/regulation....Overturn existing legislation that severely restricts smoking."
PM has sucessfully gotten the hospitality industry to help it preserve the social acceptability of smoking--and avoid having the company's own fingerprint on these efforts:
"Objective: To partner with the hospitality industry to prevent pending bans and overturn existing bans. The Accommodation Program itself becomes less visible..."
J V Dearlove, S A Bialous, S A Glantz,Tobacco industry manipulation of the hospitality industry to maintain smoking in public placesTobacco Control 2002;11:94–104